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Interview - Dave Wyndorf (Monster Magnet)

Interview with Dave Wyndorf from Monster Magnet
by Charlotte Wittingham at 20 November 2014, 9:52 AM

Psychedelic Rock outfit MONSTER MAGNET have decided to go the Frankenstein route when they decided to re-imagine their latest album “The Last Patrol” and call it “Milking The Stars”. Here’s what happened when I spoke to frontman Dave Wyndorf about this latest release and how the digital age has affected the music industry today.

So Dave, how are you?

I’m very well thanks Charlotte, how are you?

I am very well thanks.  So let’s talk about your latest record; why did you want to re-imagine Last Patrol?

To put it bluntly, it’s because it was fresh in my mind and the fact there were so many elements on that particular album that weren’t exploited as much as they could have been and I kept thinking ‘what can I make sound good with keyboards here’. So basically it was to go back to the album and experiment in the studio, also since I am recording so close to home nowadays it wasn’t such a big deal and it was good to mess around with this stuff between touring so I had the time to do it because I just love sound. So it started with me just messing around with keyboards and I was having so much fun doing it so I figured I would just finish it out. When it was done I thought why not release it.

Was it your intention to make it sound completely different?

Absolutely, the main intention was to give each track a completely different angle. So some tracks were completely stripped down of the electric guitars and replace it with keyboards instead just to see what would happen to the vibe of the actual song. It sounds crazy and people may ask why but I say why not. I struggle when it comes to putting songs to bed; I think songs should be a certain way. I read a lot of comic books and a lot of them explore alternate realities, I thought; why not do that with a record and give Last Patrol an alternate reality. I thought I would use with what I had already so I didn’t need to track new drums; so it wasn’t like a typical project where everyone comes in and we make an album. So basically I pull pieces from Last Patrol and re-track other things on top of that.

So it’s like a Frankenstein album.

It is a Frankenstein album; it’s like a food recipe done differently, you’re a chef in the kitchen and speculate about whether to add certain spices or not to make the dish better. Like I’ve said I experiment because I like sound; I like how you can alter certain parts of the track and see how it works out. So re-creating an impression of that particular tune; so it’s the same tune and the same notes but if you juxtapose a different production method and empathise a different instrument differently then you get a somewhat different result. Depending on someone else’s opinion so someone could say ‘What’s this pile of crap?’ I don’t think of it like that I thought it was something worth doing. It’s a nice companion piece to Last Patrol.

So what can long time fans expect from this re-imagined record?

They can expect the unexpected; that’s right you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll have a baby, listen to Milking The Stars by Monster Magnet as money shoots out of its ass. It makes you rich if you get it \[laughs]. No seriously what they can expect is a rather odd yet pleasing and interesting companion to Last Patrol with some new songs; it’s a different journey that takes very familiar turns.

These new songs on the album, are they freshly recorded or are they old ones from B-Sides that fans have never heard before?

For Milking The Stars we already had the drum sessions from Last Patrol but they shut down the tracking as they didn’t feel it was right for the record. Everything else however was just made up during that period so for drums and stuff I had to piece together from grabbing loops and edit pieces of drums digitally. So making a new drum part out of other drum parts, which I don’t usually do but it was worth it.

Let’s have a talk about you transferring to an Independent record label, what are the pros and cons of joining an independent record label?

To put it into context about ten or twelve years ago I could see the writing on the wall in regards to what was going on in music; meaning that music was dying and it was never going to be the same way again. People weren’t going to make money from music because so many fans got it for free as they didn’t want to buy they just wanted to listen to it. So being a rock band on a major label just didn’t make sense to me. A record label can’t make the crowd like you; they can promote you until the cows come home but it just wasn’t in the air I couldn’t see the mass population of America screaming ‘Yeah second LA rock’ They want bands like Avenged Sevenfold and they want pop stuff like Fall Out Boy, they also want dance and hip-hop. Meaning that rock was going to be more of an underground niche that would be supported by people who really love it; I mean in a lot of ways it’s really cool as people know what they’re doing.

Anyway the best way to do that for me was to switch to an indie record label where I don’t have to look over my shoulder or worry about this multi-billion dollar company saying to me ‘How come you aren’t selling billions of records?’ it just doesn’t happen. I mean who was the last rock or metal band to sell millions of records worldwide? I just don’t see it. From speaking to quite a few bands who have decided to switch to indie, I found out that joining a major label isn’t necessary the way to make money. You end up owing them money; you spend a lot of money on promotion.

The things I miss about being on a major label is that there was a lot of liquidity money wise; for instance you’ve got big promotion and a lot of the time you can milk them for airline flights and big opportunities so you are a part of something big. It’s worth it I got as much out them while I could before switching to an indie. I also found that a lot of bands are turning to Crowdfunding to help finance their album making, is that something you would consider for Monster Magnet? Only if I really needed it; I’m pretty old school and I still come from place where I am solely responsible for creating something people are going to want. So far I have done it. To be honest I’m not sure how long Crowdfunding will last, how long people will still need it. Seems a little too trusting.

What’s your general opinion on the fact you don’t need to buy music to listen to it?

It’s weird I mean, you’d think the benefits of Internet democracy would far outweigh any kind of corporate fold style but I think it’s created a nonchalant view to music and how long it takes to make it. I think we have a lot of people who expect content to be delivered to them one way or the other expecting some kind of endless stream including picking up, looking at and then throwing away. I can guarantee it will always be there but the quality won’t be as good, when you take away the quality of someone’s art it’s like kicking them in the balls.

Let’s talk about your upcoming tour, is there any places you are looking forward to visiting again?

I love it all baby; every inch of it I love it all.

Including the UK?

It’s a fantastic place for us because it’s so different I mean each country has their own personality and it’s great. The UK and Germany couldn’t be any more different from each other. From Germany to Switzerland to Scandinavia to Greece; I prefer Europe to the States as there is a lot of time to play and it’s more interesting.

I can quite proudly say the metal scene in the UK is still alive and kicking.

Oh it is, if it wasn’t for the UK and journalists in the UK forget it no-one would even know. What the UK has going for them that no-one else does is that they have the deep roots of Heavy Metal. The USA may have invented Rock ‘N Roll but it was the UK that invented Heavy Rock; you guys have The Kinks and Jimmy Page who invented the concept of playing guitars really loudly and this went down from generation to generation. So it’s pretty much rooted into the culture like the way Country and Western is heavily rooted in America.

Finally; what advice would give to a band that are wanting to re-imagine an album?

Don’t do it. No seriously; make sure it’s sounds different enough for you to release a re-imagining. You can’t squeeze blood from a stone, make sure there is enough re-imagination to create something. Make sure you enough desire and imagination.

Thank you Dave for speaking to Metal Temple today, it was a pleasure.

It was great speaking to you too.


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Edited 04 December 2022

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