Dead Meadow formed in Washington DC in the late 90’s. In the span of their existence, they’ve released more than 6 studio albums, the most recent being 2013’s Warble Womb on Xemu Records. Our friend Ryan Muldoon at Revolt of the Apes has compiled a list of 10 questions for Dead Meadow in anticipation of their APF 2014 performance.
Can you recall what the first album you ever bought with your own money was, or perhaps that first album that you ever begged your parents for? What attracted you to that music in the first place? How do you feel about it today?Â
Steve: Led Zeppelin 4, it was so dark and mysterious to me. Really the first album I bought myself and didn’t just steal from my older brother. It will always give me the creepy exciting feeling when listening to it. Now knowing the history you can really hear the haunted manor house they recorded in those sounds.Â
What has been the biggest shift in either your listening habits or musical appreciation between your youth and today?Â
Steve: Now I don’t have the time to really dig into an album like when I was younger. Its unfortunate but sometimes the love of music that makes you want to play and get “involved” also fills up your free time relieving you of those precious moments you could get lost in tone and melody. The one thing that has stayed the same is if I like something I want to listen to it over and over again, at least in the background these days.Â
Would you be able to isolate a single emotion or concept as the primary driver of the music made by Dead Meadow? Has that shifted since in the years since the band began?
Steve: Escapism. It has always been the secret effect we wanted people to get from our music. We have always wanted the art and music to reflect the child-like feeling of looking at a fantasy novel or a comic book. A multi-media escapism artifact. Some albums are closer to this than others but the intent has always been the same.Â
Dead Meadow has performed Austin Psych Fest twice before, in 2012 and also at the second festival in 2009 â€“ we seem to recall crushing volume, a drum solo and what appeared to be a novelty-sized bottle of bourbon. What are your memories of that weekend, or any other time at Austin Psych Fest?Â
Steve: Well as the main consumer of the whisky I remember very little other than being super happy. Actually I vaguely remember being sick later at a Warlocks performance and then trying to make a campfire with prefab plastic logs with a buddy. Ha, I guess all rad times!
Are there any bands in particular playing the 2014 fest that you are excited to see perform?Â
Steve: all of them.Â
What music have you been listening to lately? Push comes to shove, what is your favorite Blue Cheer song of all time?Â
Steve: Personally going through a 90’s pop resurgence and been breaking out my Muff’s records. Jason keeps talking GoGo everyday. As for Blue Cheer, I love all of their stuff and love the people more. We had a chance tour with them and it was amazing. So true. We really lost a a genius in Dickies passing.Â
Dead Meadow’s music is being released under Xemu records, which is run by members of the band. What can you tell us about starting a record label and your shift to releasing independently?
Steve: It just made sense at the time. We have partnered with bigger companies but these days I think you are kinda sunk unless the head operations lies in the hand of the artist ultimately. Sort of the vision we have with the label that will be almost an artists rights collective in the vein of Factory, etc. Plus signing a record deal is almost unheard of past a certain point. These are weird times we are in for sure.
â€œWarble Wombâ€ is an absolutely beautiful monster of a record, and a large monster at that, packing in more than seventy, swampy minutes. How conscious were you of the albumâ€™s running time, and how much do you deliberate over the track order of an album like â€œWarble Wombâ€? Can you think of any ways in which this album surprised even you when it was completed?Â
Steve: They always surprise me and they always end up different than intended. I believe at first, when we started writing with Mark again for this album we all wanted to do an “On the Beach” Neil Young sort of thing then you start adding all of these other feelings and music to the mix. The end result is something totally unique. In the end, by the time we started polishing and doing the artwork we wanted to make Exile or Physical Graffiti, long, encompassing, soul inspired. I think we got that bit in a Dead Meadow sort of way.Â
H.P. Lovecraft said the following: â€œTo be bitter is to attribute intent and personality to the formless, infinite, unchanging and unchangeable void. We drift on a chartless, resistless sea. Let us sing when we can, and forget the rest.” Your thoughts?
Steve: I am not sure if that is true or even true to his career. Everyone does this “art” thing to be didactic or just be a teacher. It is the naive part of being a creator at an early age thinking what you can do will change the world. The problem is being bummed when these expectations aren’t happening in your contemporary world. The thing is eventually, years and years down the road you make a difference. You just got be carefree during the process and not feel the energy of the haters too much. Stay on course and your vision will be respected.
What’s next for Dead Meadow?
Steve: More touring and more music. Its what we have always done.Â
Catch Dead Meadow at APF 2014 May 2 – 4. Tickets and camping passes are available for purchase HERE.