Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Monte Pittman and Sebastian Bach

                Monte Pittman has long been hailed as a guitar legend, teaching the likes of Guy Ritchie and Madonna how to play guitar, which landed him a spot as Madonna’s guitar player.  Working with Tommy Victor in Prong, led to the two of them working with Adam Lambert, before he was ever given a spot on television’s American Idol.  Pittman is one of those musicians with amazingly fast finger skills.

                Though he has worked with a number of entertainers, he also has his solo career, allowing him to spread his wings creatively.  Of course, having been around the world and knowing all sorts of talented musicians, he has cherry picked some of the best to work with for his solo gig.  The culmination of world class musicians creates a sound that doesn’t just fit into one specific genre, but depending on the song, he expands beyond one genre, hitting highs and lows, sprawling through various tempos, telling a musical story. 
Jon Dette is known in the scene as being a fast learner, subbing in for bands on a short moment’s notice, learning whole sets overnight to fill in when needed.  That in and of itself is a skill that not a lot of people have, and when you hear him pound on the drums, he has an intensity that not many drummers can even fathom reaching.  Working for bands like Slayer and Anthrax demands this intensity, and watching him, it is readily apparent why Monte would want to have him as a first pick on drums.

Eli Santana might be best known for Holy Grail and Huntress, but he has a band that is an anagram of his name called Alien Satan.  This long, dark-haired bass player may remind some people of a young Robert Trujillo, and it will be interesting to see where his career takes him, as he is also known for his acting skills.  Whether seeing him on screen or on stage, he brings a dark intensity that’s fabulous.

This powerhouse trio teamed up with Canadian rockers One Bad Son and Sebastian Bach, who formed his own super group for his solo mission after leaving Skid Row.  With Rob De Luca on bass, who is known for bands UFO, Spread Eagle and OF EARTH, this is another musician known as a fast learner, having to help out Helmet in a pinch, learning a ten-song set in four hours.  Guitarist Brent Woods, formerly of Young Gunns and Wildside, has been a force in music since the early 90’s, and he has teamed up with some incredible names in the industry, most notably working in the Vince Neil Project.

Drummer Bobby Jarzombek is best known for working in Halford and Riot, but he’s also worked with Fate’s Warning, Iced Earth, Juggernaut, and others.  It’s funny to watch him battle Jon Dette on stage when they do their drum solos, as Dette brings the intensity, while Jarzombek brings the flash.  Twirling sticks with the best of them, audience members stare in awe as Jarzombek does his tricks.

Opening for Monte Pittman and Sebastian Bach is a Canadian band called One Bad Son.  Their first album title was a throwback to the movie The Big Lewbowski, and the band took it upon themselves to make themselves known, showing up to radio stations, demanding that their song “Scarecrows” be played on air.  Drummer Kurt Dahl is an entertainment lawyer in Canada, so he’s probably a good one to have on tour in case of any legal issues that may come to light when these music legends meld minds.

Though Sarasota was not the original planned city for the end of tour, things have a way of working out for the best.  Originally, the show was slated for Tampa, but the original venue closed, providing an opportunity for Kelly Schaefer, formerly of Atheist and Neurotica, to promote the show at a new location:  The White Buffalo in Sarasota.  It didn’t take long for the show to sell out, and with Jon Dette having friends and family members in the area, he even got homemade cookies from his aunt.

Pittman was all excited about his latest merchandise addition:  panties.  Creating something for the ladies, he put the name of his new album “Between the Space” positioned cleverly on the undies.  Sitting down with Pittman to discuss more intimate topics for, Santana and Dette joined in on the fun interview, to give their perspective on what goes on behind closed doors.

In a couple days, the full interview will be found at, as well as on in a four-part segment from a couple different cameras.  Taken on “the bus that looks like Nightmare on Elmstreet,” in Pittman’s words, the green lighting cast an otherworldly glow, but it was not the brightest for the video camera.  Take a look below at a couple of clips from the guys and their thoughts on sex; on the second video with all three band members, at the end, they read excerpts from a few of my books.

