Red Bank, New Jersey’s own, Monster Magnet, started in 1989 and currently Dave Wyndorf is the only original member. Wyndorf is a psychedelic hard rock messiah and his lyrics are trippy yet to the point. In the world of hard rock Dave Wyndorf is one of a kind.
Monster Magnet were slated to tour the US in 2020 but covid shut the entire world down. Wyndorf and company used their down time to work on a covers record titled, “A Better Dystopia” which features an interesting assortment of prog rock and psychedelia from artists you’ve probably never heard of. Hawkwind featuring Lemmy Kilmister and Dust featuring Marky Ramone are the two that most older rock fans may know while the rest are ultra obscure.
We caught up with Dave Wyndorf on May 4, 2021 and here’s what he had to say:
Rock N Roll Experience: “What does the title “A Better Dystopia” mean?”
Dave Wyndorf: It is basically a comparison between tow times in my life that I’ve seen the media, TV and newspapers, actually refer to our current times as a dystopia. Like, things were so bad that they started to use words like dystopia which is kind of harsh words. Dystopia means madness, horrible, the end of the world.
One time when I was a little kid about 12 years old in like 1969 and the world was on fire, it was way worse that it is now, they had riots every single year from like ’65 to around ’73 and there was student un-rest and there was a radical movement that were lighting off bombs around the country and it was fucking nuts. It was cool, but of course I was 12 years old (laughs) and then there was Vietnam, and the Cold War was still really, really big, people were afraid we were going to go to a Nuclear War at any time, so it was brutal, it was like the newspapers and everybody’s parents, all of the grown ups, were completely freaking out, “Oh My God the whole world’s gone crazy!”, all of the kids had grown their hair and were listening to crazy f**king rock music, there’s riots, there’s civil unrest, there’s Vietnam, it was crazy. The Newspapers started going, “Dystopia!” And the TV news.
Alright, so flash forward to the last couple of years with Trump and then Covid on top of that they are saying the same thing, so I’m like, ok, I’ve heard this before. I kept thinking about what’s the thing I think about the most now that I’m older and it’s like, “Where is popular culture?” Like, the world gets f**ked up and then it gets un-f**ked up, then it gets f**ked up again and un-f**ked up again, how does popular culture react to it? I was thinking, man, I think pop culture did a way better job with the last dystopia. There was cooler music, I mean, I know I’m old but seriously man, in the last f**king four years of all this shit the music has sucked! The kids f**king blew it, they were supposed to come out and go f**king, “I’m Crazy, I’m Nuts, This World’s driving me crazy!” And what do we get? F**king Billie Eilish mumbling, we just get a person mumbling (does a mumble impersonation) so, that’s the reason why I called the record “A Better Dystopia”, I thought I’d pull out a bunch of old, obscure songs and go, “This is what Dystopia sounds like Mother F**ker!” This is Honest, crazy, insane reactions to crazy times.
Rock N Roll Experience: Now based off what you just said right there, “What are your thoughts on Cancel Culture and Marilyn Manson being cancelled?”
Dave Wyndorf: Cancel Culture is such a weird word. It can be interpreted a bunch of different ways and you don’t want to get too stuck on stuff, but I think if you’re talking about Cancel Culture meaning, it can be taken 2 ways, in one way it can be taken as consequence meaning people all naturally speaking out at the same time you hearing peoples voices honestly and making an opinion on something and hopefully thinking in a humanistic way. Everyone’s got their opinion, someone gets in the newspapers like they did something bad, ok, I have an opinion on that, cancelling them though, that’s not really something that people can do, that’s only something the record companies and stuff can do. I don’t blame all of the Blabbermouth’s on the internet for having their opinion, they don’t really cancel anybody, they just make their feelings known. They obviously have an effect on the companies that hire these people, so if Marilyn Manson or anybody gets into any trouble, before it’s proven, the companies get chicken and fire the people. It’s kind of dangerous, like the whole thing is a little dangerous meaning if you’re a celebrity, or a musician, or anybody that has any art in them and want to express themselves in a certain way, I’m not talking about Manson because Manson is pretty obvious, Manson always said he was a dick, he always said it, so people should know what they were getting into. It’s crazy and I think Cancel Culture could get to a point where artists are afraid to be artists. Everybody’s got to be careful about that.
Rock N Roll Experience: “Will there be a Monster Magnet tour in 2022?”
Dave Wyndorf: Yes. At least in Europe and I know there is and probably in American right after that. I’m already booked for Europe in June and July of 2022, festivals and headline tours all over Europe and we’ll probably put something together for 2022 in America too. As it’s coming up now, we’ll probably do a 30th Anniversary (Dave says in a higher voice, “Thirty Years?!?! I can’t believe it”!), of “Spine of God” our first record and we’ll probably do that in the New York area at Christmas time.
