From a rock and a hard place: an interview with Monte Pittman

Pic Jack Lue

Pic Jack Lue

The year may be young but it has already seen one of the most thrilling and inventively riveting heavy rock/metal albums likely to bless the year released. The Power of Three from Monte Pittman is a towering feast of adventure and multi-flavoured sinew driven rock fused to heavyweight metal. Renowned and acclaimed for his work with Madonna and the likes of Adam Lambert, Melanie C, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the Texan with the Metal Blade Records released album unleashes his always eager creative and passionate metallic tendencies. Given the pleasure and opportunity to find out more about the magnificent triumph, we talk with Monte Pittman and find out about his early days and inspirations as a budding musician, songwriting, Prong and much more…

Hello Monte and many thanks for taking time out to chat with us.

Before we get into the meat of your excellent new album The Power of Three, can we get some insight into the background of Monte Pittman before the musician and what was the first spark or moment when music drew you to its bosom?

I grew up in Longview, Texas. I’ve wanted to play music since I can remember. I was always fascinated by it. I was very lucky to be a little kid and have bands like Kiss to bands like Pantera as influences. I was one of those kids who would stand on the bed with the door closed pretending I was Ace Frehley to my sisters Kiss records. My cousin, Jimmy, had a few different bands in Dallas and I would see him rehearse as a kid. That’s what started it all.

What have been the major inspirations on you musically and especially in regard to your guitar craft?

That’s something that always changes. The first song I ever learned how to play on the guitar was “One” by Metallica. “…And Justice For All” had just come out. That was an exciting time to get your first guitar! My guitar influences now are Jeff Beck and Freddie King. I’m also heavily influenced by John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk, but they’re not guitar players. As far as bands, a lot of fellow Metal Blade bands…Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and Amon Amarth…also Holy Grail. Great guitar players! Great songs! Great bands!

Aged 24 you moved from Longview to LA; why, was it purely for music reasons?

My cousin, Natalie, lived there and I went to go visit her. As soon as I got there, it felt like home. When I went back to Texas I immediately started making plans to move there as soon as I could knowing the longer I took, the better the chance of talking myself out of it. I moved to LA to work as a professional musician one way or another.

You were already in the relatively successful, certainly locally, band Myra Mains at the time, what were the opportunities you felt could be lying in wait in LA which encouraged you to leave band and family etc. behind?Monte Pittman 1

It was hard leaving but I knew I could always go back if it didn’t work out. I didn’t know what to expect.

Jumping forward a bit and you became guitarist for Madonna; we covered it in our review of your album but can you fill in further for the readers how this came about?

I worked at Guitar Center in Hollywood. I quit and started teaching guitar lessons. One of my first students was Guy Ritchie. He was dating Madonna. Then I started giving her guitar lessons. From there, she asked me to play guitar for her.

You obviously are a heavy weight rocker at heart and creatively so were there any doubts about linking up with the Queen of Pop or was it a no-brainer decision?

No because we already knew each other and she was cool. I love all kinds of music and in her shows we play several styles of music.

As well as all the positives  from working, playing, and writing with the lady has there been any, not exactly negatives but may be doubts from people towards your solo work  before actually hearing it because of that creative union, their expectations making assumptions about your sound maybe?

I’m sure there would be some people who would be on the fence with just that information but hopefully the music speaks for itself.

As we mentioned earlier you have just released The Power of Three, a contagious rock ‘n’ roll beast of a record, what were your feelings about it and its possible reception compared to your previous solo releases?

I wanted to make an ultimate metal album with all the things I loved. I reached a point with my song writing where everything came together…the old with the new. People like different things. Hopefully that leaves something for everybody down the line. The new material has had the best response for sure.

The album is a multi-flavoured and genre varied inventive temptation which draws plenty of essences from your eclectic work and numerous collaborations over the past years; do you feel that yourself and was it intentional or just an organic evolution?

Most of it was an organic evolution. Sometimes you have to just forget everything and start over

I read somewhere that the album was originally going to be a three part release with acoustic, blues, and metal tracks? If so what changed in your thinking taking it into being an all-out metal and muscular rock adventure?

