WHEN MONSTER MAGNET main man Dave Wyndorf takes the call to chat about his band’s new album, Last Patrol—and its first North American tour in 10 years—he’s chilling at his home in “beautiful Red Bank, New Jersey”. It’s the same house he grew up in, although it doesn’t contain childhood memories of him popping out the front door to jam with kids down the street. If there were any up-and-coming rockers in Red Bank to get inspired by, Wyndorf didn’t meet them.
What Wyndorf did get swayed by at an early age was the mighty Black Sabbath, which—coupled with an interest in sci-fi, horror, and comic books—led him to form Monster Magnet in 1989. Those influences can still be heard on the band’s new Napalm Records release, Lost Patrol, via tracks like “Mindless Ones”—which, with its mention of “the ancient one”, makes you think it might be H.P. Lovecraft–inspired.
“No, that’s actually inspired by Dr. Strange,” he points out, “Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s comic book from the mid ’60s. I’m sure they just swiped Lovecraft like crazy, though. Dr. Strange studied under this guy called the Ancient One, and he fought these guys called the Mindless Ones, who were like these cyclopean, other-dimensional beasties. It’s really cool stuff.”
“Mindless Ones” is the first dedicated comic-book song Wyndorf has written in “a long time”, but musically it doesn’t fall far from the stoner-rock tree his group has been associated with since day one. Not that he knows what that label even means nowadays.
“I always considered Monster Magnet as just rock,” he points out, “psychedelic rock. And hopefully, it would be its own sound. But there is a lot of hard-rock revisionism going on, and if they want to call that stoner rock now, they can call it whatever they want.
“But it’s been goin’ on for years,” he adds. “It went on in the ’80s with the first bunch of Cult albums, and bands like Spacemen 3 and Loop. They didn’t call it stoner rock then, but that’s what it was. I’m just glad to see that people like that form of music.”
Last Patrol is the first Monster Magnet album since 1993’s Superjudge not to feature Ed Mundell, who, after cofounding the Atomic Bitchwax, played guitar with MM from ’92 to 2010.
“His heart had gone out of it,” relates Wyndorf. “He didn’t leave as much as he was gently shoved, you know what I mean? But it happens. Monster Magnet’s been around for close to 25 years now, so people come and people go.”
Looking back on that quarter-century, would the 57-year-old rocker do anything different given the chance?
“I probably would have made more money,” he replies. “I probably would have spent more time merchandising the way that most modern rock guys do. But not much, you know. It is what it is. It’s all worked out very nicely, you know.”