October 2001 - BITCHWAX
After the brilliant second BITCHWAX album "II", that has been released last year, I took the chance to contact Ed Mundell for this interview. The circumstances weren't the best, because he's also very busy with Monster Magnet. But after some months he had found the time to answer our questions about the last album, his passion for playin' guitar, Monster Magnet and much more. Check out this interview with this very friendly guitar-wizard! At least, a huge thank you goes out to Heike Boeck for inspirations and some of the questions.
Hello Ed! At first, congratulations for the last ATOMIC BITCHWAX album. I think, that the whole band has progressed in songwriting when I compare it with the debut. Can you agree?
Hello... I'm glad you like the new Bitchwax record, I think it came out ok...A lot of the tunes like "Ice Pick Freak" we have been playing for years in our live show...but others like "SmokeScreen" and "Solid" were very new when we recorded them... but I think we made some improvements in our writing, most notably for me on "Cast Aside Your Masks".
For those who don't know...how long does The Atomic Bitchwax exist and how did you meet the other guys of the band, Chris Kosnik (b,voc) and Keith Ackerman (dr). Is it right, that you've played in the band, before you joined Monster Magnet?
My goodness, I have been playing with Keith and Chris for close to 10 years now!! We started our jamming in my basement in like 1992 and we had tunes and were playing shows with a full original set by 1995...the first couple of years we were playing, we were always so stoned that it never occured to us to write anything!! We just played..
When did you start with guitar-playin'? Do you play any other instuments and how often do you rehearse?
I have playing guitar since about 11 or 12... although I wasn't very serious about it until I was about 16... I also very much enjoy playing bass...and I LOVE playing drums even though I really suck at it!!
Do you play a lot of gigs in the States with The Atomic Bitchwax ?
We did a Bitchwax tour for 2 1/2 months with Nebula in October, November, and December of 1999. But we generally play in New York City, Philadelphia, and New Jersey because we all live here in Jersey...
Let's talk about the artwork of both albums, which I really like. Who is responsible for it?
I like the artwork too... you can't really go wrong with naked girls!! The artists name is Orion Landau. I think he's credited as "Graphic Strategist"...and the girl is his girlfriend, Fellina. I think he did a great job with our covers...he runs a print shop called Psychic Sparkplug and specializes in concert posters. That's how we found him, because a friend of mine showed me one of his posters...
To go back to the music, a lot of songs have a very spontaneous feeling, maybe like some kind of jamming. How is the songwriting process in the band?
We write tunes usually out of jams. Somebody will start a riff, then we build from there. Every once in a while one of us will come in with an almost finished tune, but we all end up throwing stuff in.
Which part have the lyrics in the band and are they important for the Bitchwax?
We have only lyrics when Chris feels like writing them, that's why we have so many instrumentals!!
One of my personal faves on the "II" album is "SmokeScreen", the song with Warren Haynes of GOV'T MULE. How did you get together with him and do you like his band?
I met Warren Haynes a few years ago when Gov't Mule were playing in San Francisco, and Magnet had the night off and he asked me to come down and jam with them at the Fillmore... actually, I met him when he jammed with Raging Slab in, like, 1995....anyways, we stayed in touch and when we wanted slide guitar on "SmokeScreen", we called him up. I think Gov't Mule are great... they are still carrying on after the unfortunate loss of Allen Woody (bass player of the Mule...he died this year / the editor), and they have a new album coming out which I can't wait to hear...
There's again a cover version on the "II" album. You have chosen "Play The Game" from Atomic Rooster. What other bands do you like from the late 60s/early 70s ?
I listen to so much music, from big bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and Mountain, to more obscure bands like Stray Dog, Buffalo and Captain Beyond... geez, I have a lot of music I like... these days I listen to a lot of Brian Eno, Hendrix, Sun Ra, T. Rex, and Mahogany Rush...
Isn't it hard sometimes for you to play in two bands, because one of the bands is really popular? I think, that you haven't so much time left for The Atomic Bitchwax, because Monster Magnet have grown to a big act.
It's hard sometimes, but I hate not to play. I like to keep busy playing or I get into trouble!! I would rather play than not to play, so if it gets a little crazy sometimes, I don't mind. . .Sometimes MM is really busy, but when we are not busy we are not doing anything. . .I wish there was more time for Bitchwax, but I like playing in both bands for different reasons. . .
What is the difference for you between a live performance of MM and Bitchwax ? Do you prefer one of this "jobs" ?
Bitchwax is a lot more improvisation, whereas MM is more of like putting on a well rehearsed "every note is pretty much the same every night " kind of thing... well, not really, but it´s more planned out whereas in Bitchwax there are a lot more things that are gonna be different every night...
Two questions about MM, Ed... at first, it's about the nude female dancers on the "God Says No" tour. Are they really important for the music? Maybe some people only come for the girls and not for the music. What do you think about it?
Monster Magnet is a show... there is the music of course, and there is the "show"... and we want to entertain, and that is part of the "show"... it is nice to have girls dancing to our music onstage, but they have nothing to do with the music, it's just part of the show sometimes. We don't do it every night!! I hope people don't come just for the girls!! We like to play music!!
The second question goes back to the time, when you became part of the line-up in MM, instead of John McBain. What was the reason for him to leave the band in, I think it was in 1992?
I'm really not to sure of the whole John McBain thing. I know he is a great guitar player with a great sound ALWAYS, and I have seen him afew times over the last few years, but we never really spoke about that...
Ed, what are you doing, when you don't play guitar? Have you any other interests?
I'm pretty much always playing guitar!! I read a lot when we are on tour I play video games on the bus. I like to write tunes and I listen to a lot of music. I guess my life revolves around music quite a bit....
Where do you live and what about your family?
My parents live a couple of towns over, my sister lives in New York. I live here in Long Branch, New Jersey with my cat Mr. Buddy Guy...
What is important for yourself in your life, aside of the music? Which human values or philosohies you take care about?
I like to keep learning and try to keep on "moving the project forward", so to speak. I don't think anyone has ever asked me that kind of question!!
Are there things in your life you feel sorry about, or something that you wouldn't do again?
I can´t think of anything right now...
Can you live from the money, that you are earning with both bands?
Well, if I stay busy all of the time it could be done but from time to time I go back to painting houses, which sucks sometimes, but you gotta do it. I wish I didn't have to wor!! But it's a small price, because I love to play music...
Yes, let's talk about music again...for me it seems, as if it looks good for 70s influenced Heavyrock. Some great festivals like the SHoD, and there a lot of underground bands and record-label. What's your personal opinion about it and which bands do you prefer ?
I really like Masters Of Reality, even though they have been around for awhile. I think it is great that there's so much guitar bands again, but not cheesy hair band flash guitar bands, Black Sabbath guitar bands. I like Red Giant a lot, too...
I think, a lot of people here in Germany would love to see Bitchwax live. Are there any chances for you to come over here for an European tour in 2001?
Well, we are setting up a tour right now for December of 2001 of Europe. I think we might play with High On Fire, which would be great !! It looks like there will be 4 or 5 German dates. I can´t wait!!!! I hope to see ya out there...
Thats for sure. Ok, Ed thanks a lot for all the answers, we see us on tour. Maybe some last words for the readers..?
Listen to Tommy Bolin music!!! And I hope to see y'all in December!!! Rock on!!!