I’ve never met anyone who loves Monster Magnet like I do. Or if they did, it never came up. Perhaps there is a legion of magneteers who have passed through my life, hiding in plain sight, quietly jamming to Spine Of God whenever my back was turned, hitting the pause button on Superjudge just before I turned the corner. Maybe I have friends who have their own copy of 4-Way Diablo sitting on their dresser, so it’s there for when they just want to rock out.
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not listening to bitchin’ rock music.
But even so, even if tomorrow I woke up and realized every One Direction fan had just been using the bandname as a codename for Monster Magnet (this world makes much more sense) and Justin Bieber pulled off a mask to reveal he was David Wyndort all along (this one doesn’t), I like to think the band would still mean something just a little more to me. For me Monster Magnet don’t just play rock and roll. They are rock and roll. The apex, the zenith, the stoner-ass platonic ideal of what pure rock and roll should sound like, which is something of an oddity considering the transformation the band’s sound has made over the years. From their start as a true Stoner rock band, with all the psychedelia and hypnotic laid-back riffs required, they evolved through a more straightforward catchy rock phase, gracing MTV for a time before completing another transmutation into a sort of elemental hard rock, letting the fuzzy riffs and Wyndorf’s voice take over the heavy lifting. But every phase in the band’s journey felt right. Somehow through all those shifts they maintained at least the illusion of integrity, of being exactly where they wanted to be musically at the time. This is easy when you’re playing stoner-rock that 99% of the population would never listen to anyway, but when you’re playing just the tip with radio rock my bullshit detector should be kicking in hard.
I don’t know what it is that made the individual pieces feel authentic to me, but there is one clue that suggests my bullshit detector is in working order. And that’s the constancy of Wyndorf’s approach to writing lyrics. Monster Magnet has always felt like an outlet for sadness and anger, a science experiment in music used as a middle finger. While this by no means encompasses all of the band’s output, it is a recurring theme throughout their entire career. The effect of this is that most albums have “the sad song” and the “fuck you song”, musical markers that let you know just who you’re listening to with their unique sound and Wyndorf’s trademark vocal style. Wyndorf has a certain way of writing that makes these songs, for all their uniqueness, feel cut from the same cloth, different scraps of the same man’s heart. In a similar way, little nuances and musical tics identify the band regardless of which age of Monster Magnet you happen to be listening to. They were never imitating. They were doing things their own way, the Monster Magnet way, and it was a damn fine way to get them done. It always amazes me that the band aren’t bigger than what they are. It feels like somewhere, something in the world has messed up. The gears of the music industry jerked at the wrong time and left one of the world’s most fun rock bands fall off the rails before they could be delivered to the appropriate level of stardom. Or maybe I’m just delusional. Still, if my delusions make music feel this good, I’ll gladly hold onto them. A select couple of songs are embedded below as a starting point if you care to explore the curious case of the platinum rockband that never was. You can find Monster Magnet on iTunes here.