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I still talk to planets every single day. And they are telling me to rock!
He is Dave Wyndorf. He is the voice, face, heart, soul and aura of the mighty Monster Magnet. He's been on stage for 40 years, almost 30 of them with Monster Magnet. He is so great that he has his own gravity that attracts thousands of fans. He is so beyond this world that he talks with planets and they have no choice but to answer. On October 28 Dave turns 60 and this is more than enough reason to call him and congratulate him personally and talk about the future of the band
Dave Wyndorf is the Bullgod, the testosterone monster rampaging in the parallel reality of rock'n'roll with his band Monster Magnet since 1989. He was crowned King of Mars and even though today he becomes 60 he feels like he's 35. After 25 years in the errant age between 16 and 21. Our conversation with him last week was one of the most honest revelations of a rock hero - one of the gods of our personal rock pantheon. Dave is not shy to talk about music, drugs, money, his family, his love of comic culture and the future of Monster Magnet. From whom we expect a new album next year. And though our conversation is long, it was so interesting and with cool details that we invite you to read it whole. To meet one of the biggest and real characters in rock'n'roll today.
Hello Dave, how are you and where do we find you?
I'm feeling well, it's a nice morning. It's a good time of the year, I like the fall. It's nice here. I'm sitting in my kitchen, in a town called Red Bank, New Jersey. It's nice today, man. It's like the perfect fall weather, it's not too cold, it's sunny, it's a perfect day to ride a bicycle.
Oh you ride a lot?
I do, I ride like crazy. It's good for your head. It's good for your brain too. It's the best, cause it's faster than walking but not too fast to miss anything.
This Friday it's your 60th birthday, am I right?
That's right (laughs).
How do you feel about it - is there any kind of Saturn hole or do you feel more happy and enthusiastic about it?
Uhm, you know, I thought it would bother me more but I think when I was fifty, that was the one that got to me. Sixty, now, I feel like “Hey I made it, at least I'm not dead!”. It doesn't bother me that much, I feel really good too, so it's not like I feel like I thought I would feel at sixty. You know, you got this idea in your head when you're younger “Oh man, by the time that I'm sixty, I'll be in a wheelchair or walking with a cane or something an old man should!”, but I'm actually in a better shape than I was in the last 10 years.
Hey, let’s look at Dave Brock from Hawkwind, he's 75 and still doing it, so…
Yeah, I mean those guys really inspire me, the guys from Hawkwind - anybody who's been doing it longer than I have and seems to be enjoying it. I always look at those guys and go “Wow, they're having a good time!”. So you better do it. It's funny, if I was left on my own, I don't think I would've noticed my age that much, it's what I compare it against when people bring it up to me. Like my sister goes "Wow, you're gonna be sixty!" and I'm like "Why do you even say that?” (laughs). But it doesn't bother me that much. And like you say, guys like Hawkwind. My tour manager is going out with UFO, the singer from UFO is seventy. The Rolling Stones are in their mid 70’s. I never thought rock people could last that long and some of them don't. But when they do - it's pretty cool.
Have you already made some resolutions about what have you done and what you want to do in the coming years?
My resolutions has been more like "Just try to be the best you can be, don't do anything really stupid!". I'm trying to think, there's gotta be a better way to put this, so it's more interesting to write about. My real resolution was to be a guy who's 60 years old, who didn't seem he was 60 years old, in the old sense, in the old way. And so far, so good.
Now let's talk about rock’n’roll. You have done this for almost 40 years now, do you believe you that you have changed through the years your way to do rock’n’roll or the way you listen to rock music?
The way I listen to it, it's the same I've always done it. I listen to it with my heart first and then my head. Listening to rock'n'roll is like a physically changing movie to me - it creates movies in my head. The music just creates these visions and moods. Music is the best, man. So I listen to it the same. The way I do it has changed, because I know more the way I want things now. So when I approach a song, it probably takes a little less time than it used to. And I always have to keep trying to go outside the box, so I can challenge myself to do stuff I've never done before. Right now my challenge is to do it as good as possible, as fast as possible, so I can keep the energy level up, that burst of energy. And a lot of times in the past it would take me a long time to recreate the live feel, to get that kind of excitement. Now, I've gotten better, I know when to say "That's good enough, it sounds exciting, that's good. The years have taught me how to get what I want faster.
