As Monster Magnet are just under a month away from their UK dates. Dave Wyndorf was kind enough to sit down with myself and have a chat.
MGM – Hi Dave and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to have a chat.
Dave – That’s ok. Things have been really busy not just with the studio but the last 3 years have been just fucking nuts but really good. It’s all music all the time.
MGM – The last album (Milking the Stars: a re-imagining of Last Patrol) was kind of a remix album.
Dave – It was actually more of a re-production. I used the original drums but everything else was like re-recorded.
MGM – What was the idea behind that?
Dave – You know what, I just can’t leave well enough alone (laughs). Things were running through my head just for fun as a musician. There’s always bits and pieces of elements of songs that can change the very essence or fibers of the actual tune into something else. I’m in love with 60’s music and I just got the notion to go back in and tinker that record to see if I could come up with something new out of the existing material and give it a different vibe. The only real reason why I did it, was because I could.
I record records close to my home now. So I don’t have to go far away and afford to be a mad scientist a little bit. We have so many tours to do that I don’t have the time to write, record, produce and teach the band a whole new record as it takes about a year to do that. So I thought I have to have something out, So maybe it’s possible to have a re-interpretation single out. I got into one and the lid came off as it was too much fun.
MGM – It’s a very strange sounding album in places.
Dave – It should be
MGM – It’s very reminiscent of very early Pink Floyd and the whole psychedelic part of the 60’s
Dave – Tons of it. Early Floyd, The Doors. Lots of 60’s references. There’s something about that time period that mystifies me about how those records came out sounding the way they did. A lot of it was down to panning but also there was true stereo. Drums in one side and drums and maybe the echo of something else in the other which was fucking cool. But once you start something like that it becomes, if it’s any good. There was a good chance it could’ve really sucked, it kind of becomes its own beast until it’s done.
MGM – Even though the album obviously throws back to the whole 60’s sound it still sounds pretty modern and very Monster Magnet. You still have the hints of Powertrip and Monolithic baby which are both firm favorite albums of Monster Magnet for me.
Dave – Awesome thanks.
MGM – You parted company with Ed Mundell (Guitar player from 1993 – 2010. What happened there?
Dave – He just wasn’t happy. He’s one of those guys who you can tell isn’t happy but won’t quit. You know I’m like if you’re not happy just go you know. But things drag on. He got sloppy. He was drinking too much and his heart just wasn’t in it. It was cool. No- one lasts forever. I’m the only one who lasts forever (laughs). I’m the only guy who has been in Monster Magnet this whole time (laughs). But everything’s cool and I have to say that the kind of stuff I was writing in his last days just wouldn’t have suited him that much anyway.
MGM – You touched on the drinking and it’s no secret about your own demons.
Dave – Oh yeah that’s done. It’s like been there and done that kind of situation with me. My drug situation was so unglamorous. After years of teen hood and early 20s’ doing whatever I wanted and never having that much of a problem with it. Then in my 40s’ I was working and travelling so much that I just couldn’t sleep and was completely hyper, so I started taking these anti-anxiety drugs for sleep. Why he didn’t give me an ambient or something I’ll never know. But he gave me these horse pills. The kind of ones they give to Iraqi war veterans for psychosis. I finally met my match with drugs. Here’s the drug that’s going to kill ya and it damned near did. But it’s over. It’s been over for a few years now and it’s like another adventure in a long line of adventures. What kind of Rock n Roll guy would I be if I didn’t have at least overdose on drugs at least once? In fact life has been more fun since then. It gave me the kick in the ass I needed.
MGM – What helped you get clean?
Dave – I think I was just tired of it. With that kind of drug it’s weird. It’s not like a party drug. So it’s not like I was addicted to a party lifestyle. I only took my drugs to go to sleep. But the thing was it had an effect. My trouble was not the drug. It was coming off it. That just made me crazy. I was crazy enough for like 3 people (laughs). But it clouded my judgment more in my straight hours, which was all day. Much more than I ever thought and it turned out that it clouded my creativity as well. Once again I had to learn the bitter lesson. Even though you think you’ve got it together. Your mind is never going to be your mind unless you get that shit outta there. It really taught me a big lesson. You may think you know what’s going on. You don’t until you clear the deck every once in a while. Try to figure out what you have in there. As it turns out it’s much better without it.
MGM – You can tell. The song writing has matured.
