By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
By A.H. Goldstein
The title of the first Monster Magnet recording, a 1989 cassette-only release called Forget About Life, I'm High on Dope, underlines Wyndorf's early enthusiasm for the narcotic lifestyle. But today Wyndorf claims to have been drug-free for the past four years. "I completely stopped learning from them," he says. "And when you aren't learning from them, they just get in your way--they impede you. So I quit." Don't expect him to lecture impressionable youths on the dangers of street-corner pharmaceuticals, though. "I'm glad I did them, because I still draw on those times. I still make very psychedelic records that re-create drug experiences I had previously. It's just that I get there via imagination land now. Drugs may help you enter that world, but they definitely don't keep you there--and I can stay there myself now, without help from anything else."
Rock fanciers interested in visiting this territory found assistance on Monster Magnet's next pair of efforts, 1991's Spine of God and the 1993 obscurity 25............Tab, an astounding piece of work highlighted by "Tab...," a song built on a single riff that repeats for a jaw-dropping 32 minutes. The band's bow for A&M, 1993's Superjudge, upped the accessibility quotient considerably, as did 1995's Dopes to Infinity, a whooshing, shooshing journey to the center of Wyndorf's personal obsessions. There are still moments of orgiastic frenzy on the latter, as when Wyndorf thunders "Oh baby/I'm lazy/Oh baby/Introduce me to God!" on "Negasonic Teenage Warhead," but tracks like "Look to Your Orb for the Warning" weren't nearly as silly as their handles. Wyndorf calls Dopes "a very cerebral album," and by his standards, it was.
Powertrip came from a very different place, Wyndorf says. "I wasn't feeling very psychedelic when I wrote it, because I was having money problems. I'd spent all this money from the record company on psychedelic light shows and stuff like that--and they wanted it back! Now, when you see the end coming like that, you can very easily fall into the trap of trying to write something that radio would go for--like, 'Hey, I could do that, and everything would be fine.' But instead, I decided that we needed to do a very physical album. That way, the songs would be quicker and they'd be honest, and they'd allow me to have more fun in the studio. And I had fun with the subject matter, too."
Songs such as "Goliath and the Vampires" reflect Wyndorf's careful reading of comic books by the likes of Jack Kirby. "These were guys who used their imaginations to the fullest for absolutely no money at all," Wyndorf notes. "And their jargon, their vernacular, has become part of my regular vocabulary. Someone will come up to me and say, 'How was your day?' and I'll say, 'My day was volcanic! It was fucking cosmic! I felt like fucking Dr. Doom out there!'"
Carnality, too, gets cartoony treatment: On "Space Lord," Wyndorf declares, "I'm squeezed out in hump drive/And I'm drowning in love." Far from seeing such lines as sexist, he regards them as considerably more woman-friendly than the music being made by rock's Glum Generation. But that comes as no surprise given his insistence that balling anonymous gal-pals who throw themselves at him after shows actually represents a step forward in the fight for male-female equality.
"Women are constantly judged by their families and by people in the workplace, and they really pay the price for wanting to have a sexual good time," he says with more sincerity than most observers would expect. "They pay for it for the rest of their lives, sometimes; they get kicked out of their towns or whatever. But rock and roll is a place where women have as much power as the men. And we stand behind that."
The AIDS era has affected groupie groping, Wyndorf says, but he believes that many of these changes have been for the better. "It's made people a lot more inventive in their sex," he crows. "It's not this hippie bullshit, where people take off their clothes and smoke weed and say, 'Hey, it's cool.' Now, safe sex and the threat of AIDS has put an edge on it that's really quite amazing. It's put a little bit of danger into it...Couple that with the fact that if you really do it you might die, and it causes, literally, like a boiling pot of sexuality. People are like, 'I want this; I've gotta have it.' Well, of course they want it, because they aren't supposed to have it. That's totally American. Everybody wants what they can't have.
"There's a lot of unprotected sex going on out there. I've been on tour for five months, and it's been like a giant, living Jerry Springer show. I'm not kidding--this country is completely mad for sex," he continues. "But I think it's a more interesting time sexually than it's been for a while. The Fifties were probably the best time for sex, because of all the religious repression. I bet people got a lot out of sex in the Fifties. But the Seventies were too much: too free, sloppy. And the Sixties were pretty sloppy, too. But now is a great time. Really great."