Monster Magnet is a band that belongs on its own planet. If you own a pair of headphones, prepare for a group that is designed to own you. If you’re looking for unforgiving rock n’ roll that’s gonna grab you by the balls and take you for the ride of a lifetime, this is your ticket, baby!
Welcome to the world of Dave Wyndorf, a man who has been penning some of the greatest psychedelic riffs the rock world has ever seen. This is a band that never looked to the charts for success, but rather, kept their eyes on the audience to know what they should call home. Monster Magnet has NEVER abandoned their fans and continue to back up their badass sound with nothing but their love for the game.
The stage is their home and the studio is their bitch. If you don’t believe it, check out their new album Mindfucker (out now via Napalm Records). Saddle up buttercup, because thanks to the new Magnet offering, not to mention releases from Fu Manchu and Corrosion of Conformity, 2018 may as well be 3018. Not convinced? Band master Wyndorf himself brushed off the world to shoot his slice of reality towards PureGrainAudio, and here it is!
To span over the course of your career, as a person, as a musician, as a songwriter, as a vocalist, artist, every which way you like to slice it: What is one of the most prime way or the most prime ways that you like to use to reinvent yourself time and again with each album taking on its own personal evolution throughout the course of your career as a musician? But still being able to maintain your OWN voice, your own signature flare and your own classic sound over like, decades at this point?
Dave Wyndorf: I wish I had a plan. Like a serious plan for that. I never did have a plan, I never expected to be around for that long so, it really, I mean – having a signature flair is like, just who you are. So, that’s okay, that’s who you are, whatever. The flare is good, is even better – I have a shitty signature flare as well. So it’s just me writing songs. I try to attack the music from a different angle, really try to get a different vibe off of the kind of music and the kind of chords that I like to hear. I’ve never really chased after new music because I love a certain type of music that I think I’m good at. So, really, that’s all it really is. Just pose the same figures in a different light each time out. I also look around and see what’s out there. If there’s anybody else doing what I’m doing, I’ll avoid that.
Wyndorf: Like, if I saw somebody else doing what I was doing, like exactly what I was doing, I’d go, “Oh shit, I’m in trouble.” But the whole time I’ve been around, I’ve never seen anybody exactly do what Monster Magnet does. So I’m like, “Alright, I’ll do another take on this. I’ll do another take on that.”
Yeah, and that’s kind of the interesting approach to like, you know, almost attacking music as a language, right? There’s only twelve notes and only so many letters.
Wyndorf: Yeah, but rock is rock music man. It’s certainly not brain surgery as much as people like to believe it. I’m pretty easy to please in that respect. I’m not – I never was impressed by prog-rock when I was a kid. I grew up in the early ‘70s, so like everything that happened now, already happened.
Wyndorf: You know what I mean? I hate to sound like an old guy, but all the shit went down. But once people come out with math rock and stuff, it’s like, ”Wow, those guys are so fuckin’ much better than me!”. It doesn’t matter, I just like to rock. Very simply put, if I can’t pull it off technically, I’ll make it happen in another way, and I usually like to keep it, riffs and stuff, pretty simple. So I don’t need to go searching around for “brand new” styles.
Yeah, and personally, I always thought it was more impressive to find, you know, something that really spoke to me in a “less is more” kind of way. But seeing how much people could do without very much, while still being able to apply that kind of style to a very wide range of people. Because it leaves it more open to interpretation.
Wyndorf: Yeah, it’s amazing how that’s done. You know, there’s a bunch of different schools, at least two schools on how people look at music. A lot of guys in rock bands will go, “You just gotta be faster and better and constantly innovate.” It almost goes into jazz.
Watch the video for Monster Magnet’s single “Mindfucker” below.
Wyndorf: And I never looked at myself as a musician as I was just a rock guy, a songwriter. So, for me, my rules being a songwriter doesn’t involve crazy chords. It just really involves chord changes and melody. However, I do that is my business.
