Monte Pittman is a Texan musician and songwriter. Our readers will most likely know the name as he used to be in legendary metal band Prong. He has many strings to his bow including being Madonna’s long-time guitarist. He is also a solo artist and his newest recording ‘Power of the Three’ sees the light of day through Metal Blade Records on the 21st January. John E Smoke jumps on the opportunity to have a chin wag with the multitalented Monte….
JES – Thank you for talking to Midlands Metalheads, how does 2014 find you? Did you celebrate the New Year in style?
MP – Thank you for talking with me! I’m excited for 2014 to finally be here. On New Years I just had a great time being home.
JES – You have had a colourful and varied past in the industry. Most of our readers will know of you because of your time with metal legends Prong, but you’ve worked with a whole range of artists including Madonna, Sophie Ellis Bextor and many more. Are your music tastes as varied as your resume would suggest?
MP – Yes. I do like a wide range of music. You’ve only got so many notes to choose from. It’s what you put behind them and how you play them that give you the different styles of music. I started playing with Madonna after giving her guitar lessons. I played on two songs on Sophie’s album because my friend Damian was producing it and needed some guitar on a couple tracks. Prong was and still is one of my favorite bands. It was an honor to play and contribute in a band that was so heavily influential to me.
JES – Your new release is “The Power Of Three” on Metal Blade released on 27th January. I gather it is a work of three parts, one acoustic, one metal and one blues. Tell us a little more about the recording process and the idea behind the release. With three different styles represented, should the release be seen as a coherent whole or as three distinct facets?
MP – That was originally the idea. I had 3 groups of songs I was writing that didn’t really fit together. The acoustic tracks were inspired by Ray LaMontagne and Neil Young. The metal tracks were inspired by most the bands I grew up listening to that I still listen to today. The blues songs were inspired by Freddie King and Muddy Waters. I recorded the acoustic tracks in one day with Flemming Rasmussen. That is how we started working together. That led to us making plans for us to record the heavy songs. After recording the heavy songs, I played it for Brian Slagel. That’s what led to me signing with Metal Blade. That changed everything.
JES – Do you have plans to tour ‘The Power of Three’? Will you be visiting the UK?
MP – I’m working on booking everything I can now. I can’t wait to get there.
JES – What do you think of our grey and rainy country?
MP – I love it and can’t wait to come back! I love the UK. It’s been too long!
JES – Midlands Metalheads are of course based right in the middle of the UK, a place we proudly claim as the home of heavy metal. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest are all local lads. Heavyweights Napalm Death and Godflesh also sprung from the Midlands (or the Black Country as we call it). What do you think of those bands and have any of them influenced you at all?
MP – Everyone of those bands have been a huge influence on me. Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Priest are some of the best and most influential bands ever. Really cool people also. Jimmy Page and Toni Iommi are two of the nicest musicians I’ve ever met.
JES – hat was the first record/CD/cassette you remember buying Do you have a preferred format for your releases?
MP – The first record I bought on my own was Weird Al Yankovic “In 3D”. I think Van Halen “1984” or Kiss “Lick It Up” were right around then too but technically my parents bought me those. Kiss “Dynasty” was my first cassette. Steve Vai “Flexible” was the first cd I bought. I think I bought Megadeth “Rust In Peace”
JES – If you were to sum up your musical past in one sentence, what would it be?
MP – Variety is the spice of life.
JES – And your ideal musical future?
MP – To keep growing with my music and my band. I have to be realistic about it and I have to keep building this from the ground up. One step at a time.
JES – Are you happy talking about your time with Prong? You played quite an active role with the band and wrote some of the songs on “Power of the Damager”, one of their best releases. I understand they have a new album in the pipeline. Are you still on good terms with the Tommy Victor?
MP – Of course! I love Prong. Tommy is my brother from another mother. The reason I stopped playing in the band is you can’t be in two places at once. Tommy needs someone who can be there all the time. We are still on excellent terms and I’m sure we will work together again somewhere down the road. Maybe writing? Maybe playing shows together? I joined the band as a second guitar player right at the beginning of 2000. I had just moved to Los Angeles from Texas. Soon after is when I started working with Madonna. I would switch back and forth between the both of them.
JES – Going back to your other musical endeavours, you obviously have a gift for the poppier side of the musical spectrum. Should we expect this side of you to be revealed for a future solo release? How about a swapping your guitars for synthesizers or is that not on the cards?
MP – The next Monte Pittman album that follows up “The Power Of Three” will be even heavier than this one. I want the next album to be like you put on the album and it beats the shit out of you for an hour. I still want there to be something for everybody but the way it naturally works for me is to fine tune what people like and take it from there.
JES – Thank you again for talking to Midlands Metalheads. Do you have anything else you want to share with us metalheads?
MP – You are very welcome! Your site rules! Thanks for checking out my music. I hope to hit the pub with you all very soon!