Monte Pittman bandI had written acoustic songs. I had written heavy songs. I had written blues songs. I made an acoustic EP with Flemming Rasmussen. We made plans to record the heavy songs and the heavy songs kept coming. The flood gates were open. I played what we recorded for Brian Slagel and he signed me to Metal Blade.

You also linked up with Danish producer Flemming Rasmussen for the album, a repeat from your earlier acoustic EP as you just mentioned; how did you first meet and what sparked your creative union?

I met Flemming on a day off when I was on tour in Copenhagen. We stayed in contact and eventually made plans to work together. We did the acoustic EP on another day off when I was back in Copenhagen again.

What is it in particular about the man that helps him connect so potently with your ideas and music to help guide it to the right final place?

He knows when to push you. He knows when to be invisible. He puts you in the right frame of mind for what he’s trying to get out of you. He becomes that next band member that’s there recording you.

Is there a general process you go through when writing your songs and music?

I’ll come up with some guitar riffs and then a melody will stick in my head. Then I find words to fit the melody. I can change one word and it changes the meaning of the song so it’s like you are writing a story.

How would you say your music has evolved over the years and specifically between last album Pain, Love & Destiny and The Power of Three?

I looked at what I needed for my live show. I needed faster and harder songs. That was in the back of my mind for everything I was writing at the time. It all started out with me playing solo acoustic shows on my own and that’s grown to what it is now.

Is there a particular moment or essence within the album which gives you an extra tingle?

Somewhere around “Away From Here”, you can really hear us get comfortable. The album was recorded in the order you hear it. The first song was the first thing we recorded. We all recorded at the same time in the same room. You can feel the excitement throughout the album.

Are you an artist who goes into the studio with finished songs or prefers them to either be born in that situation or certainly evolve into the finished article there?

There should be a little of both. I made a general demo of the whole album but we left room to do whatever we felt like doing right there and then in the studio.

Listening to certain tracks on The Power of Three you get the feeling there is a more carnivorous and heavier sound waiting Monte Pittman 3patiently to break out. Do you feel that yourself and is it a future exploration maybe?

This definitely paves the way to get heavier.

Will this upcoming year be a concentrated time supporting the album live and writing or are there already collaborations and varied projects lined up too?

Getting the word out about this album will take up all my time. (hopefully!) We’re playing the Whisky-A-Go-Go in LA February 22 and we’re about to start adding more.

One of our all-time favourite bands here is Prong who you have played, toured, and written with extensively these past years. How did you link up with the guys and is this an on-going thing including their upcoming tour?

When I first moved to LA, Ivan DePrume introduced me and Tommy Victor. From then on, I would wind up going back and forth between Madonna and Prong. Prong has a killer line up right now and Tommy is working on a new album. They are one of my favorite bands too. I’m happy I got to work with them and I’m always there to help if needed.

A big thank you Monte for taking time out to talk with us, any last thoughts you would like to leave us with?

Thanks for talking with me! Great questions! We did a video for “Before The Mourning Son”. Check that out if you haven’t seen it yet. There are some videos of some of our NAMM performances on YouTube at MontePittmanMusic. Keep checking in at www.montepittman.com

Lastly what are the five most important albums in your inspiration over the years?

– “Master Of Puppets” – Metallica

– “Vulgar Display Of Power” – Pantera

– “Pet Sounds” – The Beach Boys

– “Pink Moon” – Nick Drake

– “Shout At The Devil” – Motley Crue

Read the Power Of Three review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/monte-pittman-the-power-of-three/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 05/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Passenger Peru- Self Titled

     Passenger Peru

    Startlingly immersive with the craft and ability to turn the listener into a castaway lost in an expansive seduction of suggestive pop majesty within a dreamy soundscape in its rawest breath, the debut album from Passenger Peru is an experience you cannot help licking your lips over before each and every encounter. It is a mouthwatering collection of warm and elegant persuasions bred in an exploration which is bold and bravely adventurous. The self-titled album is as mentioned pop in its rawest most potent form but with an inspiring scourge of creative devilry and melodic mesmerism twisted into a hypnotic and at times wonderfully demonic dance.

