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05 Nov 2015

Monster Magnet Featured

It’s only been a short while since our last conversation with Dave Wyndorf, during which he hinted at the project that would become ‘Cobras and Fire (The Mastermind Redux)’. Check out what the man who lives behind the clouds had to say this time.

Interview: Romanos Terzis

Rockpages.gr: Last time we talked, about ‘Milking the Stars’, you were already talking about wanting to do something similar, a re-imagination, with ‘Mastermind’. Was the process the same? Changing things in the songs and seeing what would happen?

Dave Wyndorf. Yes, exactly the same way. It actually took longer because there was so much material from ‘Mastermind’. But I finally got what I needed from it.

Rockpages.gr: The title, ‘Cobras and Fire’, comes from the chorus in ‘Hallucination Bomb’. Did you ever think of calling the record ‘Shake Your Thing in Horny Celebration’, which is the line that comes next?

Dave Wyndorf: [Laughing] Wow. You just beat me, now I feel like an idiot. That’s what I should have called it!

Rockpages.gr: How cool would it be to release a record with that name?

Dave Wyndorf: [Talking slowly] Shake your thing in horny celebration…

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Rockpages.gr: Only you can come up with a line like that…

Dave Wyndorf: I just write what I want to see happen!

Rockpages.gr: Good answer. I think ‘Hallucination Bomb’ is a good example of how the songs evolved. It’s longer now, it has more of a space rock feel, like that title track from ‘Last Patrol’. Was that your goal with that song?

Dave Wyndorf: I didn’t know in the beginning. I thought that if we did it on acoustic guitar it would be more ‘on the floor’, stripped down to its basic elements. But the song itself seemed to want to go longer. ‘Wait a minute! This one wants to go longer! And it wants some mellotron on it!’ It turned into something that isn’t as full on rock as the original version but still rocking enough, in order to be considered a rock song. I was really happy and surprised.

Rockpages.gr: Two of my favorite songs on ‘Mastermind’ were ‘The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby’ and ‘Time Machine’. Now they’re both instrumentals. Talk a little bit about that decision.

Dave Wyndorf: You know what happened with that? I tried to do it better, singing wise. But those songs should not be done over, there’s just nothing more to do. I hit a wall, which is a danger with these re-imaginations. That’s when I got the idea of making them instrumentals, because it was something different. That’s my excuse.

Rockpages.gr: It worked. They’re almost like movie soundtracks.

Dave Wyndorf: That’s what I thought. This is the movie version. The title song or additional music from a movie.

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Rockpages.gr: ‘Gods and Punks’ is another song that really works well stripped down…

Dave Wyndorf: It had to be that way. In the past I tried to write lyrics with a double meaning; write a ‘fist in the air’ rocker, like ‘Gods and Punks’, but have the lyrics be a little sadder than that. Fool some people into thinking it was a ‘fist in the air’ rocker, and then the intellectual part of the audience would get that it was something more serious. But recently, I’ve decided to just tell it like it is. The words of ‘Gods and Punks’ seemed better served against a mellow background. That’s why I reworked that one. I put this Robert Fripp style lead over it, it was interesting.

Rockpages.gr: You were excited to work with Joe Barresi again…

Dave Wyndorf: Yeah. He’s the man, he’s fucking awesome. As we were mixing I told him he should do something on his own, make something up. Because Joe is way more than a mixer; he’s an artist. So that’s what you hear at the end of the record [‘I live Behind the Paradise Machine Evil Joe Barresi's Magnet Mash Vol.1’]. Joe picking different Monster Magnet songs and mixing them together.

Rockpages.gr: Generally speaking, how important would you say the role of a producer or a mixer is nowadays, in order to make a great record?

Dave Wyndorf: It’s a team; The better the team, the better the record. Different teams work in different ways. It really depends on how much of the vision for the record is shared by the team. The way it works in Monster Magnet, since I’m the songwriter, I write 90% of the music and the lyrics, I come up with a vision for the record: This is what it should sound like, this is what we’re going to try for it, this is what I want. That makes me the producer too. But unless the people that are working on it pick up on that vision, it’s going to mean nothing because it can’t be facilitated. Joe makes it so much easier because the vibe and my musical references are understood. I had experiences in the past with producers that did not understand what I was talking about. It’s rough; the material does come out, but it’s probably not all that it could have been.

Rockpages.gr: If you had to choose just one record from your past work, to do another re-imagination, which one would it be and why.

Dave Wyndorf: Perhaps ‘4-Way Diablo’. That was the one I had the least to do with. I wrote and arranged the album, and just as it was ready to be recorded I fell off the map, because I was addicted to prescription drugs. I had to go in the hospital, so they recorded it without me. That would be nice, to go back and reinvent.

Rockpages.gr: The last Monster Magnet tour came through Greece…

Dave Wyndorf: I love playing Greece…

[At this point, some details about the after-show in Thessaloniki are clarified. We regret to inform you that Rockpages.gr is not at liberty to share more information at this point.

… how are you doing over there? You guys are having a hell of a fucking year. Holy shit!

Rockpages.gr: That’s an understatement. And it’s not over yet.

Dave Wyndorf: Hopefully you’ll get some stability. What you guys are going through, although it’s a modern problem, is some old school shit. It doesn’t happen with an established country your size. I’ve been watching it the whole time, not knowing what’s going to happen next!

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Rockpages.gr: What would be the ideal Monster Magnet tour? Without any limitations.

Dave Wyndorf: What I would like the most is to have enough money and enough space to have all kinds of old, cool amps and guitars, to be able to recreate live all the sounds that I love in the studio. It would cost a lot of money, because it would probably be 27 guitars! My ultimate dream would be to be able to change the mood of the music easily through the different instruments. Also, perhaps to play in the round, with people around us and invite the bands that would be cool to watch for me and the audience.

Rockpages.gr: Are there songs from the Monster Magnet catalogue that you feel you can’t reproduce live?

Dave Wyndorf: I would like to do all the mellow songs, exactly the way they are. Do ‘Black Balloon’ with a sitar, have keyboards where they are supposed to be. The mellow songs need special attention, they’re pretty delicate. Otherwise they sound like shit! At some point I’d like to do a very turned down Monster Magnet tour, with a couple instruments. A quiet yet strange affair. That’s actually in the realm of possibility.

Rockpages.gr: Are there times, not because of the equipment but because of the songs themselves, that you feel trapped into playing the same material over and over again? Would you like to mix it up a little more?

Dave Wyndorf: I would. But there’s two ways of thinking and I agree with both of them. When a band’s been around for more than 20 years, if a certain amount of the audience wants to hear a certain song, they deserve to hear it. It depends on how much we play. We did actually play the entire ‘Last Patrol’ album, with hardly any of the hits. There were some complaints, but most people liked it. They know that if they don’t get to hear the hit on this show, they’ll hear it next time. It’s a problem but I’m glad to have it. It’s better than not having any songs.

Rockpages.gr: Are you writing any new material at the moment?

Dave Wyndorf: I should be, but all I do is riding around on my bicycle, through the woods! I have to get nice and bored to write. I took six months off after the completion of ‘Cobras and Fire’, to enjoy the summer and get really bored. Out of boredom comes music. I would imagine a new album will come out at the end of 2016.

Rockpages.gr: Thank you so much.

Dave Wyndorf: Be strong. If you need somewhere to camp out, you can stay at my house.

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