Dead Meadow does vintage rock right. The L.A. band (Meadow formed in D.C.) built its hazy vibe on psych-rock staples, such as Hendrix and Zeppelin. It formed in 1998, and in 2010, Dead Meadow released Three Kings, a feature film/soundtrack combo that's one of the band's most inspired and trippy pieces of art to date.
The Pitch recently spoke with Jason Simon (guitar, vocals).
The Pitch: How much has D.C. influenced your band's sound? Or not influenced it? I assume bands either attach to a city's sound or rebel from it.
Jason Simon: We're in L.A. now, but D.C. definitely influenced us. We all kind of came up in the punk scene. There was definitely a reaction against that. We got to a point where all these bands were coming out that sounded so similar. We wanted to get back to what really excited us about music in the first place. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimmy Hendrix. Bands that blew my mind when I was 13 or 14. It was definitely a conscious decision to make music that we were not hearing in D.C. Rocking, but a more relaxed feel.
Did the move change the vibe of the band?
I think you can't help but be a little bit more laid-back in California. It's good weather. It's so easy to go camping. There's so many amazing spots. But then, most of us have been in the band for over 10 years now, so maybe we're more relaxed with the time. But we got into bands right away (when we got to California). It seemed like a whole scene of bands that really got what Dead Meadow was doing. We feel more at home on the West Coast.
What drives the music? Melodies? Lyrics? Atmosphere?
When we started out, it was pretty much all music, and then the lyrics came later. Now, the songs are really important. How the melody fits. That includes the lyrics as well. It's definitely grown to be more important to all of us. I had never really sang before singing in Dead Meadow. So, as time has progressed, I've got more relaxed in Dead Meadow. Construction of simple songs sometimes is the hardest thing to do, and sometimes genius simple songs are the best thing.
How do you keep the band's sound fresh after all these years?
I don't think any of us know what else to do. That's what keeps us going. You know, at least for me, as soon as we finish one record and play a few songs for a while, I immediately think, 'Oh that's cool, but we should do this.' There are always new directions opening up. That's why you do it. In this day and age, that's why you're in a band. There's that creative impulse that keeps us always doing something new.
You guys are working on a new album, correct?
Yeah. We have a studio of our own set up that was kind of put together over the years. So we can track and record the record ourselves. That's pretty much how we did the last two. We're right in the middle of it. I think we have, like, six songs that are in varied stages of being done, and we have a couple other new ones. We'll probably come back at the end of the tour and finish up this record.
Dead Meadow plays with Spindrift and the Black Angels on Saturday, October 15, at the Bottleneck. Doors open at 8 p.m. It's all-ages and costs $15.