07-25 Monster Magnet's Mastermind re
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Retro-rock visionaries Monster Magnet spent much of the 1990s struggling against the prejudices imposed uponimageandsound byalternative rockfashion nazis. In fact, it wasn't until that movement's late-'90s decline that theband'sdoggedpersistence finally paid off,when their fourth album,Powertrip, catapulted to gold sales status on the strengthof itsmassivehard rock hit, "Space Lord." In themeantime, Monster Magnet had managed tobecome one of the mostsuccessfulandinfluential bands associated with the so-calledunderground "stoner rock" scene. And yet ...read more
Retro-rock visionaries Monster Magnet spent much of the 1990s struggling against the prejudices imposed uponimageandsound byalternative rockfashion nazis. In fact, it wasn't until that movement's late-'90s decline that theband'sdoggedpersistence finally paid off,when their fourth album,Powertrip, catapulted to gold sales status on the strengthof itsmassivehard rock hit, "Space Lord." In themeantime, Monster Magnet had managed tobecome one of the mostsuccessfulandinfluential bands associated with the so-calledunderground "stoner rock" scene. And yet, their influencesspanmuchfurtherthan that scene's foundations in '70s hard rock and metal,delving into space rock, psychedelia, and beyond.
New Jersey native Dave Wyndorf was already a rock & roll veteran by the time he formed Monster Magnet in 1989,havingcuthis teeth withlittle-knownpunk band Shrapnel (also featuring future punk producer Daniel Rey on guitars) in thelate'70sbefore retiring from musicaltogether. But, after teachinghimself guitar, Wyndorf began assembling Monster Magnetwithahandful of fellow New Jersey natives,vocalist Tim Cronin, guitarist John McBain, bassistJoe Callandra, anddrummerJonKleiman. Fusing their metal, punk, space rock, andpsychedelic influences, the band developed a sludgy, feedback-heavyhardrock sound that helped them stand out from the era's burgeoningretro-rock movement -- also counting theBlackCrowes,White Zombie, andmany others. After releasing a self-titled six-song EP throughGermany's GlitterhouseRecords,Wyndorfassumed all vocal responsibilities, while Croninretreated to a behind the scenes "conceptualconsultant"position --much likethat of John Sinclair for the MC5.
In the meantime, Monster Magnet had signed with independent label Caroline Records in 1992, and recorded their first full-length album:the veryimpressive, uniquely dark psychedelic masterpiece Spine of God. The productive sessions alsoyieldedanumber of extensivespace rock jams that wouldlater be issued as the Tab album in 1993. A video for firstsingle"Medicine"and a support tour with the fast-rising Soundgarden also helped attractpowerhouse A&M Records, but evenasthey preparedto sign with the label, Wyndorf had a seriousfalling-out with guitarist McBain, who was soonreplaced byEdMundell. Despitethe last-minute change, 1993's Superjudge proved to be astellar major-label debut -- although it did seethebandsacrificingsome of their rampant feedback in exchange for more clearly defined,muscular metal riffs. Unfortunately,thegroup's retro-rock image hadbecome highly unfashionable at the time, arriving at the height of thepost-Nirvanaalternativeboom, and thealbum sold poorly. Under mountingpressure to deliver a more commercial follow-up, MonsterMagnetdelivered adecidedlysleeker -- though no less space rock-drenched -- effort in 1995'sDopes to Infinity. This yielded a TopTenrocksingle in"Negasonic Teenage Warhead" and was supported by extensive touring with C.O.C., among others,but thealbumsoldonlyslightly better than its predecessor.
Finding himself mentally and physically exhausted in the aftermath, Wyndorf exiled himself to Las Vegas to begincomposingthetracks thatwould shape1998's breakthrough release, Powertrip. By far the group's most straightforward hardrockalbum,Powertrip channeled all of SinCity's vice, greed, andsex into its hedonistic but surprisingly accessible tracks, andfirstsingle"Space Lord" went on to dominate rockradio that summer, driving the albumover the gold sales plateau. Withnewrhythmguitarist Phil Caivano in tow, Monster Magnet thenembarked on a marathon two-year world tour, both asaheadlinerand assupport to the likes of Aerosmith, Metallica, and Megadeth. By theyear 2000, the band had contributed thetrack"SilverFuture" to theHeavy Metal 2000 soundtrack and completed work on their fifth album,God Says No, released inEuropeinOctober. But their new American record label,Interscope (which had swallowed A&M in a hostiletakeover theyearbefore)inexplicably fussed and messed with the album before finally releasing itdomestically in April 2001.Preciousmomentumandsales were therefore lost to an influx of import copies of God Says No -- according to mostseasonedfans,alreadya"difficult," overtly commercial album to begin with -- and Monster Magnet soon found themselves rudelydropped.
Following this unforeseen setback, Wyndorf watched as various bandmembers pursued side projects. Ed Mundellrecordedanumber of well-receivedalbums with his power trio the Atomic Bitchwax, while Tim Cronin and Jon Kleimancollaborated ontheRibeye Brothers and Galleryof Mites. But, MonsterMagnet duly reunited for a short North American tour inearly 2002 and,ayear later, a new deal with the German SPVlabel was announced. Recorded inlate 2003, the group's sixthfull-lengthalbum,2004's Monolithic Baby!, would be recorded with a newrhythm section, these being bassist Jim BaglinoanddrummerBobPantella. In 2005, Phil Caivano left the band amicably, and the rest of thegroup started recording in L.A. withproducerMattHyde.Reissues of Tab and Spine of God were released in the meantime, along with a 20thCentury Masters --MillenniumCollection disc of their greatest hits.In November 2007, after a European tour, 4-Way Diablo was released.In2009MonsterMagnet signed with metal label Napalm Records, and the nextyear released their eighth album, Mastermind. « hide
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