Not to be confused Vancouver's The Seeds of Time, Monroeville, Alabama's Seeds of Time are responsible for the classic She's Been Traveling Around The World, now available on Gear Fab's Psychedelic States: Alabama Volume One. Special thanks to bassist Craig Weidenheimer for filling us in on the band's story.
An Interview With Craig Weidenheimer
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Craig Weidenheimer (CW): I do not remember ever not being interested in music. I remember hearing an Elvis tune, Return to Sender, Gary U.S. Bonds doing Quarter To Three Do You Love Me by The Contours, and Dave Dudly's Six Days On The Road also caught my ear. There was an awful lot of really bad stuff too. Then came The Beatles and, like everyone else, we wanted to do that. They really got everyone energized. Other groups that came along reenforced the idea but The Beatles really set the pace for everyone. In Alabama there was a lot of good local music but The Beatles were like a breath of fresh air - creative, different and a lot of sound out of four guys.
60s: Was The Seeds of Time your first band?
CW: The predecessor to The Seeds of Time was a band called The Nighties that I was asked to join as a vocalist. They were pre-Beatles and started out as drums, piano, saxophone, and stand-up bass. They played 90% instrumentals, but I remember hearing them for the first time; I was twelve and I thought they were fabulous. They had just added electric guitar and the sound was like nothing I had heard. The band members were Freddy Noll, Robbie Ostberg, Mike Lewis, and John Kearley. They were practicing one day playing a Beatles instrumental (Can't Buy Me Love) that was just begging someone to sing it. I jumped in, we played it at as guests at a Jr. Miss pageant and stole the show. I was asked to be in the band. Those guys were three and four years older than me and took me under their wing. They tought me a lot.
60s: Where was The Seeds of Time formed, what year, and by whom?
CW: The Nighties all graduated from high school...except for Mike Lewis and me. We picked up some good friends and fellow musicians and went totally into rock. The name was changed to Robin and His Hoods and shortly thereafter to The Seeds of Time. This was '65. Mike Lewis was two years older than the rest of us and really guided the whole formation and growth of the band. It was a bit radical to have a band like this in Alabama at the time and we were on the fringe of what might be considered acceptable. We were a bit different in that we really took our instruments seriously; we wanted to be the best around.
60: Who all comprised the band?
CW: Mike Lewis- lead guitar and vocals; Lee Howington- keyboards and vocals; Jim Harper - rhythm guitar, sax, and vocals; Mike McMillon - drums. I played bass, sang and played a little saxophone. We later added Mike Tatum on trumpet.
60s: Who named the band? Are you aware there was also a Canadian band of the era with the same moniker?
CW: Not until now. I think Mike Lewis came up with Seeds of Time. Itís actually Shakespeare. We were not aware of the Canadian band during our existence. We were referred to as The Seeds by most people, so when the band called The Seeds came out with Pushin' Too Hard there was some confusion. We actually played the song, so as not to disappoint.
60s: Where did the band typically play?
CW: We played where ever we could. We played fraternity parties, bars (even though we were under age), and school dances but mostly we went from town to town with our record and paid the local DJ's to play our record. To get them to do it sometimes we would go in and play live to help promote the record. It was something to get on the radio and then everyone wanted to hear live bands. So we would rent an Armory or VFW hall and put up posters that we were coming to town (like the circus) and sometimes we could get large crowds. There was not much else to do.
60s: How would you describe the band's sound?
CW: We tried to play everything: psychedelic, surf, soul, blues, rock, folk; we even did some Gershwin. If a place seemed to like more country we played that way. We always did some psychedelic even to the most redneck crowds. We got into a fight at one place. It wasn't a real fight (but) we left in a hurry. The Beatles were the biggest influence, they got everyone to try all types of music. It made the audiences more pliable too.
60s: Did you play any of the local Alabama teen clubs? Were there many?
CW: We did not play them or know of any. There might have been one in Pensacola at the beach; it was called the Casino. I think it had pinball machines and a jukebox.
60s: Did The Seeds of Time participate in any Battle Of The Bands?
