As the American stoner rock band, Dead Meadow, sweeps across Europe riding the waves of their tour, fans in London eagerly await their upcoming tour date. We managed to catch up and get back to basics with singer and guitarist, Jason Simon. Simon fronts the band along with members Steve Kille and Mark Laughlin. With more than six studio albums out already, we don’t know what’s cooking next, but we definitely expect to hear more great things from this three-piece.
Heatwave: Hello! Thank you for letting us interview you. Dead Meadow originated in the late 1990s, how did the band get started and how did you all meet?
Jason Simon: Steve and I met playing in different D.C. area bands while we were in high school. We eventually formed a band in the D.C. punk rock tradition that lasted for a few years. When that ended we knew we wanted to do something different from the music that was coming out at that time, something that harkened back to the music we grew up on, like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath. Steve and I started writing some tunes, but everything fell into place when we started playing with Mark. I met Mark in college, I got word he played the big drum with ferocity.
Heatwave: You grew up in Washington D.C., how important was the scene to your music? What were your influences back then? Did you play in any other bands at the time?
Jason Simon: The D.C. scene was incredibly important to all three of us, not just the music but the D.I.Y. aesthetics as well. I think it instilled in us a real love of doing as much as we can ourselves. We all grew up loving bands like Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses and Circus Lupus. It was still quite affordable in D.C. through the 90’s and it provided a nice atmosphere for creativity. Steve and I had a band called The Impossible 5 and then a short-lived project called Colour. Right before Dead Meadow was formed Cory (who was in Dead Meadow for the Feathers record) and I had a band called Hollow Mountain.
Heatwave: You have quite a few LPs out—first being a self-titled (2000) and the latest Warble Womb (2013). You can hear the influence of 90s rock in the first albums shifting to a more psychedelic sound in the latest release. How do you think you’ve developed this change in your sound over the years and are there any peculiarities in your music that you think may have improved?
Jason Simon: Well, as I said we grew up playing in D.C. style punk bands, so that influence remains with us. It’s more prominent on the first record, but I still feel it’s in there, as it should be since it’s where we came from. We’ve never tried to play in a certain style. We play what feels right and good to us at the time.
Heatwave: Your first self-titled record was re-released not long ago, are you still happy with the results of that album more than 15 years later?
Jason Simon: Yes and No. It’s not how we would play it nowadays, necessarily, but that is what live shows are for. We do play a number of those songs live, but I know they feel different or are played differently now. I think records are a moment in time and that record captured what we were feeling particularly well, so I definitely wouldn’t change anything about it.
Jason Simon: We recorded the final show of a long tour in support of Old Growth. It was a good show and we started entertaining the idea of putting it out. Unbeknownst to us, the show was also filmed with multiple cameras and it turned out the guys that filmed it, Simon Chan and Joe Rubalcaba, had a studio space in the same building. We started hanging out and became good friends. We just started tossing ideas around and the project grew and grew into our own tripped out version of something like a 70’s concert film. I would say it was more the end of an era than a beginning as it marked the end of Stephen McCarty’s time playing with us. It captured him and us playing at the top of our game for that “era.” After that a new era began with Warble Womb and Mark Laughlin’s return to the band.
Heatwave: In 2000, you also recorded the first non-U.K. Peel session, outside the BBC studio and in Fugazi’s home studio, but didn’t get released until 2012. Why did it take so many years to get it out there?
Well it took that long to put out because we move slow and can be lazy about things like that. It has just been re-released as a joint LP between U.K.’s Cardinal Fuzz, and TEKELI-LI records, a label that I’ve just started. Yeah we recorded in D.C., as we had no plans for touring England at that time. It’s good and raw sounding.
Heatwave: After more than 15 years of writing and playing music, is there anything that as a band, you still consider a weakness in your career? At any point, have you ever thought of letting this (the band) go?
Jason Simon: The only weakness I can think of would be on the business end of things. I feel a savvy business manager type to organize the more worldly elements of Dead Meadow might have been useful, but we all live and learn. Ya know, with each album we make I always feel that we learn so much and that the next one will be even better knowing what we know now. Each creative project seems to open onto the next. So, at the moment, I know there’s at least one more Dead Meadow record on the way… And there’s also the fact that you got to do something to pay the bills… Might as well be Dead Meadow 🙂
Heatwave: Are you active in your current local scene? Are there any new bands or albums you would like to recommend us?
Jason Simon: I’m not really in touch with much of the modern scene or found too many bands that are blowing my mind right now. I’ve been on a deep old Appalachian banjo music kick. I can’t get enough of the pre 1930’s recordings of artist like Clarence Ashley, Dock Boggs, and Buell Kazee. It’s spooky and spine tingling stuff. I’ve been listening to a ton of Keith Hudson… There’s something so off kilter about many of his tunes. I dig it.
Heatwave: Since your latest LP was over two years ago, when can we expect a new release?
Jason Simon: When we finish it… Dead Meadow takes a long time to do anything. I’m hoping sooner rather than later but we can’t force it. I’m guessing next Fall at the earliest.
Heatwave: A few words to your London fans?
Jason Simon: Enjoy yourselves; these are the good old days you will look back fondly on in the years to come…
Interview conducted by Neus Ruiz
Dead Meadow are playing Bad Vibes Fest this Saturday 28th of March.
Check the event here
Get tickets from here