“It just felt good to me, and not only the style of music that I was going for but I’m good at making that music by myself without too much help from engineers and I didn’t want to rush it, I wanted a homemade sounding record that was true to the roots of the band, which is not hard for me to do as I really like that kind of stuff…”
From tour release: Administered by high priest and founder Dave Wyndorf, Monster Magnet have spent the last quarter of a century free-pouring a righteous mix of mind-bending 60’s sound, heavy drug ‘n’ fuzz 70’s riffage and lashings of infinite psychedelic space rock. Across nine albums including the classics Superjudge, Spine of God, Dopes To Infinity, and their most recent release Last Patrol, Monster Magnet have turned on a legion of fans across the globe. In 2014 Monster Magnet will return to blow minds across Australia, bringing their biggest hits – and for the first time, live cuts from their latest album, Last Patrol!
At home in Red Bank New Jersey after getting off a couple of tours, we chatted to Dave about their upcoming Australian tour starting this week, as well as the band’s sound and inspiration and also the story of one amazing live moment that I wish I was a part of…
You’re heading back to Australia for a run of shows…
That’s right Goddammit, I love Australia, it’s about as far away as you can get from my house which is fuckin really cool. I like to travel and if I travel too much on one side of the world it feels like I’m missing something. We were there like maybe three years ago and we did a Soundwave festival, it was great, it was fantastic, it was so well run, man, I’ve never seen anything so well run in my whole life.
Do you have a great memory of a previous tour you can share with us?
Oh tonnes of them, but my best memory is when I first came to Australia, obviously I’m from Red Bank New Jersey, which is a small town south of New York City, and our ideal wildlife is a couple of deer and some squirrels *laughs* no bears or anything like that. I go to Australia and the first day I just got completely inundated with fuckin’ nature, I met this girl and she was a really, really cool girl and she was awesome and we went out to smoke and then she took me to a park and I saw those giant fuckin’ toads and those big bats you’ve got and it was like insane. So to me it was like the best time I ever had, I was smoking pot with some girl in a tree and some possums and giant toads and fruit bats flying over my head. I thought I went to heaven.
You sure it wasn’t the pot?
*laughs* You know it could have been, but no, it was the creatures it definitely was. There’s no other place in the world that has that kind of thing going on that you guys have, the integration of mankind and animal kind, right in the city, it’s just that you never see that anywhere else. Not that I’ve seen.
With nine albums under your belt, how do you go about crafting the set for a Monster Magnet show, is it difficult?
As difficult as you think it would be, yeah, it’s a pain in the ass. It depends on what kind of vibe I’m going for, there are some places I play a lot like we play Europe all the time, so what I’ll often do there is play albums in its entirety, in between say if we do festivals we’ll do a greatest hits kind of thing, and if we go back it’s like hey we’ll do a tour where we’ll do this album in its entirety and see how that works. Or we could do a certain set that was say more psychedelic, mellower and more psychedelic or we could do a set that was more on the heavier side of Monster Magnet. The good thing about having all those albums is you have a lot to choose from, the bad thing is I’m not always quite sure on what material to pick, so now I just do it according to how I feel, rather than worrying about how the crowd will feel as I don’t know them, so I have to go with myself, but so far so good, there’s been no complaints.
Have you got anything planned for Australia?
I’m still trying to figure that out… we just came off a tour where we played the entire new album and then like a host of hits, but I think that may be a little too much as we haven’t been in Australia as much as we have in Europe. So it’s going to be a bit of a hybrid, maybe a few new songs and the rest will be for lack of a better term, a greatest hits type thing, more heavy on the psychedelic side than anything.
That leads into ‘Last Patrol’ which has been out for close to six months or so now, and with a few different sounds over your releases, why was now the right time to come back around to the ‘Space Rock’ vibe?
It just felt good to me, and not only the style of music that I was going for but I’m good at making that music by myself without too much help from engineers and I didn’t want to rush it, I wanted a homemade sounding record that was true to the roots of the band, which is not hard for me to do as I really like that kind of stuff, and I thought it had been just a little bit too long before I did a dedicated psych album. I don’t know if the timing was right with the crowd, as the record’s doing really, really well which is awesome, or of it was just a coincidence.
It all comes down to timing, it’s a funny little thing that…
Yeah, it’s everything…
So what if anything inspires you these days?
