Dead Meadow: Zen Going 20 Years Strong

reppin: dc, usa // xemu // 1998 - present

sounds like: according to jason - Dead Meadow is like a favorite episode of “Columbo”.  Entirely soothing with a hint of the unnerving and the bizarre.  

last album drop: the nothing they need (march 16, 2018)

featuring: jason // steve // juan
 

 Dead Meadow | photo cred: Jessica Senteno

Dead Meadow | photo cred: Jessica Senteno

A few years back, when the Double Door was still alive and well, I stumbled into the venue to check out Dead Meadow during a warm summer day. They mesmerized my ears and mind with a calming yet heart-pounding set of rock along with a visually stunning projection of animation and color. That night they wheeled me in and grabbed me by the arms, not letting go until I was cleared in my head and melted in my face (I was able to put it back on). However, their story goes way further back to a city that was music rich back in the late 90s.

Back during the 1980s and 90s, DC was on the map when it came to the uprising of emo, punk and hardcore bands. Minor Threat, Fugazi and The Dismemberment Plan are cemented as vital bands in that era, and from it came a combination of two bands to form Dead Meadow. With some experience behind them already, they combined 70s heavy metal and 60s psychedelic rock, creating a simple, yet fantasy world of sound...always stretching your imagination. They have no fear of jumping off their usually script as they’ve had albums in the past with a heavier blues influences and acoustic elements.

In 2018 we are celebrating 20 years of this group. They have toured the world, shuffled their lineup like most long-time bands would, but have always kept their fans, gained new ones and established themselves as legends among countless newer bands trying to join the fold. They have clearly laid out a path for not just success, but happiness, fruitfulness and fulfillment as a band. Their latest release just a few short weeks ago, The Nothing They Need, is shelter in a way according to the band. There is much negative energy that blankets us these days and the sounds and visuals of the new album are meant to be an escape. So, come on and escape as these guys answer some of my questions ahead of their Chicago gig at Beat Kitchen.

beat kitchen tickets - april 4

interview stuff

Think back to when you formed as a band, through those first early releases. What would you tell your former selves now. Any regrets? Would you do it all the same? Are the same values important to you as a band?

steve

 Dead Meadow's recent release: The Nothing They Need

Dead Meadow's recent release: The Nothing They Need

jason: Yeah there never was really much of a choice about doing something else.  I think I always knew it wouldn’t be an easy road but I think you’ll find most people involved in spending their life in pursuit of any creative endeavor feel it as a sort of calling.  I think the primary value that was true in the beginning and now is to stay as true to our creative vision as possible. You know most of what I love and have been influenced by has most always been work that seems to cater to a certain niche crowd off the beaten track.  I guess it is only natural that the band has cultivated a similar sort of following.


There is a heavy influence in your music from the 60s and 70s: rock n’ roll, metal and psychedelic rock. To me, especially in the late 60s, that’s when lyrics turned from questioning to more raw feelings and angst. What do you want to tell your fans with your lyrics?

jason: Well I rarely have a direct message in mind that I am trying to convey.  Songs tend to be more mediations on certain themes and feelings. I find for me it is most important to try and be open as much as possible in order to catch those phrases and lines when the come.  Where they come from is a whole other question. Whether you feel they come from within, without, on high, deep below, certain things feel inspired and worth building into a cohesive whole…well, cohesive at least for me.


When it comes to touring, how do you channel your identity to the live stage? When you make eye contact with that fan or are warming up a room, what do you want them to feel?

 Dead Meadow | photo cred: Jessica Senteno

Dead Meadow | photo cred: Jessica Senteno

steve: for me there is a zen like place with the energy of a room that really pushes the music out. In my mind even when caught in the moment I still am thinking if what we are doing is believable and feels true.. Like as simple as rocking out how far is goofy and what isn't enough. You need to be comfortable with your message being received by the audience at all times otherwise it can be too cartoon like.

jason: I feel all I can really do is attempt to lose myself in the present moment of creating music and play to the best of my ability.  If I feel I’m achieving that hopefully the fans can come on the same enjoyable journey that I’m on.

 

What, if any, rituals, goofy corks and all do you have as a band during pre-show prep or after the show? What gives you the most fulfilling moment during this process of getting to a gig to playing it to winding down?

 Dead Meadow | Double Door, Chicago | 5.17.16

Dead Meadow | Double Door, Chicago | 5.17.16

steve: i guess a few drinks and laughs can help it be comfortable. I feel our fans can be a bit of the inebriated variety so sometimes it is good to be on the same level. Really the actual talking to the fans and meeting people face to face is the most rewarding. It is really cool to know everyone and what makes them interested in seeing us. I kinda feel I I would get the same enjoyment from a meet and greet only tour.. Like playing the songs is great and moving but it is the contact with people that really makes playing live music so special.

jason: yeah, no green room seances or warm up chants for us… a drink or two, a spiff… etc…   It’s always nice once everything is set and our intro drone is rolling to take a minute to breath and relax.  


Every post/article I do is drawn from the experience of listening to and seeing live music. I like to be very detailed and metaphorical (not a fan of comparing bands to other bands, critiquing or reviewing) If you had to describe the identity of Dead Meadow with a metaphor, what would it be?

jason: Dead Meadow is like a favorite episode of “Columbo”.  Entirely soothing with a hint of the unnerving and the bizarre.

 

suggested listening experience: twist one up // sunny evening, winding down // when you need to find your space and mellow out

listens: nobody’s home // what needs must be // greensky greenlake // sleepy silver door // 1000 dreams // keep your head // heaven // 'til kingdom come

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