Dead Meadow formed in 1998 from the remnants of two young indie DC bands, The Impossible Five “Gern Blandsten Records” and its immediate follow-up Colour. The band started as Jason Simon on vocals and guitar, Steve Kille on bass, and Mark Laughlin on drums. They began to combine 70s heavy metal and 60s psychedelic rock with themes from authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and H. P. Lovecraft. The first album, Dead Meadow, was released in 2000 on Tolotta Records, a label run by Fugazi bassist Joe Lally. The LP version was released by Planaria Records. This was quickly followed by 2001’s Howls from the Hills, also released on Tolotta Records. At the completion of “Howls from the Hills” John Peel asked Dead Meadow to record a Peel Session which was recorded in Fugazi’s home studio, the first time a Peel Session was recorded outside the BBC studios.In Spring 2002, Laughlin parted ways with the band in order to pursue a career as a lawyer. He was replaced by long-time friend Stephen McCarty (previously with Canyon, also of Gern Blandsten). A live album, Got Live If You Want It, was released in mid-2002, which documented one of the last shows with drummer Mark and was produced by Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre. In early 2003 the band signed with Matador Records and released Shivering King and Others. Along with the heavy song and blues-influenced songs as on the previous two records, the band continued in their psychedelic style, with acoustic elements and ballads. With the addition of second guitarist Cory Shane, Feathers was released in 2005. Simon’s guitar virtuosity is as influenced by the droning modal character of Eastern music as by classic rock riffs.
Jason Simon is the nephew of The Wire creator David Simon. Dead Meadow’s music was used briefly in both the season four premiere “Boys of Summer” and the season five episode “React Quotes” of The Wire.
In 2007 the band has reverted to a three piece, made an appearance at the fifth annual Green Man Festival in Crickhowell, Wales and relocated from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, California.
In the beginning of 2008, Dead Meadow released Old Growth on Matador Records. A collection of songs that brought the band back initially to the same farm that their second release Howls from the Hills was created and eventually finished up at the Sunset Sound studio in Los Angeles. As with the last three albums Old Growth was produced by bassist Steve Kille.
Later in that same year a brief session with Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother led to the reinterpretation of the Dead Meadow song “Everything’s Goin’ On” as a new song “Pilgrim” landing on the second release for Wolfmother, “Cosmic Egg”.
In March 2010 the band released a feature length live film and soundtrack, “Three Kings”, that spotlights their stage show along with psychedelic dream scenarios. The live footage and audio was captured at the bombastic final show of the five-month “Old Growth” tour. The film premiered at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California and was released on the NYC label Xemu Records, co-run by Kille. The film was directed by Simon Chan & Joe Rubalcaba of Artificial Army.
In August 2010, a tour of Australia was announced with original drummer Mark Laughlin. The tour included U.S. reunion shows and a headline run of Australia in October 2010. A new studio album was in the works which would have more of a “Jimi Hendrix” feel to it. In January 2011, Mark Laughlin postponed a career in law to rejoin the band permanently and tour Europe and the Pacific Northwest.
Jason Simon also announced his September release of his first solo “self-titled” acoustic album on TeePee Records.
The songs “Sleepy Silver Door”, “Greensky Greenlake” and “That Old Temple” were featured in the skate video Emerica, Stay Gold. Sleepy Silver Door would again be licensed later in 2012 for a national Miller Lite commercial.On January 23, 2013 the band leaked a new song “Mr Chesty” and provided another look into the upcoming album Warble Womb, which was released later in November 2013 by the band’s own label Xemu Records.
In March 2018 the band released “The Nothing They Need” 20th anniversary album. Containing all new songs this album featured every member of the band past and present. This collective creative project was co-written by the alumni and contained the single “Here With the Hawk”. A video for “Hawk” would be released shortly after staring Twin Peaks’ Michael “Deputy Hawk” Horse.
Later in 2018 it was announced that in the next coming years a collective effort by Matador Records and the band’s own record label will be releasing their since out-of-print LPs from the Matador era (“Shivering King”, “Feathers” and “Old Growth”). More news to follow…