Well, and one other thing I wanted to mention too is I thought one thing you were able to seamlessly incorporate, not just in the album art or the lyrics and the vivid imagery as well as the super spacey sounds and really deep grooves… But I always felt that one thing that gave Monster Magnet a really big edge is that it always has this very cinematic quality to it. Where you weren’t just a fan of rock music, but I felt like your passion for film and comic books –
Wyndorf: Yeah, thanks for noticing, man. I mean it really is. When I first did Magnet, I just kept thinking of how it would look. How it would look from an album cover, from what I was singing about and what was the best way to get that message across without being too simple. And all I really wanted to do was incorporate all my favorite stuff from when I was a kid. You know? When I started Magnet, I wasn’t a kid, I was like, twenty-six or twenty-seven, and I had already said to myself, “You know, I’ve kinda seen it all.” All the best shit’s gone. I was already like an indie-rock, well, kind of an indie-rock but kind of a punk rock snob up at that point.
You get like, “Well, it’s all fuckin’ dead now! It’s all gonna suck!” And I was right, but I kept trying to think, what would be my favorite band? What would all that stuff be? And it wouldn’t just be the music…it would be the music AND the lyrics and the lyrics would reference stuff that I thought was cool and maybe stuff that I thought no one else knew about, that would be movies as well as comic books, books, obscure references to religion…Any kind of cool-ass shit that I could fit together and try to write lyrics that would both make sense, but be visually evocative and fit the music.
Wyndorf: What’s the weirdest word I could pick here that means what I want to say, but in the most meta-context and put it in there? And usually it would be kind of visually evocative, you know? I would just throw in this stuff that – that eventually became this weird kind of writing style like a poetry. That’s what I always wanted. I figured people didn’t listen to words the way I listened to them when I was a kid and the way I listen to words now. You listen to words maybe three or four times in, but the first time you listen to the whole of it, you only catch a couple words. But those words had to be really good. If people are only going to catch a couple words have to be, “Volcano!”, or, “Exploding Planet!” or “Tits!” or whatever the cool word would be or the cool reference would be. That’s how I started with the visuals.
Yeah. Well, I noticed with especially a lot of the lyrics that really caught me and honestly, really contributed to the way I can really re-listen to a lot of the music, especially over decades now, and not get bored of it. Everything has like a double or triple meaning.
Monster Magnet’s 2018 album, Mindfucker, released on March 23rd via Napalm Records.
With most rock lyrics it gets a little dick-waving a little bit sometimes. You can catch it on a very surface level, on the skin, just so they can get it on the radio. Whereas that might cool for the “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”, but I want an album I can listen to ten, twenty, thirty – the rest of my life – from now, and still be able to skull something really cool out of it.
Wyndorf: Yeah, well, me too! Thanks for those, man. I was never scared of writing a direct song, like writing a great direct song. It’s such a gamble. Unless it’s that…unless you hit the mood of everybody that’s gonna listen to it and they all agree that this is like –
“What this means.”
Wyndorf: Or “My Generation”, or Nirvana. No, even Nirvana was weird! Nirvana had cool weird lyrics that you didn’t understand either. But I was kind of afraid to do that. One, I wouldn’t be able to do it right, and number two, I was too cynical. I was like, “This HAS TO mean more. It has to mean a couple things.”
Well, why not?
Wyndorf: I’d rather people walk away from a Magnet song going, “I don’t quite get what he said, but I think I know what that is.”, or, “It hits me in some way.” That way, in another case, I can sing those songs year in and year out and never get tired of them, and I don’t.
Yeah, and it leaves it much more open to interpretation, which creates a more engaging experience for the listener. Instead of like, somebody acting like a rock star being like, “This is what this means!” and like, “If you don’t get it, that’s on you sucker!”
Wyndorf: Yeah, and that gets really – That’s ugly.
Wyndorf: That’s like, “Whooopf”, and that separates you immediately. It separates me from reality completely because now I am not a writer; I’m just a spokesman or an ad man that either did the right ad or the wrong ad.
