by Richard Duran
for Freak Shop USA
Earlier this year, I received an email from John McBain, original guitarist for Monster Magnet. Almost immediately, I took it upon myself to ask him if he would mind answering a “few” questions. This turned into a several weeks of exchanges, which I’ve collected and re-organized to flow somewhat naturally. I would like to thank him for taking the time to answer these questions. Hopefully, this will provide some insight into the early days of Monster Magnet.
RD: Did it all begin w/ Dog of Mystery?
JMB: It began with Pinque Phloid. I was in an arty band, Existential Moped, with my friend, Tom Diello. He knew Tim. They met at the record store that Tim managed. Tim joined our band pretty quickly. I think we lied to the other guys in the band to get him in. He couldn’t play any instruments so he played guitar. Being a guitar player in an art rock band is easy. Lots of delay and feedback. Aside from that he loved Black Flag and Flipper.
Tim and I agreed that our band sucked so we began 4 tracking with Tom on the side.
We recorded our lone tape at Tom’s grandfathers house. Smelled like old people.
Along the way Tim and I agreed that our new band sucked as well. We ditched Tom and became Dog of Mystery.
What year was this, ’86-’87?
What do you recall about Acid Reich, Triple Bad Acid, etc.?
Acid Reich was a Cool Beans Records supergroup. A parade of weirdos. It was Dog of Mystery (me on bass, Dave on guitar, Tim on drums) Joe HellSausage on additional drums, Shaune Kelly (sp?), the guitarist for Ripping Corpse, on guitar and Tim sang as well. From the drumset. We sounded like Amon Duul with Uli Jon Roth sitting in. I recorded a great rehearsal and 4 tracked four or five tunes. I don’t know what became of the cassettes. Probably erased or taped over with some Hollies songs.
Triple Bad Acid was Tim on drums, me on guitar and our friend Greg Chapman on mini moog. I have no idea what it sounded like.
I do have my favorite Dog of Mystery tape, Ant & Bee. I drummed while Tim played a Danelectro guitar through an Orange amp with a Big Muff. We did a few covers including Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother and the Kinks song, I Need You. Most of it was made up on the spot from a suggested title. We were incredibly heavy and slow.
I recently got a package of CDR’s from Jon Kleiman. He sent me the complete Dog of Mystery and Chigger. Here’s what I can tell you about Chigger; The line up was;
- Carney Blackworth (Dave) on vocals.
- Al DiAngelis (Tim) on guitar
- Lenny Allomonar (Jon) on bass
- Sven Draag (me) on drums.
We recorded it in Dave’s basement in the sometime in 1990.
- AMC Man Parts 1 and 2
- Bowl Of Cereal
- Attention Attention
- Hey, Lil’ Doggie
- Retard Song
- I Love You All
Sounds like early St. Vitus fronted by a kid with Downs Syndrome.
Jon also sent the rarest Magnet related recording of them all; Happy
Talk. This was me on guitar, Dave on guitar, Tim on drums and me again on
We did sixties covers. It was recorded just prior to the Circuit single
recordings. Too many songs to list.
A while back I ran across a 7″ on Ebay by a band called Ghost Rider that supposedly has some MM connection (more like a side-project). Is that anything you are familiar with?
Never heard of them.
What were you calling yourselves when you recorded Needlefreak and The Revenge of Tim Boo Bah?
Both were Airport 75 songs. It was Dave on guitar, Tim on drums and me on bass and guitar.
Was Blanket of Moo an early version of Tab, or a completely different song?
Blanket of Moo was very similar to Tab. One riff ad infinitum.
Did Acid Reich come before or after Airport 75?
Acid Reich came after Airport 75.
Did you all do much recording as Airport 75? Besides Needlefreak, Tim Boo Bah, and some early version(s) of Tab, I know you did Cryan Shame. Is there some vast archive of unmined material? Were these recording made over the period of a few days/weeks/months?
Vast archive is correct. To my knowledge we filled close to 100 cassettes. Before I left New Jersey I gave a huge chunk of them to Greg Chapman for safe keeping. The rest are with me. We recorded every time we got together (three times a week). 99% of the music has never been heard. The songs that have been heard are available only because I made a comp tape for someone and he turned around and bootlegged it. I’m still pissed about the whole thing. I’m considering gathering up all of the remaining tapes and burning every one of them.
What pissed you off about the release of Airport recordings? Is it because:
- it was done without even asking anyone?
- the quality is poorer than it would’ve been from the masters?
- those tapes were never meant to see she light of day?
All of the above. The person in question picked apart my comp tape and even re-titled some of the songs. I gave him the tape because he said he wanted to hear them and have a copy for his personal collection. I trusted him and got screwed. Oh well, live and learn.
