Genre: Indie rock
When the Zero Boys imploded in the mid 1980s, musician and producer Paul Mahern kept himself busy first with Dandelion Abortion, a short-lived outfit that merged the Zero Boys’ hardcore fury with a mish-mash of styles from a more angular approach, à la Television to Sonic Youth-meets-Jello Biafra noise. One of its songs, “Stab ’Em,” could’ve even been on a Devo record.
However, while working with Jonee Quest at Indy’s Hit City recording studio, a high school girl named Lee Cuthbert brought in her band to record, and as Mahern puts it, “I fell in love with her personality and songwriting skills and asked her to join us.” Having already cut a few demos with Quest and a Linn 9000 drum machine, they recruited a drummer named Tom Downs and thus formed the Datura Seeds.
Mahern’s flower child persona came to the forefront as the band created powerful pop masterpieces that ranked as some of the best stuff coming out of Indiana at that time. The band’s sole album, Who Do You Want it to Be?, created a minor national buzz due to the strength of tunes like “Half Asleep” and the infectious “S&P ’69.”
Unfortunately, the ensemble only lasted a few years. Towards the end, after his band, Jot, broke up, Vess Ruhtenberg joined, and shortly thereafter, he followed Mahern as he reformed the Zero Boys. The chemistry between the two carried over to the Zero Boys’ third album, Heimlich Maneuver, which featured artwork by Quest, who went on to become one of Indianapolis’ premier sound engineers. Cuthbert went on to moderate acclaim as a member of the Gentle Readers.
“I haven’t seen Tom in years,” Mahern says. “Lee has a furnishings store in Atlanta, Jonee is still in Indy doing his Questy thing, Vess is a Lemonhead, among other things, and I am meditating somewhere.”
When asked if a reunion or reissue of the band’s recordings were a possibility in the near future, Mahern turns coy, simply stating “Anything is possible.”