Live shows are precisely how the Washington, D.C., natives have aggregated their loyal fanbase, though record sales of their fourth full-length, "Old Growth" haven't hurt either."Most bands have to be live bands. That's the nature of the beast these days," says Steve Kille, bassist for Matador rock troupe Dead Meadow. "Record sales aren't the driving source of popularity anymore. Instead, if people wanna go out and are like, 'You wanna see a band that sounds like Led Zeppelin?' or something that's gonna be fun, then they seek that kind of band out."
That's precisely how the Washington, D.C., natives have aggregated their loyal fanbase, though record sales of their fourth full-length, "Old Growth" haven't hurt either: the set came in at No. 26 on the Top Heatseekers chart. Still, the trio's often-intense live set has been their bread and butter, having kept them on the road for hundreds of performances since their inception a decade ago.
Kille, guitarist Jason Simon and former drummer Mark Laughlin first bonded over their favorite rock and metal records of the '70s, and that influence remains transparent to this day. Now with drummer Stephen McCarty, the group continues to riff off of big, swampy solos and distorted effects as Simon's sluggish vocals hum through melodies and arrangements reminiscent of Black Sabbath to Neil Young.
"With this new record, we had a lot more time to work on the songs. Before we were almost always on the road writing and working on this stuff, but we had a moment to find a groove," Kille explains. "We're always thinking of how we can come up with a more complex part than what's already apparent. But then again we don't wanna sound like prog rock."
They may not be prog, but the band also can't avoid other brandings: stoner and psych rock. "They're weird labels. It makes us sound dumbed down. No one likes that brand, yet everybody says 'stoner rock' anyway," Keele says with a laugh. "Our old drummer said he wasn't in a stoner rock band, he just liked to get stoned."
Whatever the category, they've been heralded enough to open for the likes of Super Furry Animals and Dinosaur Jr. They were also originally inked with Tolatta Records, the label founded by Fugazi bassist Joe Lally. Brian Jonestown Massacre's Anton Newcombe recorded a live set for them and even the late, great John Peel organized a (remote) session with the group for his famed show in Britain ("Yeah, that was a bummer we could never meet.")
Dead Meadow is currently on the road all the way through the end of May and are already planning for beyond. So says Kille, "We just like to put ourselves out there."