Dave Wyndorf Discusses Monster Magnet's Latest Grindfest

Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf at his home in New Jersey.

Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf at his home in New Jersey. (Image credit: Sonia Goldberg)

Monster Magnet leader Dave Wyndorf was born and raised in Red Bank, New Jersey, but for as long as he can remember, the music of Detroit has been revving through his heart. Back in the Seventies, he’d power through MC5 covers as the frontman of Shrapnel; fast forward 40 years and he’s serving up unpolished, fuel-injected fuzz with a Motor City feel on Monster Magnet’s latest full-length, Mindfucker.

“When I was a kid, I thought that was the most bad-ass shit. I loved all rock, but that stuff, in my kid’s mind, was the real stuff,” Wyndorf says, citing the Stooges’ Ron Asheton, Grand Funk’s Mark Farner and Alice Cooper’s Glen Buxton as just a few of the Michigan riffmakers he and fellow Monster Magnet players Phil Caivano and Garret Sweeney channeled in the studio.

In turn, the raw power of mid-western rock can be heard full-force on Mindfucker’s “Rocket Freak” and “Soul,” songs that favor a from-the-streets swagger over the cosmic journeying and 11-minute track times of 2013’s Last Patrol. A reaction to the previous album’s “decidedly melancholy trip,” Wyndorf wanted the quickly written, turbo-charged Mindfucker to immediately melt faces.

“What I’m looking for is some kind of blast of excitement; that usually has to do with sound and approach rather than technical prowess or speed,” he says, noting how the dueling pull-offs and screaming bends Caivano and Sweeney firebomb into the title track were off-the-cuff, un-finessed attacks.

“Poor Garret, he can play way better than I ask him to play. I usually ask him to play dumber. ‘That’s too good! That’s too slick! Dumb it up!’ ”

Monster Magnet may be keeping it straightforward with Mindfucker’s arrangements, but Wyndorf rails against current-day idiocracy in its lyrics. “Every once in a while the stupid people rise to the top, and that’s what happened: Scared, dumb people won,” the frontman says, noting how social media oversharing and the current political climate helped shape the record’s apocalyptic visions. Amidst this daily chaos, though, Monster Magnet are coping via cranked amps and some critical thought. Wyndorf says with a laugh, “I really just wanted to make a simple ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ record, but all this other stuff came in.”

GUITARS Gibson 1998 SG, Custom Shop 1962 SG reissue, 2001 Custom Shop Ox Blood, 2003 R59 Flametop, 1952 Gold Top Conversion, Gretsch Custom Shop Doublecut Duo-Jet, assorted vintage Danelectro and Harmony guitars
AMPS Metropoulos Metro-Plex, 1969 Marshall 50-watt, 1970 Marshall 50-watt, vintage Orange OR-120, assorted vintage Supro, Danelectro and Silvertone models
EFFECTS Klon Centaur, Electro-Harmonix Soul Food, Analog Man modified Tube Screamer and King of Tone overdrive, Maxon ST-9 Pro+ Super Tube, DAM fuzz boxes, TWA Triskelion, Mosrite Fuzzrite, vintage Roland Space Echo

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Gregory Adams

Gregory Adams is a Vancouver-based arts reporter. From metal legends to emerging pop icons to the best of the basement circuit, he’s interviewed musicians across countless genres for nearly two decades, most recently with Guitar World, Bass Player, Revolver, and more – as well as through his independent newsletter, Gut Feeling. This all still blows his mind. He’s a guitar player, generally bouncing hardcore riffs off his ’52 Tele reissue and a dinged-up SG.