The first time I met Monte was back in 2002, when I was interviewing Prong.  Specifically, I was interviewing Tommy Victor, and when he first told me that Monte played with Madonna, I thought they were joking.  Who would’ve thought that a guy playing a song like “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” would’ve been teaching one of the world’s largest pop artists to play guitar, and who would’ve thought at that point that he would be on stage with her for the halftime show at the Super Bowl tearing it up?

From the first time I met Prong, to even this past time, both Tommy and Monte played the same joke.  Tommy used large coarse table salt, and Monte had the upgraded large blue crystals.  They whip out this massive plastic baggie, pretending that it’s meth, just to get a reaction from people.  Monte laughed and said he wanted the blue to look like it was the stuff from Breaking Bad, and it does get reactions of the few times I’ve seen the joke, but I can only imagine how other reactions would’ve been.

The very first Prong interview I did, they had been playing with Danzig, a band that Tommy would later play guitar in, while Monte toured with Madonna.  It had been in the early stages of my career, and I remember being asked what I wanted to do in regards to music.  Back then, I said that I had wanted to go on tour, and was questioned why; I said I kept hearing people talk about it, but I wanted to experience it for myself, just to see what it was really like, as hearing is one thing, but experience…

To my surprise, less than two weeks later, I was pulled on stage by Rob Zombie and offered a job on tour.  I got to tour the country with Ozzfest and experience the not so glamourous side of touring, like showering at random truck stops when lucky enough to be able to stop.  Or not being able to stop to shower for a few days, as the schedule is too tight to get from one side of the country to the other to stop.

Before I got that experience, I was able to interview another musician, the same one who wrapped up the evening: Sebastian Bach.  Not expecting him to even be there, as I was called by a sister newspaper to cover a local band in a battle of the bands in Detroit, the club owners asked me if I wanted to interview the guest announcer, who was Sebastian Bach of Skid Row.  There was no way to prepare myself, as I never would’ve guessed that it would happen, but it was the first time I was star struck (the only other time was Tom Petty, and I never expected it to happen either time).

For some reason, words failed me.  It was as if my brain and mouth had a disconnect.  No matter if my brain thought of things to say, my mouth would not process the commands to form the words.

He must’ve been in this scenario before, as he simply looked at me and asked, “how about if I just talk, and you just write?”  Having all I could I could do to nod, I picked up my pen and started doing dictation, as he talked about getting his start in Detroit.  Detailing how he had the “Youth Gone Wild” tour with Guns ‘N Roses, which was a major tour back in the day, he explained how they had sold out a show, and when he got off stage, with adrenaline flowing through his veins, a guy asked if he wanted a line, and he feebly warned him that the line was a bit speedy, which Sebastian ignored, snorting it up.

This resulted in him being legally dead for a few minutes.  The adrenaline of being on stage, combined with the speediness of the line, resulted in an overdose that he almost didn’t live through.  This was an early warning message from a major rock star about how the music scene could be.

Of course, let’s be honest: drugs are not only in the music scene.  Fast forward a decade and a half, and the country has found itself in a major epidemic.  Though it was not speed, it was actually on the opposite end of the spectrum of downers, we actually had to leave the concert a few songs early when we got word that a girl we knew had overdosed, and not that there was much we could do.

She was found dead.  We didn’t know the details yet.  We thought we would see her again.

It’s not that we wanted to leave.  We had another after show segment planned for Jack and Jill with Monte and Vicky, an adult film star who was at the Sarasota show, but we thought that our friend was simply being taken to a hospital.  We thought by leaving that we would be able to see her at least one last time.

Nope.  Dead on arrival.  No second chance for her.

While the glitz and the glam of the rock and roll lifestyle looks so amazing from the outside, there’s also the reality.  Sebastian Bach is 50 and still rocking songs that he produced in his 20's.  Even Monte Pittman, though he has toured with Madonna, Adam Lambert, Prong, and others, still hopes to have his music be the main focus of his career, as opposed for being known for playing someone else’s songs.

