Way back in the mid-'80s you could find me most Saturday nights prancing around on a tiny stage doing the two things I was then best at, screaming really loud and shaking a tambourine. The audience was full of pimply guys with bowl cuts and pointy boots who left the dancing to a few girls in their mini-dresses bouncing up and down in futile attempts to locate some kind of beat in our inept bashing. Those of you Southern Californians who weren’t hanging with the New-Ros down on Beverly might remember that scene. Groups like The Gravedigger 5, Telltale Hearts, and Untold Fables were thrown together by suburban ex-punkers and mods who fell hard for the sounds they heard on compilation albums like Back From the Grave, Pebbles, and Ugly Things. By growing out our hair and slipping on our dads’ turtlenecks we gave up on any chance of ever scoring with anybody in High School, but hey, it was worth it. We were gonna be just like the Count V!
Thanks to our Stooges-meets-Zakary Thaks aspirations and a thematically raucous live show (our drummer worked at Ralph's so there were always plenty of bananas on hand), my band landed a "record deal" with Greg Shaw and Voxx Records. In order to insure his interest, we claimed we were from a backwoods town in Ohio (in reality we were So Cal kids, raised on the Descendents, Black Flag, and Red Cross)—so that it was all the more amazing that we were so well versed in punk rock legendry. It all worked according to plan and a few months later we were cooped up in a studio off of La Cienega with Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion at the controls. Seems that Gurewitz and Shaw had become “partners” in the expansion of Epitaph Records and we were to be the first to make them both lots of money. Unfortunately, we didn’t even know enough songs to fill up a record so we halfway figured out a couple Sonics covers and stole a few more from the Morlocks set. Things were looking good.
A regular guest at the sessions was none other than Sky "Sunlight" Saxon. Having recently returned from an extended dog-honoring sesh in Hawaii, Sky would stop by wearing a long beard and white robe or sometimes just sweatpants and maybe an amulet of some significance known only to him. Gurewitz liked to go pick Sky up at a Hollywood Motel, where he was living with some girls, mostly because the ex-Seed was holding some pretty stony weed. We'd get baked and try and record some
inane three-chorder, a task that got harder and harder the longer Sky hung around. While Greg Shaw usually looked on in silence, reading a book, Sky would go off about saving animals and stuff like that. He began calling Gurewitz "Starbolt," so we put that on the record. I think we wanted Sky to write the record's liner notes but we couldn't really understand what he was talking about so Greg Shaw wrote them and credited them to "Marcus Tybalt," just like on the Seeds’ first record. A couple times at the Cavern Club (a short-lived '60s hangout in an alley off Hollywood Blvd.) Sky would ask if he could sing with us and we'd do "No Escape" or "Out of the Question." Mostly we thought he was kind of annoying.
Raw and Alive was the first Seeds record I ever bought. That and The Stooges first album were about the coolest thing around and kinda summed up the vibe my friends and I were going for. Of course we never got close, but over the course of a couple years we fucked shit up opening for the Chesterfield Kings at the Mab, played Foghat's version of "I Just Want To Make Love To You" for uptight (and upset) mods at Madame Wongs, and got our record named Pick of The Summer by the LA Weekly. By 1986 it was all over and I’d moved to Frisco to join a Hawkwind cover band.
These days things are a little mellower. You're more likely to hear Popol Vuh than The Monks wafting out of my window, and long gone are the days of actually keeping track which Highs In The Mid-Sixties they're on. Truth is I've been spending a lot of time listening to the Yahowha Collection, a 13 CD box set of recordings documenting the totally-involved musical arm of Father Yod's Source Family. If you can get through the whole thing in one sitting you're a better man than I, but little by little I've been digging one disc at a time. The music varies from light coed folky stuff to full-tilt Beefheart jams that make all the dogs in my neighborhood start barking. This shit is the real thing.
On the "Related Singles" CD there's a whole mess of our old buddy Sky singing with Yahowha spin-offs like The SSSDragon Slayers and World Peace Band. I remember seeing him sing with all sorts of people back then—Redd Kross, various Frisco folks at the 6th St. Rendezvous—and being pretty stoked and happy at the experience, especially when he stopped ranting about dogs and did "Up In Her Room" or "Mr. Farmer.” Listening to these tracks now, I find them all amazing, even when our hero goes off on. . . ummm, "tangents." After enduring Yod's barking for a few hours, Sky's prophetic whine sounds like angels rubbing their wings together.
There are no dates on these recordings but the inclusion of The Bangles’ Peterson sisters singing on one cut (It’s true!) points towards ‘84ish, which makes me realize that the people Sky was staying with when we were doing our album were probably leftover Source people who had moved back to California after Father Yod died hang gliding in Maui. So there I was, a punk 18-year-old, thinking Sky’s goofy rants were “kinda funny” when I could have been hanging out with Father Yod’s disciples that Sky was shacking up with up in Hollywood. I was more into watching Theolonius Monster record next door because Dix Denny from the Weirdos was there!
Anyway, the cover of this particular CD shows Sky wearing all white. His hair and beard are long and a white cape blows sideways in the wind as he points both arms forward towards the camera. He looks intense and fit. All the tricks he learned from the Nature Boys no doubt filling him with ample vim and vigor. With Gypsy Boots’ passing last year, Sky’s pretty much the living heir to the Naturmensch movement. After all, he was the guy who made it cool for the Sunset Strippers to start wearing beads and eat fruits and nuts. Or as Gordon Kennedy and Kody Ryan put it in some online article, “When the Beatles and Rolling Stones arrived in Los Angeles in the mid 1960’s their "pudding basin" hairstyles seemed tame when compared to a local rock band "The Seeds" who wore shoulder length hair, thanks to the influence of Gypsy Boots and his ilk. "Seeds" singer Sky Saxon, a vegetarian, had invented a new type of music…."Flower Punk". Even Jimi Hendrix had a front row seat to a Seeds concert, and the Doors played second bill on a Seeds tour.”