It’d be a shame to have that stuff lost forever. Maybe you could arrange w/ Don @ Nodzine to make a “best of” available via streaming audio. I’m sure there’s more than a handful of people that would love to hear that stuff.
I would have to get the approval of Tim and Dave on that but even if they gave me the green light I still don’t think I would feel right about releasing them. Nobody needs to hear a 20 minute demo of Black Mastermind or hours of rehearsals and board tapes. More specifically, I don’t want to hear them. That stuff is part of my past and I’d rather leave them unreleased.
Was Forget About Life recorded before or after the Jane’s Addiction show?
It was recorded after the Janes show.
Were you still using the name Dog of Mystery?
What songs/tapes were recorded as a three-piece, and what songs (if any) were re-recorded for “legitimate” release on Circuit, Primo Scree, and Glitterhouse?
The first demo tape (Tab, Black WaWa, Brainstorm etc.) was a three piece. We recorded it in Dave’s basement on my 4 track. We eventually re-recorded Tab for Glitterhouse. The Circuit single was 4 track as well. That was also re-recorded for Glitterhouse as well as Murder, Snake Dance, Tractor and Nod Scene.
Do you mean the Circuit single was taken straight from the demo?
Yes. We recorded it in Dave and Tim’s basement, I took the tape home and mixed it and the results are what you hear on the 45. We never thought of anything that we recorded as a “demo”. Demos are for “professional” musicians. We were by no means professional.
As I understand it, the band released the first tape twice, the second time w/ Freak Shop USA and a different cover. I saw a copy of the second release listed on eBay, and printed on the insert is “recorded 10/89 at dimebag studio red bank”. Was the whole thing recorded in October, or just Freak Shop?
We only released the first tape once. Without Freak Shop USA. The second release is a mystery to me. Freak Shop was recorded after the first tape.
If the tape was recorded in Oct ’89, how much time passed before it became an “official” Cool Beans release and the stores you and Tim worked at carried it? Days? Weeks? Months?
Months after. Initially we handed it out to friends.
When did the band record the 2nd tape?
We recorded the second about eight months prior to re-recording them for Spine Of God. We did it on my four track at Dave and Tims house. We set up in a semi circle and tracked it live (two guitars, bass and drums). I took the tape home and mixed it down to two tracks and gave the mix to Dave for vocal overdubs. The track listed as “Raga” was actually called “Headshoppe in The Fourth Dimension” but for some reason I didn’t list it as that.
Did you guys get the mandalas used on the cover from an actual blotter?
The blotter design came from a book belonging to Tim that showed the history of acid design. The photo came from a Time Life book on the sixties.
Were you already signed to Glitterhouse?
Which was recorded first: the 2nd tape or the E.P.?
The second tape came first.
I’m guessing that the band got the Glitterhouse deal based on either the first tape or the Circuit single. Then you all recorded the 2nd tape for yourselves before you actually went into a studio to record them for the Glitterhouse E.P. If this is the right order, then you already had Ozium, but didn’t want to include it in the E.P.?
Correct. The Glitterhouse deal was sealed with the Circuit single. We then recorded the second demo and decided, along the way, that Ozium didn’t quite fit.
Did you shop that tape around to the labels (including Primo Scree/Caroline)?
No. It was made strictly for the band. I don’t recall how The Ugly American got involved. As I see it, it’s far superior to anything we ever did. I love how raw and grating it is.
Why do you mention Ugly American? Were they behind the whole Cool Beans thing?
I mentioned it for several reasons. Greg Chapman was way ahead of the game. He could sniff out a faker a mile away. He was the first person to notice Dog Of Mystery and, later on, Monster Magnet. He was there from the beginning. We trusted Greg to get the word out on what we were up to and he did. He also completely understood Tab. It was a song about nothing and going nowhere. He got it right away.
But to answer your question, Tim Cronin was the brains behind Cool Beans. He was putting out tapes before I even met him. Tim is very “forward thinking”. And a brilliant guitarist.
Did the Murder/Tractor single come out after the band had signed w/Glitterhouse?
Did it come out before or after the E.P.?
It came after the E.P.
Were those songs taken from the same sessions that produced the E.P.?
Yep. Same sessions.
Was there some reason Primo didn’t pick up US distribution on the E.P.?
Yes. Ignorance on their part.
Do you know about how many copies of the first two singles were printed/released?
I think that they pressed 1000 Circuit singles and 1500 Primo Scree singles. That included the colored vinyl. I think that Tim still has a box or two of the Circuit singles. I gave all of mine away. I don’t own any Monster Magnet records.
Where does the Endangered Species compilation fit in to all this?
Shit, I don’t know about that one. I believe that it came before the Primo Scree single.
How would you rate it, as a compilation?
You know what? I never heard any of it. I played our song once and filed it away. Eventually I gave it to a friend along with a Freak Shop USA acetate and some other assorted junk.
Do you recall when the EP tracks were recorded?