Not everyone who has a hit song is a millionaire.  That’s just reality.  There’s plenty of musicians that are still struggling in the scene, so be sure and try to support the musicians that you enjoy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Vilest Breed emerges as a full band again

St. Patrick’s Day brought back Brian to the band Vilest Breed.  He had taken a hiatus from the band earlier in the year, simply walking away from music for a while.  Not that he had given up on music completely, as I heard him shred a few Taylor Swift covers in his living room while Josh sang, giving a whole new meaning to Taylor Swift when it’s sung by a guy. 

Sometimes, when it’s the same music over and over, you have to take a break to clear your head, and that’s exactly what Brian did.  However, when he returned, he did so with a vengeance.  Though the St. Patrick’s Day show might not have been the biggest event that Vilest Breed has ever played, it certainly sounded like one of the better performances that I’ve heard them in do in a long while.  There’s something about everyone in the band coming together, focusing in on the prize, and performing completely sober on one of the biggest drinking days of the year that gave it a little something extra.

It was certainly nice to not have to drive far, as Port Charlotte finally hosted a metal show at The Hive, located at 4095 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte.  It’s one of those clubs that when you walk up, you ask yourself if you’re in the right place, as there’s two parts to the bar.  Actually, you have to walk through the front club to get to the back club, which is where the metal show was hosted. 

Yes, there’s something nice about being able to play pool up front, but there’s something underground about having to maneuver to the back to find the hidden gem where local bands gathered to show off their skills.  The free show wasn’t all metal, as a rap group called 2099 started the show, followed by Casket Dancer, Born to Expire, Dav, Earthworm von Doom, Grasping at the Shadow, The Holloway, and Vilest Breed.  It’s nice to know there’s a local spot that supports the local artists in the area.
By the way, there's something completely awesome about violins in hardcore music.  I don't care what you say, you need to hear it.  I'll give props to the violins in metal any day.

While the music varied from act to act, there was a hardcore theme throughout most of it.  Nobody got completely naked like some people thought, but there was some skin that was flashed from the stage.  Certainly, there was moshing going on, and when people needed to take a breather, it was nice to be able to chillax near the water and look for gators lurking in the darkness of the depth below the dock.

As for Vilest Breed, they’re gearing up for another show in Friday night.  That’s going to be at Kelly’s up in Sarasota.  Bring your favorite moshing gear, and get ready to hear a little girl belt out some hardcore growls that will raise the hair on your arms and cause you to knock your head while holding up horns.

Portugal. The Man

People are just now getting to be up and arms about a band that I knew a decade ago was going to be huge.  That band is known as Portugal.The Man.  The very first album I heard back when I was studying for my Master's at Johns Hopkins University, which was sent to me by a publicist that has been in the business for a good while, and most of the things she handles has a pretty good vibe to me; her name is Heidi Ellen Robinson Fitzgerald, and she has handled everyone from Tom Petty to being instrumental when System of a Down first broke out on the scene.

When she would send me stuff, I would take a listen, as her taste in what she covered was similar to the stuff I found interesting.  So, when she sent over the first album of Portugal.The Man, I put it in, and I instantly downloaded it onto my iPod, which was the new big thing a little more than a decade ago.  For some reason, that album just spoke to me, as it was different; it stood out.

I had interviewed them for that first album, and I don't even know where that interview has disappeared to over the years.  I'm pretty sure it's in one of the first few issues of Thorisaz Views somewhere.  At the time, they were just starting out, so I had to ask them the typical standard questions about influence, as they didn't have big name things under their belt as of yet.

I remember hearing his adventures growing up in Alaska, being in an igloo with only a couple records to choose from, which molded his style of music to being a little different, a little more old school, with those more melodic beats, as opposed to some thrash or hardcore with dropping bass lines.  Sometimes, it's having that different influence that breaks the standard mold of what everyone else is doing.  When you don't have access to the same stuff, you're going to come up with different things, which is what this young kid did.

