Not too long ago, Amina Ly reviewed the Dead Meadow’s new album. Despite the rescheduling of the show due to a snow storm, Dead Meadow played the Sinclair on Feb. 13 and there was no hesitation in the audience that came out that Sunday night.
As a band that’s been around since 1998, each member was pretty well versed in performing for a crowd. They all had a comfortable stage presence, and seemed assured of themselves among a receptive audience. The band appeared aware of their impact on the people around them, and the crowd moved and flowed with them instead of remaining a separate entity from the performance.
Of those who came to the show, the majority seemed to be made up of long time fans—a more mature group who was there for the music more than anything else. They appeared not only loyal, but enthusiastic and genuinely at ease at the venue. Overall, it seemed like a concert between old friends. Longtime fans of the band were largely in attendance, and there was an extremely relaxed feel to the entire show.
Back in January, Ly spoke to Dead Meadow’s bassist Steve Kille about the new album and the band’s current tour:
Blast: So what was the catalyst behind the inception of Dead Meadow so long ago, and are those same factors still why you guys play music?
Steve Kille: Sort of. Jason and I have grown up together and we always wanted to have a band. We were living in D.C., and really influenced by the 70s. At that time, we wanted to do something completely different. So, we returned to the roots that inspired us in the first place, and that really was the concept. Artistically we were inspired by the psychedelic of the 60s and 70s. We ended up doing something that was more than the punk rock that we grew up with. That older stuff was what that inspired us. Now, though, our sound has kind of become out thing. We aren’t trying to go against the grain anymore, but we’re still motivated by the love of music.
Blast: What influences did you have growing up that can be seen in the band’s music?
Kille: At that time there were a lot of thing that were reissuing. Rock music was coming back at that time. I had also worked in a record store and I pulled a lot from there as well. Things like Jimi Hendrix and Rainbow Bridge really has a huge influence. It was when a bunch of “lost in time” things were coming back and we used that in our music.
Blast: You’ve just come back from a European tour at the end of last year, what can you tell us about that?
Kille: It was great. Touring Europe is always good for us. We have friends everywhere—Europe, Canada, Australia and of course the U.S. During the tour we got to reconnect with people we haven’t seen in a few years. Black Angels, being one of them, have gotten to a commercial level that’s opened up a new world for us.
There is a really excited scene for the type of music we do. There was so much interest that at first we did 45 shows in a row without breaks, and after a while it almost turned into Groundhog Day. Overall, we left the experience more excited about the music, and from that you grow and come back feeling like the work is more important.
Blast: You guys recently released a new album. What can you tell about the process of making Warble Womb?
Kille: Initially, we’re always trying to make new albums. Every band is. It’s the process of being in a band—unless you’re at the point where you just decide you don’t want to make music anymore. At the same time, our current drummer quit, but out original drummer decided to come back. So we decided to work on the record. We did a lot of touring overseas and on the west coast at the same time.
Years ago, we built a recording studio. I’ve collected a lot of equipment over the years. So we were able to work on it slowly. It was a slow process with lots of experimentation, trial and error. We tried new tracks, and worked a little on acoustic music. It’s a long record, but we wanted to make something that encompassed the past three years of working on the record. Not everyone wants to listen to a long, hour and a half album, but maybe there are times people get the chance to listen to the whole thing and experience the whole thing.
Blast: Did this album have an overall concept or feel you felt like you guys were going for?
Kille: When we first started, we decided we wanted to do something different from the heavy stuff we’d done before. But as you go, you end up going back to the past, and there’s nothing wrong with going back to that—especially when you’re working with a band, and everyone has a lot of different personalities so you have to be flexible. It turned into something different from what we originally thought it was going to be. In the end, we just asked how could we make in avant garde, and different from what it had been in the past.
Blast: In your opinion, what was the best song on the album?
Kille: God I don’t know. Each song had its own good and bad. “Six to Let the Light Shine Thru” and “Rains in the Desert” both have a guest vocalist, an R&B singer named Amber Webber. We met her through the internet, and it was really fun to bring someone from the outside to sing on a song. It was interesting to have someone bring back some 70s young American soul. I enjoy those tracks because they’re different from what we’ve ever done. I don’t know if they’re necessarily better than what we’ve done, but I enjoy them.
Blast: You are involved with an independent label, Xemu Records. What was the thought process behind that decision of joining that, and how do you feel that’s going right now?
Kille: It’s going well. It started with a friend who was in the New York scene. He had me become involved and running it and doing a bunch of things for the label, and it’s been a positive process. I don’t know how any band could make music without an element of DIY because the industry is so different from what it was. Luckily this worked out, and things are going really well. Some people who were working for big labels are now doing freelance for us. It’s a labor or love, and a weird, exciting time, and it really is what you make of it. The work becomes more beneficial by doing it ourselves.
Blast: Building off of that, what do you see for the future of independent labels, both your own and the many others?
Kille: From being involved, there are so many things I see. Many of the majors are folding, and they’ve made many wrong decisions. I don’t know how these people are taking these massive labels from the 50s and 60s and running them into the ground.
I now see some of the bigger independents becoming the new mainstream, and a giant shift in how music is made. The labels are probably going to be run by ten people instead of sixty, and I see labels like Matador, Beggars, and Sub Pop as the next majors. But I don’t think it’s going to be anywhere near the level of money that they majors saw twenty years ago in the world of Rock and Roll. That’s done, and it’s really becoming a live touring thing as far as money goes.
Blast: Okay, now back to the band. What plans does Dead Meadow have for the future?
Kille: We’ll probably keep doing our thing. We haven’t been writing too much since we just finished Warble Womb. Right now we are touring in the U.S., doing some festivals, and I’m sure there will be another album at some point. Whatever comes our way really. Maybe in the summer we will work on some new material.
Blast: We’re looking forward to seeing you guys back in the U.S. Do you have anything else you’d like to tell the readers?
Kille: Check out the band. Music really is a live thing these days, so go out and support it. Support local bands and keep this thing alive really. The support from fans really is what fuels the fire. As long as the fans are there, showing up for the shows, good music will be there.
Dead Meadow is currently on a U.S. tour, playing songs from their new album Warble Womb. You can keep up with the band’s tour dates on their official Facebook page.