DEAD MEADOW: I WANT A TREE GROWING OUT OF ME

February 2nd, 2006 | Interviews

DC band Dead Meadow may be the only band to ever do a Peel session that wasn’t recorded in John Peel’s studio, though he did pretend on the airwaves that the band was actually there with him and not thousands of miles away in Fugazi’s basement. They say their newest record Feathers sounds less like Black Sabbath then their less newer record Shivering King And Others. Singer/guitarist Jason Simon speaks over an unreliable cell phone while driving through Maryland.

What’s the longest you’ve ever stuck to one riff?
We change shit all the time–a lot of times it’s almost a cutting-away process. These days, it’s so easy with certain notes to conjure up a feeling of so much of the lame shit that’s out there–like ‘that note makes me think of that!’
Like certain notes are currently ruined?
At least for now. You want something that doesn’t sound like shit you hear on MTV–that doesn’t bring to mind the world today. With that cutting-away process, you sort of get back to the feeling behind it. And I definitely dig simpler things–it’s that way with some riffs, like the simplest things. Like all pentatonic notes–it’s so weird; they’ll fall into a certain pattern and just repeat forever.
Have you read that essay about ”Sister Ray” where it says that repetition in music is a manifestation of what Freud called the death drive? How repetition relates to a desire to lose yourself in the void–like the erasure of the individual self through these hypnotic repetitive patterns, which is apparently equivalent to death. [ED. NOTE: No more questions like this.]
That’s like a raga, too, where it’s just a drone going on and on–I don’t think it’s negative. Or maybe it’s dark but not negative, though there is that element of spirituality. Like dark spirituality–it does make you think of the void and nothingness. But I don’t know if I’d say death. It just gives you a little glimpse of the other side. Like Islamic art. It’s all little mosaic patterns because there aren’t supposed to be representations of people–it’s supposed to be something that gets you beyond forms. That’s what I try and do with all music–to lose yourself, to get beyond the form to whatever’s beyond it. That’s definitely why I want to play music and what I dig in music is that kind of element–that you can lose yourself in it, forget that you exist. I don’t know if that’s really death or life eternal. Even playing a show–when you’re doing your best at anything, you’re totally lost in it. There is something in repetition–if it’s done right.
The same basis as hypnosis.
It’s how to get to that–playing live, I almost can’t really look up at the audience that much. Seeing them looking back at you makes you think about you, and then you’re out of it–it’s best when you’re totally inside it, when you forget you’re even there.
Where does that impulse to lose yourself come from?
That escapist feel–I definitely had that the whole time growing up, even playing D&D in elementary school! And in a way, it’s kind of the same urge–to get out of the mundane world around you. To something completely separate–which is I guess what I was talking about when I said we wanna be careful of certain notes. Because you don’t want to remind yourself of something going on these days.
Is that the meaning behind that rock ‘n’ roll wizards and warriors imagery?
If done right–you can still be talking about everyday matter, but in a different way. Though you can also be silly, too–you can just really be thinking about wizards.
Aren’t you guys into hermetic lore and the Order of the Golden Dawn?
We’re not connected to anything active–I just dig stuff like that. I got a degree in religion because of getting into those kinds of things. Aleister Crowley was way ahead of his time–there was a lot of silly stuff he was into, but the Eye In The Triangle book is pretty awesome.
If you could rob any grave, whose grave would it be and what would you take?
I want to go to Stacy Sutherland’s grave–he was killed in a domestic dispute with his wife in the seventies, and apparently his grave is a big triangle with the eye and the pyramid, and it says ‘Here lies the guitarist of the 13th Floor Elevators.’ I’m not sure what I’d do once I opened the casket–maybe take a nap with him. Or maybe he was buried with his echo pedal, and I could grab some sweet sounds.
What do you want to be buried with?
I don’t want anything–I don’t care. Just put me in the dirt–the sooner I get back into it, the better. I want a tree growing out of me.
What a constructive dead person.

Totally.
Are your parents actually sick of you being called a stoner rock band?
It’s funny because we practice at my parents’ house–living in the city, there’s nowhere to practice, and I’ve been practicing there since high school. And so they always check stuff out and it’s like–‘the heavy narcotic sounds! These guys are so fucked up!’ I’m probably more sick of it than they are.
What do they think of your heavy narcotic sounds?
I don’t know if they get it or not.