You may know him as Madonna's long time guitarist, or from his time with Adam Lambert, but there is a lot more to L.A. guitarist Monte Pittman. Monte's solo albums "The Deepest Dark" and "Pain, Love & Destiny" are powerful narratives that speak volumes. His newest album "Pain, Love & Destiny" cracked iTunes' Top 200 in the first week. - The only album by an independent artist to have done so.
We listened to "Pain, Love & Destiny" before the interview and it's really no surprise why it cracked iTunes' Top 200. Songs like "Lost" and "Somewhere In The Middle" envoke memories of early Alice In Chains, whereas it feels as though Monte is channeling John Lennon in the album's closing track "Predetermined Destiny." The whole album swells with stellar musicianship and raw emotion.
Monte talked to us about his life in Los Angeles, his music, and his new signature Jarrell Guitar, which is being debuted at the Super Bowl 2012 during his halftime performance with Madonna. Read on for truly unique insight into the City of Angels.
Have you had a lifelong love affair with music or is this a recent development? When did it start and how has it evolved over the years?
I've always wanted to play music since I was a little kid. I keep learning as we all do. Right now I see the big picture. I have 2 albums out now and 20 songs written for the next album. I see what kind of songs I need to add to my live show.
We've listened to your album, "Pain, Love & Destiny" and we found it very powerful and emotive. Tell us about the process you went through when writing this album.
Thank you. There are parts that came together as it was being recorded and there are pieces that I've had for years. I like to sit with my songs for a while and let them develop and grow. I made a demo of the entire album. You can record one part and find that you've used a word or musical part somewhere else so then you change it. That's how I feel the album kind of writes or reveals itself.
We feel "Pain, Love & Destiny" is a very personal album. Is this the case? And if so, how difficult was it for you to put that part of yourself out to the public?
I look at it like I'm a story teller. They aren't biographies. In "(I Am) The Black Rabbit", it's where The Black Rabbit confronts Hazel in Watership Down. I'm not saying that "I" am The Black Rabbit...or am I?... That's up to the listener to decide.
Tell us about your experience using Kickstarter to fund the album. We heard you raised a record amount. How did the experience compare to what you were imagining?
I was reluctant to do it at first. I thought it was a site just asking fans for money but when I learned more about it, I found out there are incentives so people do get something cool in return. There are several things I would do differently if I were to do it again. Doing house parties and teaching guitar lessons were two of the most popular incentives. It was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to any band or artist. I made my goal at the lowest amount possible so I could at least get that. Anything past that is a bonus.
You spend so much time on music. Between backing Madonna, Prong, and Adam Lambert how did you find time to write "Pain, Love & Destiny?"
I'm always writing something. A lot of times I have pieces here and there and it could be years later that it all makes sense and comes together.
It seems like you've got time management down to an art. What's the secret to balancing your career with your personal life?
Well, it's all about balance. That's what makes the world turn. I kind of don't have a choice. It's too late to say, "what am I going to do with my life?" I feel like I have something to say and something to fight for like never before.
How would you describe one of your performances to someone who's never seen them?
I try my best to have a little something for everyone. There are the rock songs, some acoustic songs, some jam and free for parts where anything can happen in the moment, and some covers, too. I sing and play guitar. Kane Ritchotte and Max Whipple from the band Vas Defrans play drums and bass.
We've heard you have a special edition guitar coming out from Jarrell Guitars. Since we probably can't get a sneak peek, why don't you tell us about it? What makes the Monte Pittman Jarrell Guitar different from other guitars that are out there?
It just was unveiled at the NAMM show. There are 13 different sounds you can get out of it. It's the most versatile guitar I've ever played. Jarrell guitars have a very unique and distinctive sound. We have three models. The regular MPS and the MPS-f which has a Floyd Rose. They are loaded with custom Seymour Duncan pickups There is also the MPS Classic which is the least expensive.
We're going to be keeping an eye on you! What can we expect to see in the coming months?
I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. I'm playing the Super Bowl with Madonna. She has a new album coming out and what I've heard so far is absolutely incredible. I'm up for 3 awards for the Artist in Music awards February 10. The next day I'm headlining the Whisky which is Saturday February 11th.