Middle of June 1990 in Red Bank at the recording studio/loft of Chris McKenna, a friend and one time drummer for Existential Moped. He was great to work with. His Tom Sholtz loving assistant walked out during the first day. He couldn’t stomach our music and quit after we recorded the basic tracks. A fitting beginning for Magnet, don’t you think?
I finally acquired a copy of Union Carbide’s first album. When I first heard it, it reminded me of the Glitterhouse E.P. When I finally got to the end, I heard what could be an alternate version of Tab (right down to the singer’s rant)! Did the two bands just happen to be doing the same thing at the same time?
I think that it was a case of two bands on opposite sides of the globe with similar ideas. The only clear cut difference being that UCP were more influenced by “Raw Power” while we opted for the first Stooges album.
How did Tab evolve? In an old interview you did in Ugly American, you say it’s really an Airport 75 song. Is that where it started?
It started with Airport 75. The 75 version is far superior. I have no idea how it evolved other than it was a good way to pad our set. We didn’t have many songs.
When you finally recorded Tab for Glitterhouse, what kind of gear were you and Dave using?
My gear was the same gear that I used throughout Magnet, a Squier Strat, Big Muff, Vox wah wah and a Fender Bassman amp. Dave was using a solid state Ampeg combo, his nameless red guitar, an Ibanez Sonic Distortion pedal (the secret weapon of early MM. We used it on everything including vocals) and his beloved Echoplex. Tim beat the living hell out of floor toms and industrial sized cookware which he referred to as “gig pots”.
What was used for that “flying saucer/laser” sound I hear on Tab? Is that the Echoplex?
Echoplex is correct. We also used a digital delay pedal and an old flanger. Those pedals are all over the Tab e.p.
Was Tim no longer part of the band, in a manner of speaking, when you recorded Tab?
Hell no. He played drums on Tab.
The set up for recording Tab demanded Tim. We set up in the studio. Tim and Joe played drums. I played bass. Dave played guitar. I think that Jon sat out. We taped Dave’s watch to a pillar in the center of the room and agreed that we would change keys every 8 minutes. Listen and you can hear me fuck up completely at the 16 minute mark. I was too stoned to pay attention. As I see it, Tim was and still is the essence of Monster Magnet. Without him we would have failed completely. His admitted limitations kept us raw and psychedelic. When he left the band I started to lose interest.
Was the Tab E.P. recorded as MM25? I thought maybe that was some kinda typo…
It’s true. We were officially known as MM25 but no one seemed to care. We thought that we could create our own side project.
I read somewhere that you were going to record a Tull cover until you found out that the Screaming Trees beat you guys to it. Is that true?
Yep. Beat us to it. Oddly enough, I wanted to cover “Tin Soldier” by The Small Faces with WWC but once again I found out that The Trees had already done it.
What song were you going to cover, and where would it have appeared?
“New Day Yesterday” from the album, Stand Up. You should pick up a copy of this one. Great guitar rock record.
We wanted to record a cover song. We did it at about the same time as the Grand Funk track. Grand Funk won. We never finished the Tull song. But it’s still on tape somewhere.
Were there really only 666 copies of the It’s A Satanic Drug Thing….You Wouldn’t Understand double-EP released?
I’ve never heard of that record. What songs are on it?
It was released by Glitterhouse. It just has the first EP and Tab in a plain black sleeve with a sticker stating that it was a limited edition of only 666 copies.
How come I never got one? Fucking Germans.
Speaking of…do these German release dates (according to www.amazon.de)
- Monster Magnet (S/T); Nov 9, 1990
- Tab; Oct 4, 1991
- Spine of God; Dec 9, 1991
They sound pretty accurate.
Was Spine of God released simultaneously in Germany and the US?
It was initially released on Primo Scree in the US. After some time it was then released in Germany.
From the liner notes, most fans know that the Spine of God LP was recorded w/ Stacey Phelon at Subterranean Sound. What about Tab?
Tab was also recorded at Stacey’s.
Do you recall what time of year Tab and Spine were recorded?
No clue. I do know that “Sins A Good Man’s Brother” was recorded at around 11 a.m. on a Sunday. Dave went out for coffee and doughnuts while Jon, Joe and myself tracked the basics. “Ozium” was recorded after breakfast. I’ve never been satisfied with the Spine version of Ozium. Too thought out. Believe it or not we even tried to record to a friggin click track. Complete waste of time. The demo is far superior.
What’s a “click track”?
A click track is a metronome beat, usually from a drum machine, that bands will record with in a attempt to keep the beat and “time” steady. 99% of the music that you hear on the radio is recorded with one. Example; Korn: click track. Mudhoney: no click track. Click tracks have a tendency to make music lifeless and stale. Music should “breathe”. Perfect time is not necessary in rock and roll. Emotion is. The natural speeding up and slowing down of music reminds the listener that what they are listening to was created by human beings as opposed to machines.
