With their new album ‘Milking the Stars’ still on heavy rotation over here, one of the standout tours from the early part of 2015 (as far as CackBlabbath are concerned) is the return of Monster Magnet to our shores. Having reworked their ‘Last Patrol’ saturating the vintage tones to the maximum with outstanding effect on ‘Milking the Stars’ and with the band being responsible for playing two of our favourite shows from last year; expectations are very high here at CB Towers for the brief visit of the New Jersey legends to the UK.
They will in fact play just three shows (Nottingham, London and Glasgow) over here this February as part of their European jaunt, but that seems to be the pattern of Monster Magnet tours these days. Little and often… It’s not as if we’re starved of the band, is it? They’ve been regular visitors to the UK in recent times. They put most US bands to shame with their frequency over here, so how come Monster Magnet can do it so often where other American bands seem to find it impossible?
“I don’t know, I’m lucky… maybe I work for less? I don’t know what the other bands stories are but I’m glad I wrote varied records. I can go back and write a set that has highs and lows and somewhat change the vibe of each set, so people know that when they come back again they will get something different. A vibe change, no re-run of the last episode. You have some music, like Nu-metal and shit, they don’t lend themselves to that, you got one song then you got ‘em all, so hope you like it, ‘cos that’s what you are going to get!
But really it comes down to our relationship with the people that come and see us. However brief it is, it’s really good. It’s quality not quantity, the quality of the people that come and see us is fucking excellent. When I’m on stage it’s the only time I can see so many people that like cool music all together and look them in the eye.
That’s why we keep coming back”
Yet the band playing their homeland is much more of a rarity and Dave obviously feels quite strongly as to why.
“America is tough, very tough.
The whole thing with the economics of touring here, it’s a big country. The wasteland that has been created by a lack of attention and the lack of curation by the media for quality music. In the 60’s and 70’s it all worked, everything had to be NEW we want NEW and that worked well. They haven’t put any good new stuff lately, and people are still wanting NEW. What people are forgetting is that you should go for what is good as well.
America is totally in love with what could be…
The UK and Europe doesn’t do that. Classic and Psychedelic rock is not traded with the fogey-ness and Old News that it’s treated with over here… there seems to be a firm, enthusiastic motion to duration of good music and that’s worth its weight in gold. A lot of people talk about it in America but when the rubber hits the road and it’s bums on seats time… it’s rough in America”
Europe is blatantly the band’s preferred place to work, whether it is touring for new album promotion, classic album performances or kick-ass greatest hits festival sets, Monster Magnet never disappoint in the live arena. So what can we expect from this upcoming tour?
“This time, we’re going for a heavier psych vibe than the last tour, heavier that rocks and heavier psych, so a little bit different from the last time around”
And are those classic album tours a thing of the past or are we likely to see more of them in the future?
“Oh yeah, I’m definitely going to do that. It really pushes everybody, the musicians and me to invent something out of what is already there to make it presentable live. A lot of albums don’t play well live, the sequencing is weird, and it’s a big challenge to everybody. The best thing about it all is that the audience knows what they are getting, so I don’t get many people going Why didn’t you play this? I’m like You idiot! you know… that’s like going to see Star Wars and saying How come I didn’t see Close Encounters? You know, well you saw Star wars you moron!
If they had these shows when I was a kid I would have gone out of my mind…”
We can testify that the band do like to stretch themselves. You won’t catch this band churning out the same shows tour after tour.
Looking back at 2014, we started out seeing the band on Valentines night in Wolverhampton as the band played out their then latest album ‘Last Patrol’ in full. Anyone familiar with the album will correctly imagine that it was a night of laid back vintage rock and fuzz which, apart from the short explosion of the encore, went down with a cool chilled out vibe. Fast forward to June in the scorching desert like conditions of Hellfest and Monster Magnet were headlining one the many big tents on site, but with the unenviable task of following Clutch. Monster Magnet pulled it out the bag however and played wall to wall crowd pleasers and hit us with one of the heaviest MM shows we’ve ever seen. It may be an overused cliché, but they nearly took the roof off!
