OD – “Mindfucker” has to be one of the greatest album titles that I’ve heard in a long time. Tell me the inspiration behind it?
DAVE – It’s like a sign of the times really. It’s an old word that I used to say when I was a lot younger. It’s a real Beavis and Butthead term (laughing), but I fucking love it, man! It’s a real primal, rock-muscle word! I just thought it was so perfect for the current situation with the state of the world right now.
If we’re not getting mind-fucked for real now, then I don’t know when we are going to be. You know what I mean? (laughs) So, when we were thinking of the album title, it just seemed so right. Also, it’s fun to say right? “This is a fucking mindfucker of a situation!” (laughing) . When the guys would ask about the title of the album, I’de be like “It’s gonna be ‘Mindfucker’!” and they would all laugh at me, but they really liked it. They were like “Are you serious?” and I would tell them “yeah, I’m fucking serious, someone’s got to do it!”
OD – What better way to open the album than with ‘Rocket Freak”. Was that a given when you completed writing that track? Did you just know that it was the album opener?
DAVE – I wrote that track as an opener. In fact, the first five tracks on the album, I wrote as an opening sequence. I wrote them one after the other as a kind of a continuation from the previous track. This was the first time I ever tried doing something like that. I was thinking to myself “I’m going to try to write a set of songs” and I purposely didn’t pay any attention to lyrics as I tend to wait till the end, which can be good and sometimes a very bad approach.
OD – Did you find that this new approach worked?
DAVE – Totally! It worked up to a certain point. For me, it worked up to about track five and then it starts going squirrelly (laughing).
OD – It’s been five years since we had ‘Last Patrol’ (excluding the reworked albums “Milking the Stars & Cobras and Fire”), out of that five years, how long would you say the “Mindfucker” material has been in the works?
DAVE – I was just trying to tour after ‘Last Patrol‘ and not really interested in doing any writing. Being in a rock band these days, if you don’t tour, you basically die. There’s no money in the music anymore, which is a real shame. Right now, rock music is at it’s lowest that it’s ever been in history. By the looks of things, it’s on it’s way out!
So, there’s no money in the music, because it’s basically free these days or “leased” for want of a better word. Take those elements and add in the fact that the culture doesn’t support it anymore and you have one hell of a fucking mess.
So, the reality of the situation is that you have to play a lot. We’re out there on our own in the 4th dimension and have to keep moving to keep surviving. I love playing live anyway and if anything hits me, it’s gonna hit me, so let’s just get on with it because nobody gives a shit about records anyway.
OD – What do you mean by that?
DAVE – I’m talking about the way most records are written these days. It’s like “Oh, here’s an excuse for us to tour“. It’s like the tail is wagging the dog! Anyway, that’s just me griping right now (laughing). When we put out “Last Patrol” we just knew that we had to tour the shit outta’ that album and in between dates, we got stuck into doing the remasters of the other albums.
I still wanted to create, as I love going to the studio and wanted to remaster the albums because I thought they were worthy of doing. Of course, all of that took some time and before I knew it, here I am talking to you about the new album!
OD – So, you kind of starting on “Mindfucker‘ by default?
DAVE – I was kind of thinking “shit, I guess we should start working on some new material“. To be honest, I didn’t really plan the record out at all. I just sat down and started writing during the Summer of 2016. I got back from touring and took a few months off riding my bike and hanging out, and then just figured that it was about time to get started. I really didn’t know what it was going to be, or how it was going to sound, so I just sort of let the creative juices flow and went with it! There’s nothing like deadlines and desperation to fuel the creative process (laughing)!
OD – Having returned to the previous album such as ‘Mastermind’ and ‘Last Patrol’ and reworking them, did you find that is was a huge learning curve for you and did this process help in any way with ‘Mindfucker”?
DAVE – Yeah, it totally helped the process. Big time! I was going in on those ‘re-imagined’ albums to see what I could get out of the pre-existing material, and in some cases, vainly make up for some stuff that I thought was over-produced.
When that happens, you bring out the fuzzbox (laughing)! “I need more fuzz!” There’s a limitation that you can go with fuzz before the whole thing just wipes out! I never really found that limitation with our big rock records, because as I started to white out some of those bigger rock records like “Dopes to Infinity” (1995)” and “Powertrip” (1998), I would pull back for a more luscious sound and I just kept on thinking “this is fucking rock, it totally should have more fuzz“.
