INTERVIEW WITH DAVE WYNDORF (MONSTER MAGNET)

Posted: September 2, 2011 in Long Gone Loser Interview
Tags: , , , ,

A tear was shed, hugs were had, a tour was mourned as this morning the announcement was made as Monster Magnet’s Australian ‘Dopes To Infinity’ tour was cancelled. The reasons are vague and the press release states:

Due to several unforeseen factors beyond our control, Live Nation regrets to advise
that the Monster Magnet “Dopes To Infinity” tour has been cancelled. A number of
circumstances have conspired to form the perfect storm and we are
disappointed that this planned tour has been a casualty. The Monster Magnet
“Dopes” tour will visit Australia at a more appropriate time. We appreciate
your continued support.

Please note that all tickets purchased via credit card will be automatically
refunded.

Well, it now seems that the interview with Dave Wyndorf that I did a few weeks back in support of this tour just seems kinda pointless. Alas, I don’t like good interviews going to waste so I am putting it here for you to read. I mean, and why not? Monster Magnet are still one of the greatest live bands on the planet and Dave Wyndorf was one of the coolest people to talk to. He’s always been a good interview and LGL fave. So here we have it, my latest interview with Dave Wyndorf, unedited, uncensored and now, possibly, unimportant… maybe? You decide.

The Pixies have done it. So have The Stooges. Playing an album in full is the new experience of hearing songs that a band has never played live before. It’s with this idea that Monster Magnet’s mainman, Dave Wyndorf, is excited about their upcoming Dopes To Infinity tour in September…

Now you’re heading down to Australia in September to play your Dopes to Infinity album from top to bottom, something the fans of Monster Magnet probably never thought they’d see. Why this album and why now?
I’ve always been a fan of bands playing a whole album. Albums to me have always been a huge deal when I was a kid, they’re like little movies, you know? From the top to the bottom, sequenced correctly, or maybe they weren’t sequenced correctly but when I was a kid I knew I liked the record, I knew what I liked in the album and not all albums fit that bill. There’s some albums where’s only 2 good songs but there were some albums where I just accepted everything they did. Nobody, when I was a kid, ever did that. The first time I saw someone do that was in the 80’s when Arthur Lee and Love got back together and started doing that and I thought ‘what a great idea!’. Now the only problem with that, at least when I first started, was that you took a chance in turning people off. You weren’t doing the best of your catalogue and you weren’t doing your job of making people as excited as they possibly could be. Picking songs for a set is a time honoured tradition of getting people’s attention. However, over the years and I think this really has to do with the internet, people get to access older music all the time and they get to look at things a little differently and go ‘alright, this is a classic, this isn’t a classic blah blah blah’ More people get to experiment with this format of playing the record and they’ve been successful, more than I ever thought they’d be. So now that it’s really cookin’, I want in on it. I talked with Josh from Queens Of The Stone Age, the Mudhoney guys and The Melvins and they all say they’re having a great time doing it, so… me for some of that.

Dopes To Infinity is hailed as a classic and how does it feel this many years on that you can do this record? It obviously shows that the album has longevity…
It’s awesome! To tell you the truth, I was nervous. I put it out to promoters to see if they’d want it and they did. They were all like ‘yeah, we want that!’. They knew the record. It’s all a big experiment and if this goes well I’ll do every album I have if it’ll sell.

That’d be awesome!
Yeah… I mean, I’ve always been a little bit pissed off in my career that because of a couple hits, I’m not mad at hits or anything, but because of hits and a lot of heavy metal profiling over the years we’ve been known on the metal circuit as a singular loud rock band. Now I’ve put mellow songs on these records and I love the mellow stuff and I love the intricate psych stuff and it’s been a little bit intimidating to bring that stuff out in huge amounts because people are like “where’s the rock?” This way, the people who are out there, they know what they’re gonna get. If someone sees that Monster Magnet are gonna play Dopes To Infinity, they’re gonna get Dopes To Infinity. They’re not gonna walk out going “motherfucker! Goddamnit why didn’t they play this?” There’s no room for them to complain so it gives me and the guys a really good feeling like ‘you know something, I’m gonna go out and do the records’ I always liked the variety in Monster Magnet. Hopefully if it’s successful enough I’d like to just tour a set where it’s nothing but mellow songs. Not get away from the rock but definitely separate some of these sounds. I’ve liked a lot of different sounds over the past bunch of years.

