"Who needed girls when you had a hardcore scene?" asks Dead Meadow's Steve Kille. Formed in Washington, the heartland of hardcore punk, Dead Meadow's surging hybrid of heavy rock and pyschedelia is at odds with the music most readily associated with DC, although the city's hardcore scene is what helped to spawn the band.

"It was amazing music that came from that city; the same way Zeppelin and Sabbath made me psyched about music. Local punk rock made it seem possible for me to do. Going to shows early on and seeing that you can drive and play your own gigs was extremely exciting to my 15-year-old mind."

With their line-up now expanded to a four-piece, after the addition of second guitarist Cory Shane, Dead Meadow have just released their excellent fourth studio album, Feathers.

Displaying a new-found confidence, it is their most complete album to date, and Kille, the band's bassist, believes that the increase in personnel is one of the main reasons behind the development of their music. "It has made it broader and

more exciting. We can play in sorts of arrangements, but having more friends on stage to add to the sonic level is better," he remarks.

Despite their more adventurous sound, Dead Meadow seem to be perennially hamstrung by the 'stoner rock' label - a term lazily coined to describe any band capable of producing dense, swirling atmospheres. It's a term that Kille finds disparaging, and one that Dead Meadow, understandably, try to distance themselves from.

"Something seems dumbed down by that name. I have always thought of us as a psych band or a heavy pop band. I guess maybe just a rock band is the best way to describe us, since

that is what we are first. I think we have tried to get that across from not trying to be stuck in touring the stoner rock ghetto."

Since their inception in 1998, Dead Meadow, then consisting of Kille, singer/guitarist Jason Simon and drummer Mark Loughlin (who quit the band in 2002 to be replaced by Stephen McCarty), have meticulously created their blues-informed drone rock, which bears the influence of Midlands bands Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

"These bands made me excited about music as Sesame Street made me excited about reading," gushes Kille. "I may not listen to those bands that much these days, but they were

the roots to this band and the reason we sound the way we do. Even more importantly to me and the other members of the band, this was the first music we were introduced to as kids."

Having completed a European tour with Texan artrockers/equipment trashers And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, and performed at the South By Southwest festival, Dead Meadow look set to take their gargantuan riffs and woozy space-rock melodies to a much wider audience. Kille admits that their ambition is "to become as big as possible". A lofty ideal perhaps, but these DC rockers deserve to go far.