Monte Pittman moved to Los Angeles in 1999 and worked at a guitar store as a salesman. He eventually started teaching guitar lessons. Pittman’s third student was British film director Guy Ritchie, who had just received a guitar as a gift from his girlfriend, Madonna. Ritchie later returned the favor, buying Madonna her guitar and she began to take lessons from Pittman as well.
A month after Pittman started giving guitar lessons to Madonna, he was invited to join her on stage at the Late Show with David Letterman to promote her album “Music.” The pair played guitar together on an acoustic version of the hit song “Don’t Tell Me.” Subsequently, Pittman was invited to join the band for Madonna’s Drowned World Tour (2001). He has played in every incarnation of Madonna’s live band since then. Pittman shares writing credits with Madonna on the tracks “Easy Ride” from “American Life” (2003), 2007’s “Hey You” charity single and “It’s So Cool” from “Celebration” (2009).Additionally, Pittman has contributed performances to Madonna’s studio recordings, appearing on 2005’s “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” “Like It Or Not” and 2008’s “Hard Candy,” “Spanish Lesson & Ring My Bell.”
Apart from world tours Pittman has joined Madonna on stage in many special events, most notably at Live 8 where he played for thousands of people at Hyde Park in 2005 and at the 2007 Live Earth where he had the chance to jam “Big Bottom” with Spinal Tap, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett among a dozen of other bass players on stage.
Pittman was introduced to Prong’s Tommy Victor by White Zombie drummer Ivan de Prume; the two hit it off, and Pittman joined Prong in 2000. He played guitar on their 2002 tour that spawned the live album “100% Live”. Pittman handled guitar and bass duties for the 2003 album “Scorpio Rising” On Prong’s 2007 release “Power of the Damager,” Pittman wrote 5 of the 13 songs and provided backing vocals alongside bass duties. He is also credited as an associate producer for both “Power of the Damager” and the remixed version “Power of the Damn Mixxxer” which was released on May 2009.
Hello Monte, thank you for being here today.
MP: What’s up All That Shreds Magazine. Thanks for having me!
Last night at the Randy Rhoads Remembered, that was a pretty beautiful epic thing there you did!
MP: Thank you man, it’s a great thing to be a part of. Many of my favorite guitar players are there at the event. It’s always a great experience. That’s the second one I’ve done. I did one a few years ago, and it was cool. You know, any time you can play Randy’s music.
Who are your influences?
MP: Randy’s one, Steve Vai’s one, Gary Moore, Metallica, all those kinds of bands, sort of a common thing. A couple of my buddies, Tommy Victor, Dino Cazares, Dimebag, and there’re people, names you don’t hear a lot. There’s a guy Ottmar Liebert, I guess he’s under new age, but he does nylon strings. He doesn’t do crazy stuff; he’s just really tasty, he’ll play just the melody, he was one of my influences. There’s an acoustic guy, Ray LaMontagne, and he is a massive influence on me, he may be just playing G C D, but its that feeling, Can’t forget Ritchie Blackmore.
So it’s 2018, what do you get coming up for you this year?
MP: I’m teaching a bunch of guitar lessons, its sort of what I do as my day job. It’s online, over Skype or Facetime. I released my 4th album bout year ago, on Metal Blade Records called “Inverted Grasp of Balance”. I am getting ready to release videos of every song from that album. They’re like performance videos, and we film them at these shows. I play out on my own, my solo act, about every other weekend. Its just me, and I start out on acoustic, and then I get into my heavy stuff. I use my drums n bass from my albums, and I play off my iPod. I bring my Kemper. I put my Kemper in my suitcase, I got my band with me on my iPod, put my guitar in my gig bag. I can fly to Phoenix and then drive to Vegas, and then a couple of weeks later fly to Dallas and drive to Shreveport, go to New York and Boston. I do shows like that. It happened to me, playing at a party that I did this, it was just somebody, somebody down the street, and they were like the man you should do shows like that. Kathy Rhoads asked to do one at their winery, why don’t you do a show here. So I did one, and I tried it there and went over very well. Now I’m going to book a show at this place, and it works. St Vincent, she is doing the same thing, but she has cool screens n lasers n stuff, I don’t think she is using an old iPod haha. I’m going to put out the follow-up, next album this year, early summer, again on Metal Blade, and then start playing out some shows for that.
So everything all of this is online one can find out about all of it?
MP: www.montepitman.com, and anywhere on social media just @montepitman. There’re various online lessons at firstname.lastname@example.org, and hopefully, I’m easy to find. If not let me know how I can make it easier!
The question I was going to ask next was about your gear, but you covered that.
MP: Guitars, ESP Guitars, no signature model, I like having different things, sometimes I use this, sometimes I use that. I just had them make me a Telecaster; I’ve never really had one. I had a cheap Squire one; it’s like my cheap camping guitar. You know whatever I can just throw it around, and it exactly plays n sounds incredible cause I throw it around. So they just made me a tele which is terrific. That’s one of the things that attracted me to ESP, are they make strats, tele’s, V’s their eclipse, which is their les paul. I’m also playing with Madonna, so I need every different kind of sound; you never know what you’re going to need and that with the Kemper to get my main sound. When I have the luxury of having my amps with me, I use my Orange amps. My Kemper goes stereo direct to the board, and it also has a direct out, which is untouched, or bypass, however you want to say it, so that goes into my amp, my Orange half stack. The Kemper powers one cabinet, the Orange powers another cabinet. One is analog, and one is digital, and it gives you the perfect broad sound. That’s the ideal situation for me. For pedals, I do use different pedals at times, but I try to program everything there in the Kemper.
It’s like a one stop shop!
MP: It is, I tell everybody, it’s the greatest invention for the guitar, and the amp sounds I use live are the same sound I get in the studio.
I’ve heard some of the settings, I have a 70’ Marshall Head, and they have a classic Marshall setting, which sounded just like my 70’ Marshall.
MP: Right, I could come over, we profile your Marshall and get the same thing. You can get sounds off the internet too, it’s called, the Rig Exchange. People just profile amps and put it up there. The other day I wanted to find an old Mesa Boogie MK II, and somebody had an old one, and they profiled it. I got that sound. I like to study an amp, and see how I can apply that to my sound.
I appreciate the time and good luck in everything this year
MP: Thank you thank you so much.
Written by Tony Lepre. Photographs by Renee Jahnke.