Madonna news - June 2021

← May 2021 | July 2021 →

Guitarist Monte talks what's hard about being in pop superstar's band

Source: Ultimate - 5 June 2021

During an appearance on The Classic Metal Show, guitarist Monte Pittman talked about his longtime position in Madonna's band, looking back on how he joined the group over two decades ago. 

Monte Pittman first went on tour with Madonna on the 2001 Drowned World Tour

Asked what it's like being in a superstar's band "on a guitar level, on a personal level, and all that kind of stuff," Monte replied (transcribed by UG):

"Well, it was a little different for me of how all this started because I became friends with her, I became friends with Madonna, and then she was going to go on tour again.

"It wasn't like I had auditioned for it - and I don't know if I would have, who knows - but at the time, I wouldn't think that that's something that I would have pursued. I probably wouldn't even think about it because I would have just wanted to try to get a gig playing for somebody in a heavy band.

"I moved to L.A. from Texas and so it was such a culture shock to come to such a big city. And there's so much nostalgia here. The first time I got here, I felt like I knew the place because everything looked familiar because you've seen it on TV, in movies, and in videos.

"So I got a job working at a music store - and I've sucked at selling guitars. And people used to come in looking for guitar teachers, and Steve Vai was down the street teaching lessons, or Marty's down the street teaching. But we didn't have anyone that we recommended in the store, and I was thinking about quitting and moving back to Texas.

"So anyway, I started teaching and so that led to me teaching Madonna's boyfriend at the time, and that's how we became friends. And then that's what led to me teaching her, thinking that she'll take a lesson and that was it.

"I gave her her first lesson and then the next day, her assistant wrote and said, 'She wants you to come over Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for two hours.' I'm like, 'OK!' So I was going over to her house almost every day and teaching her how to play guitar.

"And she was just really getting into it of being able to just write her own songs or be able to play her own songs, or songs that she's always liked. And then a month after I started teaching her, she said something I took as a joke, she said, 'You want to come to play with me on Letterman this Thursday?'

"And I'm just like, 'Oh, yeah, sure.' And then after the lesson, she goes, 'OK, my manager will sort out your travel and all this stuff.' And I was like, 'You're not joking?' And that's the moment now looking back - for me, I don't realize these things a lot of times when they're happening.

"Plus you have to put so much work into it, you don't have time to stop and think about what you're doing. But you look back, it was such a life-changing moment because we played on David Letterman, and that is a moment where I went on stage as one person, and when I walked off that stage, my life was completely different, forever."

So she liked your playing and after Letterman she wanted you to keep doing more stuff with her?

"Yeah. She hadn't toured in seven years, so for all I knew, she had retired or maybe she just wasn't going to tour anymore. And so then she said, 'Hey, I'm going to go on tour, I want you to still teach me. So do you want to play guitar for me?' I'm like, 'Yeah, of course.'

"And then I figured maybe I'll do a tour and that would be it but she kept calling me. It's 21 years later now, which seems like it all went by in a flash...

"That's a great thing - getting to play such massive shows, but it's not the same as if you were a band member for a big band, and you're playing those shows, and it's your band doing it.

"But a great thing about that is you can play these big shows and you're there supporting the artists. Although everybody's creating, that's one thing about Madonna - she wants everyone to bring in their input but then you can leave and walk down the street, nobody knows who you are. And other people wouldn't be able to do that... It's the hardest that I've ever worked - working with her."

What's hard about it?

"It's the hours! It could be 12-hour days, sometimes 14-hour days. One thing that has been highlighted with working with her is the thing if it's not what you play, it's what you don't play.

"Sure, you could think like, 'OK, I'm gonna get on stage and just shred all over a song.' But that doesn't necessarily work. There are times it does, but it doesn't work on everything like with other bands.

"In a metal band - yeah, you play everything, you play as much as you can play. But it's not that case, it's having the space for all the other instruments.

"So then when you do something, let's say you get a solo, then it really shines, nothing else is going on and there's going to be a guitar solo here."

The cool thing about Madonna is she lets you contribute your own stuff and your own style, you do your own guitar solos. And there is a segment in one of the shows, or I don't know if it was through the whole tour, you did Pantera! Both you and Madonna were jamming to Pantera!

"That was part of the show. We did that and we rehearsed that from the setlist every day, we played it every day at soundcheck."

I'm sure a lot of the Madonna fans didn't know what was going on, or who the hell that was, but a lot of metalheads are like, 'Whoa!'

"Yeah, you would think that but every once in a while, there'd be a security guard that would be looking and just be like, 'What? Oh!' You always see fans with a lot of Dream Theater shirts, for whatever reason you see their shirts.

"So you'll see a rock band, someone wearing their shirts at a concert. But when I was working with her on her right hand for some guitar lesson stuff, and I was telling her this thing that Dimebag had said to me in a Prong show [Monte also played in Prong].

"He was asking if we played the song 'Cut-Rate,' and I was like, 'Yeah.' He's like, 'Oh, you do that part where it goes F-sharp and it does this?' And I was really impressed that he knew the whole song, he could play the whole song right then and there, and it's one of the fastest things at that time that I'd ever had to play.

"He's like, 'You got to stay on top of that string, you can't let your pick leave the string, you just got to relax.' I was like, 'Oh, wow, cool. Such great advice.' But to some people, it's one of those things you don't really think about. That's sort of one of the secrets.

"So I was showing that to her, and then the next day, she walked in, she had a bottle of wine and two glasses, sits them down, and she puts on her guitar, just goes, 'Check this out!' And I was like, 'Oh my god, I wish somebody could see this!' I was like, 'Now I got to show you a Pantera song!'

"And I showed her 'A New Level' because you could do drop D tuning where she could just do it with one finger. And then when we were at that point on the setlist, the song which we had done for the ending was her song 'Hung Up.'

"We just got a new musical director and he had this idea of doing that song where she's playing guitar because it would be almost like a polar opposite of the original.

"And so then when we would play that song at the end, she would just start playing the 'A New Level' riff, and then the rest of the band didn't know that song, they just thought she was playing that so they would just play to her.

"And then it's like, 'Wow, that was fun, got to jam some Pantera with Madonna today! Who would have ever thought that would happen?' And then you would see the tour manager coming in with some papers and someone comes and restocks the refrigerator with water, and everybody would start just showing up at that part of rehearsal just to see that! And it stayed in the setlist. So that's how that happens."

Madonna and family celebrate their dad's 90th birthday

Source: Social media - 5 June 2021

Madonna and her children Lola, David, Mercy, Estere and Stella went to visit Madonna's dad Silvio -Tony- Ciccone who was celebrating his 90th birthday. Several of Madonna's sisters and brothers joined the celebrations too. Pictures were taken at the wineyard of Ciccone in Michigan.

Madonna poses with her dad Tony and her children Lola, David, Mercy, Estere and Stella

One of the twins congratulates grandfather Tony with his birthday Madonna with her sisters Paula, Jennifer, Melanie, and their dad Tony Madonna with her sister Melanie Madonna checks one of her dad's wines Madonna and her daughter Lola

Dit bericht bekijken op Instagram

Een bericht gedeeld door Madonna (@madonna)

↑ Back to top of page