    Passenger Peru comes from the creative minds and passions of Justin Stivers (vocals, guitar, bass, synth, drums, drum machines) and Justin Gonzales (vocals, guitar, synth, piano, samples), the former one time bassist with The Antlers for their Hospice album. The seeds for the Brooklyn based project are said to have started four years ago when the two musicians met and evolved into the Stivers led band Pet Ghost Project. A year in preparation, Passenger Peru is mouthwatering sonic scenery composed into something unique from essences of garage rock and shoegaze, psychedelic, alternative rock and more. With plenty of peaks and very minimal lows, if any at all, the lo-fi, hi-quality flight is raucous spellbinding pop brought in its most primal and beauteous magnificence.

     The album immediately takes the listener to a scintillating pinnacle with its opening pair of songs, a height the album never passperucoverquite emulates again though it thrills consistently trying. First song Your Hunger emerges from a cinematic melodic swoon and following studio doodling launches one of the most exciting and impressively tempting starts to a song heard in a long time. Guitar and bass instantly secure the fullest attention as they virtually gnaw on the ears with the latter offering an almost carnivorous tone to its dark enticement. With mutually attractive rhythmic teasing alongside, the rapacious sound conjured by the pair continue to coax and lure in the strongest lustful reaction and hunger, a post punk essence bringing thoughts of Joy Division and Gang Of Four to mind prowling the imagination whilst framing the excellent mellow and soothing vocals. It is delicious mix with sinister spirals of cold sound amid glorious flames of melodic tenderness colliding and uniting for a quite stunning provocation. Complete with an irresistible repetitious gait to bass and rhythms alongside a quite saucy groove which also hardly veers from its prime intent, the song sets the highest plateau for the album to keep up.

    In the Absence of Snow steps up next to stroll that pedestal with ease, its opening acoustically sculpted guitar tantalising and the again snarling throaty bass tempting exceptionally addictive and successful in igniting even greater rapture in the imagination and emotions. Best described as the Jesus and Mary Chain meets House Of Love whilst the revelry of Ok Go! is at play, the bait laid down for the ears and emotions to partake in, is again virulently impossible to refuse or not find a greedy need for. Rock pop at its finest with a fiery solo and another spine of repetition kissed captivation, the track continues the album’s unassailable submission of the passions. With an impressive lyrical craft and insight also at work, which admittedly comes second best to the sound in attention taking over the first couple of plays, Passenger Peru at this point has already ignited an ardour which only a total car crash of a remaining body of songs could deflate.

    Pollen Season takes no time in showing no such disaster is on the cards though as mentioned before, the album never treads the same lofty levels again. To put that into context though the following tracks prey on and build their own benchmark which most bands would swap their grannies for, the third song on the release a beguiling proposition of organic beauty around once more a bass treat you can only enthuse over with a tendency to drool, and a percussive enterprise which does not steal focus but would leave a major whole with its absence. Seriously magnetic, the song departs the now raging appetite for the album for the epidemically engaging pop absorptions of Tiger Lilly and Heavy Drugs to take over. The first of the two has a swagger and melodic grin which teases and charms but an equally solicitous sonic and rhythmic bruising to its latter swing whilst the second is a sultry summer breeze of radiant melodies within an increasingly dark and unsettling premise.

     The second half of the album starts with Weak Numbers, again a track which ensnares thoughts and appreciation but marks a slightly less potent stretch for the album. The front five tracks leave the latter quintet in their shadow though once more in a context where Passenger Peru is on another realm with their artistry at the start of the album and a still immensely impressive level thereafter. A gentle and smouldering embrace, the song is a melancholic incitement with celestial elegance aligned to a tempestuous but contained emotive brawl. It is a transfixing companion immediately supported by the exotically imagined Memory Garden and the enthralling, intensive fascination of Health System, a song which merges heavy and light melodic and intimidating textures into a weave of emotion entangling beauty with XTC like alchemy.

     The new single from the album Dirt Nap comes next, emerging with a slight Celtic lilt to its sonic beckoning before a predominately acoustic caressing ensues with a sense of The Wonder Stuff to its snare. Initially thoughts were not over excited by the song but over time it works its way under the skin to seduce though personally not the right choice as the single to lure people into the outstanding album, a record holding back another major treat for its closing offering. Life and Death of a Band is a rowdy and antagonistic romp but equally a ridiculously endearing and alluring temptress from a maelstrom of invention and creative intrigue and a quite brilliant finale to a breath-taking slab of pop excellence.