Wyndorf: Either you did the ad that worked or there’s a fuckin’ ad that’s failed. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to try to be an artist.
Yeah, one hundred percent. Yeah, and well, somebody may have asked you this before but with your love of comic books and how big comic book movies are now – Have you ever considered like possibly doing the soundtrack for a film?
Wyndorf: Oh, I’d love it. I would totally love it. Nobody’s asked me, but they’re not really going after rock bands for soundtracks these days. If you notice the soundtracks are – they’re not asking for heavy music. They’re asking DJs and stuff like that. Every once in a while they’ll stick in…they put Chris Cornell in one of them recently. [Soundgarden wrote the song “Live to Rise” for the soundtrack to The Avengers for Marvel Studios]. That’s not the uh…the flavor of the day in Hollywood at all. I don’t hear much rock coming out of there. Unless it’s like classic rock.
Monster Magnet declare “I’m God” with their recent lyric video.
Once I sell my next script, I sold my first one in 2012, I would love to hook you up man.
Wyndorf: Fuck yeah!
I just think it would give – Especially with the way you create such a cinematic experience with your music on your own, even if it was mostly instrumental, it would give one of those movies [comic book movies] such a crazy cool edge. Especially now that they’re starting to roll the dice with them a little bit. You’re seeing some of them get a lot darker or some of them to be more Hard-R and it’s not just for kids.
Wyndorf: I hear ya because I’m hoping… I’m definitely up for the job.
Yeah, and you’re definitely the right guy for it.
Wyndorf: They wouldn’t be disappointed. Like, “Whaddya want? I know what Jack Kirby sounds like!”
Wyndorf: And I actually know what Jack Kirby sounds like [as a person].
(Alex and Dave share a laugh)
Wyndorf: I think about these things! I’m like, “Yeah, I know what that comic book sounds like.”
Wyndorf: I love comics.
And so with the upcoming release for Mindfucker, are you going to be doing a tour of this like you have for the last couple albums? Because I know you primarily tour in Europe and Australia and outside of North America…
Wyndorf: Yeah, we do Europe every year, and America it feels like it’s every goddamn five years or something. Yeah, we’re doing a full-on US and North America tour for this.
If you’ve yet to hear “Space Lord” then you’re missing out big time. Watch this video!
Wyndorf: It’ll probably be in September, I think.
Killer, because I wondered if you were taking the Magnet worldwide on this one. Because I really do feel like Mindfucker and even the last couple albums, but especially Mindfucker and Mastermind really put a separate edge, a different dimension or sliced the sound a little bit different than almost anything you guys have ever done before.
Wyndorf: Thanks, dude! I got more into different players in the band, you know? The playing got better as far as I’m concerned. The guys in the band can play stuff the way I imagined it and so things got a little more muscular riff-wise, and I started adding on the top lead-wise some stuff, a lot more garage-y fucked up sounds. It gets a little gnarlier, some more off-time shit. It got into a pattern there, man, where I didn’t want to be in a certain playing style. And that’s where doing somewhat of the same music over and over, it becomes important to get the right person to play it. If I did “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” now, it would be different. It’s good to change it up every once in a while, especially when you’ve been around as long as we have.
Yeah, well it seems more of like an evolution rather than a reinvention. It’s not just like shedding old skin, it’s like picking up all the pieces while being able to move forward. Kind of like the way you look in the rearview mirror while you still have your eyes on the road.
Wyndorf: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. It’s the same thing. It’s weird being in a band for this long.
I can imagine.
Wyndorf: I thought I’d do what everybody else does and hang around for three or four years, and then the world like, kicks you out.
Yeah, pretty much.
Wyndorf: But I just kept like, ducking and weaving and going one place or the other. I didn’t want to stop because it’s just too much fun, it’s too cool.
Yeah, man. Well, I would love to chat all day, but I think that’s the perfect place to wrap it up.