Dave – That’s true man. It’s like I aint no spring chicken. I think the whole experience taught me that if you’re so tired and you’re so wired to travel around the world doing what you do without some kind of drug. Then maybe you’re too old to do what you’re doing. So I sat down and thought about that. Maybe I am, but I’m not too old to do this. So I did this. Like Last Patrol, that’s what I do now. I’m kind of done with the fist in the air. everyone on ya feet and rock as frankly that’s for somebody else now. Some-one who’s younger and can believe in that every night. But I have no intention of being an old weird guy. I have a big future ahead.
MGM – It’s a horrible thing getting older.
Dave – It is. The most bizarre thing is that you have to really contemplate time and perception. It’s very interesting. Perception is everything. There’s the physical reality of time and then there’s your perception of time. If you let the perception get ya, you wind up using all the time you have left worrying about it. How can I hit the reset button and make me think that I don’t have to worry about time. That’s pretty much what I did after the drugs.
MGM – It’s great that you cleaned up as you still have much to offer the world musically.
Dave – Music is the best. It takes on a life of its own. If you think the way that I feel about it then you’re not really an author you’re more of a participant. You start something and you give it a push and it just comes out of the air. It’s so much fun.
MGM – What is the song you’re most proud of?
Dave – That’s a really hard question. I really like Little Bag of Gloom. It took like 3 seconds to write. I wrote it on a little Casio keyboard. Recorded it, sang over it, done. I just love the economy of it all.
MGM – If we were to go into your own personal vehicle what will we find that was the last thing you listened to?
Dave – Aside from boring talk radio? That always seems to be on. Firstly you’d find my old school iPod. One of the 1st ones that’s like 180 gig and the size of a house brick and the last thing I listened to was the Eric Burdon (best known as a member of the band The Animals) band and the Blue Oyster Cults Secret Treaties I was listening to last night.
MGM – Any thoughts of doing a spoken word tour. Maybe along the lines of Henry Rollins, Scott Ian and Jello Biafra?
Dave – I didn’t even know that was a thing! I love to talk. The best times I have on tour is talking to people. So if I can do like a Q&A along with an acoustic set. Fuck it I’ll do it.
MGM – There we go. Planted a seed for later on.
Dave – Yeah
MGM – What’s next on the agenda for yourself?
Dave – I’ve just got back from mixing almost all of the Mastermind material (the album before Last Patrol) for a re-visiting of some of that record. It was a pretty cool record but a lot of it was mixed in a way that didn’t make me happy. It was too clean and a bit to “Digi” The mixing engineer got a bit carried away (laughs). It’s a little bit too modern for what was intended. So I’ve gone back and put some more effects on it, changed some shit around and made some mellower versions. Kinda what I did with Last Patrol. But not quite to that extent. It’s cool but very very odd and weird and I’m much happier with it. That’ll be done and coming out this year. It’ll have a couple of new songs on it as well.
Then after the tour that we’ve got going on that ends in March. I’m gonna like shut the doors for a while and write a new album. Of course unless some-one says “Hey you wanna go to South America for a tour?” Then fuck it I’ll go.
It’s weird being in a rock band. You make all these plans but then someone says “Guess what? There’s a tour here. It’ll be really cool if you’re on it.” So of course I’m gonna go (laughs) playing live music is the best thing ever. Because you get to leave the best side of yourself without revealing all the shit. Every nights Saturday night.
MGM – Speaking of playing live and the tour. What can we expect in the set list?
Dave – There will be a whole mix of old and new. There’s like 10 albums to go through and pick out a good Monster Magnet set. There will be a lot of Last Patrols as it’s new. But I’m going to try and get in something from everything in there. It’s a work in progress so to speak.
MGM – Is there a song in the set that you really look forward to playing?
Dave – The last couple of times for some reason “The Duke of Supernature” is really good as the guys play it a lot better than they did on the record as well as Stay Tuned. The mellow songs I like a lot. It changes when I change the set list around. “Spine of God” is always a favorite of mine.
MGM – What about favorite place to play –
Dave – Everywhere for all different reasons. I like the UK mainly because it’s responsible for 75% of the music that is in my record collection. Everywhere I go in England the only thing I can really think about is I wonder what record was made down there or I wonder where these guys came from. It’s quite astonishing for the music that I love. England is kind of hallowed ground.