    Passenger Peru will be massive at some point with all the evidence resting and burning away in their debut, a journey as unique and awe inspiring as their name hints at.

http://www.passengerperuband.com/

http://passengerperu.bandcamp.com/

9/10

RingMaster 05/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Epic Problem – Lines EP

Epic Problem Photo Courtesy of Chalkmanvid

Epic Problem Photo Courtesy of Chalkmanvid

    Feisty, commanding, and seriously contagious, the Lines EP from UK band Epic Problem provides another excuse to claim that the finest punk rock comes from this side of the pond. Ok that is a big debate which can never truly be resolved but the quartet from New Mills, Derbyshire with their latest slab of ferocious and raw anthemic rock ‘n’ roll only add to the evidence. The fact that their sound is seeded in the melodically spawned ‘Gainesville’ punk sound does not deter that declaration either, as Epic Problem simply twist it with further inciting genre additives into something not necessarily unique but openly distinct to themselves. Consisting of four tracks the EP is an adrenaline fuelled stomp which captivates, ignites, and bruises the passions, though not always in that order.

     The band formed in 2010 when guitarist Neil ‘Mackie’ Mclennan (from eighties punks Blitz) linked up with vocalist/guitarist Jake McCullough (Dangerfields, Dead Subverts) to sing on songs the former had written. Soon after bassist Tony Morrisson and drummer Greg Boulton joined up and the band worked on writing more songs and preparing their outbreak into the country. Their live debut came supporting The Business in the December of 2011, with the following year starting off a constant flow of shows to now which has seen Epic Problem sharing stages with bands such as Argy Bargy, Subhumans, Dead To Me, Nothington, and The Blacklist Royals. Recordings wise, The Lines EP is the successor to the six track mini album All Broken, a well-received and acclaimed release which the new record is sure to emulate.

     The title track kicks things off, riffs and rhythms a caustic force from the start matched by the great abrasive gravelly vocals. It is OB-GD17D.pdfnot long before a delicious tempting of anthemic melodic enterprise and group calls with Mackie and Boulton supplying a rich grazing support to McCullough, breaks out. Thoughts of Leatherface and Dillinger Four make a suggestion though equally the band triggers comparisons to Social Distortion and in some ways fellow Brits, The Vox Dolomites. Truthfully though song and sound whilst offering familiarities forge a presence which is distinct to the band; guitars and vocals a compelling inventive provocation driven by the voracious energy and antagonistic passion of the rhythms.

    The following Deny snarls and rips out an urgent pace from its opening second which is as predatory as its predecessor but with a slightly more belligerent gait, or certainly with a different twang to its voice and intensity. The track also lacks the incisive hook of the first song but has no lack of infectiousness to its vocal squall and rhythmic punctuation to its expressive riffs and lyrical croon, a bait elevated by the outstanding Sink, a rowdy anthemic charge of a song taking the best essences of the previous tracks and turning them into another potently addictive brawl of punk rock. The best track on the release, though seriously challenged with each play by the opener, the song alone with its rhythmic taunting and sonic mischief around a virulently catchy hook loaded with a wealth of melodic barbs and an old school fire enhancing its triumph, reinforces the stature of band and genre.

   The release is completed by Weak, a cover of The Beltones track. It is an accomplished and passionate offering revealing more of the band’s craft and adventure but as good as it openly is just does not match up to the other tracks. Nevertheless it makes a fine and pleasing end to an excellent release. It might be greedy to want a full-length assault from Epic Problem so soon after the release of the EP but that is the kind of hunger it inspires. Along with many other bands, this explosive treat shows that British punk continues to lead the way for our maybe slightly based thoughts.

The Lines EP is released digitally and via Longshot Music and Rebel Sound Music in the USA, and Rebellion Records in Europe with 100 on Black vinyl, 150 on White vinyl (exclusive to Rebel Sound), 150 on Blue vinyl (exclusive to Rebellion) and 200 on Splatter vinyl (exclusive to Longshot) available.

