London’s Elephant Tree have slowly but steadily gained a deeply reverential fan base since their 2013 inception, through hard work and exemplary studio output. Marrying the sonic density of doom à la Pallbearer with the vivid psychedelia of contemporaries such as Elder, 2020 and beyond is somewhat of a coming of age moment for Elephant Tree as they move from a band in their infancy to magisterial mongers of their world within and outside of genre confines.
Here, we welcome the band to At The Barrier as drummer Sam Hart shares his love of American stoner rock group, Dead Meadow.
Where to start? Dead Meadow have been a staple in my musical rotation since hearing the iconic opening riff of Sleepy Silver Door.
Upon moving to London and discovering that rock music existed outside of Rage Against The Machine and crap indie rock, I immersed myself into the underground stoner/metal/psych scene here in London. All it took was one Desertfest visit and I was away immersing myself in a whole new world.
And then I found them.
It was tricky to pin down specifically why this band has so much of an influence on me, as well as other members of Elephant Tree. It’s not just that the riffs are catchy or that the sounds are fuzzy, it’s so much more. The way that they play each song with this kind of energy that just oozes a relaxed attitude to the whole thing. Listening at home to Sleepy Silver Door on repeat became an obsession and that opened the door (pun completely intended) to the rest of their back catalogue.
Each one of their albums, from the early self titled release to the latest release They Nothing They Need, follows the same ethos and aesthetic. That blissful ease in which each note, beat and syllable performed just spills out and engulfs you with that feeling of being swept up in the moment. It lets you relax, and that’s when the rest of the magic happens. This was the kind of experience I wanted people to have when they listened to Elephant Tree, to be able to just relax and not think so much. It also helps that it also lends itself slightly to the punk ethos, sloppy in places but the sum of its parts are what makes the whole. Nothing sounded too complicated, just exemplary song writing and an attitude to execution that seemed enjoyable.
Dead Meadow also manage to achieve one of the hardest things as a group, which is to give a live performance that so perfectly encapsulates the album recordings in every way. Out of the dozen or so time’s I’ve been lucky enough to see them, they’ve never been too loud, too fast, too unbalanced. Each time has been the familiar experience of just enjoying the music for what it is and having that feeling of relaxation and ease just wash over you. Going to see a band you like should never have to be a chore. They inspired that mantra we start to repeat before each show now that we can’t do much more than enjoy ourselves.
The Peel Sessions are a stand out achievement, being the only ones recorded outside of the UK, and in the way that has rubbed off on us immensely. Our preferred method of tracking for our albums is to get us into a room and play together as musicians. Dissecting can be done later if needed but that energy of a group playing together in a room just can’t be beaten. You can re-record a bad riff but you can’t simply replace the energy or feel that a piece of music has.
They became a gateway for me into the discographies of so many other great bands, such as Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Sleepy Sun, Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, Kikagaku Moyo and so many others that I would never have heard if it weren’t for those opening 18 seconds of Sleepy Silver Door. I would suggest you go immediately to find a warm comfy seat, slip on a pair of headphones and go get lost in the moment…
Many thanks to Elephant Tree for sharing their love of Dead Meadow. Habits will be released via Holy Roar Records; one of the finest record labels in the land. You can pre-order Elephant Tree’s forthcoming album here.
You can read our review of Habits, here.
Read more from the Why I Love archive, here.