Dead Meadow formed in 1998 with Jason Simon on vocals and guitar, Steve Kille on bass, and Mark Laughlin on drums. The threesome initially met in the DC indie music scene in highschool and a few years later began to combine 70s hard rock and 60s psychedelic rock with themes from authors such as Lord Dunsany and H. P. Lovecraft.
The first album, Dead Meadow (self-titled), with the cover art made by Steve Kille was released in 2000 on Tolotta Records, a basement label run by Fugazi bassist Joe Lally. The LP version was released by Planaria Records. The self-titled album was quickly followed by 2001's Howls from the Hills, recorded at friend Stephen McCarty's (who would later join Dead Meadow) grandparents' farm house in rural Indiana, 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. The Peel Sessions remained unreleased until 2012.
In Spring 2002, Laughlin parted ways with the band in order to pursue a career as a lawyer. He was replaced by Stephen McCarty. A live album, Got Live If You Want It, was released in 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 sound 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. Shane also wrote the song "Stacy's Song" on the album.
In 2007 the band reverted back 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. Old Growth, the fifth studio album was released in 2008 on Matador Records. It was recorded at the same farm where 2001's Howls from the Hills was recorded in Indiana and was mixed at Sunset Sound studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles. This release as well as the three previous albums was produced by bassist Steve Kille. Later that year a brief session with Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother led to the reinterpretation of the Dead Meadow song "Everything's Going On" (Howls from the Hills) as a new song "Pilgrim" landing on the second release for Wolfmother, Cosmic Egg.
In March 2010 Dead Meadow 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 together with the live album on Xemu Records, co-run by Kille. In August 2010, Stephen McCarty decided to quit and original drummer Mark Laughlin came back in the band and made his first appearance at Clean Air Clean Stars Festival in Joshua Tree, California followed by an Australian tour in October 2010 and a string of U.S. reunion shows and a European tour in 2011.
Jason Simon released his first solo "self-titled" acoustic album on TeePee Records in September 2010. Simon's guitar virtuosity influenced by the droning modal character of Eastern music and classic rock riffs expanded to country influenced roots flavor for his solo efforts. Jason, as the nephew of The Wire creator David Simon connected the band to new reach in TV. Dead Meadow's music was used briefly in the episode "React Quotes" in season five of The Wire. The song "Sleepy Silver Door" and "Greensky Greenlake" (both off Dead Meadow) were featured in the skate video "Emerica, Stay Gold." In 2012 Cory Shane released a limited number of the before-unreleased Peel Sessions on his Prune Pendant Records label and Dead Meadow started working on a new album, the first studio album for Mark Laughlin since he left the group in 2002. Two of Dead Meadow's previous albums released on other labels were later on re-released by Xemu, followed by the new LP, Warble Womb, in November 2013.