Artist Interview: Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet

We got the chance to sit down with Dave from Monster Magnet to do an interview.  It turned out to be just a regular phone conversation with a great dude!


Rock On Philly: Hey Dave, how are you?

Dave: What’s up Darlene?


ROP: (laughs) I’m good how are you?

Dave: I’m on the interview train.


ROP: Oh, awesome.   How’s your week been so far?

Dave: Uh, really busy.  It’s been really good. If I’m out of my mind from talking to much it means the record is doing well.


ROP: You know I haven’t heard the new album yet, but I’ve read a lot of great reviews.  And I was wondering, what makes this album stand out from previous Monster Magnet albums?

Dave: Honesty, Darlene. Plain, gut honesty.  There’s laughter, there’s tears, babies are being born.  There’s free money inside the CD!


ROP: (Laughs)

Dave: No, I don’t know why.  I don’t know why people decide to like something and not like the other thing. Really, I went on a – I decided to put vibier stuff on this record.  I pushed that and I pushed the vibe so much I wound up with what I wanted to make which was a collection of songs that honestly made up a listening experience as an album.  Old school style.  Ya know, you could almost hear the credits rolling at the end of the record. So I think… that’s what they’re picking up on.


ROP: Ok, well I’m even more excited to check it out now.

Dave: Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely not for everybody; it’s not gonna cure cancer or anything.  But I really liked doing it. It’s crafted.  It’s almost sewn together like old school style and I’m hoping people will pick up on that.  Maybe that’s what they’re picking up on.  The fact that there was a lot of care put into making it.


ROP: What would you say is your favorite track on Last Patrol?

Dave: My favorite track is a song called, “Stay Tuned.”  It’s the last song in the album.  And it’s almost like the one guy sitting on a stool after signing all these rock songs. The guy… who’s me. It’s kinda just letting it all hang out. It’s very honest and it didn’t take long to record which is always a plus in my book.  It was just nice and easy.  That’s my favorite.


ROP: Your new bassist, Chris Kosnick, what fresh insight does he bring to the band?

Dave: Talent with a capital ‘T.’ The guy is a bad ass bass player. He’s just so much better than anybody else we’ve had in the past.  It’s a total pleasure to work with somebody who’s just so good.  His mere presence forces everybody to up their game.


ROP:  Most people might think song writing involves all the band members sitting in a locked room, chain-smoking and cursing at each other. What was the song writing process like for Last Patrol?

Dave: Well, basically I write the songs. I write ‘em all – the music and the words. Every once in a while there will be music from somebody else in the band. But, most of the time, it’s my baby. So I work these things up the way a director or a cartoonist would work up a screenplay in the initial shot.  Here’s what’s gonna happen.  Here’s the sketch of it. Here’s what it’s gonna sound like.  I put down guitars and drums and beats and then I bring in the guys who really know how to do it.  (laughs) Not the child in me. I play like a child and that’s where things get interesting because my visions are what the total – what’s gonna make up the totality of each track. They come to life. So, I act as musical director – with the guys.  And at that point, yes.  We all sit around and curse at each other and smoke cigarettes.


ROP: (laughs)

Dave: That still happens.


ROP: What do you think of today’s rock and metal scene?

Dave: I don’t know what it is anymore.  It depends on what kind of rock or what kind of scene somebody is playing at. I’m more in touch with the European scene ‘cause that’s where we play.  And over there, it’s completely healthy.  I’ve never seen it better. The sub-genres and genres of music are celebrated and appreciated in separate cultures.

In the states, it’s so fragmented that I can’t tell exactly what’s going on.  I’m not sure what underground is anymore.  I know what successful is. And most of the people call successful ‘making money,’ it doesn’t seem like rock at all to me. It seems like somebody came in there and switched the definition of rock. A lot of middle of the road, ya know?  A lot of white bread, you know a lot of white bread nobody’s talking about nothing; nobody’s taking any chances.  I haven’t been happy with it in a long time. It doesn’t mean there isn’t good music out there, I just don’t see it represented.


ROP: Plus there’s so many sub genre’s of rock and metal today, it’s pretty crazy.

Dave: It’s just a lot of bands. I mean, there’s so many bands. And I think journalists don’t know what to do except to keep making up these new sub genres. There was a time when it was like, ‘Dude, that’s rock.’ It may be sh***y rock, but it doesn’t deserve a sub genre. Hey, people love hash tags!


ROP: (laughs) That’s true!  I did read you’ve been touring Europe non-stop.  What made you decide to come back and tour the states?