Check out the video for Lines directed by Chalkman Video @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zf0i9i3As0&feature=youtu.be

https://www.facebook.com/epicproblemuk

http://epicproblem2.bandcamp.com/album/lines-7

8.5/10

RingMaster 05/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Hollow Leg – Instinct

Hollow Leg BAND

     Following on from the release of their well-received second album Abysmal last year, US sludge metal sculptors Hollow Leg have their debut beast re-released by Argonauta Records this month. A raw and caustically honed brute of a consuming and oppressive encounter, their previously sold out first album Instinct returns to fill in the blanks of where the acclaimed Florida band began for those missing out the first time. Uncompromising and incessantly rapacious, the album is a sonic brutality with a merciless causticity but simultaneously holds and is tempered by a certainly rough but open seduction through often hidden but bare and potent addictive temptations.

     Instinct was originally released in 2010 when Hollow Leg was just the duo of Tim Creter (vocals, drums) and Brent Lynch (vocals, guitars), the band since expanding to a quartet with the addition of Tom Crowther (bass) and Scott Angelacos (vocals), and followed The Hive Demos of the same year. Demanding and exhaustingly heavy, the album is an unrelenting predator of the senses and psyche, a smothering intensity of sound with a taste for southern groove metal within its ferocious belly. Whereas last year’s excellent Abysmal had a more tempered if still abrasive breath to its impacting and suffocating enterprise, Instinct bares no niceties or respect in its invasive sludge swamp of noise and intent. It is not a release which thrust Hollow Leg onto the frontline of the genre but it is easy to see why it triggered an enthused response to its release, a potent entrance taken on to greater levels by its successor.

    Opener Caretaker attaches itself to the imagination on a sonic spear of sound, spoken vocals providing the initial narrative HOLLOW LEG - Instinctbefore intensive riffs and flattening beats add their scuzz fuelled presence. Employing raw vocal squalls and a leaden but irresistible groove, the song strolls with reserve and intimidating weight through the ears. It is a strong enticement into the album, not strikingly eventful but fully potent in its lure, bait stretched and reinforced by the likes of the bestially bruising Shattered and the more energetic devilish proposition of The Return. Whereas the first is another imposing and senses pinning load of sonic confrontation the second has an eager and fiery gait to its body, though that eventually succumbs to the core heftiness of the band’s sludge intent for a prowling and threatening climax.

     As the tracks follow each other it is fair to say that repetition of structure and chunks of certain riffery make a formulaic surface encounter which needs to be pierced to discover the extra delights tracks like The Source with its dirty melodic grazing upon another contagiously addictive groove offer. That southern lilt to the sound is especially rich and tantalising on this particular track, thoughts of bands like Sourvein, EyeHateGod, and Clutch making loud whispers in the raucous noise persuasion but also of another band, The Fat Dukes Of Fuck where certainly vocally and in a certain mischief the similarity is loud. For all those similarities, Hollow Leg ignite a hunger with their still distinct and raw invention; Bacchus with its inflamed swagger and addiction forging grooves around thrilling nagging riffs and punchy rhythms as well as the corrosively compelling Nothing Left drawing thoughts and emotions in with greater strength for a matching return of appetite for their voracious and intensive toxicity.

    The niggling violence of Spit In The Fire comes next to spark up another greedy response, the scowling vitriolic vocals against the equally tartish wash of exacting noise a rabid suasion, whilst the band’s intensity takes on a further burdensome and exciting depth with Warbeast, the title summing up the track quite accurately. Hooks and grooves, as across the album, come regularly and forcibly but as with most tracks also with a pleasing variation though their true potency often comes only after an excavating beneath the perpetually gruellingly textured skin of the release. The rhythmic taunting of Grace is an example of the variety at play beneath Instinct, but also proof of having to bury yourself into the song to best reap its rugged rewards.

      Closing with the tantalising and unpredictably twisting Wayside, a great epic finale of arduous invention and challenging enterprise, Instinct is a satisfaction filling entrance from a band we know goes on to an even more impressive endeavour. If you missed Hollow Leg on their initial entrance the new releasing of the album gives you a chance to make up for lost time, it a strenuous and stringent view of a band taking its first sonically acerbic steps.

www.facebook.com/hollowlegfl

8/10

RingMaster 05/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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