Interview

Madonna’s Music Man: The Monte Pittman PMM Interview

photo by Jeremy Saffer

Best known as Madonna’s guitar player, Monte Pittman is so much more than a “hired gunslinger”. Monte co-writes with Madonna, and taught her how to play guitar and her ex Guy Ritchie (which is how he met Madonna in the first place). He is also the music director and guitar player for Adam Lambert, used to play bass and guitar for the highly influential prog-metal band Prong, and has won tons of awards recognizing his skills and work including a nomination for Best Male Singer/Songwriter by the Los Angeles Music Awards.
Monte is a solo artist as well releasing ‘The Deepest Dark’ in 2009 and gearing up to release a trilogy of EP’s entitled M.P.3: The Power of Three Parts 1,2 and 3. In anticipation of playing Pittsburgh with Madonna next week (11/6/12), Monte took some time to answer PMM’s questions. Read on for some insight into Monte and the creative world that surrounds him:

What led you to want to do a trilogy of releases focusing on acoustic, metal, and blues?

I had all of these different songs I had written and there were enough to go together in parts. It seemed too drastic to have some really fast, heavy songs and then break it down to just guitar and vocals. Also, we recorded “Part 1” in one day and that’s something I can release now. I like that my third album is coming out in 3 parts.

What drew you to recording M.P.3: The Power of Three, Pt. 1 so raw and in one day?

Time. I had one day off in Copenhagen and went to record with Flemming just to see what came out of it. We recorded 5 songs but decided one should be electric and grouped with the blues songs. The songs are all starting to tell a story together like they did on “Pain, Love, & Destiny” and “The Deepest Dark”.

How is it you became involved with Flemming Rasmussen? Was it his versatility or metal driven productions that you found most intriguing? And will you continue to work with him for Pt. 2 and 3?

I met him years ago when I found out Sweet Silence Studios was no more. We would get in touch when I came through town and talked about doing something together someday. This time I came through, he was free so we started recording. Initially, I was drawn to some of the main classics he’s recorded. He creates a unique signature canvas that the music is painted on. Yes – he is recording “Part 2” & “Part 3”.

How is Guy Ritchie as a guitar player?

He was a great and dedicated student. I could play a series of chords and he could play all up and down the neck soloing over it once he got going.

Do you miss teaching guitar?

I haven’t stopped, I’ve just been on the road for a long time. I’ll probably teach online in the future. I’ll always teach. I love to do it and I’m always learning something new to pass on.

Besides your signature series Jarrell Guitars, what other gear is essential to your sound?

Orange amps and cabinets & Seymour Duncan pickups. This year I got a Fractal Axe-FX 2 and two Bourgeouis guitars.

Would you ever record with Prong again?

Of course! I’d love to. Tommy needs someone who can be there more than I’ve been able to. I really like where the band has gone musically. Their last album “Carved Into Stone” which came out in April is one of their best.

What’s the best part about being part of Madonna’s live band?

We get to travel the world, play in front of massive crowds and she takes exceptional care of us.

Who is (are) your dream collaborator(s)?
Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Cornell, Ray LaMontagne, Snoop Dogg.

Can you offer any advice to young people who are making a stab at the music business?

Don’t ever give up. Most the bands who have made it and had longevity were persistent. They also merged different styles which you normally wouldn’t think would fit but were all right in front of you. There’s nobody out there that doesn’t like good songs and a great band playing live…

Check out Monte’s acoustic work here on a German TV program (he starts playing around 3:05):

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