3rd February 2015

Interview: Monster Magnet

Dave Wyndorf chats to the Mancunion ahead of Monster Magnet’s European tour

When someone mentions ‘Monster Magnet’ it’s easy to dismiss them by their name, which tends to evoke heavy metal stereotypes of sweaty, hairy, Viking-like men screaming unintelligible lyrics over a background of grating distortion. And yet this couldn’t be farther from the truth as veteran hard rocker and Monster Magnet front-man Dave Wyndorf tells me as we discuss the driving forces behind his new release Milking the Stars: A Re-imagining of Last Patrol.

Dave makes no bones about the influences behind his music; sex, drugs, comic books and UFOs. “People don’t want to hear songs about how your job’s really boring and your fucking sad because your girl left you; they want to hear songs about overdosing on drugs and feeling like your heads gonna explode man!” With this in mind I’m interested to find out how the latest album, a re-imagining of their 2013 release Last Patrol, has come about. “Really it’s all been about experimentation. There’s been so many times on the tour for Last Patrol where I’d find myself awake at 6 a.m. at the back of the tour bus, everyone else asleep, and I’d be wired on Coffee playing the songs and think ‘Shit! I should have done that!’ or ‘This would sound so much better if we added a Mellotron or a Sitar!’ A lot of the thinking behind this one was less about the ‘Why?’ and more about the ‘Why not?’”. Dave explains to me his reasoning for going with a late ‘60s Psychedelic vibe. “When I grew up man, heavy metal wasn’t this little clique for nerdy white suburban kids. I grew up with Hawkwind, Sabbath and Zeppelin. And the chicks got it just as much as the guys did, you know? There was so much more weird music around back then, and that’s kind of what I wanted to do to my own music. Add a whole lot of new weird shit to it and see where it goes.” I ask Dave if he’s left the more debauched side of rock n roll he was once renowned for behind. “Sometimes you gotta write the song with your cock man!” he says, only half-jokingly, being very aware that this reputation is what helped Monster Magnet break through.

Interested by Dave’s love of comic books, having written songs with references to the likes of The Fantastic Four, as well as legendary Marvel artist Jack Kirby, I’m curious to know how this has influenced the latest release. “Comics are one of my favourite things in life Chris, and I think that by combining a lot of that in my music I can add an element of surreality and added weirdness.” I ask Dave his opinion regarding the rest of the current rock scene. “The problem I have with a lot of guys is that, yeah it’s a hell of a lot of fun to get up on stage, crank the amps and melt the faces off the audience with solos and distortion, but if you’re going to write songs about warrior-princesses and fuckin’ satanic shit then the audience has to be able to believe that stuff. You’re playing the role of a story-teller on stage and you can’t be effective at that if all you want to do is play loud. You have to seduce the listener into your music. Seriously, how many chicks want to go see a guy on stage screaming ‘Hey buddy I’ll kick your fuckin’ ass!’ you know?”.

With this in mind I ask Dave his opinion on the Internet and its impact on the future of rock. “It’s not good man! Now that radio’s dead all these different branches and genres of rock have their own little clubhouses online. To me, there’s just rock music. All these labels are just unnecessary bullshit.” Dave clearly spends a lot of time thinking about this and I’m interested to know what solution, if any, he’d have for this. “I don’t know exactly what to do man, but I’ll tell you this, all this new music? It ain’t new, it’s just fuckin’ Kraftwerk man, there ain’t no new sound. Drum machines, keyboards, dude shouts ‘Drink another overpriced drink!’ That’s all there is to it. If anything, we need an online cabal of intelligence, a freakin’ Internet fortress, where if you ain’t got the rock n roll know-how then you can’t be a part of it. There has to be an Arab spring of rock n roll, a renaissance of sorts, where we strip rock music back to where a lot of it originated from and start over again and see where it takes us this time around.” Dave seems to have a better understanding than most of the inherent problems and paradoxes within the world of rock n roll.

Curious as to what the future holds for Monster Magnet I ask him about the upcoming re-imagining of their 2010 release Mastermind. “Yeah man, we’ve just been in the studio recently putting down some of the new tracks for it. Expect the quiet songs to now be loud, the loud to be quiet. We’ve reversed a lot of the previous dynamics on Mastermind. Expect it to be weird man.” Dave seems to represent an entire generation of rock musicians and fans alike in one man and sums up their attitude succinctly, “The older I get the more fun this job gets. I’ll stop doing it when it stops being fun.”

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