Questions asked by Jon Wilde, added to Rock Realms 14th November 2011.
Guitarist Monte Pittman's day job involves backing some of the biggest musical names in the world. Somehow he has still found time for a solo album, so I caught up with him to find out more.
Photo Credit Greg Eident
Hi Monte, thanks for taking a moment to answer these questions. Hope you are well?
Monte: Hi! Thanks!
What first got you into playing guitar, and when did you realise you had a talent for it?
Monte: I've wanted to play guitar since I was around 3. Since I can remember. I had a toy one then, I broke the strings and would put rubber bands on it instead. I wanted to be like Ace Frehley just like so many other guitar players you hear about. I got my first guitar when I was 13. My first year of playing, I would find sounds that sounded cool and learn some songs slowly measure by measure. When I was 14 I started taking guitar lessons and I played my first gig. I don't remember not wanting to play.
Do you come from a musical family?
Monte: My cousin, Jimmy, is very talented. He played drums in a band when I was a kid and that was really cool. Now he plays bass and sings in a band called Rodeo Clown Dropouts. They are based out of Dallas. His son, Cody, is their drummer.
You’ve just release your new album “Pain, Love & Destiny”. How long has it been in the making, and what’s the story behind the title?
Monte: "Pain, Love, & Destiny" is a song lyric from the song "About You...". Pain & love are two different sides of the spectrum that lead you to your destiny. It was recorded this summer. Some of it was written in the studio and some of it was written when I still lived in Texas.
Is this a collection of individual songs or is there an overall vibe that ties the tracks together?
Monte: It's a collection of songs that all went together. It tells a story all together but it wasn't written to be that way.
How would you describe the style of the album? Is it simply a rock album or is there much more to it than that?
Monte: It started out as an acoustic/vocal album with drums and bass. After having electric guitars on a couple of songs, we missed having it on the others. That's how it became a rock album. There are keyboards, piano and programming also on there.
Do you do anything special in the studio to get your sound? Are there any pieces of musical or recording equipment you couldn’t live without?
Monte: I use Orange amps for the electrics. Acoustic guitars are mic'ed with a good mic. There's not one particular I like over the other. I used a bunch of different guitars for different layers. I left everything up to the producer - Noah Shain.
How did you get Randy Rhoads’ brother Kelle involved in the album? Are there any other guests you’d like to mention?
Monte: I took some lessons from their mom when I moved out to LA. We became friends then and were in the same level taking some lessons. Kelle and I got in touch recently and we talked about doing something together. I love what he did and we plan on writing something in the future together. Kane Ritchotte from the band Vas DeFrans played drums on it. I used Kickstarter to make this album. One of the incentives is to be a backing vocalist on one of the songs. Each and every person who did that sounded great and it adds a special moment at the end of the album.
Do you prefer the writing/recording side, or the live side of music...or do they both bring you pleasure?
Monte: I like a happy balance between the two. I love playing live and playing for people. It's also great sleeping in your own bed!
When you aren’t creating your own music you work with Madonna and Adam Lambert. Do you find it important to keep creating your own music alongside? I guess it would be easy to ride the success of big names like them, so you must have a real work ethic.
Monte: If I'm playing with someone else, that usually takes up all my time. I do most of my writing at home. For the past decade, I went back and forth between Madonna and Prong. I got the best of both worlds that way.
Tell us about the special edition guitar you’ve got coming out next year...
Monte: It's from a new company called Jarrell. What we are working on is a one of a kind guitar that can do it all. If I had one guitar that could cover everyone I've ever played for or any gig I've ever played, this one could do it. It looks incredible and it's very inspiring to play. I have the first prototype and I miss it when it's not around. That's a feeling I haven't had since I first started learning how to play.
What’s the highlight of your musical life so far?
Monte: At Live Earth, I was in between James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett while playing with Spinal Tap at Wembley Stadium. Since that one is so random and a once in a lifetime scenario, I'd go with that. It's hard to pick just one. I feel like the best is yet to come.
Anything else you would like to mention?
Monte: I am honoured to have just been nominated for three separate awards from the All Indie Music Awards (http://www.aimusicawards.com/): "Best Solo Artist," "Best Rock Artist," and "Best Blues Artist."
Thanks again to Monte for his time.