It is this ability to add variation in what they do that is the key to Monster Magnet’s longevity and part of what makes them unique.
“That’s definitely our purpose, I take fucking immense pleasure in that…”
There is no other band quite like Monster Magnet out there, and there is nobody quite like Dave Wyndorf. Dedicated to his music, comics and sci-fi Dave has steered the ship ‘Monster Magnet’ for over a quarter of a decade now. He writes the albums, the set-lists and has virtually full control over his baby, but his band are not simply “The Staff”. He knows he has a good team behind him…
“I can write any set, completely different from before and my guys can do it. Everyone plays with a pick, there’s no playing with the fingers, they can do against the grain, punk rock aggro… we do psychedelic shows and everyone lays back a bit”
Monster Magnet material has been plentiful in recent times. With the studio Dave works at close to his home, this means he can put more work down in his time off than in the past. Not to mention the vast array of tools he has to do it compared to when he was laying down those original Monster Magnet demos at the back end of the 80’s.
“In the past I would have to travel to get it (recording) done right… now that I make records close to my home, I don’t travel too far to make ‘em, about two blocks away from my house. So I’m like, why don’t I just go down there and do stuff? And if I’ve got it in my mind to put a sitar on there or something, why not go in and do it? I mean, obviously I don’t have a life, so why not go in there and do some music! It’s like a return to how I used to do stuff back in my house; I’m starting to treat my career as one giant demo, because it’s fun!”
Monster Magnet have had a turbulent ride, as is expected from a lengthy career but the latter half of their ride has been pretty smooth compared to the early days, especially when Monster Magnet were “Big” in the rock world. The pressures associated with selling millions of records are long gone, and Dave and co. seem very comfortable with that.
“The whole rock industry, nobody knows what’s going on now; nobody is making any money from music. When we got big I was walking around in a world I didn’t know, and I didn’t care to know. My whole thing was like, while we’re here in the limelight with this hit record, what can I do to somehow slightly subvert the mainstream? Is it possible to get witty lyrics, comfortable chords to get a message across…? I tried to move in comic book knowledge and experimentation… people didn’t get it. So I’m making videos of me flying around on comets playing science fiction cock rock, with satyr, and sex, and political undertones… it’s going to be the next big thing. No it’s not, so I had to get out of there, go to Europe, sign a small deal and start over…”
It looks like there’s plenty in the pipeline too. CB originally wanted to talk to Dave before Christmas but he was proving hard to track down…
“I was in the studio. I was doing a sort of re-working of some of the stuff from ‘Mastermind’
I started fucking around again while I had some time, it’s truly bizarre, I tried to get a couple of new tracks on there, I tried to get a cover version (which is The) Temptations ‘Ball of Confusion’ erm kind of a Hawkwind version of ‘Ball of Confusion’ and again I was trying new vocals and stuff. So that’s going to be out in 2015, as soon as I get a cover on it and master it.
Then, we do this tour and I start writing a new Monster Magnet album”
It would appear that Dave has certainly taken to the re-working of his albums. Something he’s often thought about doing or starting and never realising what he wanted from the process. If you thought the depth of sound Monster Magnet have achieved in the past was vast, then it sounds like things are only just getting started.
“Yeah, I always like to mess around with stuff, the Monster Magnet stuff is so expansive that I have to make judgement calls while I’m doing it. Music is cool, it’s like this big experiment to me… it always kills me how music can expand itself once you give it a little nudge, especially using the instruments I do, or pushing the vintage styles, it’s like a cook in the kitchen experimenting”
So we’ve plenty to look forward to from the Monster Magnet camp, but first things first… we’ve got some live shows just around the corner!
Remember… “They’re gonna be heavy and psychedelic!”