During the brief funk-metal fad of the late 1980's and early 1990's, Atom Seed represented the great white hopes of the British heavy music scene to match the onstage pyrotechnics and groove-based riffing of the likes of Faith No More, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Living Colour. The band's sound borrowed a lot from these first two bands, blending the solid Black Sabbath guitar sound of the former with the frenetic rhythms and barking rapping of the latter. What U Say, the first track from Atom Seed's 1990 debut album Get in Line, exemplifies the formula: heavy guitars, nifty basswork (Chris Dale the bassist popped up recently on Bruce Dickinson's Skunkworks project), uptempo grooves and vocals in the style of Anthony Kiedis via central London.
By and large, we Brits seem to have turned a blind eye to the stylistic similarities. Desperate to have a Chili Peppers of our own, Atom Seed gained a strong live following. Never mind that the lead singer sported long hair, surf-shorts and onstage moves just that little bit too similar to Anthony. Never mind the fact that the album sounded just like a blend of The Real Thing and the first Chili Peppers release: it was British funk metal at last. There were a few other pretenders to the throne in the UK at the time: Scat Opera and The Cherries for example. All of them took the speed and energy of the Chili Peppers sound as their own, but few (okay, perhaps Scat Opera) seemed to realise that the roots of that sound lay ultimately in funk music. The result was often just speed metal with slap bass, but Atom Seed managed to produce a competent and commercial sound. Indeed, in 1990 Get in Line achieved the honour of being named on of Kerrang! magazine's top twenty albums of the year.
By 1992 all was not well in the Atom Seed camp. With the new album reportedly in the can, the band embarked on a countrywide tour. A single was released, the ironic Dead Happy e.p.. Stylistically, it was a considerable change in direction. Just as the record sleeve depicted the band in a dull bluish light (as opposed to the acid-trip colour-splashes of previous artwork), the music had become sullen, dirge-like. "People say we now have the Seattle sound," said the lead singer at a gig at Nottingham Rock City. Atom Seed had jumped the grunge bandwagon just as, some would argue, they had jumped the funk-metal one for their earlier sound.Just as they'd tried to fuse the metal of Faith No More with the energy and fire of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it now seemed as they were trying to meld the morose grunge of Nirvana with the more conventional musicianship of Pearl Jam. It was a gamble that didn't pay off.
At the same Nottingham gig, the lead singer posed the crowd the question: "If we were to split up tomorrow, would you be upset?" That's a question only a really insecure band can ask, and like dogs sensing fear we managed only a weak murmured "Yeah..." Sure enough, within a couple of months the band were no more.
Atom Seed Links
I haven't found any Atom Seed web pages so far. I'd be happy to receive word of them.
Back to The Index