And do you think the rock scene has changed in the past 40 years?
Yeah, it changed quite a bit. It's night and day and today's the night part of it (laughs). The world changes, the culture changes, kids want different things, the audience changes, media has got a lot to do it with how people get music, digital music…
Are you scared about all these Internet things - like sharing music and do you think that people who share music through the internet are stealing from the artists?
It seems a little harsh to say they're stealing it, but at the same time I'm not getting paid for it, so I don't know how to call it. There used to be money in rock’n’roll, and now there's almost none. Unless you sell millions and millions of records, you're going to be broke being in a rock band. So I wouldn't expect rock bands to last too long these days, because they just can't afford to be in one. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a capital of world, so if I haven't come out when I did, in the 90's, and made some money then I doubt I'd be in a band now. I mean, not in a touring rock band, I may do a couple of albums in my house, bought some cheap recording equipment and stuff, but there's no money in it. So if there's no money in it, it doesn't mean it's gonna be a thriving community of rock’n’roll and there isn't, not that I can see. There's Bandcamp and stuff like that but I don't see people making kick-ass albums anymore.
Well, you do.
Thank you! Hey, I try, I try man (laughs). Whether I lose money or not, I still make the best album I can. It's important to me that whether people notice it now or they'll notice it 10 years from now or 20 years from now that at one point they'll go back to my band and go "Hey, these guys always make good records. They didn't fuck around and said ‘Oh, everything sucks now, I think I'll just make a bunch of shitty albums and tour!’" I don't wanna be that band and a lot of bands are doing this right now, they're just putting out shitty albums and getting on the road, cause they wanna sell t-shirts.
You know, even bands like Black Sabbath... we, all the fans of Black Sabbath love the first 6 albums or then again we all love the first 4 Led Zeppelin albums, but when you have Monster Magnet, you can easily fall in love with Spine of God or Last Patrol or Dopes to Infinity and Cobras and Fire - they're all amazing albums. How do you keep your albums so true and so alive?
Wow, thank you so much, that means so much to me! All I try to do is to play the kind of music that I would like to listen to. And usually I listen to a lot of different music and I try to separate the type I can authentically pull off and to keep away from the stuff that even though I like it, I know I would suck at it - and there's a lot of it, I suck at a lot of stuff (laughs). What I try to do is to listen to that part of myself that was 16 years old, 24 years old and if it rings that bell in my head then I'm like "Alright, I can do this!". Because that's the time in your life, from 12 to, say, 24, when the stuff just hits you so emotionally, it stays with you forever. So I just keep trying to hit that bell and so far I haven't got tired of it - I like those chords, I like how those certain chords go together, I like the way a fuzz guitar sounds, I like the way a good ol' heavy early 70's Marshall sounds or Les Paul and I just keep going back to those. And I try to make it so it's not exactly the same, but same enough to say "Yeah, this is who I am, I'm still this guy." It's not hard to do when I think about it in terms of making my 16 years old self happy.
What do you miss of the old days when you started making your first appearances on stage?
Oh well, in the early 70’s I was just going to shows,and by the mid 70’s I was on stage and the late 70’s I had punk rock band (Shrapnel). So what I miss about the old days, when I was going to shows, was how many great bands were on the road at the same time - it was insane! And when I think about it now, I couldn't even imagine! Who's coming next week? Led Zeppelin. And who's coming the week after that? Black Sabbath. Who's coming the week after that? Hawkwind. It's insane when you think about it! And I went to all these shows, I was lucky, I grew up in south of New York City and everybody had to come to New York, it's like Paris or something, so I went to every goddamn show. When I was a kid I had a job at a carwash, I went to high school and just bought bags of weed and concert tickets and albums and I saw everything (laughs). And that's what I miss, the amount of how much rock’n’roll was part of my life. There are plenty of shows now, but there's more cover bands and stupid old guy music, it's different now.
Well, there are many bands that are touring now and making good albums and making good shows, for example Clutch or 1000mods, or Red Fang, or The Sword and yet again they remain underground. Why do you think that rock n roll is not that big as it was 40 or 30 years ago?