How did Black Mastermind evolve? Personally, I could listen to an endless version of the jam that makes up most of that song…
That was one of the first songs that I wrote with the Jon/Joe lineup. Tim was the original singer. Completely different lyrics. I have a four track demo of Tim’s version that might see the light of day in the future. The concept was simple; verse, big riff, chorus….long space jam. Dave and I always wrote jams into just about everything.
You might figure out where I’m going with this: Recently, while I was watching a biography on the Manson Family, I saw the name of a location that struck me as familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Later in the week, I was reaching for my copy of Spine of God when it hit me….THAT’s where I’ve seen that name before. Of course, the name is Spahn Ranch. Was there really a Spahn Ranch Studios?
No. It just fit the theme of the album. It was Stacey Phelon’s studio.
After seeing that biography, I immediately made my own connection that the lyrics to Murder were very much influenced by events associated with the Family.
Good investigating. You’re absolutely correct on that one. The common thread on Spine Of God was “bad hippie” behavior.
Did you gig much as Dog of Mystery before the Jane’s Addiction show? How about Acid Reich?
We played at least twice a month as Dog Of Mystery. Acid Reich never made it past two rehearsals and one recording session.
Twice a month?!? Really? How long were you all under that name (before Airport as well as after)? I’m kinda surprised that you gigged more as Airport than you did as MM.
Yeah. Once or twice a month for close to a year. We were DOM for over two years. We played the Brighton an awful lot and a few shows at the Red Bank Cultural Center with The Watchchildren (Jon Kleimans old band). We also played with another local band, God Kicks You, at the same place. I also recall shows that we did with DitchWitch and a Led Zep cover band, local bands Lost In Agression, The Straight Satans, Laughing Soupdish, Hell Sausage and The Skeletones.
What songs did the band play at the Jane’s Addiction show in Trenton? I’ve seen listings like “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, “Black Juju”, and “Lizard Johnny”. However, in an interview you did w/ Dave (back in ’91-’92), you are quoted as saying that the band played Grand Funk’s ‘Paranoid’ and a bunch of noise over a 40-minute period. Now, according to Greg, the band played ‘Tab’, so I guess that could be the noise you are referring to, but I’d like to know for sure.
We did Paranoid, Set The Controls and Tab. Greg was correct. Tab was the noise portion. After the show the soundman referred to us as “Drug Rock”. Thats where we got the moniker.
I’ve read elsewhere that Dog of Mystery changed to Airport 75, and then briefly back to Dog of Mystery before going with Monster Magnet. Would the Jane’s show have been during DOMs 2nd incarnation?
To be honest, my recollections of that show are hazy but I do recall two things about it. One, we were most definitely Dog Of Mystery and two, I remember watching Janes from the backstage area and making rude heroin jokes about them, hoping that they would hear us. They were a bunch of LA junkie poseurs and we just couldn’t keep our traps shut. I’m sure that they heard some of our wisecracks because they never said a word to any of us afterwards.
Did the band play the Jane’s Addiction show as Dog of Mystery, Airport 75 or Monster Magnet? Were Joe & Jon part of the band before the name change to Monster Magnet?
As I recall we played our Janes Addiction show as Dog of Mystery. After the show Dave, Tim and I decided to change it to Monster Magnet. Joe was a part of Dog of Mystery towards the end but Jon was not. Airport 75 was strictly a three-piece affair.
Was Joe part of the live band for the Jane’s show?
No. Jim Norton was our bass player.
Where was Monster Magnet’s first gig? Were Joe & Jon part of the band for that show?
The Brighton. Yes. I have a video of that show.
Our set was;
- Snake Dance
- Lizard Johnny
- Freak Shop USA
- Nod Scene
- I Want You (Troggs cover as done by MC5)
Did Dave ever handle all of the vocals to Lizard Johnny live?
Tim always sang the verses and Dave took the choruses. After Tim left we dropped it from the set.
Since the Jane’s show took place in Feb ’89, I figure that there was about an eight-month period between that show and the recording of the first tape. What would have been going on with the band at that time?
Local shows (Brighton, etc.), sitting around watching television, hanging out at Tim and Dave’s house listening to records with the liquid light show going (no, really). Mostly just writing songs in the basement and working at our respective jobs.
Do you mean that Dog of Mystery existed after the Jane’s show? I’d been assuming that this was the last DOM show thinking that right after this show the three of you decided to change the name to Monster Magnet…
Thats true, but…… We did change the name but the lineup was essentially the same so “technically” we were still Dog Of Mystery. In fact, I’m sure that we did some more shows as DOM. Why? I don’t know.
