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.

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