Yeah, I don't think it's a cultural thing. I don't think it's part of the youth culture like it used to be in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and that's what made it almost mainstream. It occupied a really comfortable lower level of mainstream. Right now, mainstream is defined differently, I don't think anything outside of the box is allowed in the mainstream at all, it's a very pop world. All the money in promoting music is devoted to pop, because that's the only place where people can make any serious dough. It's more about the money than it's ever been before and that leaves out almost any chance for any fringe band to cross into the mainstream. And the kids have chosen, hey, I'm talking about something that was 40 years ago, of course the kids should like something different - the mass amount of kids today have really turned away from music as a source of poetry and music is more as background to their party.
They have way too many tools to get distracted.
Yeah "Hey, I got my jams, here are my jams, here's what I do, I'll play my music in the background and I'll be the star!" You know, you get Facebook, Instagram, you can be the guy! The music as some sort of poetry doesn't exist the same way it did in the 70’s, I mean, shit, in the 70’s those records were written and listened to as if they're some sort of a secret behind everything. What do they really mean by that innuendo, double meanings, mysterious album covers, all that stuff you look - that stuff is important. Albums were written in many cases almost like a book, or a novel or a movie - you open the album cover, you look at it, you listen into it and go "Wow, there's something in here, man! I know there's something more to this!" And many times there were not, but many times there were. I think, at least I did, and all my friends did, and the people I knew looked at records like that, to be explored. And I think in modern days to get a young person to listen to whole record from song 1 to song 10 would be almost impossible. Maybe they'll listen to two songs and they'll flick and put on their next song and that's why it's different. I don't know if it will ever go back to the old days, ‘cause people are different.
We don't see many rock bands going to stadium tours like before.
Yeah. The stadium shows are less and less. More festival shows, putting together bands that used to play headlines themselves, together. So I would think, that for the time being, I treat rock the way jazz music was. At one point, in mid 20th century, jazz was the biggest thing ever, jazz was huge music and it was for everyone and it went for about 30 years, and then it started to go away. It didn't die, but... I think that's where rock is right now, it's as jazz was. But that could mean good thing for the music, ‘cause one jazz didn't have to be a million seller it got really, really interesting.
And what are the positive sides of the contemporary rock scene - do you see any?
The bright sides are what I was saying, now, we're so much free to any kind of demand to "make it" in the mainstream, ‘cause hopefully that would encourage bands to take more chances musically. It just got better to make music. The one thing I noticed being in a band that has been around for awhile, there's something liberating about the fact that maybe you won't ever be on big radio again, and I won't go to a big record company and basically get owned by these guys as they try to put me on big radio, so why should I care about stuff like song length or cursing on a song and all that stuff you used to have to worry about? Now I'm just like "Yeah, I think I'm gonna do whatever I want". If I wanna make a brand new album and then follow up with a re-imaging of an older album, with 60’s organ and stuff, I'll just do that, because it's not like I have to make sense to a wide world. I'd rather much make cooler sense to a smaller world than make boring sense to a wider world.
Talking about labels, are you happy with Napalm Records? You've been with them in the past 6 years.
Yeah, I signed a contract for a bunch of records with them. This is the last record for them. If they want more, I guess they'll have to come back and offer me some money (laughs). The way I look at it is that record companies didn't seem to mean as much as they did in the old days. They'll still be "Here's a heavy metal record company, here's an alternative record company", but for me, I always thought that Monster Magnet always had enough identity to survive any label, as long as the record company gave me the money that I needed to pay my guys and make a record. I would be happy switching record companies for the rest of my life, if some people ran out of gas and there was a better record company. But so far I haven't seen a perfect record company for Monster Magnet. And there hasn't been a "stoner rock” label, there's never been one big one that really did it right. It would be nice if there was, I would like to see bands like Monster Magnet, Kadavar, all be on the same label. I know Napalm tried that, but you know… I think right now anything loud is considered metal to the outside world. You know, a normal person wouldn't go “Oh, that's metal and this is stoner!”, they'll go “Yeah, if it's loud, it's probably heavy metal.” But they're a bunch of idiots, they don't know what they're talking about.
