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

dm // spotify // ig // twitter // fb

interview stuff: FUTURE GENERATIONS

reppin: bronx, usa // frenchkiss records // 2015 - present

sounds like: it’s 2 in the morning, storm outside and you are walking home with a big smile on your face, loving life

future generations | photo cred: Nico Schinco

future generations | photo cred: Nico Schinco

last album drop: self titled (july 2016)

featuring: eddie // mike // eric // devon // dylan

These 5 dudes that are Future Generations are about to be shot out of a canon. Hailing from that big city they call new york, they are already an album deep and hungry to make you smile with their tunes. What started as eddie, mike and eric jamming out in the basement of college housing has evolved into a project that hopes to shape the world of indie pop.

There is something to be said about the balance of a band, the origins of its members and how they divide and conquer. After releasing their self-titled debut about a year ago, they quickly understood that playing to their strengths, even outside of making the music, was key to become kings of the road and gain the fans they know are out there. A successful SXSW this past March combined with hitting cities all over the country have positioned them well for future success.

More than that, talking to these guys made me realize that it isn’t just about the logistics and “getting bigger.” They want to connect with their audience, give them a reason to feel something and have them come out on top after listening to them. They are about to hit the road for a mini-tour this summer (link), with the first stop being in good ol’ Chicago. I caught them on the phone the other week to chat about the journey so far, what they want their fans to experience and the road ahead.

INTERVIEW STUFF

A few of you have been writing together for some time. What has the journey been like to land on your sound. What kind of different past experience, both in life and music, led you to here?

eddie: Earlier in our life, we did not know what kind of music we wanted to make. Basically we were creating music in the basement of our dorm spots and we had heavy influences form BadBadNotGood. We were playing a jazz foundation with hip hop beats and integrating Eric’s guitar in there. We always tendency melody and catchy hooks so we kind of gravitated towards that and when we started releasing music, people started liking those songs more. We started listening to more indie pop music so naturally we started wanting to make music like that. It has never been a conscious decision for us, but more what we naturally do in making what we like.

me: Do you find that kind of drives the music more, with the passion for that music you truly love?

future generations | photo cred: Nico Schinco

future generations | photo cred: Nico Schinco

dylan: Yea, of course. I think what is good about us, is that we can really grab influence from anything and we try to integrate that into our songs. It just always kind of always end up sounding like our band. I think the great thing about playing indie pop is that it is versatile. We’re lucky we can do these multiple different things.

mike: The early days and what we drew even comes down to what we have access to. When Eddie, Mike and Eric were writing these songs in the basement, we only had access to certain things, especially the instruments they were playing. "Stars," for example, is a very heartfelt, kind of big ideas song, but it was written in a capacity that was limited.

devon: I think the challenge that was achieved and overcome was being able to arrange this really interesting indie pop song over heartfelt lyrics. If we had gone to a music school or something, I think a few of our songs could have come out different. When we were recording the album, as a bass player, the song "coast," that lower bass synth was going to be the only bass part. I come from more of a punk, more of a rock background. Let’s put in some bass that is more throbbing eight notes. That is just the way, we are always willing to add new stuff, especially on the new record. It is like writing a song sophomore year and seeing what it sounds like senior year. You can even go back and listen to the demos and you can really hear the progression. Even our new songs, we saw a ton of punk bands at SXSW, and that got us in a tempo to play those types of songs.

me: A few weeks ago I saw a great punk show at the new House of Vans and I got on this crazy punk tear after it...I have a very in the moment kind of way how I like to consume my music, so I get it. There is a certain relationship beyond just the music..being at the show, belonging and such.

devon: There is something about seeing punk live, that infectious energy. Always involving the crowd. As we go forward and try to cultivate a fan base, that kind of community and having people being able to relate, almost on a scene level, is something we want to achieve.

Lyrics are a big deal to me. What do you want people to feel and experience when they listen to you all sing?

eddie: For me, I write all the lyrics and it is the last thing I usually do for the song. The music typically informs the lyrics, pretty much every time. I hope when people listen to our music, they kind of get the same feeling I have when I was writing the lyrics. Relationships, recognizing a moment or exploring who you are as a person...that is kind of what the themes and vibes are of the album. This latest song, “one more problem,” is about a relationship and recognizing the feelings of someone else during a breakup. When I listen to music, I interpret how it means to me and I want our fans to feel the same way. I think that is way more important to me. That doesn’t mean the lyrics are specific to my life, but I do leave them vague.

future generations | photo cred: Nico Schinco

future generations | photo cred: Nico Schinco

The road so far...how does that play as you move forward? What recent experiences have been ah-ha moments, maybe there have been some awesome fan interactions that have kept you pushing. What is all about for you? How do you grow as a band?

eddie: I think we have plenty of time to grow, we are constantly trying to do more. We are constantly trying to more, whether it is playing shows, being on the road, writing new music...music is pretty much everything we do, we all live together. When we play these shows, we are influenced by the other bands playing with us and you get to see people you would have never met before. It makes you kind of just want to go back and write more music and prove yourself and play more shows.

I unfortunately missed you with Savior Adore back in November...however the Cubs were in the playoffs so I have my reasons. When I see you play in a few weeks, what is your live show like. When you make eye contact with someone, what do you want them to know?