CW: Yes. We played in Battle of the Bands quite a few times. It was great to play in a new town to get yourselves known. We always did well just by being more versatile. We really had awful equipment. We always tried to patch in to the house PA system and scrounge extra equipment. The bigness of your sound was important in those battles. There was a memorable battle in Tuscaloosa that included a band called The Allman Joys, later to become The Allman Brothers. We also played with The Electric Prunes in Mobile. It was not a Battle of the Bands per se, but no band wants to be outplayed by another - I donít care what era they are from.
60s: Did The Seeds of Time have a manager?
CW: We promoted ourselves. To that end, Mike Lewis did most of the work. I remember finding that part of the business to be the most repugnant. The bands that were promoted the best were the ones that had a close tie to a radio station, or regular club gigs. We did not have access to any of that.
60s: How popular locally did The Seeds of Time become?
CW: We were popular enough to play to play regularly and in some towns were the most popular band around. It was good to be known somewhere and be welcomed.
60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?
CW: We covered central and southern Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida. We played sparingly outside of that territory too - if it paid. We played in Tuscaloosa a lot at the University of Alabama.
60s: What other local groups of the era do you especially recall?
CW: I remember The Rubber Band, The K-Otics, The Rockin' Gibralters, The Phaetons, The Candymen (Roy Orbison's band), and The Classics IV.
60s: Where was the She's Been Traveling Around The World / Gina 45 recorded?
CW: It was recorded in Montgomery in a studio that I think did mostly commercials. There was one engineer and of course we basically played live, but all of the instruments were mic-ed and it did go though a mixing board. I believe we had two mics to sing into, and it was recorded into a two-track recorder. It took us about three takes for each side.
60s: Apparently, The Seeds of Time also released another single in 1967.
C: Yes we did. It was recorded in New Orleans. I believe the name of the studio was Crescent City Sound, or something like that. The songs were Twelfth's Night Indication and Shadow In My Mind. These again were written by Mike Lewis, and arranged by the rest of the band.
60s: Did the group write many original songs?
CW: We did not have many originals; we would only perform one or two at a given time. There was no taboo about covering other peoples material. It was a compliment and you just put your own twist on it.
60s: Do any other Seeds of Time recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings, or unreleased tracks?
CW: We recorded about three or four tracks at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Those were the best recordings that we made, and they were lost at some point (having been) left at a radio station. We recorded ourselves all of the time, just to monitor how we sounded. We always recorded over it or used the tape until it was worn out.
60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances, or does any 8mm or 16mm film footage exist of the band?
CW: We made some 8mm film that was kind of a video...of course without sound.
60s: Why did the band break up?
CW: We just went our separate ways - college, etc. Mike Lewis stayed in the record business; I heard we was at Columbia doing A&R at some point.
60s: Did you form or join and bands after The Seeds of Time?
CW: I was in a band called Mfinger in college with a member of The Rubber Band (Jere Ellis), the drummer from The Seeds of Time (Mike McMillon) and Mike Smith (later of Starz). We just played parties; we did not record. It was a fun group.
60s: What about today? How often, and where, do you perform (if at all)?
CW: My career right now is writing this interview. I still play but not publicly - just occasionally with friends.
60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Seeds of Time?
CW: It was really an awesome time and a completely different environment than what music is today. People wanted to hear live groups more than anything, and most any band that could play reasonably competently could attract a crowd. That is what made the musicians better; you wanted to be more accomplished than the next group and there was nothing like playing live. I am not in the music business now but it is evident that it is much more difficult to have a place to play . The Internet is starting to change that with downloadable music, and inexpensive recording equipment. It is making the process more accessible; not as controlled by the big boys. The equalizer in my day was all of the independent radio stations and local venues that wanted live bands. Now it is becoming home recording and uploading tunes to independent websites. This interview and the rediscovery of The Seeds of Time, however limited, is part of that. It has the same kind of spirit, and can allow some new ideas that have been stifled by big acts and big business to get some exposure. Good going.
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