Talking about loud music, your music is really loud, yet again it's very melodic and psychedelic. But mostly the guys like your music and the girls aren’t exactly into it. Why do you think it's like this? Because it has so much sex in it, or it's so masculine or with all this science fiction in the lyrics... what do you think it's the reason?
It could be... I never know what girls like (laughs). I mean, I know what girls like, but as far for music we've done okay with the girls. Better than I expected (laughs), but then again, I haven't played it as a cock rock band either. I suppose I could've dumbed it down even more and take away the psychedelic music or calm down on the psychedelic stuff and sang more about personal relationships. But what do girls like? What's a rock girl's favourite band? Guns n’ Roses? You know, when we did Powertrip I turned the image of the band a little bit towards a little bit more stereotypical - leather pants and shit, it was fun. And a lot of girls showed up after that.
Yeah maybe because it's more straight-forward rock n roll, not so trippy.
Not so creepy (laughs). I know that the last couple of records just sound like some weird old man is whispering into a microphone in your ear, but what am I gonna do? That's the way I felt. You have to write the music that you feel or you can't pull it off. It's funny, because the one that I'm writing right now, just about to go into the studio in November, this is full ahead rock. It's a little bit shorter album, 10 songs, full-ahead Detroit style, early 70’s, MC5/Stooges type of rock. I wanna see if that makes any difference to the fans at all. It still sounds like Monster Magnet, of course, but it's a little less on the psychedelic side and little more on the power rock side.
Are you gonna release it again through Napalm Records or are you seeking for a different label now?
Yeah, this one is Napalm, it's the last one of Napalm. I'm looking into a release in June. And then I'll see if they wanna continue or if somebody else would want to continue.
Is it going to be a Monster Magnet record or a Dave Wyndorf solo-album?
Oh, it's Monster Magnet.
You were telling about preparing a solo-album with more sitar and 60’s psychedelic stuff…
I know, I keep saying I'm gonna do that. But then my guys keep turning to me and go "When are we gonna tour again?" So, okay, we'll call this a Monster Magnet record! It's strange, a lot of these ideas, in a way of instruments, it has come out over the last two re-imagining albums. That's very much the direction I'd go if I was doing a solo-album. But I haven't got time to do a solo-record, because everybody wants to tour so much, I can't stop with the Monster Magnet, it's too much fun!
And also Monster Magnet is your band, every Monster Magnet album is a Dave Wyndorf album.
Yeah, it's true. If I'm going to do a solo-album, I really have to make it different. I'm gonna have to sit here with a keyboard player and just make something so weird and so different that you just go "Okay, it's really different!" So I started putting these songs kind of aside. I'd write a couple of songs and think “This won't work with Magnet, people are gonna go ‘What the fuck, sounds like Elton John!’”... Or a psychotic Elton John... hey, Elton John did acid! So I've put them aside and perhaps I'll put them together.
What made you re-record your albums Mastermind and Last Patrol?
I just felt like doing it. I wanted to get into the studio and work with different instruments, like old 60’s organs, less distorted guitars, more distorted guitars. The basic framework is just to shake me up a little, as far as getting sounds. It really was for me... and I didn't feel like writing anything. I've been writing a lot, I've just written Last Patrol and we did Last Patrol and we toured the shit out of it. And I wanted to get back to the studio, I don't feel like sitting here writing right now, I just don't got it, but I still want to work. I got all these ideas about re-imagining this and that, because it's just fun to do and I thought it would be a worthy project as an addition to the Monster Magnet catalogue, not as "Hey, this is Monster Magnet's new record, that's all we're gonna do forever!". I kept thinking that in the modern music business you really don't have to follow up anything, this is just another thing - you like it, if you don't like it - don't buy it, it's fine, you're probably gonna listen to it for free anyway. This is just me, the unprofessional me going "Eh, I felt like doing this today, let's see what happens!" And I was glad I did it ‘cause it's really fun and I think it sounds cool.
I was talking to a friend of mine and I said "You know, maybe they have this contract with Napalm which they have to fulfill and now they're just releasing albums do get it done and over." Was there something like that?
That's a good guess, that's a good guess. And you know something? I would've done that if I would had a problem, but this was done separately. I just really did it, because I felt like doing it. And I wanted to get something out there to get my shit together, get healthy, get ready to write the next record and to tour, because I like to tour and I'd like to tour as much as I possibly can.
