Dead Meadow

Smoking a Rubber Cigar

Dead Meadow / Three Kings CD/DVD (Xemu)


Straight outta Washington, D.C., veteran psych-thud kingpins Dead Meadow have been carving out their own exceedingly heavy slice of time, space and brontosauras beat for lo these many, many years, a stance and style far removed from the band members’ roots in punk rock and hardcore.

“It was a bit of reaction against what was going on in D.C. at the time,” says guitarist-singer Jason Simon. “We all came up in the punk rock scene, with Fugazi and the Dischord label there. That was all great stuff, but you reach a point when there’s just so many bands doing that. We wanted to get back to what we loved when we were 13 or 14, classic heavy stuff that just blew our minds and took you on a journey.”

Always looking into the past to go way forward, the band (which includes Stephen McCarty on drums and Steve Kille on bass and sitar) took their cues from hairy old Led Zep, Sabbath, Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly and all that, dishing out distinctly dirty, nasty, slamming swirls of brain-squarshing, thick-ass fuzzy rifferini and Eastern-mode droning 12-string blues that evokes the arcane rituals of an obscure tribe from Upper Volta converting to Druidism deep down in darkest Papua, New Guinea. I.e., if it’s a genuinely psychedelic atmosphere you need, Dead Meadow’s lushly langorous hashy haze will surely float your little mind…

Dead Meadow’s recent Three Kings CD/DVD includes live recordings plus a few new studio songs, and interpolates the action with a very trippy film that tells, say, a kind Lynchian/Jodorowsky-esque fantasy that’s, of course, way open to interpretation. Kind of like the band itself, who don’t so much mind being called “psychedelic” as long as the term is used correctly.

            “We just try to make stuff that we would enjoy and gets us excited,” says Simon. “It’s really cool that the shows seem to pull a pretty eclectic group of people out, people coming from the heavy stoner rock scene, people from more indie rock worlds, from the ’70s scene, just record collectors coming out from the basement.”

The L.A.-based band has evolved just a tad away from the gargantuan walls of distorted riff ‘n’ sludge ‘n’ swirling atmospheric effects of their initial releases, yet DM’s newfound melodic splendor and painterly poise still comes complete with a taut muscularity that slaps the band’s dreamily droll tales of fantasy wide awake. Dead Meadow build castles in the air and on the ground, preaching the word via one consistently intense stash of non-brain-damaged head medicine.

Dead Meadow are a genuinely psychedelic band, you might say.

“I can dig that, definitely,” says Simon. “Anything that has a lot of levels to it is probably good to get stoned to, you know?”

Speaking of which, do they?

“I’ve smoked a lot of weed over the years, so I feel like that’s just a part of getting our kind of musical feel –– or getting into things that I would definitely appreciate in a stoned sort of mind. I was definitely high last time we left California on tour, and it was so nice not to be concerned about whether I’m gonna be arrested for having pot on me. It just seems so insane to me that everywhere it isn’t like California, where its `What’s the big deal?’ I can’t wait for this country to catch up with what the people want and how things should be.”

So where are Dead Meadow going, and what will they find when they get there?

Simon says, “We’re just keeping on, man, it’s all just a journey, like, Oh! We’re getting close to something. I guess if you ever get there, you just stop. I don’t know if you ever want to get there.”