Monte Pittman: “When I got my first guitar, all the thrash bands were just coming out so that had a massive impact on me. “
In all truth, Monte Pittman’s new album on Metal Blade, “The Power Of Three” is one of the all-around best records this year. Monte has made a name for himself from years of working with artists as diverse as Prong and of course his high profile gig as Madonna’s guitar player (he started out teaching guitar to her and her husband and things evolved). If you haven’t heard of Monte Pittman yet, you owe it to yourself to check out the Flemming Rasmussen (famed Metallica collaborator) produced record which is packed with memorable melodies and insane musical interludes. I am pretty excited about “The Power Of Three” and recently had the chance to ask Monte a few questions after he got back from a number of appearances supporting the new album; read on…
(Monte will be appearing at the world famous Whisky A GoGo this coming Saturday, April 5th with Holy Grail and Gypsyhawk tickets can be purchased HERE )
Legendary Rock Interviews: Thanks for talking with us Monte. I will admit to first hearing about you via your video for “Before the Mourning Son” which totally floored me. I love the song and the immediacy of the video, are you happy with how it turned out and do you have any plans for other clips ?
Monte Pittman: Hello! Thanks! We are all very happy with it. It was filmed by Vince and Matt at Metal Blade. We will do the next video pretty soon. It’s been kind of hard deciding which one should be next.
LRI: I am making a mental note to remember “The Power of Three” in my year end list as this is a rare start to finish amazing album. How long did the writing process for the album take and did you keep writing when you got into the studio?
Monte Pittman: Some of the riffs have stayed with me for a few years but the majority started on a camping trip out in Death Valley at the end of 2011. I had just released my second album, “Pain, Love, & Destiny” and also I knew the Super Bowl was coming up with Madonna which wasn’t public information at the time. It was a much needed getaway and once I got out into the desert, the ideas kept flowing and I saw where everything needed to go.
LRI: I imagine a lot of artists would love to get a gig working with Madonna and you definitely have done that at length, do you think a lot of hard rock fans that have little use for pop music would be surprised by her love for music and the songwriting process?
Monte: She’s one of a kind. You can’t compare her to any other artist that’s up and coming out there. I started playing guitar for her as a result of me giving guitar lessons. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have attended an audition for a gig like that. I’m so fortunate things happened the way they did. Playing for her has been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Madonna loves several styles of music and you see that with a lot of massive acts. It can get boring just listening to the same thing all the time. No different than if you ate exactly the same thing every day.
LRI: There is a nice balance between the riffy heavy moments and solo phrases on the album and a melody in almost every moment. Did you know that the musicians who made up your band were going to be able to pick up the feel and nuance just as much as the technical end of this material?
Monte: Thanks. Yes. I had full confidence in the guys I had play on my album. I want what I do to appeal to as many people as possible. There are no cliques. Everyone is welcome at a Monte Pittman show and I want everyone to have a great time. Some people like the really fast stuff. Some people like the straight up rock stuff. That gives something for everyone there and time to go grab another drink at the bar if you like one song more than another.
LRI: There are a lot of thrash inspired moments on the album and obviously your working with (famous classic Metallica producer) Fleming Rasmussen comes with the understanding that he is quite amazing at capturing some of that magic. As a player or a fan, what was your first exposure to thrash and how did it make you feel when you heard it?
Monte: When I got my first guitar, all the thrash bands were just coming out so that had a massive impact on me. It was a music that nobody had ever heard. It was the perfect antidote for one side of what was going on and it was also the spark of some great music to come.
LRI: “On My Mind” is kind of a slugfest with almost a heavy Ace Frehley 70s hard rock feel. Do you have any particular memory of that track coming together?
Monte: I just remember being cold in my garage making voice memo demos of it on my phone. I used a pick a friend made for me out of abalone. The song is very simple on purpose. Also, I was really cold while writing it so I didn’t play alot.
LRI: My favorite song on the album is “Everything’s Undone” which just has this total earworm vocal melody and a totally different feel than the tracks before or after it. Did you enjoy working on your vocal takes just as much as the guitar stuff during the recording of the album?
Monte: It all goes hand in hand. I wrote”Everything’s Undone” while listening to Hendrix and was just having fun with writing that type of song.
LRI: Do the lyrics and titles tend to come quickly for you in a flourish and how did you arrive at “The Power of Three” as a title?
Monte: The lyrics come from what fits the melody when playing around with writing what you are writing. I always say the good songs write themselves. Calling the album “The Power Of Three” is an old saying of how things come in threes. It’s my third album and a three piece band. The universal themes of that saying can be endless.
LRI: You just did Namm and have done a lot of interviews like this to promo the album but I would imagine a proper live tour would kick ass. Are you looking forward to being able to do some spring or summer touring?
Monte: I have to take it one step at a time. Vaughn Lewis and Kenny Gabor from Strong Management are now taking care of me. The next step is to secure a booking agent and then go from there. You don’t sign a record contract and a door opens and all of these people walk in and start helping you. These are very important decisions so it’s important to take each inclination step by step.
LRI: Thank you once again for taking some time out for us, I really recommend anyone who enjoys music whatsoever to pick up your album and wanna say thanks again for you pouring your energies into the grooves, its amazing
Monte: Thank you and thanks to everyone reading!