Okay, I think I’ve answered my question, you had previously mentioned that the 1st tape was recorded while you all were still using the name Dog of Mystery. Would it be safe to guess that the name had been changed to MM by the time you started printing the cassette inserts?
If the tape was recorded in October, and according to a flyer, there was a Monster Magnet gig at Murphy’s Law right before Thanksgiving. Then I guess the first MM gig would have taken place sometime in Oct/Nov. Does that sound right?
Yeah, that sounds about right.
If that is correct, did the band come up with Snake Dance, Nod Scene, and Murder right after the tape was completed?
Yes. Dave came up with Murder and Snake Dance and I belched up Nod Scene.
Since you came up w/ Nod Scene I guess I’ll ask you: what are “’70s nipples”?
I just wrote the music. But the 70s nipples line refers to a shared belief with Dave, Tim and I that women were built differently in the seventies. (pre-fitness craze). We also noticed that for some strange reason women’s nipples were larger. Why? I don’t know.
What’s the line about a hump train?
The line is “rider number one on the hump train.”
On Spine of God, who is “a withered old hag”?
Sadie Atkins of Charles Manson family fame.
If you have seen my list of shows from those days, you can tell that I only have eighteen shows listed from ’89-’91. That averages to 6 shows a year. Am I missing a bunch, or did the band rarely play? I realize that bands that play mostly original material don’t play nearly as often as cover bands, but I’d just like to know for sure (or as close to “for sure” as possible).
You’re probably right. We rarely played because nobody wanted to book us.
Did the infamous “dosing” incident really take place?
Oh it happened. Absolutely. It took place at a Monster Magnet/Ripping Corpse show at a topless bar in Jersey. Great idea on paper. Horrific results. One angry kid tried to take on Tim. He ripped off his shirt and started acting like a mental patient. Then he took a couple of swings at him. Jon tried to intervene at one point and ended up with a black eye. Meanwhile Dave and I watched from the bar and patted each other on the back for a job well done. A great moment for all of us.
That’s hilarious, in a demented sort of way. Someone trying to take Tim on, now that’s funny! Was that topless bar the Cafe Bar?
No. The Cafe Bar show was the one where we did the Tab E.P. and I wore a parka with the hood zipped and fully extended. A parka? Simple explanation. Drug paranoia.
The only information I have on shows MM did w/ Ripping Corpse is from Greg’s memories: he said the two bands did 2 shows on the same unknown day in 1991, with RC playing first during the earlier show at the aforementioned Cafe Bar and MM playing first during the later show at the Brighton.
The dosing incident most definitely took place at a topless bar. If this helps, we also played with a Black Sabbath cover band. Drugs tend to gather up memories into one big knot much like a tangle of guitar cables. I wish I could give you more details.
Do you happen to recall the name of that topless bar?
Did MM play other shows with Ripping Corpse?
No. Just those three.
Do you have any recollection of the set you all played at the topless bar, or what year that gig was?
Most likely the same set that we played at the first Brighton gig. We played that show sometime in 1991.
I ran across a flyer Greg had sent me promoting a MM/Straight Satans gig at the Green Parrot on Feb 28th. Any idea what year this might be? In 1990, 2/28 falls on a Wednesday, in ’91 its on a Thursday, and in ’92 it’s on a Friday…
That show was in 1991 so Thursday would be correct.
Do you recall how many times the band played at the Green Parrot?
I’m not sure. Maybe twice.
I have a flyer for a Brighton gig w/ MM, King Carcass, Catharsis, and Sssssssssssssss. Was that last one really a band? Reminds me of that old “horror” movie….
Yes. Real band name. Did we really play this show? I don’t remember a thing about this one. (surprise surprise…)
The flyer says the show is “tonight”. I’ve read bio’s on the band saying that you all used to make flyers for imaginary shows…maybe this is one of them?
No. This was an actual show. Our fake shows were much more creative. For example; Friday May 27th at The Brighton Bar….Monster Magnet, Whoa Nellie and Satan’s Secretary…Admission $5.
Do you remember Tim’s last show as vocalist? Dave’s first?
No. The transition was very gradual. Tim sang less and less as we went on. He sang up until Spine of God was released.
That first show after the release of Spine of God at Maxwell’s was the first time Tim didn’t sing? Did you all open for the Jesus Lizard that night? Speaking of TJL, did they open for you guys as the Fast Lane 12 months earlier, along w/ Breadwinner, Freak Theatre, and Loose?
I believe so. He was doing our lightshow at that point. But I may be completely wrong. Only he would know for sure.
I don’t think that we opened for Jesus Lizard on that night but we did share a bill with them at that Fast Lane show. I vividly recall that night because I had borrowed Greg Chapman’s Echoplex. At some point during the evening (after we played) I realized that it had been stolen. I deduced that it was The Jesus Fucking Lizard that grabbed it. Bastards.