I just write from life… all I’ve ever done is write from my life, I try to explain my humble life in grand terms, in poetic terms and my vernacular I use is usually science fiction, pop culture, stoner culture, religion, I’m just telling stories really about myself and what I saw on TV that day, how do I feel? I’m just a guy that wakes up each day and watches the world go crazy, you know… the world’s fucked up, OK I’ll wrote a song about it… I broke up with my girlfriend, OK I’ll write a song about it… and what I do is I try to elevate it, or take it to the left or the right of what it really is and use a lot of metaphors. Like I said, I use the vernacular of science fiction and finally what was just a small confessional song of me missing my girlfriend turns into a guy sitting on a planet staring at the void going ‘where are you?’ but in the song I would never say ‘where are you?’ to the girl, I would just say ‘where are you?’ and let the listener figure out who I’m talking to. It’s kind of ambiguous and more cinematic and visually evocative than they are straight, like declarative poetry *laughs* you know… But I was never into that when I was a kid, I listened to bands like Alice Cooper and David Bowie and T-Rex and those guys never made any sense *laughs* they were singing about fucking cars and stuff, it was really cool. I know the stuff makes sense, but if I put down exactly what I meant and exactly the way I felt in the simplest terms possible, which is a good way to write a song, for some people… if I did it, it would probably be as boring as shit and probably sound like country and western. So I infuse it all with my love of visuals, and my love for visuals goes all the way back to when I was a kid, and like I said, the stoner culture, physchadelia, outer space art and science fiction in general. It all seems to make sense to me in my head, it’s turned into kind of like a method that I use and it works for me it works anyway…
Well you’re still doing it, so it must be working…
Yeah, over twenty years now, almost twenty five…
So in the almost twenty five years since you started the band, in this time has there been one moment that has always stood out for you as the most surreal?
Oh… there’s been so many of them… I mean I remember the most surreal moment, not counting all the times I said how did I get here? But one time we were playing a festival in Germany, an outdoor festival that they’re really fond of there and we were deep in the black forest and it was going on for three days, thunderstorms the whole bit, muggy, muggy late summer, on the day that we played, we played right away on sunset and there was a thunder storm brewing all day, but nothing happened, the air was thick, humidity and electricity and you knew there was going to be a hell of a fuckin electrical storm at one point, but it didn’t do nothing, no wind, it just sat there. We went on and played, and at the end of our set the last song we did was a song called ‘Spine of God’ and I’m up there singing and it’s getting a little darker out and the air is getting muggier and I was thinking obviously we’re gonna have to end this set because it’s gonna rain. So we were up to this long psychedelic song and in one point in the song I looked up and the words to song are ‘Centre of the Universe’ and I just kind of declare it, through as echo, and I raise my hands and said it and as soon as I said it, the fuckin sky just opened up and a huge bolt of fucking lightning, I mean the sky was green, that’s how pregnant the sky was with electricity *laughs* this bolt of lightning just ran across the sky like a spider web of brightness and I look down and the whole crowd they just couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t believe it either, and I didn’t even know what it really looked like, people told me later that it looked like Charlton Heston in the fuckin Ten Commandments *laughs* it was so cool. It was a big festival, maybe 25,000 people and they all got it, they were all like holy shit, somehow they got nature to be their light show… they talked about it and then the last words of the song are ‘I love everyone’ and then we just speed up the song until it comes to this giant climax, and at that climax, rain, end of festival, everybody go home, Moses came, it was fuckin really surreal. One of the best shows I ever experienced as the timing, there you go again, the timing…
Touring wise, you’ve been out in Europe, now Australia, where else can people catch you out on the road coming up?
When we come back from Australia, I’ve got a month to work on some stuff that’s going to come out later in the year, some new Monster Magnet material, then we go back to Europe for festival season, big festivals, kinda like Soundwave but we’re going to be playing a bunch of different ones, we’ll be playing like Sweden Rock and Hellfest and all these places, we get to go play with great bands, I mean we get stuff like classic rock like Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath… that kind of stuff with bands like that. Then on the off days of that we go and do smaller festivals with people like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and garage rock bands. Monster Magnet is really lucky as we can get on both of those kind of shows and nobody complains too much.
In terms of releases, there’s talk of some new material soon from tunes left over from the last album, is this still the case?
Yeah, that’s what I’m doing, I’m taking the extra tunes that were not on Last Patrol and I’m reworking the whole entire Last Patrol record into a long form headphone kind of thing, a headphone record. There were a lot of tracks that were not used, just experimental tracks of me playing mellotron over a lot of stuff, organ, some Deep Purple type organ, different guitars to just give it different vibe, and it seemed well enough stuff for me to say we shouldn’t really waste this, so the record company agreed to put it out, so that’s what I’m going to be working on when I get back.
Lastly, let’s predict the future, can you finish this sentence for me… In 2014 Monster Magnet will…
*laughs* that’s a good question… *laughs* Push it too far… in all honesty, in 2014, Monster Magnet will… I don’t know what to say, Monster Magnet will continue the crusade to bring psychedelic rock to as many households as possible across the world.
From: Red Bank, New Jersey, USA
Band members: Dave Wyndorf (Vocals), Ed Mundell (Guitar), Phil Caivano (Guitar), Jim Baglino (Bass), Bob Pantella (Drums)
Latest Release: Last Patrol
KillRockStar Entertainment Presents:
Monster Magnet – Australia 2014
Thursday 3rd April Amplifier, Perth
Friday 4th April HiFi, Sydney
Saturday 5th April HiFi, Brisbane
Sunday 6th April 170 Russell, Melbourne