Dave: One thing is, since the beginning of Monster Magnet’s career, we always laid out a lot of space for Europe.  That was always completely part of the picture from the beginning. It was never a states only deal.  This is an international rock band.  So we got our start there, pretty much.  We got away from the states because they weren’t buying what we had to sell as much. And because Europe is just fun to play. Coming back was just a natural thing after being away.  It’s like, “we’re gonna come back and jump in the pool and see what the temperature is.” Every once in a while you gotta come back.  We play every year in New York City and then in Jersey, but I haven’t been inside the states and touring with Monster Magnet in ten years.  I go where people are like me rather than where I have to beat my head against the wall. The states are tough, man.  They want the next big thing. But everything has the potential to turn around.  So maybe, being away, being away that long, would actually rekindle some support.


ROP:  The venues that you play – do you like the smaller more intimate venues?

Dave: Yeah, the smaller ones are the best.  Because, when it really comes down to it, you should be able to look people in the eye. It’s important when you’re playing music. I could do it the other way.  We’ve played large festivals all the time. Every year in Europe we play these 50,000 to 100,000 seaters, outdoors.  Sometimes 25,000 inside.  We do this stuff all the time. But the best ones are the small ones.  I think most audience members would agree. I’m into music, I want to be close to the music.


ROP:  What is the best thing about being on tour in Europe?

Dave: It’s pretty; very pretty.  It’s exotic to me.  There’s no strip malls.  The towns aren’t stitched together like they are in the states.  There is countryside between the towns.  I can’t even explain to you how nice that is to do.  You know, you go from village to village rather than ‘we’re pulling out of the city, are we out yet?’ I don’t know – there’s a gas station and on and on and on in the states and it’s just… especially on the east coast.  We virtually just bulldozed through the town.  Cool stuff. As far as touring goes; if you’re gonna sit on a bus for thirteen to fourteen hours I don’t wanna see another T.J. Maxx.  I’ve had it with the T.J. Maxx.  I wanna see a nice little cobble stone street and that’s what it’s like in Europe.  Europe is just beautiful.  It’s exotic. I’m from New Jersey, I’m easily impressed.


ROP:  Are there any positives about touring in the states?

Dave:  Well, yeah, there’s people.  My problem with the states isn’t human beings.  My problem with the states is an overwhelming focus on people going inward instead of outward.  It’s fine for them, but it’s not fine for a performing rock band.  In the states, bands have been forced to compromise their production value.  My thing is the states are filled with really intelligent people who just lost the plot of supporting live music. I don’t think it’s particularly their fault, because it is economic, too. It’s expensive. I don’t charge a lot for my tickets, but a lot of bands do. You’re not supposed to spend eighty bucks to go to a concert.  That’s BS. There was a time when movies, ball games and concerts were about the same price; three to eight dollars.  All the same price!

It’s a lot more restrictive now.  The prices are higher. Drinks cost more money.  There’s age restrictions. Harshly imposed age restrictions. Lawyers suing everybody.  That doesn’t happen in Europe. And if you’re eighteen or seventeen in Europe and you go have a drink, they don’t give a crap. You either handle it yourself, or you don’t.

We built this thing (in the US) where we sell rock ‘n’ roll as a good time, but we don’t really allow anybody to have that good time. ‘Go ahead and go crazy, but don’t go too crazy.  And don’t forget to spend four dollars on a bottle of water.’ Well, I’m sorry, I can’t have a good time at those prices.  It’s not a climate I’m going to play in often, but I’m gonna test it.  And if it keeps going that way, I’ll just go to places where they want me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my own country.  Hell, we gave birth to rock ‘n’ roll.


ROP: What can fans expect at a Monster magnet show?

Dave: Excitement.  Organic excitement. We’re talking about space rock that’s built form the ground up. It’s amazing what people can do with their instruments and their method of playing, too. They can change the vibe and take to a psychedelic experience. It’s very much a celebration.  It’s a celebration of the music I love. The music that we play.  I stay true to my influences. Stuff that I’ve loved since I was nine or ten years old.  And I just keep trying to add my own spin to it. We’re big believers of the rock. We’re unashamedly rock. When you get in a room with real people and it’s hot and it’s sweaty, it really is a thing. When you’re there and it’s good, you know it and you wanna go back for more. And that’s all I can promise.  It’s an all the way live rock ‘n’ roll experience.


ROP: Cool.  I hope I get to see you guys.

Dave: Right on.  Me too.


ROP:  My last question is:  Beach or mountains?

Dave: Mountains.


ROP: Yes… mountains.

Dave: Mountains. You’re up higher, you can see more, you can imagine more. Plus, we live at the beach and we just had a hurricane last year, so I’m like, “f*** that.” “What beach, beach?  What beach?” The mountains are the best.  It’s inspiring.


ROP:  Is there anything you wanna add?

Dave: Meet me after the show and give me money.  Not a lot.  Five to ten dollars will do and I’ll explain it to you later.


ROP: (laughs) Ok.

Dave: Thank you.


ROP: You’re welcome.  Thank you for talking with me.

Dave: Thank you very much, it was a blast.


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