9 Mar 2012 / Michael Hartt
Even though Dead Meadow have been based in Los Angeles for the majority of their career, Washington DC is still home. The US capital is where Tone Deaf finds singer/guitarist Jason Simon when we call to speak to him about the band’s forthcoming Australian tour.
While Dead Meadow may be considerably different musically from the influential Washington DC punk/hardcore scene that spawned the likes of Fugazi (whose bassist Joe Lally released Dead Meadow’s first two albums on his Tolotta Records label), Simon says that growing up around the scene was influential on the band in a number of ways.
“I think what it gave us wasn’t any kind of sound but when we started the band we could be like ‘We’re going to do this band that’s totally different to anything else that’s around us and just find someone to put it out and start playing.’ It really gave you that attitude of ‘We’ve got some songs, go ahead and start and play’,” he says.
“Moving out to LA, you see bands start up there and their first order of business is ‘We’re making this demo and shopping it around to see if anyone’s interested’. I think growing up around the punk scene that was something you never really thought about. You just went out and did it yourself; you’d make your own 7 inches if you had to.”
Returning to Australia for Dead Meadow’s third tour here, Simon was last in the country for a tour in support of his self-titled solo album. He says that it was a good but different experience to most of the other solo shows he’s played.
“In the US I play the solo stuff with a band so it’s more of a rockier thing. Down there it was just me playing guitar and singing and my girlfriend on harmonium. For me, it was a bit of a working vacation; just getting to hang out with my lady and travel around Australia,” he says.
“Since that tour I know Heathen Skulls have actually taken over distributing the records for Tee Pee over there. I wish the record had gotten around a little bit more; I think it’s only just starting to get around now.”
He says that the experience of making and touring a solo album has helped considerably in becoming a more confident performer, particularly as a singer.
“I think it’s just always a progression, not just with Dead Meadow but with myself, in terms of songwriting and being more comfortable singing. The solo thing has been really great to get to the point where you’re feeling comfortable enough that you can carry the vibe and everything with just a guitar and your voice,” he says.
“When we’d started Dead Meadow, I hadn’t really sung before. It was more of a ‘Cool, we’re going to make this sonic wall, this sonic thing and then we’ll figure out the song on top’. Now, it’s become that the song is really strong and on top of that you can just trip it out with all these things. It’s kind of starts in a different point now. It starts with songs more than riffs.
The band is currently working on a new album, the follow-up to 2010’s part-live, part-studio album Three Kings. At the point in which we speak, Simon is hopeful that the album will be ready to be released by the time they come to Australia.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” he says. “There’s been some talk of doing a limited edition Australian-only 12-inch or EP, maybe a split with [touring partners] Pink Mountaintops. So either that will be out or our new record, which is what we’d like but in this day and age there are so many factors beyond our control.”
Catch Dead Meadow and Pink Mountaintops on tour in Australia in April – and check out Dead Meadow’s clip for “What Needs Must Be.”