I go to all these towns and I’m like, how the fuck did these guys make this sound coming from this town? It just doesn’t make sense. This stuff is like holy music and it’s not a holy town. There was something in the water back then I think (laughs). 60s’ early 70s’, just an incredible renaissance.
MGM -You touched on “Spine of God” which released back in 1991. You’ve had a long and varied music career. Is there anything you can attribute that too?
Dave – I think we just knew when to duck (laughs) so you don’t get ruined. It’s all a matter of the heart. If you have the heart you’ll go forever. I never broke up the band and said “oh I’m going to start something else” because I was the band. I wrote all the material. So I was like why should I change it. At a certain point I realized that although the industry is changing, it’s not going to make a difference to me writing music so why not just keep it alive.
MGM – Your style has kind of changed. Every album has been different than the last but still sounding like Monster Magnet.
Dave – I try to change it up as much as I can without going completely schmoove groove and trying to capitalize on a modern trend as I just can’t do it due to a certain amount of enthusiasm and talent basically. I only have a small amount of both (laughs). What I try and do is put a different spin on what I do as that’s who I am and that’s why I write the records man.
I think that if it wasn’t for the touring we probably wouldn’t have stayed together. It’s because you’re really engaged with other humans in a way that there’s no substitute for it in life.
It’s a fucking rock show and it keeps me looking forward to meeting other human beings (laughs).
If I didn’t have this job I’d probably be working in a gas station hating life (laughs).
This life affords me to be as extremely creative as I can possibly be and work with my brain and as soon as you get done with that, you get to go outside and exercise the physical side of it. Which is yelling, screaming, making a lot of noise and chasing girls around. It never gets old. Never seems to get boring.
MGM – It’s great to hear that you still have a lust for what you do. There are some bands that go out there and you can see they’re just going through the motions or not even playing 100% live.
Dave – There’s a lot of that now. It’s a strange time for rock n roll. It doesn’t seem to know what it’s supposed to be. Nobody really knows.
You don’t even get paid for your music anymore. These guys make music and they don’t really get paid for it. They all say we’ll go out on tour and sell a bunch of T-shirts etc. Where it just aint that easy.
I think it’s putting the psychological whammy on everybody. They start to question why these people are coming to a show. Is it because of me? The music? The art? The show? It can’t be the record as nobody is really buying them. There’s no gauge. Nobody seems to know. As much as modern society would love to just go along with the idea of I got so many hits on YouTube, or X amounts of likes on a social media site which is a bunch of shit. It means nothing. All it means is that people looked at you for a minute. People look at me walking down the street everyday but that doesn’t mean they like my music. So we live in a strange world where people are hoping and praying that they’re appreciated but there’s no real proof. There’s no amount of data that can replace asses to seats and actual record sales.
It is what it is. I’m just saying from a band perspective there must be a lot sitting there scratching their heads wondering I don’t know exactly where we are right now.” You can be in a band and go out and have a shitty tour. It’s not the bands fault it can be down to something simple like the economy. That’s happened throughout history. But the one thing that WAS the barometer of your popularity was how many records you sold. Now you don’t sell that many records because people get through other ways. Either pirated, or through Spotify and Spotify famously doesn’t really pay the artist that much. They’re real geniuses as they found out a way through legal loopholes to basically use an entire centuries worth of music and not give any of it back. Now in the next 10 – 15 years we’ll see who the real artists are compared to the bullshit ones. If we can make our way through the snow storm of the internet, which is a snow storm. As is difficult trying to find quality on the internet is like trying to find a feather in a blizzard. Everything looks good. There’s no shortage of cool band names or cool graphics but who are the real bands out there. Who are the ones that really do it? I haven’t seen any classic rock bands being made. I haven’t really seen any bands in the last 10 years that may still be around. Since the start of the 21st Century as far as mass audiences are concerned there has been a huge drop in quality culture. It’s all about convenience now. The kids AREN’T alright. It will get better but not tomorrow.
MGM – You also occasionally guest on a podcast hosted by View Askew Productions who are responsible for Jay and Silent bob as well as a comic book store.
Dave – yeah I’ll walk into their store which isn’t far from where I live and they ask me to take a seat and have a chat. I can take my sunglasses off and nobody recognizes me (laughs)
MGM – Great stuff Dave. Hopefully I’ll get to see you at one of the UK shows and on that note it’s been an absolute pleasure to speak to you. Thank you for your time.
Dave – Thank you very much man. Take it easy