Look at all the 60’s stuff I did on the “Re-Imagined” Albums! I kept trying to go back to the 60’s, where everything was about “FUZZ”! So, this got me thinking that there had to be a way to put both of these things together without ruining the integrity of either. There just had to be a way of making an even bigger rock album with a lot of fuzz on it. Sort of like a hybrid of say KISS and The Standells on the same track, you know what I mean?
I really learned how far I could push the sound in trying to achieve a balance between a big rock sound and garage fuzz rock. As much as this record is very much a ‘Detroit’ sound, it’s also got the down and dirty 60’s garage vibe coursing through its veins.
OD – Did you do the “Mindfucker” recording in Phil Caivano’s (guitars) studio?
DAVE – Oh yeah, sure! I just went about my business as per usual as I had done so with the ‘Re-Imagined’ albums. The whole album was tracked in New Jersey, in a little place called Shorefire studio, which was close to where I live. We tracked the drums there and then completed the rest of the album in Phil’s house, which is about 3 blocks from my house.
OD – It sounds like there was a really laid back vibe from the whole experience?
DAVE – Yes, totally! I really enjoyed working on this album. It got me thinking about back in the old days when we would be flying to L.A to record then over to Canada for some other bits and back again. When I think back on that, it just seems really crazy.
For me, this was a little quirky and a lot of fun! I purposely wanted this album to be quirky and in fact, really wanted it to be a little lo-fi. When you go to these big chequebook studios, it’s impossible to get that quirky, lo-fi sound as the studios just don’t work that way.
OD – Did you all get into a room and just bash out the tracks to get that raw, live feel to it?
DAVE – Naw, we didn’t do that. I really want to try that one day, but I’m all about the multi-tracks because I really want to be able to control the sound of everything. If we all just jammed a recording in the same room, the sound would just bleed over the mic and it wouldn’t sound too hot!
Even if we made mistakes, we just wanted to capture a feeling and get the vibe and personality of the album, which I think we nailed this time around. It’s easier to polish and sheen up the sound of an album than it ever was and it’s rife in most modern metal albums.
In some ways, metal music is the biggest sinner when it comes to overproduction. The music is just flawless, and lacking in reality. Whatever, if the kids like it, then who am I to judge? I just like my music sounding real and from the street, if you know what I mean. Dirty and real!
I would like music to sound different from one record to the next. The standardisation of production and sound on albums today is pretty disturbing. A lot of the albums that are coming out today, just sound all the same! The guitar tones are exactly the same!
It’s almost like the music today is kind of made from plastic. A mass, over-produced, uninformed product with no heart or soul. Don’t get me wrong, these bands sound good, it’s just that everything sounds like a TV commercial.
OD – Many of today’s bands are using the same producers or whoever is the hot new engineer on the block/
DAVE – You got that right! At the end of the day, it’s about the songs right? The songs can bust through any crack and stand on their own regardless. Good music is good music. With the overproduction, it sounds great but then it just becomes boring and simulated to 1000 other bands, that all sound the same.
It’s like electronic music. It all pretty much sounds the same with regards to production and audio resolution. If you had never heard this style of music before and you turned it on, for the first week, you’d be like “Wow! I’ve never heard bass like that in my life, this is amazing!” Come to the second week, and you’d be like “Ahh whatever, big deal! All sounds the fucking same! ”
OD – You don’t shy away from addressing some social, political subjects, do you think that although the world is kind of fucked right now, that a lot of artists are afraid of calling out what’s going on and avoid the obvious?
DAVE – I totally agree. I remember growing up and back in the 70’s and 80’s, music carried a message. Be it political or social, there was a message there. It was meant to be enjoyed but also, to open our minds and get us thinking about what was happening around us.
I always thought that this was what you were supposed to sing about in music. Real life things. I would never have imagined that there would be heavy bands like Iron Maiden doing a track like “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and never, ever going anywhere near reality! I guess that’s kind of like a Star Wars generation or something? Kind of like, you set up your little universe and away you go, writing songs that are kind of like screenplays, which is not very fucking rock dude! I don’t care how heavy it is. Where’s the beef?
I really don’t’ know what’s going on today. I think people are scared shitless of losing one penny because of the state that rock music is in right now. For me, I just can’t turn the other cheek. It’s not in my nature to do so. Anyway, I’m not that good of a screenplay writer, and the reason that I originally set up Monster Magnet was to interpret how I was feeling through the vernacular of science fiction and B-Culture because I thought that sounded cooler and more interesting.