Talking about your music and writing albums and songs, you have big influence by sci-fi and comic books, do you still get fascinated by them?
I do, there's something about the imagery, even more than the writing. Art and illustration, a fixed image, say, the right drawing... and when I say "correct" drawing is just what hits me. For some reason that just represents a freedom of imagination that's so far beyond any movie or anything else, because one person did it, one person drew this illustration, it just makes me go crazy. I go "Look! That guy did this with his hand!" It inspires me more as I admire the work than even what it's about, although with science fiction and comic book art, it's always fantastic and cool as shit! That's badass! (laughs) It has a lot of infinite possibilities what the concepts could be, but there's something about the fixed illustration that really gets me... whether it's the right painting or the right drawing. And for some reason, I really think that the comic books, they're not all great, but there's some real gold in those things, man, I mean it's just a beautiful moment of absolute coolness…
Do you still read comics?
I read them every day. Every day before I go to bed, I read comics. I read big boy books during the day and before I go to bed, I read like 2 or 3 comics. I'm like a maniac, I can't stop, I read them old, I read new... I'm completely up on everything that's coming out. And right now the online thing is so completely cool as shit! Reading comics on an iPad, I mean I love old comics and I love the feel of comics and stuff, but reading comics on an iPad is pretty goddamn cool, man! I carry this thing around with me all over the world and I'm like "Oh, time to go read comics!"
As you're a fan of comic books, how did you feel when Marvel created their character based on Negasonic Teenage Warhead?
Wow, what a trip, eh? That was a done by this really great comic book writer named Grant Morrison. He was a very popular big comic book writer, he still is. He did that in the 90s or early 2000s, and that was a shout out to Monster Magnet, because he's a Monster Magnet fan and that character wasn't designed to be in a comic book for more than a couple of issues. And the weird thing about is that he has left Marvel since then and Marvel own whatever he writes. And when it came out I was like "That's cool", I didn't think like "Hey, that's my song title! You might wanna..." I wasn't gonna be douchebag or a dick head about it. And then guess what, 20 years later, they make a movie and somebody who's writing a movie said "Hey, what about this character, that's on our list of characters that are available?" and the next thing you know: there’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead - completely different character actually, but the same title and I was like "Wow! This is amazing!"
Do you like the movies that are coming out with all the superheroes?
Yeah, it was okay. The movie was okay. It's funny, I wanna like the movies more than I do. I want to like them, but it's not a comic book. And I stay by that, comic books are a medium, they're a strong medium, they make me happy the way they are. It doesn't necessarily makes them better because they translated them into a movie and it sold 5 billion and 5 billion people went to see it. I like the form of comic books, I like the eye movement on the page, that's the way, they're their own thing. A lot of time the movies bust me out of that, I'm like "Oh, that's not cool!". There's a lot of uncool stuff in those movies. The best thing about them are the special effects, they're fucking fantastic. If I can get a loop of all the special effect scenes in the movies and just watch that, I think it'll be fine. Special effects are the best they've ever been!
What are your favourite comic book movies?
I like Watchmen, my favourite comic book movie, ‘cause I think that's most like a comic book. The Watchmen, first Spiderman and the Captain America movies, the second one and the third one. They're cool, they're completely ridiculous and are not total Hollywood. It's tough to get the vibe of a comic book into a movie and they kinda did. They remind of Ed Brubaker’s Captain Americas from a bunch of years ago. The Winter Soldier is very much like his writing.
And if somebody writes a comic book with Dave Wyndorf as a main character, who would you like to make the story and the illustrations?
Now you're killing me!
I think this guy Garth Ennis would be the best writer for it... or Grant Morrison. That would be fantastic. And if I had it my way, I would definitely be like... I don't know, it's too much for me to even to contemplate... but I would definitely be character like Spiderman, like a nerd guy who lived in his own imagination and then was given some sort of opportunity for that imagination to become really powerful. Because, after all, that's how I felt my whole life, I'm just a writer. I was never "Oh I'm THAT guy, I'm Iggy or I'm Ozzy!" I'm the guy who likes Ozzy or Iggy, and would dream about it in his room. And then for some reason, when I started writing these songs, I kinda became that! And I've always felt very comic booky about the whole thing, this is my alter ego! It's really cool and when it works, it's the best! All of a sudden you go from not having any girls to a lot of girls, you're on stage and you're rocking, this is fucking awesome! Very comic book like! I guess the comic book would just be me!
