Dead Meadow Discuss New Album ‘Warble Womb,’ ‘1000 Dreams’ Video + Methods of Relaxation
It's been three years since Dead Meadow's last full-length project, but the band wasn't in a hurry to release a new record. Rather, they took their time perfecting 'Warble Womb,' which arrived in October.
Named for the inviting space the L.A.-based psych-rock outfit hopes to create with their music, 'Warble Womb' is a comforting sonic environment of fuzzy riffs and dreamy vocals.
Dead Meadow singer and guitarist Jason Simon and bassist Steven Kille chatted with Diffuser about recording the new album, the concept behind the '1000 Dreams' video and how they relax.
It’s been a few years since you released 'The Three Kings.' Have you been writing all of this time, or did you take a break?
JS: I’m always writing songs. Stephen McCarty left the band and Mark Laughlin rejoined, but there was a definitely a transition period of Mark moving out to L.A. and all of us becoming comfortable playing together once again. We also have our own studio and pretty much run our own label. That means no deadline or time constraints, so we tend to move slow and try lots of different things out. I know both Steve Kille and I were engaged in other projects as well during that time. The solo stuff I had been doing morphed into a band called Old Testament, and I’m wrapping up the mixing on that record. It’s a bit less overtly psychedelic than Dead Meadow, more of my own droning take on Fred Neil or 'The Basement Tapes.' Steve is always recording bands at our Studio and runs Xemu Records from there as well.
SK: We have been writing all of the time. Never really stop writing. It was a slow process between the albums since Mark was in the middle of relocating to the West Coast and we were going through tons of changes. Line-up changes and lots of overseas touring, me doing the label and Jason with his solo work. It was a busy time. Actually really feels like yesterday that we did 'Three Kings,' so three years really vanished in a blink of an eye.
Is there an element of 'Warble Womb' you’re most proud of?
JS: That it is finally finished! I like all the songs -- they’re all our little children. I guess that’s why it’s so long. We couldn’t turn our back on any of them and sent them all out to the world to see how they do.
SK: I think the songs are really refined in the way 'Feathers' was. Time to fuss about in the studio helps that. I also like what some of the additional musicians brought to the table. We have never really used outside people the same way. It was great collaborating a little.
One of my favorite tracks off the new record is '1000 Dreams.' How did you come up with the concept for the video?
JS: I like '1000 Dreams' a lot, too. I wrote that song with my friend Imaad Wasif. It’s definitely a personal and emotional song, and I felt the video should go in the opposite direction. We all got into the idea of making the jankiest, cheapest looking video possible. It was a blast. Cable-access psychedelia all the way ... We shot at it at our studio space and right outside in the Santee Alley shopping district.
SK: Looking at '80s-style low-budget cable access videos on YouTube. There is something naive and inspired with that stuff.
Another song I really like is 'One More Toll Taker.' Sonically, it really stood out from the other songs on the album. Can you talk about what inspired it?
JS: That track is just me at home with the old cassette four-track. Lyrically, I really like songs that can’t be pinned down to any one concrete interpretation. I’m always hesitant to try to say what a song is about, it ruins the mystery for myself and the listener. That being said, I guess it kinda deals with the dichotomy between security and freedom, whether it be in your personal life or being harassed by the border patrol in western Texas.
I read that the name 'Warble Womb' was inspired in part by you wanting to create a warm, inviting place for your listeners. What do you guys do to unwind?
JS: Yeah, 'Warble Womb' seemed as apt description for what we hope our music to be: a kind of warm, vibrating cave to crawl inside -- maybe even a nod to that first of all cosmic vibrations, the one and old OM. Let’s see, to unwind ... I’m a pretty avid reader, so I’ll spend many an hour kicking it on the couch with a book. Since I moved to California, I try and go camping as much as possible. Smoking a spiff and taking my dogs on a hike is always pretty chill.
SK: Well, it was inspired by a dream, tripping out and miscommunication. Sort of a long story of a soup of ideas that made it. I have got so many things going on these days I don't know how to unwind. I do like drinking and swimming, but historically, the two don't go well together for rockers. I love listening to Joe Meek-style cocktail music, too. One, it is the polar opposite of what we do, and there is lot in there that can inspire from a different out-of-the-box perspective.
Are there any up-and-coming acts you’re excited about?
JS: The older I get, the more I find myself reaching further and further back in the music I’m digging. These days I’ve been listening to all sorts of 1920s banjo players like Dock Boggs, Buell Kazee and Clarence Ashley. [They] kick out some spine-tingling spooky s---. As for new bands, I had been digging on the Growlers. There’s been a slew of California beach-type bands, and I think the Growlers are the best of ‘em. Cool music, cool lyrics, cool melodies, etc.
SK: I have been doing a little record label (Xemu Records) these days, and I am really excited with the artists we have been working with. They are also bands that if they were not on the label, they would be playing shows with DM and have actually in the past. The Left Outsides in the U.K., Spindrift and DTCV. Strangers Family Band is really cool, too, just waiting for them finishing conceptualizing and get to rocking.
What’s next for the band?
JS: Well, we just finished a massive 10-week European tour. 'Warble Womb' comes out in the U.S. in a few days and Dead Meadow and our boy Evan from Thief Presents are throwing a Super Show Record Release party December 15. It’s at a warehouse in downtown L.A., the ThinkTank. There’s going to be skate ramps set up, 15 oil projectors melting the walls, a sword swallower, a Sasquatch and all sorts of other ill s---. We’re even releasing a limited edition Dead Meadow skate deck.