Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Monte Pittman - the man behind Madonna and delivering the metal with his album The Power Of Three

ON his latest release Pittman give it the full Monte as the Power of Three (review here), and he's played with the 'Queen of Pop' in the shape of Madonna thanks to a chance meeting with her then husband Guy Ritchie.


With The Power of Three gaining rave reviews we caught up with Pittman to try and find out how this metal guitarist could trace the beginnings of the band in the long road since he began in his home town band Myra Mains...and it turns out there is a common linkage between Madonna and Prong, whom he also played with.
“There are more similarities than you might think,” he explained. “They both come from CBGB's in some way. Madonna played in a band that played CBGB's and Prong formed from working there. Tommy Victor was the soundman. These things didn't happen at the same time but part of that seed is there with both.
“Sometimes I think of Prong as heavy dance music. The music can be complicated but the tone is pretty straightforward. For Madonna, the song structures can be complicated.
“There is [sic] some genius songwriting techniques when you break some of them down. It's more about what you don't play rather than when you do play. Just like a painter doesn't just throw one color of paint all over the canvas.”
With that explanation it may not be 'metal' but what is Pittman's favourite Madonna track to play?
“ 'Hey You' might be my favorite,” said Pittman. “That was the very beginning of the "Hard Candy" sessions. There were quite a few acoustic tracks originally. Madonna and Pharrell left me in the studio and trusted me with what I would do with the acoustic.
“It was just me and Pharrell's engineer so I got to experiment with the mics and parts in a killer studio. I layed down an assortment of ideas for them to go through later."
Leaving aside his work with Madonna The Power Of Three saw Pittman hook up with the legendary producer of Metallica, Flemming Rasmussen.

“He gave me a lot of tips and advice when I was working on the demos. When it was time to start recording the album, I put him in complete control,” he said.
“He would always get us in the right frame of mind. There were times he pushed us. There were times you almost forgot he was there. It was wonderful having someone that I could completely trust with sound.
Amongst the collaborations on The Power Of Three were Alex Skolnick and Chris Barnes.

“I loved having those guys on the album. They are both friends of mine and people I also grew up listening to,” said Pittman. “Alex has played live with me as our fourth member a couple of times.
“Chris hasn't yet but Chris joined us during a Prong show one night when we were opening for Danzig on 'Whose Fist Is This Anyway?'.
“ It was awesome. Imagine the ending with him singing! Me, Chris, and Alex should start a side project or something!"
Given the people that Pittman has played with and recorded with we wanted to know which one was the most unlikely 'metal' fan.

“The only two main ones I've played with are Madonna and Prong so I guess Madonna. She's the kind of artist that appreciates a little bit of everything though,” he said. “Melanie C and Sophie Ellis Bextor were just studio sessions and weren't there when I recorded so I have no idea what they are into.

“Adam Lambert and I had a band together before he went on American Idol and he liked a little bit of everything too.”

Given the range of musicians Pittman has played with are there still collaborations he yearns to be part of?
“I have always wanted to collaborate with Ozzy. Kelle Rhoads and I have talked about writing some Ozzy type songs for fun,” he said.
“Kelle played piano on my last album, "Pain, Love, & Destiny". I have no idea why those two haven't done anything before.
“Kelle and Randy's mom, Delores, is a musical genius. She has a unique way of teaching and a unique way of how you perceive the notes like I've never seen before. Kelle has that information. I would love to see what all three of us could come up with.
“I would collaborate with just about anyone as long as they're cool personally. It would be cool to do something with Chris Cornell too. But then again, both of those guys are now back with their original bands, thankfully! Steve Vai would be cool.

When Belfastmetalheadsreunited and Rockradioni reviewed the Power Of Three all the editorial team thought 'Blood, Hunger, Thirst' was the stand out track, and felt like a statement of intent for the three-piece; but how did the writing of the music and lyrics come about?
“That's one of those songs where I had different lyrics but then "Blood Hungry Thirst" came to me and made much more sense,” he said. “The music came from me jamming on the guitar. Sometimes you get in a certain zone where everything flows just right.
“It's kind of a fine line of being conscious and unconscious at the same time. That's the case with this song.”
What is sure to us, having had the glimpse into the range of musicality of Pittman, and his band on The Power Of Three his answers to these questions shows a man who has enjoyed a privileged break in the music business, but is grounded enough to keep on exploring his metal roots, his playing and ambitions to keep on growing.
The Power Of Three is available now on Metal Blade.

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