Monte Pittman Talks ‘Inverted Grasp of Balance’ Album, Working with Richard Christy + Billy Sheehan + More
Guitarist Monte Pittman is back with the new solo album Inverted Grasp of Balance, a disc that features contributions from Winery Dogs bassist Billy Sheehan and Charred Walls of the Damned drummer Richard Christy. We had a chance to speak with Pittman at the recent Ozzfest Meets Knotfest weekend and got the low down on the new disc, his pairings with Sheehan and Christy and what the future holds in store.
First off, congrats on your new album.
Thank you, yeah. The album just came out and it's called Inverted Grasp of Balance on Metal Blade and it's been an overwhelming response so far. It's kind of freaking me out because I didn't know what people were going to think. So it's great.
Did you have an idea of what you wanted to accomplish going into the album?
I really just wanted to make the heaviest, craziest thing that I could and just really push my boundaries and make sure that … a lot of my friends in L.A. are just phenomenal guitar players and it just so happened that I was around them a lot and just hearing them play, it was like, "Man, I need to go home and practice." So that really rubbed off on me.
But the first album I ever did was just acoustic guitar and vocals, so I could recreate that anywhere and I had three days to make that, non-stop, like I didn't sleep. So when you hear that or if I listen to it, it was like, "Oh this is four in the morning and I sound tired." But this second album was a hybrid of that, after playing those songs live, then I started adding a drummer and a bass player and adding some lead guitar stuff. So the third album, I was working with Flemming Rasmussen and I gave him all these songs, all my demos, and he was like, "I want to record all these heavy songs with you." I thought, "Okay, just for the experience, and just to work with him, let's do it." And that's what got me signed to Metal Blade.
The new album, Inverted Grasp of Balance, is the first time I had everybody on board. I had the label on board from Day 1 and I had people that I can trust, not that I couldn't trust anybody before, but when you have the guy who discovered Slayer telling you, "I like how you do this and do this," and I'm like, "Whatever you told them, just tell me and I'll do that." (laughs) So that was it.
I just wanted to make an album that would get everybody's attention and not just put out another album. I kind of compare it to, you know in the Pantera home video when they're meant to come out with Far Beyond Driven and Phil tells the audience, "The next album is just going to be like what is wrong with them." That's kind of like what I wanted to do. When Richard [Christy] was doing the drums, I was kind of like if you have any doubts and you don't know what to do, just play the craziest thing you can play. I want this album to be like you put on the album and it just physically assaults you for an hour. [laughs]
You mentioned Richard Christy played drums on this record. What was the connection?
Yeah, Richard Christy played drums, Billy Sheehan played bass and I played guitar and some bass also, and we all know each other through Metal Blade. Richard has another band, Charred Walls of the Damned, and they just put out a new record, an amazing album, too. And the same with Billy … we all know each other through Metal Blade, and one of the great things about being signed to that label is that it becomes a family. You start to see everybody out at events and functions and work things, and that's how it happened. I was going to have a few different people play, and the schedules didn't work out, so it worked that Richard played the drums on everything and then I got Billy. And Billy was a great source of support. He had a lot of great things to say about the last album and Billy was one of the first people to say something about it, and then I saw on my Twitter that Tracii Lords was tweeting about it. And I'm like, "How the hell do these people know that I put out an album?"
How cool is it to know that you've got a guy like Billy, with such a rich history, on your side?
Oh man. I wanted to give him like the heaviest songs on the record just to see him go nuts. And then the song "California," the song did just start, but when he did bass, I'm like, "Hey, will you just go nuts. Give it a few passes where you just go nuts on the bass and then set it up to where then the band can kick in." So we just started the song with him going nuts, and he was doing this stuff with both hands. It was so amazing what he was doing and it was so awesome to have those guys on the album.
As far as this album, what's on the horizon?
The next piece of the puzzle is getting a booking agent. I tried booking my own shows and I need to just stick to the guitar. It's frustrating and it's a lot of work booking your own shows. So I need to get a booking agent.
You've played with Madonna over the years and had the ability to see how others do things taking the lead. Now that you're the guy at the front, can you talk about that responsibility?
Yeah, well, you don't get a lot of sleep. That's for sure. I wake up at 4 in the morning every day just to get caught up with everything that I have to do. So sleep is something that's out the window, but your body gets used to that, but yeah, it's all me from bringing the gear to writing the songs, setting up the merch, everything.