The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world











Mark: Hi, Dave, the last time we spoke was only September last year before “Last Patrol” came out.

Dave: Yeah, I make a lot of records these days!! Crazy!!

Mark: It’s like it’s the 70’s all over again!!

Dave: I think it’s the older I get, the more I think I’m going to run out of time, so I’d better start doing stuff!!

Mark: You’ve got a few other things on the go as well, I’m hearing.

Dave: Yeah, I’m doing a Mastermind, Re-imagining as well, I wasn’t happy with the whole tone of Mastermind, and the mix and stuff, it was a little too “glisteny” and shiny on the top! I decided to pull the weird trip on it, because I’m making stuff out of my home town now, and it has a huge effect on the sound of the music. So, I’m home-grown, I get to tinker a lot more, and get to take more chances! Sometimes you get bogged down, thinking it’s not going to be good enough, and you record it “safely”, and in the end it comes out a little bit too shiny! I don’t know if it’s even worth it, but It’s worth it for me to do, I don’t know, for people who buy Monster Magnet records, it’s what the fuck are you doing, just make a new album!!!!

Mark: I thought you were doing that as well?

Dave: Oh, yeah, well I’m always writing, and the only reason I’m not working on a new album now is because I’m still touring the last one! So, this was stuff I could do in between tours.

Mark: Talking about the tour, you did your last headlining tour of the US, in 10 years, which I believe was cut short by the flu!

Dave: Yeah, that damn near killed me! Holy Shit!! I tried, I tried to do a show, but I was like a zombie!!

Mark: You then hit Europe and then came over to see us, were they the last shows you did before you got back to recording?

Dave: No, we went back to Europe again and did festivals.

Mark: One of the questions I had for you about that tour was, did you actually play “Let the Circus Burn” on that tour? It sounded like there were bits of that.

Dave: No, but you know something, at the end of “Last Patrol”, the whole end of “Let the Circus Burn” is taken from a drum loop from “Last Patrol”, I just looped a drum and played over it, so there’s “Last Patrol” chords in there, and I noticed it was like life is imitating itself, it’s turning in to the other song!! That’s one of the weird things about working with same chords! Things start to sound the same!

Mark: Is that how the album happened? Was it just jamming and playing and you had the idea that some of the songs could morph into other things? How did the whole thing come about for the Re-imagining?

Dave: It came from a track, one track that was done and didn’t make the album that was “Milking the Stars”. It was one track that was all done, I saved it, I thought it was too similar to some of the other tracks, and for some reason I kept that off. I had such a good time recording this record, here in New Jersey, and the notion came to me that some of this stuff could have really gone a different way. If I were to put keyboards in, just for my own satisfaction, I would sit at home with my meagre little recording thing and do a couple of tracks, and that would be cool, and again because I was having so much fun doing it in my home town, I thought I’d do a couple more in between these tours. I was having fun with the equipment, the gear; I was really having fun working with Phil Caivano in his place, rather than with these high flying producer and engineering guys!! They take the fun out of everything! It became evident very quickly, that I could do all these songs, so then I did “Let the Circus Burn”, we put up the tracks, I asked Phil, I said can we cut the drum loop, so we took it out and looped the music over the top of that. Some of them I couldn’t reinvent completely, so I just decided to re track and change the vibe by adding keyboards, and tracking new guitars and getting rid of old ones. I wanted to start to strip things down, and so it became more 60’s as it went on.

Mark: So, how would you describe it overall? Some people are saying “remix”, but it’s not a remix!

Dave: No, if that’s a remix, it’s the fucking hardest I’ve worked on a remix!! A remix is where you go in with the guy, turn the vocals up, and job done!!! It’s been re tracked and reproduced!

Mark: Yeah, it’s a whole other thing!

Dave: That was why “Re Imagining” was the only title I could come up with to explain what was going on.
Mark: It’s a great description.

Dave: I suppose you could say “Re hashed”!! But yeah, re imagined, like what if this song came out in ’68? There’d be an organ on there; all the speed guitars would be gone!

Mark: That’s one of the things I love about the album, the keyboards, they sound awesome!

Dave: I love working with them too; I never worked with them much in the past because I’m a lousy keyboard player!! And, I wanted to keep in context with what the band play live, more and more as I went on, I wanted to make records that could be replicated live pretty easily. You know what? Now I can do anything I want! People are paying attention, but it’s not like I’m competing in a commercial marketplace or I have to live up to anyone’s expectations. That’s one good thing about the way the internet works now, is that nothing ever disappears. So, you can put out stuff like this, it’ll come out and leave without much fanfare, and show up four years later, and show up as this really cool thing, if the public so desires.