We have a vibe on stage that definitely connects with people, but seeing all these other shows just makes us want to get better and better. We are always trying to find that thing that is going to surprise the audience. We just want to get on stage and have as much fun as everyone else is. It is a two way street because we think people are going to like, but we like and we have doing it.

I always use funny metaphors to describe bands and artists i write about, what would you use?

Future Generations music is like when you’re at a party and you go to the backyard to roast a J and you notice a group of guys in a deep discussion and you go over to join them and realize that they are talking about why one restaurant doesn’t have a Michellen star. I have no idea what that means but…

I think our song, “thunder in the city” is exactly how people listen to our music. That song is about walking home at 2 in the morning, it is about to rain, it is summertime. You just feel good about yourself and life in general. There is like a storm all around you, but you are just walking through it with a smile on your face.

me: Hell yea guys, stoked to see you all when you come in and looking forward to seeing what else you guys can accomplish along the way.

suggested listening experience: cruising through your city on a summer day // staying home on a rainy day // when you are looking for a smile

listens: stars // grace // one more problem // coast // you've got me flush // thunder in the city

fg // spotify // fb // twitter // sc // ig

interview stuff: MODERN VICES

reppin: chicago, usa // unsigned // 2013 - present

sounds like: crying to the Pet Sounds albums in a moldy basement but at the same time getting off to Joy Division

modern vices | posing at Beat Kitchen, Chicago | 4.12.17 | @thefaakehipster

modern vices | posing at Beat Kitchen, Chicago | 4.12.17 | @thefaakehipster

next album drop: fall 2017

featuring: alex // peter // thomas // miles // patrick

interview stuff

modern vices | Beat Kitchen, Chicago | 4.12.17 | @thefaakehipster

modern vices | Beat Kitchen, Chicago | 4.12.17 | @thefaakehipster

I swear to the music lords i have never dropped my jaw so low and perked my ears to attention that quickly. I stumbled upon Modern Vices as I scooted over to Subterranean to check out the magical fingers of Ron Gallo. These five baby faced dudes who couldn’t be older than their early 20s took the stage with their hair...lots of hair. As soon as they kick in that intro and Alex’s vocals fill the room like a helium tank making love to a balloon. Suddenly, you are intertwined in this romantic web of old school rock n’ roll with a touch of modern distortion. You’re enticed to grab onto the someone close to you and just soak it all in. These are those moments of going out there to discover new music when you know something special and different in brewing in your backyard.

modern vices | subterranean, chicago | 2.20.17 | @thefaakehipster

modern vices | subterranean, chicago | 2.20.17 | @thefaakehipster

What began as a some friends just hanging and jamming slowly morphed into the a new beginning of a magical journey. As Alex puts it, “so it all started when we all lived with each other for a year. We played two shows in our basement for friends and the following month we got signed.” While the special connection of writing tunes was there, it can still smack you in the face as a young dude with little clue. “It all happens so quickly, being a band and all.” But isn’t that part of the fun, riding a wave that is already a mammoth from the start. “At first we were just talking about how cool it would be to just get a record out, nothing more than that,” Peter describes. “The first time we came together for that album, it was kind of a beautiful accident. These were songs that Thomas and i wrote in high school. After that we didn’t know at the time, but we were def not on the same page. But we were younger, just making music.”

modern vices | Beat Kitchen, Chicago | 4.12.17 | @thefaakehipster

modern vices | Beat Kitchen, Chicago | 4.12.17 | @thefaakehipster

Their first self-titled album gave them an identity to start with though. As Alex puts it, “the first record we made definitely honed in on that 50s vibe and the sound, tone and everything really branched off from that pop noise of that era. But, it’s not something they want to engulf themselves with. “While we started with that and still have elements of that sound, but we don’t want to be this ‘doo-wop’ band. It is part of our style, but not all of it.” This beautiful sound, while still a work in progress, translates seamlessly onto the main stage. “We really aim for that kind of smooth, flowing set,” frontman Alex said. The guys did add a distinct note, “we’ve actually been working on creating a distinct live version of songs that are somewhat different than what we record. Adding like a section, jam or a transition to change it up. It Gives fans another reason to see us live.” And ain’t that the truth.

The beauty of gelling together that early is having the time to evolve. “We had to ask ourselves that kind of band we wanted to be,” Peter mentioned. That thought has evolved into reality as their next record is due out this fall. They have worked diligently to expand their identity beyond just that 50's rock persona. Alex has taken some time to perfect his writing as well. “The first album I definitely had some weird lyrics and my friends were like, what the fuck does this mean. But, at the core, they are emotionally driven songs. It is the same kind of writing for this upcoming record too with more maturity. A romantic journey of sorts with these guys. We’re all in it together. The songs are about what all of us are going through.” It is the calm before the storm as you’ll see these dudes playing Chicago here and there throughout the summer as they gear up for this next release. As to what to expect with their new tracks: “We’re crying to the Pet Sounds albums in a moldy basement but at the same time getting off to Joy Division.” Too unique to pass up kids..I think you’ll be hearing this band name much more as we roll into 2018.

modern vices | Beat Kitchen, Chicago | 4.12.17 | @thefaakehipster

modern vices | Beat Kitchen, Chicago | 4.12.17 | @thefaakehipster

suggested listening experience: after that long day prepping for a relaxing night // chill hang session with the friends // getting amped up for the night out

listens: smoke rings // (don't) hold me down // keep me under your arms // baby // cheap style // pleasure gun

mv // spotify // fb // twitter // ig // sc