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Feature Story: Monster Magnet

| November 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

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Stateside Again

New Jersey’s Monster Magnet combines classic psychedelia with a modern stoner and space rock vibe. Co-founder and vocalist Dave Wyndorf, 57, visually cuts the figure of a modern-day John Kay of Steppenwolf.

On its ninth full-length recording, Last Patrol (Napalm Records), the spaced-out, euphoric and drug-induced tunes Wyndorf and his band create comes from another dimension, Wyndorf, who once personified sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, overdosed on prescription drugs in 2006. These days, his thoughts are clearer and the distortion he once felt while using drugs is now therapeutically-incorporated into the fuzzed-out rock he writes and performs with Monster Magnet.

“I had hard times with it,” Wyndorf said. “Going on tour and going completely berserk with everything from sex to drugs to finally OD’ing; going to the hospital; going to rehab – the whole bit. Drugs aren’t a part of my life anymore because they just got in the way of my thinking. I don’t like the distortion anymore.”

Despite Wyndorf’s past and his fond memories of the tweaking and peaking of the ’60s and ’70s, he missed out on the hippy craze.” People looked like hippies but they were mean, fucking long-hairs that worked at the gas station selling bad speed and listening to Grand Funk Railroad!” Wyndorf said with maniacal laughter. “I always wanted to be a hippy, but I grew up in the ’70s and the hippies were gone by then. I missed the Flower Power thing. But my reality was in New Jersey. These people had long hair but they didn’t act like hippies. I bought into the hippy stuff, but I couldn’t live it. It was still so much fun.”

Last Patrol has elements that weave all of the band’s previous releases together and fits in well with the band’s musical landscape and its back catalogue. “I tend to draw from my early influences as a kid and it’s always a different way of putting different influences together with the emphasis on one aspect or another. I felt like going totally psychedelic on this one but you can definitely still hear the signature – whatever the signature Monster Magnet sound would be –and it fits in just fine, I think.”

Wyndorf”s influences takes its cue from ’60s British bands like Pink Floyd, The Kinks, Hawkwind and others from the art-rock and prog-rock eras. Wyndorf soaked it all in.”Oh hell, yeah!” Wyndorf exclaimed. “That stuff totally kicked my ass as a kid. Everybody has one point in their life when their mind is a sponge, and mine was that age when I was a kid in the early ’70s. Even though my first band, which was in the late ’70s was a full-on punk band (Shrapnel), the stuff that first hit me when I was 11 or 12 years old, just stayed in there and started to grow. It’s almost like my blues. This is it, this is my music.”

Like clockwork, Monster Magnet has steadily released a new full-length album every three years, since 1995’s Dopes To Infinity (MM’s first album, the cult favorite Spine Of God was released in 1991). Wyndorf gathers loads of experience to use as lyrical ammunition for new songs during previous tours and he’s a master at crafting real-life experiences into dramatic and fantastical metaphors soaked in ambiguous innuendos.

“The thing with my lyrics – they’re all basic reality. There’s no fantasy stories. It’s me telling stories about my life the way I perceive things and the relationships that have crashed and burned. I tend to speak in metaphors. I tend to speak in the vernacular of science fiction. Rather than saying that I just broke up with my girlfriend, I would say that the planet fucking exploded – always overdone. Maybe I did too much acid when I was a kid, but that’s the way I tend to write the lyrics. It portrays a visual in the lyrics that matches the music. While it’s very spaced-out and everything, it’s quite boring and normal – relationships and betrayal.

There’s always a lot of sex in there, too.” Case in point: The song “Hallelujah” from Last Patrol is an uplifting, bluesy, spiritual kind of song. But the inspiration for it is soaked in pure sexual overtones. “The song is really perverted,” Wyndorf slyly revealed. “It’s just about me and the guys riding around on the bus in Europe making plans to get girls and ‘get our thang on’ when we get into town.”

Monster Magnet albums are like creeper weed – after awhile, the band’s sound and appeal gradually sneaks up on you. However, Wyndorf & Co. have had a hard time tapping into the pulse of the American teenager due to Wyndorf’s esoteric concept of the band. Monster Magnet’s popularity doesn’t thrive in the States as much as it does in Europe. But the reality of it is, Monster Magnet hasn’t toured in the US in a decade, while touring almost exclusively in Europe.

I’m totally psyched to come back to the States, Wyndorf concludes. “It has been 10 years since (performing in the U.S.) and I stayed out of it because the States were going on a weird path of rock. My particular psychedelic hard rock revisionism is something that a lot of younger people are getting into today and I think it’s a form of music that’s definitely worthy of playing in the United States. Putting out an album is like a farmer planting corn. If it’s a good crop, meaning if the album is selling well, you should be completely blown out after two years. Everyone should be ready to get in a coffin. That means it’s a good album.”

Monster Magnet appears at Bottom Lounge on Saturday, Nov. 16.

– Kelley Simms

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Category: Featured, Features, Monthly

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