When I was finally able to cover the band in Michigan, I had been playing the album on repeat, and I was super excited to go to the all ages show.  However, I didn't realize exactly just how young the guys were.  Let's put it this way:  my friend turned to me at the show and said, "I feel as if I'm watching all my kids' friends and not getting paid."

We were the old chicks of the show, which may have been a little awkward back then, but it didn't stop me from having a good time enjoying the music.  There were so many guys on stage, I remember it was hard to take pictures, as I was constantly trying to dodge around other band members in attempt to get a money shot.    The night wound up being pretty cool actually, as we randomly found a hay ride in the middle of the city, and we had a guy wedge himself into the back of my Crossfire, which had just come out at that time, which was a pretty hilarious thing back then, too.

Fast forward to a few months ago, and Portugal.The Man breaks onto mainstream radio with a hit that is now being used in commercials on TV.  I can still hear that signature style that drew me in more than a decade ago, but there's a little more of a pop sound than he had before.  Either way, I still dig it, and if you haven't actually taken the time to listen to a full album, then you need to do yourself a favor and check it out, as it is a refreshing change to a lot of the other stuff that's out there.

This is not a band that is making music just to be the next big thing.  In my mind, they've been underestimated for more than a decade, and I'm extremely happy to see them finally get recognized for the talent they have.  These guys have grown into their sound, honed their skills and talents, and the result is just now being appreciated by the masses, just as I knew it would be a decade ago.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Countdown to Fort Rock

The countdown to Fort Rock has officially begun, and this year promises to be different from previous years, not just because the Fort has skipped coasts to relocate from the west coast to the east coast of Florida, but also because there is a mix of new and old.  New headliners like Ozzy and Zakk Wylde promise to captivate the audience just as much as the old tried and true like Godsmack.  Some might wonder how a lil girl like me can be so sure of this, but then again, I did tour the country on Ozzfest in 2002, and while some time has passed, Ozzy is always a good time...and usually involving some sort of water shenanigans.

It's true that Ozzy has been known for pulling tricks on people involving water, such as dumping water into someone's boots when they weren't looking, but I've had my own encounter with the fireman's hose on Ozzfest.  Hopefully, they don't break too many cameras this year with the soaking.  Most people would probably be thrilled to be drenched in the steaming Sunshine State, as this time of year only starts to get warmer and warmer, to the point of clothes soaking and clinging to the body.

Some people get torn trying to decide between Fort Rock and Welcome to Rockville - and that's because the only two big rock shows are always held at the same time.  Why?  I have no clue.

Many would love to do both shows, but it's hard to teleport to be in two places at once.  One of these years, maybe the promoters will realize that Floridians are used to driving and are willing to drive, but not this year.  So, pick your poison whether you want to head to Jacksonville or Sunrise, FL.

For those in Fort Myers, Fort Rock was a given.  Everyone expected the sold out shows to continue, but alas, now we have to cross Alligator Alley to try to rock out, as nobody replaced the rock void with any other show yet.  Still, we are willing to drive, as the lineup is as great as ever.

Each year only seems to get better, as there's a variety of performers coming together in one place each year that makes people feel as if they couldn't possibly miss out.  Now that Ozzfest no longer graces Florida with its presence, it's great that Ozzy and Zakk are at least willing to grace the Fort Rock stages.  Highlights from past Fort Rock years included a lil mishap with lights during Seether on stage that left their new guitar player a little shaken up, sexy backup dancers from many bands, the Jager girls whooping it up, over the top costumes, music so loud you could feel it in your chest, and so much sweat from audience members that the pit becomes more like a slimefest.

For those who might have missed it, here's a few pictures to review, but if you have the chance, the real thing is always better.  Mark the calendars for the last weekend of the month, because this new location is not to be missed.  South Florida needs to judge which Fort rocks harder at Fort Rock:  Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale?

For more by Marisa, pick up the June edition of Bad Diesel Magazine, or visit