I’m a huge fan of the 60’s and 70’s and the political currency that rock music had during that time, but I wasn’t a big fan of the preachy-ness side of that music, so I figured if there was a way of mentioning that, yes, I do live on the same planet, without ramming my views down peoples necks.
OD – Do you think that a lot of bands avoid the obvious today?
DAVE – If you’re in a band who have the opportunity to get up on stage and blatantly avoid the stuff that happens in the world today? I really don’t know what the fuck that’s about, I really don’t, man!
When surfing music channels either on the TV, Internet or the Radio, there is no way that any of those bands are even from the same planet, as you and I. They give no indication as to what’s going on right outside their fucking front door. That is amazing to me!
OD – Would you agree that it’s kind of like the elephant in the room with regards to bands shying away from their political views?
DAVE – Yeah, where’s the primal scream? Look, I’m no genius but if ever there was a time for a primal scream, it’s right now! HELLO? We’ve got the most powerful nation in the world that’s currently being run by a fucking man-baby who’s telling everyone that that main message is if you lie big, and you lie often – you’ll get your way! C’mon guys! It’s time to stand up and shout “What the fuck is going on?”
This is (American screenwriter) Paddy Chayefsky’s nightmare! All of this stuff came true! Another reason why the bands are not speaking up is that of the social network fear! They are so connected to their fanbase that they are so afraid of getting rampant, down the tube, fuck you from the masses of online influencers!
OD – Do you think that the intensity of social networking is a good or a bad thing?
DAVE – People like to think it’s really connecting them with each other. There is really no connection per say. It’s just a superficial connection. That’s why the information age has collapsed on itself with Trump. Yes, it’s the information age but they seem to have left ‘wisdom’ out in the cold. They literally can’t handle the level of tech that’s out there now. They can’t handle their shit man!
OD – Having been doing this for 30+ years now, it’s fair to say that you’ve been in many situations and have experienced your fair share of insanity, bullshit and surreal moments. When you look back on it all, do you have any particular stand out milestones that have had a profound effect on you today from a creative point of view?
DAVE – There’s been a couple really. I guess the main one would be the moment that I figured that I could make music without actually being very talented at music. That’s when I came out with the Task M4 track in the 1980’s. I was like “Wow! I can realise some of my imagination, without having to play as well as my heroes.” It was like a feeling I had when I saw The Ramones play for the very first time. It looked like the triumph of wit over technical prowess. That feeling got boosted again when Monster Magnet did well and we got signed to A&M and they suggested that I produce the album and let me tell you, I had little to no understanding of how to work a desk apart from a few dials here and there.
That’s when I realised that Rock n’ Roll was really fucking cool. I started to figure out that I had something. I didn’t know what it was but it was something and those record executives saw whatever that was and let me do my thing. Whatever “it” was, I just know that it opened up my brain to anything and all I had to do was keep imagining it and believing in what I was doing. If that failed, find the guy who did know what was going on and stand behind him with a hammer, yelling! (laughing)
OD – Have you ever considered releasing a book about your journey in Monster Magnet, the music industry and life in general?
DAVE – Only recently in the last couple of years, purely for the fact that people have been asking me. I would like to do it, but I don’t want to name names if you know what I mean! To be honest, there’s way too much bad stuff that can get a lot of people in trouble (laughing)! There’s fucking wild, crazy stories that have everything anyone could ever want from a rock n’ roll diary, but I just have to figure out how to put this together without making everybody hate me!
OD – You will be performing in Ireland for the last date of your European tour on June 3rd, this will be your first show in Ireland since 1999 when you were here with Metallica, so it’s long overdue. With regards to closing off tours, do you treat those gigs as something little different or will it be business as usual?
DAVE – I think we last came to Ireland was back in 2004, I can’t really remember. We’ll try and make that show as special as possible. We try to make all of our shows as special as possible but seeing as it’s the last show of European leg, there might be some craziness at the end (laughing).
OD -Do you have a message for the Irish fans who have waited all this time to see you back on their shores?
DAVE – I’m really sorry that it has taken this long for us to come back to Ireland and be sure to get “Mindfucked” as we are gonna do you proud!
MONSTER MAGNET will be taking in two shows in Ireland as part of their European dates in Belfast and Dublin this coming June. Please check DME Promotions for further details.
“Mindfucker” is released today via Napalm Records. Order your copy here.
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Images – Courtesy of Napalm Records.