Have you thought of working on your own story for comic book adaptation or is your music your comic book?
I never did. I had a couple of opportunities and maybe I'll do it. But most of the time, I love comics so much, that I don't wanna mess with it. You can get jaded by working for something you love so much, trying to be involved in it. I would feel much more comfortable to be an editor of a comic book of mine. That, I would love to be. Guess what, you have a job and you're the editor of a certain number of books at some publishing company and you get to choose the talent, and maybe come up with some ideas what would be a good comic book or not, you get to talk to the artist and writer... and then maybe throw out some ideas, that would be fun. But I always thought if I mess too much with me in a comic book, I would wind up somehow hating comic books. Oh no! And I swear man, there's never been one point of my life where I didn't love comic books. And I have been around for a long time! It's one of those things that doesn't go away, like music. There's no way off.
What is the difference between Dave Wyndorf the rock god, and Dave Wyndorf the rock dad?
Oh, huge! It's always been one of those a bit strange, and sometimes difficult co-existence of almost two different personalities. But, of course, it's not two different personalities, it's the same personality. There are certain aspects of someone's personality that are more, let's say, juvenile than others, so basically the rock side of my personality was somewhere between 16 and 21 years old and the rock dad was whatever it took to be a good dad. And when my kid was young, she's 24 now, but when she was young she didn't really even know what I did. I wasn't like "Look, dad's rocking now!", it was "Dad's a musician". She was little, she didn't really know exactly what I did until she was about 10. And because I was on the road, I was a complete maniac. I was divorced too at this point, when she was really young.
So on the road I lived a life you would expect a rock guy would lead, a guy who is eternally trapped between the ages of 16 and 21 (laughs). And I lived a whole life that between the ages of 16 and 21 for about 25 years straight! It was all about music, make the best records you can, and then go out there and go completely berserk. Be very cerebral in the studio, make sure that everything is fine and then get on the road and go nuts and that means women and all the stuff you can imagine. But at home... Hey, I loved it both, I loved the sweetness of being at home and I love the craziness of being out there. But for a long time it kinda drove me nuts, at one point you have to explain to your daughter what you've been doing. She's gonna come back and be "Who are you?" and I explained. And she's cool, she goes "Yeah, I get it. You're like a man who's basically a rock’n’roll guy. You don't have to explain it that much more to me." She is so awesome, my daugher is the coolest person. She was the funniest, most sweetest little kid and now she's the funniest and the sweetest adult. I really got lucky with her.
If you've been living for 25 years between the ages of 16 and 21, how about today?
Today... today I feel about thirty-five (laughs). I feel better now on the road than I have been in a long time. I have to be careful about getting sick more, because for some reason, the doctors tell me "Your throat, it just gets weird." After you’rescreaming your whole life, if you get a sore throat you get a flu or whatever and you wind up not being able to sing. So I'm a little cooler about not so much partying afterwards. But, really, the last 5 or 6 years, have been the best on the road for me than it ever was before. I'm more together, I have a better time enjoying everything as it comes. I used to just run into the chaos and try to make as big a mess as possible after the show. I had so much energy, phew, maybe too much energy. So maybe it's good getting a little older, you get "Yeah, maybe don't be a fool", I did a lot of foolish things. So, all I can say is: so far, so good.
It occurred to me that maybe your voice today sounds better than in the 90’s.
