Members of the Oak Park-based progressive heavy rock group the Dead Seeds during a recent performance at the Abbey, a Chicago concert venue. The band's name comes from the lyric of a King Crimson song called "21st Century Schizoid Man." | Submitted by Dead Seeds To see some of the band's performances, visit thedeadseeds.com

During any given week, for roughly 2-6 hours, Solomon Kimrey, 16, is either glued to his computer screen researching venues to book, practicing chord changes and feeling out lyrics with his fellow band members, thinking about T-shirt designs or keeping track of a small budget.

The Oak Park and River Forest High School senior is both bassist and manager for the Oak Park progressive heavy rock band, the Dead Seeds. The band’s four members — Kimrey, Griffin Shaw (drums), Carter Scofield (lead guitar) and Danny Huerta (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) — have only been playing together for about a year, but what they lack in personal history they make up for in ambition.

Kimrey’s musical influences vary — from British progressive rock band Gentle Giant, which was popular in the 1970s, to the Washington D.C.-based instrumental progressive metal band, Animals as Leaders, formed in 2007 — but the teenager said he wants to model the overall concept of the Dead Seeds on quite another heavy-metal precedent.

“The Who are my epitome of a performing band,” he said, referencing the English rock band that has sold over 100 million records and toured the globe since it was formed in 1964. As for competition, Kimrey said he and his three bandmates look beyond Oak Park to a Missouri garage punk band called Radkey, comprising three self-taught teenage brothers who started out playing festivals and local shows. 

“They’re around our age and they’re touring England and parts of Europe,” Kimrey said. “They’re like my peers. It’s like, if they can have that success, so can I.”

Drummer Shaw, 17, also an OPRF senior, talked with the same seasoned confidence when he recalled the band’s formation at School of Rock, the Oak Park-based music education outlet. 

“When we met, we had at least 20 years of combined musical experience,” Shaw said. 

Kimrey said Huerta, 17, the band’s lead vocalist and a senior at Guerin Prep in River Grove, wanted to start a band to compete in a local battle of the bands competition. Huerta needed guitars.

“He just pulled us aside and asked if we wanted to work with him. I had only been playing bass for about 3-4 months. He took a shot in the dark and it paid off,” Kimrey said. 

Since their formation, they’ve won band competitions in Oak Park, Forest Park and placed second in a Berwyn competition a few weeks ago. And Kimrey has successfully booked the band at various Chicago clubs like the Wire, Reggie’s, the Abbey and the Throne Room, among others. 

The band’s local success has earned it the right to compete in the statewide Battle of the Bands at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 22. Both the local wins and whatever success they may have at the state fair will translate into recording time at Bob Dog Studios in Oak Park. 

The band’s successful chemistry may have been serendipitous, but Kimrey said it takes work to maintain.

“We built our friendship around being in the band together. The longest times I’ve spent with the guys have been after shows. There’s a co-dependence that goes on in bands and we have to understand everybody’s wants and needs onstage and in the writing process. You have to understand there will be hurt feelings once in a while, but we know that everything is for the good of the band,” he said.

There was purpose seemingly built into the Dead Seeds from the start and that, the band members say, may be what makes them special. There are lots of teenage bands, but few may have as serious a marketing strategy and as concrete a vision for the future. 

The band has a Facebook page, YouTube channel, website and sells $10 tie-dyed T-shirts they design themselves. It all works to create an identity and a presence that Kimrey and Shaw hope is as unique as the band’s sound. 

On Aug. 22 in Springfield, the Dead Seeds will perform a 30-minute set, which will allow the musicians to feature many of the strongest songs in its growing catalog. Two of them, “Numb” and “Whole Lotta Helter Skelter,” showcase the band’s range of sonic influences — from Led Zeppelin to the soundtracks of video games like “Shadow of the Colossus.”

But for all of the music they’re making now, the bandmates know that, at some point, the sound will have to stop — or at least pause. Huerta and Shaw are both seniors while Scofield is an OPRF freshman.

“We all have different plans, especially with the grade difference,” said Shaw. “It would get really complicated to try to work all that out for the sake of the band.” 

Kimrey said a break may be inevitable, but it can still be managed. They can rehearse and do shows while Huerta and Shaw are on college break, he said. 

“But at some point, we know it might not be sustainable,” he added, echoing Shaw’s assessment. Their immediate ambition is to release an EP and to gain even more exposure. This is a critical year for the group and each bandmate knows it.

“The biggest thing we’re focused on is the success we have in the next year or two while we still have people around,” Kimrey said.

For the Dead Seeds, the future is now. 

To see some of the band’s performances, click here.

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com

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