I noticed that you didn’t ask about the 1991 show at the Fastlane when we conned them into including us on a Grateful Dead tribute night. I dropped acid. Big mistake. Jon dropped as well. Big mistake. The crowd hated us. I forgot most of the songs when we hit the stage so I played solos for the entire set. What a nightmare. When we got off the stage Dave came up to me and told me that I never stopped playing for 45 minutes. Even between songs.
That story is pretty funny. I’d imagine that you have more than a few stories like that! Anyway, I didn’t ask about it because I didn’t know about it. The only reason I asked about the Jesus Lizard shows is because they are listed in a JL web site. So as far as you recall, there was only one show with the JL?
Yeah, just one show. Any more of em and they would have taken everything AND picked my pocket.
Do you recall the other bands on the bill with you at the Maxwell’s gig?
Not sure but most likely The Action Swingers. Or Surgery.
There’s a recording from an early show at the Wetlands, where the band plays Ozium during the encore. Would that have been about the only time you all ever played it live?
Yes. Just that one time.
That same recording has you all playing 25 and Longhair during the encore. That show aside, did the band ever include those songs in its live set?
The Cafe Bar/Brighton show. We did Tab, 25 and Longhair.
Did you all ever play Lord 13 live?
No. Never played it live. In fact, the first time I ever heard it was during the Tab sessions. I overdubbed onto Dave’s four track recording and never played it again.
When did you all start playing Evil live?
At the Wetlands show.
Did the band ever do any shows w/ Helios Creed or L7?
We never played with Helios or L7. We did play with The Lunachicks in NYC.
Was the Lunachicks gig at CBGB’s?
No. It was at The Limelight.
Do you recall the year of the Lunachicks show, and if they or MM opened?
Summer of 1991. We opened.
Here’s the list of NYC shows I have, can you confirm any of them?
Mar 24, 1990 @ CBGB’s – you opened for the Bevis Frond.
This show never happened. We made flyers for it so that might be the reason for the confusion. Bevis Frond couldn’t get in because of visa problems.
Dec 30, 1990 @ CBGB’s – you headlined w/ Surgery, Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, & Sold on Murder. Was this some kind of festival?
No. Just another typical overbooked CBGB’s show.
Feb 02, 1991 @ CBGB’s – don’t know if any other bands played. A recording of this is supposed to exist with the following setlist: Spine of God, Medicine, Murder, Nod Scene, Tractor, Pill Shovel, and Freak Shop USA.
I don’t remember this one.
Oct 31, 1991 @ Beowulf – you headlined w/ Loudhouse, Six Finger Satellite, and Deadspot. This was a CMJ Fest. I got this info from an EC Rocker.
Yeah I remember this one. My amp blew up during soundcheck. I was forced to use a shitty Marshall amp. Horrible show.
Dec 28, 1991 @ The Marquee – you opened for Mudhoney and Surgery
Happened. Great show.
Feb 08, 1992 @ Wetlands – don’t know if any other bands played
American Standard opened up.
May 09, 1992 @ Roseland – Soundgarden tour
Another good show. The live version of Spine of God from the Glitterhouse Elephant Bell/Evil single is from this show.
There’s a video recording of a show at CBGB’s with you all playing the following set: Murder, Lizard Johnny, Nod Scene, Snake Dance, and Tab (for about 10 minutes). I think the band that played after you had a couple of saxophone players plus some guy playing his guitar w/ what looks like a big metal file. Does this jar any memories?
That was our CBGB’s audition night. The sax band was called Borbotemungus or something like that. That would place it sometime in 1990.
About how many bands played CBGB’s the day of your tryout? If more than two, were you on first, next to last, or somewhere in the middle?
At least six bands. We went on pretty late. Somewhere in the middle.
I guess it’s safe to assume that the Bevis Frond show that never happened would’ve taken place after this tryout, right?
Yes, after the initial tryout.
I’d like to start talking about the Euro tour. What kind of tour was that exactly? Did you play with other bands, or was it mostly by yourselves? In an issue of EC Rocker I have, Tim mentions Sister Double Happiness and Prong; did you play one show w/ each of these bands? Who headlined?
On the Euro tour we played one show with Prong in Paris, several with Sister Double Happiness and two with Helmet. Aside from the bad food all that I can remember is that Dave’s voice was shot so we had to do all instrumental shows on more than one occasion. I also did a radio interview with Joe on an Italian station. I’ve got a copy of that. Other that that it was night after night of Drug Rock.
Do you recall playing any dates in Italy?
I recall the Italy show. I can’t remember where it was but I do remember that their p.a. wasn’t grounded so we did an instrumental show.
How about Switzerland?
Zurich. Dave’ voice was shot, so we did another instrumental show. Some Swiss freak came backstage afterwards and presented the band with a shopping bag full of drugs. He tried to explain to us that he had brought a sample of every drug that we had mentioned in our songs. Including whippets. The freak also carted along his bong that came with a gas mask attachment. Don’t ask for details about the show. It should be fairly obvious to you that I couldn’t possibly recall anything.