Mark: I actually loved “Last Patrol”, I thought it was a great album, and so to hear these other versions of it is great, it’s all about personal choice, for me some of them worked better than others. I thought “Hellelujah” worked really well.

Dave: It was fun, but you always hit a couple of impasses here, why are you doing it? There’s no reason for it! It’s either reinterpreted, or make it better or just leave it alone! But at that point “in for a penny, in for a pound!” as they say, I was in, so I had to finish it.

Mark: That’s right! Tell us about the two new songs on there. I was intrigued by “Goliath Returns”.
Dave: I have worked with stuff like this before, I like my theme songs! I love theme instrumentals, we’ve done it before, and I did a song on “Powertrip” called “Goliath and the Vampires” which was like that, so with this one, I think I had actually seen Godzilla, the new one, at the movies, and so when I got home, I thought I’ll write a Godzilla song! That’s what it was, a theme song for a theme song’s sake!

Mark: I liked that movie, and I read that you liked it too, but no one else seemed to!

Dave: It was really good, I liked the fact that it was spooky and dreary, I liked it!

Mark: So you’ve “Re Imagined” and you are going to Re Imagine some more, which can only be a good thing, do you think it’s easier, or is there no difference working with fresher material?

Dave: It’s different, you know, depending on the song. You think, “I can make this better” or “what the fuck am I doing with this same piece of shit!!!” You know I never liked this song, why am I going back to it?!!

Mark: So, do you think one day you might take it further and go back even further?

Dave: I may go back further if I get access, some of that stuff was on tape, and you have to transfer to digital and all that kind of stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever mess with “Spine of God”, except maybe to do a live album. “Superjudge” I always wanted to re-record, that’s definitely a possibility, “Dopes” I won’t mess with that and “Powertrip” I won’t mess with.

Mark: Is that more because you don’t want to?

Dave: Yeah, I think I did everything I could with them. At least that’s the way I feel now, and there comes a time when you just have to move on with new stuff. But, never say never! I may do a new album next year and then think what’s next? I have the most fun making the mellow songs more interesting, I just have a real big love for making small creepy things, more than making big loud things!

Mark: I think that’s the thing that came out on “Last Patrol” and on this album as well, you’ve got this hard rock, fighting against the mellower cosmic groove, and that really comes out on the two latest albums. It’s great to see that other side of Monster Magnet coming through.

Dave: It’s important for me because, I aint getting any younger, so you get to a point where, you know I felt this way when I was 38/39, how much can you scream?!! How much of a pissing contest is Hard Rock?! Do you really have to go out there and beat the other people over the head; bludgeon them to death, every single time?!! That’s not the music I grew up with; it was alternatively heavy and mellow. Black Sabbath had Planet Caravan, I mean, for Christ’s sake, those big songs wouldn’t have worked nearly so well without Planet Caravan between them. It’s almost like this journey, so I got to that point too, and plus, working in Hard Rock and being put in a Metal category, I would prefer to be put in the Psychedelic category, but for some reason we always end up in the metal section and end up playing with a lot of metal bands, and I thought there’s no way on earth I can just live my life screaming, this is just crazy!! This is like teenage shit!! Really?!!

Mark: It’s funny, it’s like something you can’t explain to younger people, it’s something that does come with age, when you realise you can only push that so far.

Dave: You know, I pushed too far, and believe me, no matter what the kids say they want, they really don’t want that! If they want that, they won’t go with the same band, they’ll just keep switching. It’s like only eating candy bars, you’re going to change to a new candy bar, it’s not going to taste that much different, but because it’s got a new package, you’ll go. That’s why a lot of these new metal bands, just suck, because it’s all packaging, it’s the same fucking music! I shouldn’t say “suck”, they choose what they want to do. I’d rather be at odds with whatever expectations people have because it’s fun, and it can make sure that people are listening.

Mark: I think you’re absolutely right. You’re producing a lot of music now, at a pretty rapid rate, and we’re expecting a lot more as well, is there any big project that you’ve always wanted to do, that you feel you’re not in the right place to do at the moment, or something that you’re saving for the future? Any big, unfulfilled musical ambitions?

