Interview: Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet Discusses 'Dopes To Infinity' Tour
Monster Magnet had been kicking around for a few years by the time they released Dopes To Infinity in 1995.
Spine of God (1992) and Superjudge (1993) definitely hinted at the potential of what was to come -- the blend of psychedelia, garage, heavy metal and space rock. But those albums didn't quite hit commercially.
It wasn't until the single "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" broke through on MTV that things really started to happen. Next Monster Magnet recorded Powertrip, which really pushed them into the big time and sent them out on tour with bands like Metallica, Aerosmith, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, partially on the strength of mega-single "Space Lord."
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Monster Magnet is about to head out on tour to play Dopes To Infinity in its entirety. It's too early for a specific anniversary tour of the kind that seem to be all the rage right now, but screw that: Monster Magnet never played by the rules. They're here to rock, and it doesn't matter that Dopes is 14 years old rather than 10 or 15 or 20.
"My records are usually planned out in my head right at the end of the previous record," Monster Magnet founder Dave Wyndorf explains. "The previous record was Superjudge, a really nasty-sounding record. It was like a buzz saw. So I thought, next time around I'm going to do a pretty-sounding record. I really wanted to produce the living [expletive] out of it. When you're on your second or third record, you start thinking of things you could do better."
Wyndorf went to work writing "a bunch of songs" loosely modelled after specific genres that would lend themselves to his production aspirations. "I just wanted to do different styles of music: '60s garage, because that's what I play; some really heavy Sabbath-type stuff; and I wanted all that stuff to be on the same record but to not sound like a recreation of those forms of music. I wanted it to sound like it was coming from the same band on the same album. That was my main purpose: to make the whole album sound original in its approach."
Monster Magnet's most recent album, the critically acclaimed Mastermind, is still relatively new to record store shelves. So why the push behind Dopes now?
"I'm really into this trend of playing complete works," Wyndorf says. "Lots of people I know, like Josh from Queens of the Stone Age, the Mudhoney guys, Buzz from the Melvins, they all say they love doing it. So I thought, 'Wow, I have to do that too'."
Wyndorf relishes the opportunity to step outside the expectations of a typical gig. "In a lot of ways it allows me to do stuff that I never thought i could do before," he says. "When you play a record that's been out for a long time there are no expectations and there are no question marks around whether it's going to be a hit or not. It already came out and whatever it was going to do, it has done.
"So I can go out and play it in sequence and I'm not ruining anything by not making the most exciting set in the world. It allows me to play mellow music and to play stuff that's not up in your face in order to make people stick around for the next song. It's really liberating."
With artists like Tommy Lee recently proclaiming that the album as a format is dead, yet Motley Crue recently playing all of the Dr. Feelgood album it its entirety, it seems like maybe it's not the album itself that is dead: maybe it's the public's appetite for new ones.
"Yeah, exactly," Wyndorf shouts. "In the 21st century more than ever, people don't really get to their new records right away. There are devoted people who listen to a whole new record three times like I do, but the mass audience doesn't do that. A lot of people who download stuff don't even listen to it until a month later.
"That, and the fact that sales are so bad, means that now people are doing albums to support a tour, rather than doing tours to support albums. The respect level for whole albums has gone down the toilet. And you have to let them be out for a while! You have to let them earn their keep and gestate out in the netherworld for a while. So it's the perfect time to start doing whole albums, I think."
Peter Hodgson is a journalist, an award-winning shredder, an instructional columnist, a guitar teacher, a guitar repair guy, a dad and an extremely amateur barista. In his spare time he runs a blog, I Heart Guitar, which allows him to publicly geek out over his obsessions. Peter is from Melbourne, Australia, where he writes for various magazines as well as for Gibson.com.