It’s been 10 years since New Jersey-based Monster Magnet toured the U.S. The band best known for its 1998 hit “Space Lord” didn’t break up. It released four albums, including 2013’s psychedelic return-to-form “Last Patrol.” But for a decade, frontman Dave Wyndorf decided to skip the U.S. altogether.
“It was a lousy place to play,” he says. “Nobody cared. Live music has taken a hit. I look at the money and crowds and Europe beats out the States. The States are into what’s happening now and what’s about to happen. That’s accentuated by the digital age.”
Monster Magnet’s current U.S. tour stops at Amos’ Southend Saturday. Why is he back?
“I’m doing it to take a look around. I never thought it would be 10 years,” he says.
Europe is known for its widespread appreciation for live music, from jazz and blues to heavy metal. Little-known artists can do well there, while averaging a crowd of 30 in their hometowns. Wyndorf suggests that it’s partly the route entertainment has taken that’s hurt live music across the U.S.
“Everybody was taught the thing to emulate (was) the guy on TV, on records, in movies,” he says. “Those are the people you love. In the last 15 years, we’ve all been given the opportunity to be that person with Facebook and YouTube. Americans have taken to that. It’s not that they don’t want entertainment. They don’t want to work too hard for it.”
During Monster Magnet’s nearly 25-year run, Wyndorf has also watched independent venues struggle in the U.S. while thriving overseas.
“The only place you can get quality in clubs is corporate places like B.B. King’s and House of Blues,” he says. “Mom-and-pop clubs are getting killed. Mom-and-pop clubs were the thing that invented the rock-and-roll scene; when the ’60s came into full bloom, people started opening old theaters.”
Things changed with the homogenization of radio and chain clubs, he says.
“There’s a flat-lining of almost all entertainment that leaves out mom-and-pop, third-world America. Mom and pop are out there running their rock-and-roll club – ‘Guess we’re not getting a new PA.’ They bring a DJ in. What are you going to do when you’re competing against 68-inch flat-screen TVs? (People are) getting all that rock stuff in other places, and the place you’re supposed to get it is underfunded and dying.”
The reinvigorated mix of classic hard-rock hooks and psychedelic stoner metal on “Last Patrol” was actually inspired by the reception Monster Magnet received playing 1992’s “Spine of God” and 1995’s “Dopes to Infinity” live.
“It certainly reinforced my desire to do another psychedelic, moody record,” he says. “To see all these happy people come see these records played live that didn’t have any mosh prompts – I’d call them concert killers. They were real musical experiences. We’re here to listen and watch this. We’re not just here for you to prompt us to rock.
“They backed it and I was so happy. It reinforced the creation of ‘Last Patrol.’ Somebody out there wants this stuff. I know we’re a loud band and they market us in metal. But I can’t just sit there and play to whatever kind of expectations anyone would have at this point. It was really liberating.”
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