I tried. That was a definite thing I did on purpose. Something happened to me, I got addicted to prescription drugs when I was around 48. I was taking these sleeping pills, it's an old story, and I got hooked - a classic story. So I OD-ed on them, it totally, almost completely destroyed my whole life, two year period just went straight downhill. And when I got off that stuff, I went to the hospital and they gave me this medication that slows your metabolism down and makes you really sluggish. And I just got fat as a pig. And I was like "What are you gonna do? You're in a rock band and now you're a big fat pig? What are you gonna do?" (laughs) It's funny, I mean, it wasn't funny to me, but it's funny now. So I'm sitting there like "Alright, what are you gonna do, dude? Take the weight off!" I couldn't take the fucking weight off! It wouldn't go off! I was on a bicycle and I couldn't stop eating, it was all those weird medications they gave me... And I'm like "Alright, are you really gonna stop your whole career just because you're fat?" No! And if I do, if I stop now, I know, I'll never get back. So fuck it, I'm going on tour anyway, I'll work this out on the way. When I got out there, on stage, and I'm like Meatloaf now, I'm like "You can't run around, you're just gonna stand and sing the best way you goddamn can! That's all you got!" And I did it. And I said "Why didn't I do this twenty years ago?” Because it sounds better! Less running around, more singing! Ah, the lessons we learn in life, my friend! So I was "Thank God, I still got something!" And this is the way this happened.
You have done really great cover versions of old and newer songs and all of them really sound as if they were written for Monster Magnet. How do you pick up the songs and give them your vibe and your life?
I usually choose them according to what the album I'm working on needs. I'm really insecure about the stuff and I think the album needs something. And you know, I've tried to write the song that we need. But many times, something just pops into my head... something I want to hear, this is what my brain wants to hear and I'm like "Well fuck it, we'll do a cover song!" Cause the album needs something that's kinda fast to do, so it doesn't have to be written but represents what I would feel like Monster Magnet would like to comfortably? do. And then I just do it, the way that's comfortable for me to do it. That's all, there's not a lot of thought that goes into it, I just kinda feel it by feel. And then I sit with the cover song and go "Alright, what can I do? What's the best stuff about this song and what is the stuff that doesn't have to be there?" So a lot of the times I would cut out parts of the original song, because either I can't do it well or I think that the song should be shorter. It happens really fast.
"Into the Void", well that was really fun to do! That was fucking insane! And we did that really fast too. I remember we did it in California, we were in the middle of a tour, and we had 2 days to do it: one day to record it and one to mix it. And I just got this weird idea. When they asked us to be on the Sabbath tribute album, and I was like "I don't know, man, I feel weird about covering Sabbath. I mean, nobody can really cover Black Sabbath. It's Black Sabbath!" I don't know, maybe live yes, but on a record? You're gonna listen to this and think "What the fuck is this shit?". So at the time I had been listening to a band called Suicide, from New York City. They came out in the late 70's and they were an electronic band. Insane! The first Suicide record is amazing! You gotta listen to it! It is so far beyond... if the world has been a cooler place, these guys would have been number one. It's science fiction, dystopian... Anyway, they had this singer that did this insane stuff and just sang... off. He was like a maniac! And I kept thinking about it, what if Suicide did a Black Sabbath song? And that what was in my head, so I just went in and winged it like that. I just pretended I'm the guy from Suicide. I mean, it still sounds like me, it's still my words, but that was the vibe. Because I wanted to get it so different than the Black Sabbath one, so nobody could say "Yeah, he just did a shitty Black Sabbath cover so he could be on a cover album!"
Why you never did a live record - video or audio?
Yeah, we never have. The only thing that really gotten professionally recorded as an entire live album is that Last Patrol tour, it was the whole Last Patrol album live, plus the encore, which was I think a lot of stuff from Dopes to Infinity. So perhaps I'll put that together, because it was really well recorded. But yeah, I would like a live album, too. You know, hardcore people like the live albums but the record companies don't love them. They're like "You're not gonna give us a live album, are you?" They just think that should be free, put a couple of live tracks on a DVD or a bonus track on a CD... But I'll do it.
Do you still talk to planets?
What do they tell you?
They tell me good things, my friend. I gotta talk to planets more now than ever! With the politics of the world going on now, can I please talk to someone who doesn't live on this Earth? I need to talk to someone who's a little bit more cosmic than the bullshit that we live in through. And they tell me to rock!
Who is Dave Wyndorf?
I'm still trying to figure that out. I ask myself that all the time. I am a writer who got in way over his head. That's who I am! I'm the guy who wrote stuff and then became the stuff he wrote about and got really weird and it's really fun.
Well, thank you very much for this interview! Have a great party for your birthday!
Thank you very much! It was an absolute pleasure talking to you!
Text Ivaylo Alexandrov