The first time I saw you here in Australia was on the Dopes To Infinity tour and you played here with Tumbleweed so your sets could only be a certain length and Dopes To Infinity isn’t a short album by any means…
To tell you the truth it’s been the bane of my existence. It’s always been like “yeah you have this much time!” and I’m like “but that’s only four Monster Magnet songs!” you know?

When you were on the Soundwave festival, I remember you didn’t have a lot of time which really isn’t the full Monster Magnet experience…
I know. I did Soundwave because it was a good way to get over there and if we could turn on any new people at all that would be the way to do it even though it was 1 o’clock in the afternoon. But I did so with the complete knowledge that I was going to come back very soon and do a complete set.

That show you did in Melbourne at Billboards prior to that tour was the ultimate experience of a Monster Magnet show. The people came and they showed that they will stick by you no matter what.
The people are awesome, man. I mean, people who actually listen to a whole record… wow, what a concept. A lot of people out there don’t listen to whole records anymore. There are guys out there that just don’t know anything. I see bands all the time and they don’t have a connection. We have an amazing connection with the people who like Monster Magnet. I mean, they know the songs. They know all the parts, they’re musical and they speak in musical terms. They know it’s like rock and devil horns and all that kinda shit, they recognize the humour and the weirdness about it but they’ll also come up and go “what’s that vintage fuzz you used on that part” or “I love the acoustic guitar you used on this”. It’s women AND men, they know their shit.

I am really looking forward to hearing a song like Vertigo live…
It’s really weird and detached. We started jamming a week and a half ago and a lot of the guys in my band have never played this stuff before except for a handful of songs. Some we’ve never played live before. Songs like Dead Christmas and Blow ‘Em Off, I was the only performer on those tracks so the band’s never played them. Not any member. I’m like ‘alright, what’s gonna happen?’. It could suck. But it doesn’t suck and it really sounds good. We’re psyching this stuff up. The stuff that sounded psychedelic before is even more psychedelic now. The garage stuff sounds pretty authentic but there’s a little bit more of a warp on that too. I don’t think people that like the record are gonna be disappointed, I think they’re going to like it more… hopefully.

This many years on, so much has changed in your life since recording Dopes To Infinity, for example, at that time there was a lot of drugs but now you’re sober, does it feel different to play those songs now that you are in a different headspace?
No, actually not. I’m all about music and back then I was all about music. It’s not like I ever wrote or recorded records high. I never did that. No matter what people may think. I’m not crazy. If I did that it’d sound like a Grateful Dead record. Nobody gets high and records that album, you know? It’s impossible to do. You couldn’t focus. But what it does remind me of is the amount of naivety I had back then when I thought I could write a record with all that variety on it and every song, because I thought it was a good song, would be a hit or something. I found out very soon after that because Dopes didn’t sell. It wasn’t a big seller at all. It got a lot of press but it didn’t sell. With record labeling and the amount of branding that went on and the fact it didn’t fit neatly into one pigeon hole or another, really caused my record company to come back and say “could you simplify things?! Could you make either a straight psychedelic record or a straight rock record?” They didn’t tell me to do that but they suggested it and that was the last record I wrote thinking that people were going to listen to a whole record. When I realised people were only going to listen to Negasonic Teenage Warhead or something, I was like “wow!” That’s why the record after that, Powertrip, I wrote that really bitter and fuckin’ snide and I was like “do I have to put tits and money on something to make it sell?” and I did and it did! It was funny. I put big tits on it and money and sure enough it sold a fuckload. I really don’t think it was the music, I think it was because of the way it was marketed. So going back to Dopes is like a nice experience for me. It’s the first time I get to sit back and really not have to worry about people’s reactions to the set. Nobody’s gonna complain because of the set. Nobody’s gonna say “why didn’t you do this?” “Well why did you come, you idiot? It’s Dopes To Infinity!” Instead of concentrating on grabbing people by the balls every 2 seconds, I can concentrate on the set as a piece. A piece of music, you know? It’s making me really happy.

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