To Infinity and Beyond with Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf

Coming to Australia to play Dopes to Infinity in it's entirety, Mr Wyndorf reminisces about one of his finest hours...

Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf is one of a dying breed. He’s not a made-for-television, reality-imitating-art faker. He’s a bona fide rock star, a Lord of Misrule in an era when most people making a packet out of rock n’roll seem to have done accountancy and marketing degrees before picking up a guitar; It’s a cliché but he really has been there and done that, and, even more remarkably given the man’s notoriety for sampling the many and varied delights of the ‘classic’ r n’r lifestyle, he’s survived to tell the tale.
He’s telling tales to MaF today, as – please tell me you haven’t failed to notice the ads all over your fave metal website – his band are about to embark down under for a run of dates next month. Dave ain’t selling nothing new on these dates; rather he and his band will be playing one of their classic oeuvres – 1995s Dopes to Infinity – in full, unexpurgated and unfettered, for our listening pleasure. But enough of my eulogizing – time to let the great man speak…

This tour (and I’ve said it once but it bares repeating) is all about Dopes to Infinity – Returning to the album sixteen years after the fact, and obviously having rehearsed it prior to the tour, has anything stood out as needing changing up  -the running order for instance?

‘It’s funny you should say that – we haven’t rehearsed it at all yet! I tend to think it needs to be left as it is – I kinda think that’s what people expect. Although obviously it wasn’t written as a set, it was not written at that time to be performed as such. I don’t know. I’m sure it’s better as it is.”

And the songs themselves?

“Sure, I think we’ll make some intros longer, that kind of thing,”

As he clearly hasn’t done too much thinking on the subject prior to rehearsing for the tour, I decide to change my approach a little. Monster Magnet has a pretty impressive canon of work now – what made you decide that Dopes to Infifnity was the one to get the ‘played in full’ treatment?

“Really, it was the first album that at the time I felt like I knew what I was doing; The studio process, the songs… It was the first album of our career where at the end I felt confident about it. It’s a very varied album, which I felt was one of its strengths, but maybe that wasn’t the case. The record company wasn’t sure what to do with it – are you rockers? You know, that kind of thing, and at the start people were coming up to us at shows really confused, you know, like ”are you guys heavy or not?” I felt like saying ‘What. Do I have to put some tits on it? Look! TITS! TITS! TITS!” You know? In some ways that’s why I did (1998 follow up) Powertrip like it was, to make it easy for people.”

Like I said, you’ve got a pretty impressive back catalogue – was the decision to play DTI yours alone, did it come as a response to requests from fans – how was the decision made?

“Everyone else is doing it! I saw Mudhoney performing (1988 proto grunge classic) Superfuzz Bigmuff last year, and I was like “WHOOAAA,” you know? It was amazing. And then a bit later – it was down in Australia, actually, at Soundwave – I was talking to Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. I asked him what they were gonna play and he said “We’re gonna do the first album.” That was that. I knew I wanted to do something along those lines.”

You mentioned being pleased at the time with the album. What do you remember about the process beyond that?

‘Big studios! You don’t need to use big recording studios these days to make a record. I will do – for the next record I’ll use a ‘big’ studio for some parts, but these days you tend to record and split-“

You can record a million-seller in your bedroom these days.

“Yeah, it feels that way. It certainly makes recording a lot cheaper. When we did Dopes we virtually lived in the studio.”

The whole process has changed now really hasn’t it? Even touring must be different for you, comparing the two times.

‘It is, because I’m better at it. The improvements in technology and communications make things easier. You know it sometimes felt like you were on the moon when you were on tour. I enjoyed touring, but I felt I needed to find things to do to fill up my time.”

Wyndorf of course was a famously heroic indulger in rock n’roll substances, which must have made ‘being on the moon’ a suitably gratifying experience when aided by a selection of mothers little helpers. Of course, that improvement in communications technology means that whenever someone like Dave falls foul of a little indiscretion’ these days, the whole world knows about it within a quarter of an hour. It’s taken away the mystique from rock n’roll, hasn’t it?

“You know it has, and it’s something that rock will never recover from. We’ll never get that back. I loved rock music when I was a kid, but there was so much, you know, that you could only guess at.”

My twelve year old likes rock music but he has absolutely no wonder about it, he feels he knows all about it…

‘Absolutely! Try to explain to him that sometimes not knowing is better! It really is!”

So after you return from Australia, what then for the ‘Magnet?

“Well, we get back to New Jersey, and then head staright back out to Europe to do the whole thing again for a month and a half. We’ll get home just before Christmas. After that I’ve got a few things I’m working on for a new album, hopefully early in the next year.”

Something to look forward to then, but in the meantime lets all gleefully plunge back to the future, as it were…