It's a tough gig peddling acid-rock in Washington DC, America's spiritual home of disciplined hardcore. And stoner trio Dead Meadow know it too well - their dreamy psych-rock sound has made them musical misfits in their home town.
"We grew up in high school loving punk but after so long being in a scene like DC, it just kind of pushed us in the other direction," says singer-guitarist Jason Simon. "We wanted to reach for something more expansive."
A decade into their career, Dead Meadow last year packed up and moved to California, stopping off in the mid-west to unload their sitars and record an album on a rural Indiana property owned by drummer Stephen McCarty's grandparents.
"We tracked it all in this old wooden pioneer's lodge built in the 1860s that was supposedly haunted," says Simon. "One of the bedrooms where I put my amp was kind of spooky, right from the get go the feel was very eerie. We'd be downstairs and we could hear through our headphones the reverb springs moving around in the amps upstairs like there was someone walking around up there. There was some freaky stuff happening for sure."
Arriving in Los Angeles, Dead Meadow's nod to the patrons of West coast hippydom saw them immediately connect with a tangible 60s touchstone - Hollywood's storied Sunset Sound studios. Here, in the hallowed echo-halls once used by The Doors and Led Zeppelin, they finished off the vocals and mixing.
"They actually do have a room which is an echo chamber," enthuses Simon, "a big wooden room with a speaker at one end and a mike all the way down the other. So you turn up the echo and play the music out of that speaker you get natural echo that's not from a spring or a plate - just from distance in the room.
"I mean the level of gear in there was amazing, you know, one hundred thousand dollar mixing boards and just really nice stuff to run the mixing through. And there's such history there, upstairs in some of the storage rooms we found some old reels from the Walt Disney songs, you know It's a Small World, the original reel was still up there from the 50s!"
Emerging with more than a dozen songs, the trio chose to title the album Old Growth after an inspiring trip to the ancient redwoods of the Big Sur. "We shot the cover up there too and it's a realty cool place in the forest. Some of those trees were alive at the time of Christ - it's insane!"
With producer Dave Shiffman (Mars Volta, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) at the helm, Simon, McCarty and bassist Steve Kille distilled their primal rock and heavy blues influences into songs this time favouring brevity over their signature wig-outs.
"We've always been fans of 70s psych-rock and bands that just really take you there like Zeppelin," says Simon. "You know, music that just goes beyond itself, music that's more than trying to copy a style, it's trying to copy how that music took you somewhere and got you back to that same feeling that was given to you by a certain kind of music.
"It's cool when you can really get inside a tradition but then make it your own and on this album we wanted the writing to be a little bit more at the forefront. We know that jamming will always be an element of the stretched-out songs and we'll be able to do that live but this time maybe we wanted to make the songs a little bit more concise."
Their third album on the Matador label, and fifth since 2000, Old Growth is a record also swayed by lyricist Simon's own literary bent.
"I like a really well put together short story," he says. "Like the supernatural and horror stories of people like Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft where every word has an effect and rolls along perfectly and tells a simple tale where everything comes together.
"I love the Poe story where the guy murders the old man because he hates his glass eye. He buries him but then he hears the guy's heart thumping beneath the floor. People in our reviews talk about Tolkien and how we're really fantasy-inspired but it's more just like a feeling - we don't write songs about hobbits or anything."