Actual Photo of Dave Wyndorf’s Attic
It’s not everyday you get to interview one of your heroes, let alone at complete random. So, the backstory to this interview goes like this: I somehow got on a metal PR distribution list because of something I wrote years ago. I don’t even remember what I wrote that got me on this list in the first place…at all. Being not much of a straight up metal guy, I occasionally download an album or 2 and am typically like, ummm, no. I get roughly 5 of these messages a week and this has been going on for years now. I had thus far responded to exactly none of these requests. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even done a musician interview since 2013. Then all of a sudden there it was in my inbox. Hey, do you want to interview Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet? Ummm, fuck yes, I do in fact want to chat with the Space Lord.
To give a bit of backstory, my first exposure to the (bull)godhead brilliant music of Monster Magnet happened during my first LSD trip. Now, I’d done mushrooms before that, so it wasn’t my first psychedelic experience, but it’s funny the way these things influence your consciousness long after the fact. During my first acid trip I listen to Dopes to Infinity on repeat. A year or so later and I’m in my bedroom obsessively making cut up sampler psych tapes on my 4 track. A decade later and I’m writing psych rock albums trying my best to sonically encapsulate the ego dissolving intensity of a full on hallucinogenic frenzy.
And that’s what’s great about Dave’s music. While largely and rightfully credited with essentially inventing the genre of stoner metal back in the ’90s, when the Magnet are at their best, they take things way past stoner territory and straight into acid rock terrain. Which is actually my complaint with a lot of supposed stoner metal bands. It’s like, shouldn’t this be weirder? Monster Magnet once put out an album called 25-Tab which featured a 45 minute trance song (which I’ve actually listened to on acid I might point out). No mystery as to what’s going on with that, and it’s funny because in this interview Dave points this out specifically. He wanted there to be zero confusion as to the fact that his music was embodying “The Freakout” as he puts it. Mission accomplished. There was absolutely no mystery in my young world.
What was a bit mysterious though was that years later I read that he wasn’t even doing psychedelics when he was making these albums that were frying my teenage mind. The story goes that he overindulged when he was a kid and completely burnt out like a lot of people do (discussed below). And yet, the experiences were so profound that he’s still making albums about them to this day, at age 58. LSD is a hell of a drug.
Speaking of new albums, the other largely synchronous part of this interview has to do with the fact that it happened on the eve of the release of his most potently psychedelic album in years. No really, if MM lost you a bit in the albums after Power Trip (like they did me), now’s the time to reconvene with the bull god. Cobras and Fire (the Mastermind Redux) is their most over-the-top trippy record since Spine of God, and one of their best, period. Just pretend like Mastermind never happened as the new stuff bares little resemblance to it anyway, despite technically being sort of a remix-esque thingy. If you’re a fan of the spacey Magnet, and not necessarily their more straight forward hard rocking stuff, go buy this album now. Seeds are busting up the spine.
I’d actually rank it as my 3rd fave in their catalog right behind Dopes to Infinity (which turned 20 in February) and Spine of God, both of which I consider 2 of the best psych albums of any genre ever recorded, period. Cobras is just that fucking good, even surpassing the genius return to form that was 2013’s Last Patrol, which I have to admit, even I wasn’t expecting. Anyway, without further ado, here’s me chatting for 33 minutes with the self proclaimed Space Lord himself, Dave Wyndorf.
Topics covered: Going too far with psychedelics, the backfire effect of the hippie movement, why not a lot of good art or writing has come out of Burning Man, the lameness of indie rock vocals, comic books, Jack Kirby, hanging out with Grant Morrison, dreams, magick, and way way more fun shit. Tune in true believers:
Not convinced? Here’s an excerpt where Dave and I chat magick to convince you to bookmark this thing and check it out when you get off work:
Thad: Did you ever think about that in your music? I’m sure you’ve probably read things about the Occult and magickal thinking through people like Grant (Morrison, who we were talking about right before this question). So say the other day I was listening to the album Power Trip, you know, and this is the album you want to sell a ton of copies, and you write that you’re never going to work another day in your life and what not, and you didn’t, you probably never had to work a day job again after that right?
Dave: I didn’t, no I didn’t (laughs).
Thad: Do you think about your art sometimes in that way, like, I am actually trying to influence my reality and other people’s reality?
Dave: I’ve thought about it ALL the time, and if I didn’t think about it while I was doing it, I realized it a year later. And I realized it more with almost every line that I write. Every bit of music that I write, every line, it’s all wish fulfillment. It’s me singing about, it’s all like half-confessional, half-wish fulfillment. Um, even the stuff that’s not about me, it’s about me anyway, like I wanna get laid on the moon, while like a Jack Kirby Galactus drawing is a 1000 feet across the sky. I want to drive a fucking ’72 Camaro because I never had one when I was a kid. I wanna like jump off a drum platform and stick the devil horns up. It’s all that. It’s like, everything. It’s me like, hoping that it would happen.
And you know something? A lot of it did. It was bizarre. I mean, I remember sitting in hotels when like Power Trip was out, because we toured so much. I remember sitting in like the top floors of these hotels going like, it’s all coming true and this is fucking bizarre.
Thad: Yeah, that’s the way it works sometimes, and I think you made a very interesting point. Sometimes it’s like years after you’ve done it you’re like, wait what? That thing that I talked about five years ago and you know, put into a piece of art.
Dave: Yeah, sometimes it’s really obvious because, you can’t really control what you write. You know, there’s always some, some monster from the id, you know, controlling your hand. The Monster from the Id. Like in Forbidden Planet.
Thad: It’s coming from deeper spiritual source, and you get that in all your lyrics you know, it’s like, because of the interview. I mean I still listen to you constantly, and the new album is just great. It’s how many of these songs are about psychedelic tripping/dream scenarios. There’s the one song on Power Trip that seemed to me to be about past lives? You have any like weird dream/déjà vu past life experiences?
Dave: Yeah, yeah, boy, I mean, sky’s the limit on dreams. Dreams are so great and my dreams have gotten so much better since I stopped getting high. Amazing, long, really long, like, long and involved. Something like happens to the chemistry of your head when you clean it up. But yeah I have past life dreams, I have dreams of dead people I know where it’s just their heads floating around the room. Dreams where my entire hometown is now decorated in a different way with bits of each city I’ve visited all over the world, like it’ll be my hometown but it’ll be like the favorite bits of every city.
Thad: Um, I get that too weirdly enough.
Dave: It’s great!
Thad: Not that I’ve traveled the world nearly as extensively, but like bits from my memory where you’re essentially creating this environment that consists of a lot of different places that you remember but it’s all somehow this surrealist construction. Yeah.
Dave: Boy, dreams are like the greatest things because you know, the longer I go on in this goddamn life, I was never prepared to be as old as I am, the longer I go on in life, the only real big surprises that I can count on, on like a weekly basis are dreams. Because a lot of this other stuff, that’s kind of what being an adult is, it’s like, well I’ve seen that before, umm, but, you’ve never seen your dreams before. Each one is like goddamn, what the hell was that? Fantastic.