On the shows w/ Prong, SDH, and Helmet: do you recall whether MM opened or headlined?
We opened for SDH. Great band. Really nice people as well. We played one show with Prong in Paris. We almost didn’t make it to the show because we were stopped at the border and detained for hours while they searched our van for drugs. Luckily our drugs were in our drivers suitcase so the fucking French got nothing. We made it to the show and were informed that we only had 15 minutes to play. So we threw our gear up on stage, played 3 or 4 songs, reminded the French that we saved there asses in WWII and got the hell out of there. Fuck France.
We co-headlined with Helmet on two consecutive nights in Germany. They hated us because we were real and they were jocko homos. They tried to sabotage our gear on one occasion. Fuck Helmet.
As for the Prong/Helmet shows, who was on stage first: you or them?
We opened for Prong. As for Helmet, we opened for them on the first night and they opened for us on the second.
Were the Helmet shows before or after the Prong show?
I’m aware of a show you did with SDH in Amsterdam (the date, which is the 4th of a total of 5 shows done at the end of the tour); do you recall playing your last Euro date(s) with them?
No. The only thing that I can recall from our last night in Europe is this; Jon and I had amassed a large bag of assorted drugs given to us by fans. We, in our infinite stupidity, decided to ingest the entire contents of our stash rather than give it away to some Euro hippie. We got about halfway through it when all of the chemicals hit us like a lightning bolt. Jon fell onto the bed and groaned. I decided that it would be the perfect time to take a shower before heading to the airport. Midway through my shower I got the overwhelming sensation that the bathroom was swaying and buckling. “Wow, awesome. I’m hallucinating. Feels like an earthquake!”
It was. Or was it?
I threw on my clothes and ran into the front room. Jon was pale He thought it was the drugs as well. We smoked some pot and tried to sort it out. Did we imagine it? Should we tell anyone? Should we keep smoking? At this point our methhead road manager ran into our room wearing nothing but a towel and screamed, “Everybody out! Earthquake! Earthquake!”
We tossed the rest of the drugs out the window and headed for the van. My legs felt like they weren’t attached to my body. Jon looked like a melted ice cream cone. End of tour. We could have opened for the fucking corpse of John Lennon on that night and I would still not be able to recall the slightest detail. Sorry.
Man, you guys were nuts! That story could’ve come straight out of ‘Fear and Loathing…’. I guess it was a good thing you all toured Holland at the end and not the beginning. Anyway, I have a bootleg CD that I believe is from the tour you did in Europe. The track list is;
- Snake Dance
- Nod Scene
- Pill Shovel
- Zodiac Lung
- Spine of God
- Freak Shop USA
- Black Mastermind.
Would that have been a typical set list (on the days Dave’s voice wasn’t shot)?
Pretty typical. We also threw in “The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly” by The Music Machine and “You Don’t Know” by The 13th Floor Elevators.
You mentioned doing “all instrumental shows”. Do you mean instrumental versions of the songs on your regular set list, or Tab shows? I’ve heard a tape of one Tab show done two nights before the show in Amsterdam.
Sorta. Dave kept blowing out his voice so we decided to assemble an
instrumental set. The set was;
- 25 (instrumental)
- Black Mastermind
I have a list of dates from this tour. Do you recall having a whole week off? I doubt this, and it’s probably just due to missing information.
We didn’t have a week off. Your missing info assumption is correct.
Do you recall having any days off at all, or was it night after night of Drug Rock?
It seemed continuous. The lack of days off contributed to Dave’s voice problems and my mental train wreck.
Besides the 3 bands you’ve mentioned, did you play with other bands whose names will forever be lost in time, or was it mostly shows where you were the only band?
We always played with other bands. And I have no idea who the bands were or where they came from.
Were you usually opening, headlining, or did your slot always change?
We almost always headlined.
Finally, did you all play any festivals, or was it strictly clubs?
I forgot to ask: Do you recall any other band playing the night of the first gig?
No. I don’t remember who we played with. You have to remember that our first show was in Holland. They build their nightclubs with bricks of hashish. Christ, I sound like a total drug casualty. I’m much better now.
Actually, by “first gig” I was referring to the one at the Brighton.
Oh, the Brighton! We played with a local band, Big Nurse.
For your first gig (at the Brighton) who opened, MM or Big Nurse?
We opened for them.
Cool. Glad to hear you’re “much better now”!
How did you guys end up hooking up with Soundgarden for that tour? Maybe the question should be: How did Soundgarden hear about you guys?
It all started with Ben Shepherd. He picked up Spine of God and played it for his band. They loved it. They asked us. We said yes.
