As far as psych rock revival movements go, it's hard to argue the seniority of Dead Meadow in a landscape full of Can carbon copies. When they started back in 1998 in Washington D.C., you'd be hard pressed to find much love for acid trip delay and songs inspired by H.P. Lovecraft in one of the staunchest punk scenes in the country. But more than a decade later, the band's otherworldly rock sound has preserved and even thrived as the psych scene and its festivals started popping up all over the place as of late, including the revered Austin Psych Fest and this year's inaugural Psycho De Mayo festival in Santa Ana, hosted by local promoter Evan Hagen's company Thief Presents.
Speaking of which, Thief and Ambiguous Clothing are bringing Simon and company back to Santa Ana this Saturday for a show at the newly-renovated Copper Door along with their L.A. cohorts Beach Party and OC band Cotillon. Before you load up the VW Bus, split up the acid and head to the gig, we figured it was worth listening to Simon, one of the scene's most active road warriors, talk about some of the craziest shows he can remember playing in recent memory. Sometimes with all the chemical haze going on in a musician's brain, it's good to jog the 'ol memory to make sure it still works. In this case, stories about jamming in Italian castles and sweaty Fugazi shows back in the day didn't leave us disappointed.
Castle in Southern Italy Jason Simon: Not too many bands play south of Rome, it's kind of a more impoverished part of the country. But these kids over there were putting on these shows every couple months, and their town couldn't have a regular live venue because they didn't have money for it, or for security or anything so they would rent out this castle on top of a mountain. It was pretty amazing. It was a thousand year-old castle with one guy kind of tending to it to make sure it wasn't getting out of hand and making sure kids weren't tagging the walls. But we were playing in this room that was probably a thousand years old and hearing the echo from the walls around us was crazy. Definitely unforgettable.
Austin Psych Fest Last year was a really great show for us. Having Mark in the band and our friend Evan [Hagen] was doing visuals so we had this giant wall of color behind us and a whole sea of people in front of us. Everything just came out the way we wanted it to.
All Tomorrow's Parties in Sydney, Australia It was a show on this island in the middle of a bay so we were surrounded by water and boats were pulling up to see the show and we played with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It was a daytime set with a really great crowd. We played with our last drummer Steven McCarthy. I remember our jam section on the song "Sleepy Silver Door" getting pretty crazy. He had this big drum solo and I remember being really stoked on that.
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Psycho De Mayo in Santa Ana We'd played San Francisco the night before and it was a real clusterfuck of a show. It was a late show with four bands and it was hectic and we'd driven all night after that so when we got there on stage it was the most relaxing part of the day. But the show came together in a really weird way.
Early Fugazi Shows in Washington D.C. When we started playing in this band back in Washington D.C., we all said we were gonna play the exact opposite of punk with long guitar solos, get trippy and get stoned. And early on we got to play a bunch of shows with Fugazi which was rad to play for an audience that were probably opposed to a guitar solo in any form and then just really go for it and freak them out and get out there with our song. It was all about getting stoned and playing for these punk rockers and change their minds a little bit.
Dead Meadow plays tomorrow at the Copper Door. For more info on the show, click here.