New Jersey stoner rock legends Monster Magnet were inspired by the sounds of proto-punk and good time rock ‘n’ roll albums when writing their eleventh disc, Mindfucker, a fact that becomes glaringly obvious listening to the record’s title track.
If Monster Magnet are tired nearly three decades into their career, it doesn’t show on “Mindfucker.” The band look excited and energized as they tear through electrifying solos and one of the catchiest choruses of their career behind a flaming, psychedelic backdrop.
Mindfucker is out on March 23 via Napalm Records. Monster Magnet will also appear at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest on March 31. Tickets are available but moving quickly – get them here. Read on below for an exclusive interview with band mastermind Dave Wyndorf.
[Mindfucker is] your eleventh record and you’ve been around for a pretty long time as a band. How do you find inspiration to write record that sound unique and new?
It’s weird, if I think about it too much it’ll scare the shit out of me. How much can you do? I remember back then, when I was first doing it, I remember thinking to myself, “Well, you probably got like three in you, right?” And I was a huge rock fan because I was going to all these shows and going “Well, nobody’s really good for a long time. It’s just not the rule.” Ya know? There’s hardly anybody.
I was like “Fuck, if I keep thinking about this I’ll just go back to the gas station!” So what I try to do is just try to forget it. Do a record, do the best I possibly can. It’s just like being a kid in your room, putting all your favorite stuff next to each other.
You released Last Patrol in 2013. How have things changed in the band or your musical life since then?
We toured every year, in between records I just set the sights on playing live as much as possible because that’s where it’s really at. Musical life hasn’t changed that much. There hasn’t been much from the outside that’s inspired me, because I always look for stuff on the outside but the musical landscape doesn’t really change that much it seems in the last ten or fifteen years, I don’t think anyway. I’m not getting any inspiration from the outside, which is bumming me out.
I’ve been busy. Just busy doing stuff, and when I’m not busy, I’m just riding my bicycle through the woods planning some sort of revenge against the world. Never a dull moment around here.
You said that you said all you had to say on Last Patrol, so when did you decide you had more to say?
It just kind of hits me. Again, it goes back to trying not to pay attention to what comes next or pretend that it’s all done. I get tired from touring—it’s important to get tired, and that’s really important to get bored to write.
We went out one year, I think it was two summers ago, played early in the year and did all that stuff and then I came home in the summer and all I did was just ride my bike and listen to old records. You know, the kind of stuff anybody would do if they had the time to do it. And then one day it just hit me again. It was like, “I wanna rock. Time to rock.” And it just wanted to be rock.
I just thought “I wanna do something we could play live.” Theoretically, we could play like 90% of this record live and it would work as a set. As opposed to last patrol, which we did play the whole thing live but that’s a whole thing. It’s up, it’s down.
That was the angle on this: If I was a new band and nobody had ever heard of us before and nobody heard a record, what would be the best way to kick somebody in the ass right off the bat? What would a cool set be? So most of this record was written like that.
I didn’t even know what the lyrics would be about except it’s fucking rocking music, so I figured it would be “Hey, maybe this is a good time record. Yeah, it’s one of those good time records. Rock, rock, rock!” Why not? We haven’t done it in a while.
When I finally sat down to do the record, it was like the inauguration week or something and I watch the news all the time. I love culture, any kind of culture to see what happens and I’m totally fascinated with how media affects us. Who wouldn’t be? I think the world’s out of its fucking mind, right? I always do. But this was like way beyond. This was like “Holy shit, how stupid can people fuckin’ be? This is unbelievable!”
It turned the good time record into something else. All of a sudden, it was like “Oh man, now I’m all bummed out. What am I gonna write about?” I didn’t want to write a record that sounded like the op-ed page from the New York Times. That would be stupid.
I just figured I’d write that good time record, but with all that shit in mind. So it would be songs about cars and girls and stuff like that but using a lot of the lingo you hear around today and try to get this feeling of “It’s kind of fucked up out there. There’s a lot of weird shit going on.”
That’s where Mindfucker came from. I was like “This is a mindfucker!” These are the kind of times that revert me back to being fourteen years old where you start using Beavis and Butthead-type words like “Mindfucker” and they really apply!
Are you going to play most of the record live? You said you wrote it like that so do you plan on playing the full thing?
I’m trying to figure that out, how much we can get away with. In my head, I always want to go out, “Here’s the new stuff!” But crowds don’t always respond well to that.
In Issue #159, Spine of God was inducted into the Hall of Fame. That’s your debut record, so it was released in ‘91. What was it like looking back at that record at the same time you were gearing up to release Mindfucker?
It was really cool, and I appreciate you guys doing that. It’s very humbling to see a record that old—that’s the stone age. That was so long ago—getting that kind of attention. It’s very cool, and it refreshed my memory a lot to see it all together like that.
It always reminds me that you’re always ahead of your shadow when you’re in a band that’s been around for a long time. You’re always a couple steps ahead of your shadow, meaning the stuff that you did is always gonna be somewhat more important than the stuff that you do for a while and everything has to come out there and have its time.
You’re not even close to the heaviest band on the bill [at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest]. When you’re performing at something like that, does that worry you or force you to adapt your performance at all, or will you just go out there and do your thing?
We haven’t polished our metal chops to compete with that kind of heavy-osity. Most of the time I’ve noticed—with a couple exceptions, we have played some metal festivals in Europe where it’s like “What the hell are these guys doing on there?”—the tempos are different and at big metal shows people get used to that tempo. They’re all used to that and then when you come on with a swinging rock and roll band, they don’t know what that is. They can’t lock into it. They can’t bang their head. A lot of times people will just stand there and stare; that doesn’t mean they didn’t like it. It’s just not the show of metal-osity that it was with the other bands.