Do you recall the first date of the Soundgarden tour being in Portland, Oregon?
Yep. Can’t recall the name of the venue.
How did the Soundgarden tour start for you guys? Did you fly from Holland to Portland? Did you tour in a rented van?
We sailed from Holland to London. Then we flew from London to Newark Airport. From there we flew to L.A. The last step was picking up our rental van and driving up the coast to Portland.
Do you recall what the setlist for the tour might have been?
Snake Dance, Medicine, Tractor, Nod Scene, Evil, Pill Shovel and Spine of God.
Did Pearl Jam really join the tour for 3 shows in Texas?
Yeah. They pushed back our set. We played at dinner time. Response was minimal.
Did Swervedriver play the whole tour?
Yes. They played the entire US tour.
How many shows did the band do in San Francisco? There are supposed to be two tapes from around the same time: one at the Warfield (presumably from the Soundgarden tour) and another at a club called the DNA Lounge. Does this ring a bell?
I wasn’t part of the DNA Lounge show. We did two nights at the Warfield.
Are you saying that the DNA Lounge show took place, but you weren’t part of it? Or are you saying that you don’t know of any DNA Lounge show?
Sorry bout that, I must have been part of it if it happened but for the life of me I don’t remember it at all.
Were the Warfield gigs on back-to-back nights? That would clear up some confusion, because I’ve seen April 18 listed as a show for you guys, and April 19 as a show for Soundgarden.
Yes, back to back.
I have a list of dates, but I’m certain that there are gaps/errors: Did you all actually get to cross the border into Tijuana, Mexico on the night before the show at the Hollywood Palladium?
Yep. Amazing show. Probably our best ever as a band. Some weasels from A&M were sniffing around backstage. The setlist was the same except for opening with “Murder”.
Cool. “Murder in Mexico”!
After the Hollywood show, I show you having two nights off before the first Pearl Jam show in Austin, TX. I would’ve guessed there was a show in either Vegas, Phoenix, Colorado, or New Mexico before arriving in Austin.
No. We drove straight to Austin after the L.A. show.
After the third (and last) Pearl Jam show in Houston, I show you having one night off before a show in Chicago. Here I would’ve guessed a stop in Oklahoma, Missouri, or even Cincinnati.
No. This was around the time of the L.A. riots. We left L.A. the night before it all started. The violence followed our tour route so we tried not to stop until we reached Chicago.
After a show in Toronto (during which the Rodney King sympathy riots took place), I show you having 3 nights off before a show in Maryland. Here I would’ve guessed a stop in New York (Buffalo or Syracuse), Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh or Harrisburg), or Ohio (Cleveland or Columbus).
I can’t remember where we stopped along the way.
I read an interview w/ Dave from ’93 where he is quoted as saying that some of the guys from Soundgarden jammed w/ you on ‘Tab’ at the Troc in Philly. Is that for real? Did it happen on more than one show? Who from Soundgarden jammed?
Yeah, it’s true. We did it in Philly and Boston. Chris, Matt and Ben joined us on both nights. I bowed out on the Boston show. I had just about had it with music at that point.
At what point in the show did the Tab jam occur? How much of it was it played?
It occurred after Spine of God. It went on for about 15 minutes.
What was your last show w/ Monster Magnet? The last show I have listed for the Soundgarden tour is at the Avalon in Boston…
Boston was my final show.
Of all your gigs, are there any that stand out as your favorites?
Tijuana was a personal favorite along with both nights at The Warfield.
Is there anything out right now that you like? Are you into that Detroit garage scene?
I’m not into any garage scene. My current favorite band is Elope. An awe inspiring Swedish power trio made up of ex-Union Carbide Productions members. Other than that I continue to spend money on sixties and seventies rock. I also like the latest U2 single.
If you could work w/ any group of musicians, who would they be?
Greg Ginn guitar
Nick Mason drums
Chuck Dukowski bass
A re-incarnated Steve Marriot vocals
What are you five all-time favorite records?
in no particular order;
- Stiff Little Fingers Inflammable Material
- Small Faces 1st Immediate LP
- The Who Live At Leeds
- Brian Eno Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy
- Deep Purple In Rock
- The Beach Boys Smile
- The Ronettes 1st LP
- The Yardbirds Roger The Engineer
- Neu! Neu 75
Do you recommend Rhino’s ‘Nuggets’ boxes? I’m sure the first one is great, but I’m more curious about the 2nd.
I would suggest both of them. The first one, the US box, is snottier and more farfisa-ish. The Europe box is way more psychedelic. With both of them you pretty much have got the whole garage/psych scene covered.
Finally, I just want to let you know how much I appreciate the fact that you took the time to provide the answers/anecdotes you given. I’m a total freak for this kind of stuff, and I’m sure there’s other fans that will get a kick out of it.
©2001 by Richard Duran