Rock N Roll Experience: “Why did you Epiphone guitars onstage for your last tour?”
Dave Wyndorf: I played Epiphone, but the other guys didn’t. I like Epiphone because I have a habit of smashing really, really good guitars. I always f**k them up and I always treat my guitars like shit so I just get a good Epiphone and if you get the right Epiphone they sound f**king great but they are a lot cheaper so if I smash them it’s not like, Oh My God You Just Smashed a ’64 SG for F**king Asshole!” So, that’s why, and Epiphones are good man
Rock N Roll Experience: “Did you find the need to rearrange alot of the songs on “Dystopia” to fit the Monster Magnet style or did you try to keep everything true to the original versions?”
Dave Wyndorf: I tried to keep them true this time, I mean there was an urge to rearrange them, like sometimes I do get an urge to rearrange old songs like that, but I listened to those songs and they are so f**king cool the way they were, I mean there was nothing wrong with…I really had no business covering these songs to tell you the truth (laughs), except for, I wanted to do it, like I have to…you get these weird feelings like, I gotta do this, it would sound cool, I thought that the nucleus of the songs, the only thing that some of these songs were missing was the actual fidelity. Some of these (songs) were from the past and recorded so badly that you could never turn them up on your stereo, it just sounded like shit, if you listen to the originals, a couple of them, were just like (makes hissing noise), so we just modernized it a little bit, but I didn’t want to rearrange it, I wanted that 70’s, that whole trip of those songs to come true because some of those songs are just nuts!
Rock N Roll Experience: “It’s interesting how most of the songs on “Dystopia” are so obscure that to the casual listener might think these are all Monster Magnet originals. The songs are honestly so obscure that you could have passed these off as original Monster Magnet songs.”
Dave Wyndorf: GOOD! That’s exactly what I wanted! I wanted to come out there and go, here’s a covers record but you’ve probably never heard any of these songs so I hope you enjoy it like a record instead of setting there and picking it apart and going like, uhhh, how come they covered like Metallica, or blah blah blah, it’s not as good as this version or that version. I wanted the first instinct to go, ok, this is a (Monster) Magnet record, what do you think?
Rock N Roll Experience: “Be Forwarned” is my favorite song on the new record, was that one hard to perform?”
Dave Wyndorf: Surprisingly it wasn’t, that was right in my wheel house vocals and I love to sing like that, nobody sings like that anymore. It’s like a forgotten vocal style. That’s a 60’s vocal and I love singing like that. The hardest one to sing was “Learning to Die” by Dust because it was so high.
Rock N Roll Experience: “The song “Twin Earth” is a Monster Magnet staple, was that song influenced by Jimi Hendrix?”
Dave Wyndorf: A little bit but it’s actually more of a rip off of a Captain Beyond song. I took a riff from an old Captain Beyond song, I can’t remember which one, but I sang it like, kinda feeling like Hendrix. A lot of the times, especially in the early days when I didn’t know quite how to sing or what I was going to sing, I would always think of what Hendrix would do. Hendrix was a really great singer because he wasn’t a good singer, and he knew it. He’d go, Ok, I’m not the best singer in the world but he put a lot of soul behind it.
Rock N Roll Experience: “Do you still keep in touch with former Monster Magnet guitarist Ed Mundell?”
Dave Wyndorf: Not that much, Ed’s not happy with me (laughs). It’s one of those band things where he’s like “Dave’s a dick!”, and I probably am, so. Ed was in the band for a long time and he’s a great guitarist but he just wasn’t all there all of the time, and I didn’t know what he wanted to do but he was always un-happy. “I Don’t Want To Tour!” And all of this stuff, and I was like, Come on Man, ROCK! So finally at one point it just fell apart, it happens.
Rock N Roll Experience: “Have you started writing new Monster Magnet music?”
Dave Wyndorf: I’ve wrote a couple of songs and just setting around in my kitchen after we did the “A Better Dystopia” and I was like, alright dude, it’s time to get to writing and I wrote a couple of songs and kind of got lazy and didn’t write more and so now I’m just getting geared up.
Rock N Roll Experience: “Did you get the covid vaccination?”
Dave Wyndorf: Yes I did
The interview ended with Dave telling me he got the Moderna vaccine and we compared notes on how we both got sick after our second shot with mild flu like symptoms. Dave said that the only reason “A Better Dystopia” was recorded is because once Covid shut everything down he needed to keep busy and the cover record was something he’d wanted to do but just never had the time to do before the world shut down for a year.
Check out the new Monster Magnet record, "A Better Dystopia" and look for the band to tour throughout 2022.