Dave Wyndorf has seen it all, from support act to MARILYN MANSON at an interstellar level of decadence, touring with VAN HALEN and AEROSMITH... and that’s all on the back of one MONSTER MAGNET album, the gold-selling Powertrip.
Then the inevitable decline and recline came, including new waves of drug addiction, the weaning from which caused him to gain “60 to 80 pounds,” which he has now for the most part shed.
Fortunately, Dave is back, lighter on his feet, and wielding a new Napalm Records album called Last Patrol.
“I wanted to make it a homegrown squirrelly affair,” begins Dave, regularly sucking on a cigarette this fall morning, “and a little less big-time polished, which I did. I polished the last one pretty good. I tried to make it a little freaky, more than the last one, because on the last one it just wasn’t enough. So what I did was just, I pulled it all inside—inside Red Bank, which is my hometown. And I just made sure that the parts were written—each part: drums, bass, everything—written to be a little bit snaky and squirrelly as possible. I hate to use the word organic, because it gets overused, but it’s an organic thing. If there were mistakes made in the playing, if it jived up with the vibe of the stuff, I left it instead of fixing stuff. So it may be a little less tight than some of the other ones, or than the last record, which is a good thing. Because I wanted to make the whole thing more... I keep using the word squirrelly. I wanted to make it weirder—and it worked! I thought it did, you know? It’s definitely more psychedelic, like full-on psychedelic.”
But, charmingly, somewhat punked-out, driven by that economical snare-on-one-and-three beat. “I like that!” says Dave, ever the musicologist. “It’s old school HAWKWIND (sings it). You know, it drives, it’s a drive. I got addicted to that beat because it works really good live. It propels the audience. We play a lot live, so all that stuff influences me.”
And like classic Hawkwind, over whatever beat is at hand—or no beat at all—there’s a plethora of creepy, creaky sounds to keep the ear attuned to the absurdity of the universe.
“Yeah, I mean, as production quirks I left a lot of room on different stuff to be affected later,” explains Wyndorf. “So when I brought the stuff to Joe Barresi, who mixed it, he was, you know, instructed by me, and I sat there with him, thinking we’re going to put another layer of sound on this by doing timed or not so timed-out delays on different instruments at different times. So a vocal will have the delay, and then one drum hit will have the delay, so stuff kind of goes in and out, weaving into each other. So it’s all kind of structured and stitched together so the whole thing would kind of have a little weird reverberation to itself.”
Lyrically speaking, Dave quips that, “A lot of this stuff was just kind of like dreaming about being sick of whatever situation I was in. If I was sick of a relationship, or sick of just living on the planet Earth, I would dream about how to get out. And for some reason, they often come out as some sort of space-age revenge/cosmic revenge story (laughs), about blowing people up. I don’t know how that happened. I’m not a murderer. But I’m trying to think of the lyrics. Geez, I wrote to them so fast, like I usually do. I wrote them in a week, pounded them out, because I hate spending too much time on lyrics. It’s like writing a book. I don’t know how authors do it.”
“Well, I write the songs,” states Dave, asked about the usual personnel changes that tend to make Monster Magnet albums sound like a slice of one man’s mindspace each time out anyway. “And I write the parts. I write all the music and everything and I will direct it, like a movie director. Once I let those parts out, they can be interpreted by the musicians, and they often are. So I’m like a movie director or a screenwriter. Here’s everything, here’s a script, here’s everything. All right, go! You guys are the actors. And they go, and it’s fantastic (laughs). Now, as far as producing the record, I produced this one with Phil Caivano, who is the guitarist in Monster Magnet. Phil is an amazing guy, an old-time friend of mine. Like, we were in our first band together when we were teenagers, called Shrapnel. And he’s an amazing guy, and we understand each other’s references. And so when I reference stuff, I’ll go, you know, ‘This will be like 1972 GROUNDHOGS,’ and, ‘This would be like, you know, a little QUEEN part,’ and he understands what I’m talking about. So we get on really well.”
Caroline, A&M, SPV, Napalm... lessons learned?
“Well (laughs), even though I’m in the music business, and been in all these changes of the last bunch of years and all the different forms it has taken, it still really sucks,” muses Dave. “Yeah, I’m not a very good businessman. I endure the music business so I can make music. You know what I mean? That’s one of the things I put up with it—I endure it. It’s fascinating seeing when creativity meets commerce, because there’s always a big explosion. And that’s kind of the thing that has made rock ‘n’ roll, rock ‘n’ roll. If it was just plain art, then it would be a completely different thing. So I reckon that the two have to go together, but I don’t have to like it—I hate it.”
“Plus, I mean, right now the state of the music business is pitiful. There is all this promise for this internet democracy, but it doesn’t come to anything, and it doesn’t make anybody happy. Not really. There’s no focus. There’s music everywhere, but who cares, because there’s no focus. Mankind hasn’t learned to prioritize in the face of all they have to deal with. I mean, we have these great machines, but there’s a lot to choose from. It’ll work itself out. I mean, I don’t have any problem. I’m older. I know how to prioritize. I’ve been around. I remember when you had to choose. This is a generation of people—a couple of generations of people—who are just like flying by the seat of their pants out there. Every bell and whistle that somebody rings, they turn their head. And by the time they’re done, in that great rock ‘n’ roll age between 14 and whenever, like 21, it’s really easy to miss a lot of good stuff. There again, the cool thing about the Internet, is that nothing disappears—they can always go back and discover.”
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