Dave: Yeah, a couple of things. I’d really like to do something live in the studio with a lot of musicians, meaning not a lot of over dubbing, a lot of pre-production work, but like a big room with not only rock instruments, but orchestral, and record it as well as  a studio recording, but all played live, that’s something I’d really like to do. It takes a lot of time and over dubs to get the sounds I want to get sometimes, if I could get all these people on the floor, I could just write this stuff and then conduct it, that would be great, and if it worked, I could take it out on the road, a psychedelic orchestra, that would be insane!! The other thing is I’d like to record a really mellow album with pretty music on it, that doesn’t say Monster Magnet on it, so no one gets pissed off! Call it something else, and I keep threatening to do that but all the mellow stuff keeps showing up on the Monster Magnet records!! I think maybe I’ll take a turn and work with a piano player, and create songs from the piano!! It will definitely say this is not Monster Magnet! The other thing I’d like to do is work with a really good girl singer, write some songs for a girl singer, they sing so well, it’s a whole different thing!

Mark: I can imagine all those things working!

Dave: I’m winding them up now, taking care of business, I’m taking care of content and working on stuff to be released while I’m working on other things, and it’s all a matter of getting ahead of the eight ball!
Mark; it’s great you’re out there doing all this stuff and trying other things, because no one knows what’s going on with the industry at the minute!

Dave: I know. I gave up on the industry; I gave up on those guys, actually knowing what they are doing. The only thing I trust anymore is doing cool stuff and putting it out there, and not expecting much, but hoping it survives, and that’s one good thing about the internet. If it’s good it’ll find its way, it may not find its way like a big box office movie premiere, and that’s what the record industry still doesn’t understand, that all these big release days only means something to a small amount of people! Bless their hearts! But, to the real world, the best thing is to find it yourself, because it means more. I’d rather be found whole heartedly, by a smaller group of people, and appreciated like that, than to be somehow hyped in to someone’s attention. I’ve learnt through some bitter tears, that trying to ram something down people’s throats, just doesn’t work!

Mark: No, and it’s an awful position for musicians to be in these days, because it seems like most of your livelihood has been ripped away!

Dave: It totally sucks!! There’s no way to help pay for what you do, you don’t get paid for what you do, it’s totally free!! Fuck you, that’s what that says!! Free is great, and appreciated, but it is never respected! Nobody respects free things, and that’s a huge blow to artist’s egos, and I would expect less and less cool stuff for a while, because why should they bother? Life is tough enough, and sometime twenty years from now, it’ll get really, really good, because people’s expectations will all fall away, and hopefully true artists will rise up, that’s the way I see it anyway!

Mark: It’s good that you’ve got such a positive take because for a lot of people out there, it’s hard to see a way back.

Dave: It’s a bummer! There’s a way back, but it’s not going to lead you back to where you think you’re going to be lead to.

Mark: My fear is that the way back is all going to be technology based, it’s going to be about tracking files, and better encoding and things like that, and the problem is that’s going to be owned by someone, and that’s where I see the big labels and the big players stepping in again.

Dave: I don’t know if that’s going to work, even if these guys make the big push, and say we own everything now, you’re going to have to pay for it again, I think that’s over, I think it will be a huge disaster. I don’t think people are going to care; they’ve got enough out there for free to deal with them. Obviously for the mass audience it’s not a matter of quality, I mean the stuff that passes for Rock, come on you got to be kidding me!!! If those guys do that, I think it will pertain to the top artists only, and not the ones below there. It already happened with the whole “pop” thing, they tried to control all their stuff, the Taylor Swift thing, all those guys can do what they want to do, the rest of us though, and the people who are skirting in and out of obscurity, who are doing their art mainly because they love it, but they want to make money too, their bad guy people are going to be things like Spotify, who famously don’t pay, say that they pay, but don’t!

Mark: Anyway, Dave we’ll have to leave it there. Did you want to leave any message for your fans down under?

Dave: Just last year was so fucking awesome, I love coming to Australia so much, I really do, and you guys have a whole thing going on down there that we don’t have here. Looking at the radio, what’s going on down there, you mother fuckers should fight for your right to party!! Because people are trying to take over some shit down there, there’s some badness going on with the music industry, you smell it right?? It’s not good!! And for a country that’s responsible for some great rock and roll music, it’s like don’t give up!!

Mark: We won’t!! Thanks, Dave, it’s always a pleasure to speak to you, and we hope to see you back down here again soon. Take care, mate.

Dave: You too, brother, bye.


Dave spoke to Mark Diggins in November 2014





Interested in an interview for your band? e-mail prefers to interview live or via skype or phone but will consider e-mail interviews