Monte Pittman will be releasing his fourth full-length album, Inverted Grasp Of Balance, on September 23rd via Metal Blade Records. (Pre-order it here). The world renowned guitarist enlisted the help of drummer Richard Christy (Charred Walls Of The Damned/Iced Earth/Death) and bassist Billy Sheehan for this record, and it delivers on all levels. Inverted Grasp Of Balance features the heaviest material he’s ever written, but also incorporates the groove and style that we’ve come accustomed to hearing from him over the years. As I’ve said before, whether it’s his singing, songwriting, or guitar playing, Monte showcases his skills like never before on this new album, and as you’ll read in our chat below, he couldn’t be happier with how it all came out.
Metal Mark: Hey Monte, great to talk to you as always! How’s the Vegas trip going?
Monte Pittman: Mark, good to hear from you! Vegas is good man. We are out here shooting a video, and it’s been non-stop since six in the morning, but we are done, so I’m happy. The album process continues as they say.
MM: Yes it does. Speaking of the album, Inverted Grasp Of Balance absolutely blew me away. Just when I thought you couldn’t impress me more, you go and create this record.
MP: Wow, thanks man! I’m always interested to hear what people think, because the heavy music I tend to write may not appeal to others like I think it does. The response I’ve heard so far has been really positive, so I’m really happy about that. This was the first record I’ve had no restraints on, so I think that helped with the final product as well. It gave me more time to think about every word, every note, every chord, stuff like that. I knew I had the time, so I really put everything into it, and am glad people are digging it so far.
MM: You’ve mentioned before that you wanted to create the craziest and heaviest record you’ve ever done, and I think you accomplished that. Why was this the time to release that type of album?
MP: It just felt right. I was writing so much material, but then when I focused on the best parts, it was usually the heavier stuff. I began to create more in that mindset, and Inverted Grasp Of Balance is the result of that. Plus, I’ve been really inspired by a lot of the bands on Metal Blade Records as well. I really dived into the label’s catalog, and bands like Behemoth and Amon Amarth, ya know just to name a few, really clicked with me, and pushed me to progress my playing and songwriting to new levels. It’s like in the old Pantera home videos, where they said fans are going to be like “What is wrong with them?” when they hear Far Beyond Driven. That’s what I was going for (laughs).
MM: I definitely think ‘Pride Comes Before the Fall’ was the perfect single to release for that response, because it’s one hell of a track.
MP: Thanks dude. Yea, I definitely wanted that song out first because it showcases a little bit of everything the record has to offer. I’m not big on teasers or previews, as other band are. I like to send a finished product out. That track has all three of us on it showcasing what we can do, and right from the opening note, it flows so well. You get the heavy and melodic side of my songwriting too, so I thought it was an easy choice.
MM: I totally agree. It’s definitely they heaviest material you’ve written, but you also inserted your signature style and vibe into the songs, as you mentioned before, which I thought was very cool.
MP: I was really careful about how I did that. I wanted to create the heaviest thing I’ve ever done, but I didn’t want to totally alienate my style. Fans wouldn’t appreciate that, and neither would I. I didn’t want to create a monotone record just to show I can shred ya know. Jay Ruston, who produced it, really helped with that aspect as well. He worked a lot on the melodies, and incorporated them into the songs in such an amazing way. Some songs we could be able to play on the radio, and some you would never hear on the airwaves. That’s what I was aiming for. The song we shot today in Vegas for, ‘Guilty Pleasure,’ has hints of Cannibal Corpse in it, but I’m no Corpsegrinder, therefore I add my singing voice over it, and it came out killer. So the record definitely has the heavy side, but that’s not what it’s all about. I feel it’s an easy listen all the way through, which is what I wanted.
MM: I totally agree. It definitely takes you on a ride, which is what every fan is looking for in an album.
MP: I agree 100%.
MM: You talked about Jay Ruston, but you also had some stellar help behind the kit and on bass this album. How did the Richard Christy and Billy Sheehan team come together on this record?
MP: I’ve been a fan of Richard Christy‘s playing for years, so when I knew I wanted to do the “heaviest” record I’ve done, he was definitely one of my first choices, and luckily he agreed. I basically told him to go crazy, and not hold back, and he definitely did not. Some of what he does on this record blows me away.
As for Billy, we all know what a talent he is when it’s come to the bass. The dude is a living legend. He came in at the end, and just nailed it. I did do bass on some of the tracks, but you can definitely tell what songs he is on. It was just a pleasure to work with him and Richard, and hopefully we can jam again sometime soon.
MM: You’ve obviously played with many legends over your career, but does it still push you to better yourself when you’re around people you respect so much?
MP: Totally. I always want to get better, and if you surround yourself with people that you consider better, it’s only a matter of time before it happens. You see them do something, and run to your room and try to replicate it. It’s like trying to nail the ‘Eruption’ solo as a kid all over again (laughs). Everyday I try to learn something new, or master a new technique. That’s how I’ve always been. I learned my limits quickly with this new stuff, and pushed myself to learn what I never knew was possible, and that’s awesome.
MM: For a lot of people, you are a superhuman guitar player. What techniques or styles are you still trying to learn and master?
MP: There are so many man (laughs). I think it would take more than one lifetime to master the guitar totally. A lot of my friends in Los Angeles are ferocious guitar players, and I learned a lot about riffing and soloing from them while writing this new material. They would blow me away with what they could do, and I’ve been trying to add that to my repertoire ever since. I don’t think I could just say one technique or style I want to master right now, honestly, because there are just too many, and that’s the beautiful thing about music. It’s always evolving, and something exciting and new could be right around the corner.
MM: Does that mean more new music could be coming sooner than later from you, because in previous interviews you’ve said you never stop writing.
MP: I definitely never stop writing. That’s a fact. I write everyday. Whether it’s a full song or not, that’s another story. With this material, it all came together so easily. I’ve just hit a stride in my playing recently, so there’s a ton of stuff flowing out of me right now. I’m in no rush to release something new, because this album isn’t even out yet, but there is definitely some stuff I already have locked down for a future release. I’m just in a really great place as a player and songwriter right now, and I need to take advantage of it. I will keep writing and playing until I can’t anymore, so there is new stuff coming for sure, but there is no rush. It’ll happen when it’s time.
MM: Very cool man. With this new release coming out, obviously fans are wanting to know about the possibility of live shows. You toured a little bit off the last album, but how much can we expect in support of this new record?
MP: That’s the big question (laughs). I want to. I definitely want to. I live to be on that stage. I need to get a booking agent, and get all of that stuff together, but it’s definitely something I want to do. Playing these songs in the studio or for friends is a blast, but I’d love to get out there for fans to hear it live. It really takes on a new power when you hear it in person, so hopefully we can make that a reality soon.
MM: Awesome to hear! Monte, thanks for taking out the time today, and once again, congratulations on the new record. I will hopefully see you on the road sometime in the future!
MP: Thank you for the support Mark! I hope everyone enjoys the new tunes like you do! See you soon!
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