Gone fishing: The story behind Foghat's 'Fool for the City' LP cover

Roger Earl remembers an encounter with New York City's Finest
By Peter Lindblad

Everyone's had a good laugh over the years over the cover to Foghat's Fool for the City album cover. Count Roger Earl, the band's original drummer and the only founding member of the '70s blues-rock giants left in the band, among them.

Foghat - Fool For The City
"Yeah, to this day, people tend to get a real kick out of it," said Earl. "The thing is, one has to maintain one’s sense of humor. I think it’s imperative."

The boys in Foghat certainly never took themselves too seriously. On the cover of Fool for the City is a photo of Earl sitting on a soapbox fishing in a manhole in the middle of East 11th Street in New York City. Foghat's American office was located nearby.

Despite being an avid fisherman, it wasn't Earl who came up with the idea.

"Um, I might be wrong, but I believe it was suggested by our producer and bass player at the time, Nick Jameson," said Earl. "I’m pretty sure Nick was the one who suggested it. I should ask him about it. I think it was his idea, because anytime I had some time off or I was wanting to unwind, I would go fishing. I’d grab a rod and go. Fly fishing was always fun, and fishing on rivers, because you could walk. But it didn’t matter if I was in a boat or sitting on a sandy beach, it was still fishing. And that’s the way I still feel. Anytime I could go fishing, it wasn’t wasted time. That what they say, right? (laughs) In fact, I read somewhere, God doesn’t take time out of your life if you go fishing. And I said, “I like that.” Fishermen like that (laughs)."

Some of the local authorities weren't initially so jolly about what Earl and Foghat were doing, as Earl recalls.

"I think we’d finished the record actually, and we were out on Long Island, and we got up early one Sunday morning, drove into Manhattan with a pole, lifted up the manhole cover and started fishing," said Earl. "And a couple of New York’s Finest came along and said, 'Hey, you got a license?' Because I had a pole, and I said, 'Oh, shit.' And he said, 'Do you have a fishing license?' (laughs) They said, 'What the f—k are you guys doing?' And we explained to him what we were doing, and they said, 'Oh, okay.' So they just made sure the taxis and other cars wouldn’t go down the pot hole or anything. They’re New York’s Finest, and they laughed at it. They were more worried about murderers, robbers and rapists, not some rock ‘n’ rollers pulling up manhole covers (laughs)."

One of the best live bands to ever come out of the '70s, as evidenced by 1977's massively successful Foghat Live album, Foghat has a new live DVD out titled "Live in St. Pete" that's available at http://www.foghat.net/. Earl likes how it came out.

Foghat - Live at St. Pete
"Yeah, we were rather pleased with it," said Earl. "We’d been trying to put out a DVD. The last one we had was about 10 years ago, and it was taken from a whole bunch of shows. Over the last 10 years or so, we’d record regularly, or if there was decent filming equipment there, and we’d been going through all the DVDs and stuff that we had, and I’m trying to compile a bunch of tunes that we could put on a DVD. The problem I was having is that some films and some shows sounded really good, but the video left something to be desired. Other shows looked really good, and like the bass drum or the bass guitar weren’t on there or we had no lead guitar, or Charlie’s voice was distorted. So I’d gotten through all this stuff, and it was um … definitely a labor of love, but it wasn’t really (laughs)."

This one, they got right, as per our review of the video. http://backstageauctions.blogspot.com/2014/02/dvd-review-foghat-live-in-st-pete.html

"So what happened was, we finished actually touring for the year, and our agent called us up and said, 'Look, somebody’s canceled at this club down in Florida in St. Pete. Would you guys like to play there?" related Earl. "Myself, I was already down in Florida, staying at a house down there. Bryan (Bassette) lives down there, as does Charlie (Huhn). And two of our crew were already down there, so we called everybody up and said, 'Do you want to go out and do one more?' And they all said, 'Please.' (laughs) We did it, and our families were there, so we had a big party afterwards, and our sound engineer came in with a CD from the night, and he said, I think you sounded really good.' And he really didn’t have much to do with it. He cleaned up most of the stuff that he could. And then he handed us something us. There was also video from it, and we went, All right.' We were drinking some wine and (had some) cheese and vodkas, and having a party at the hotel, and we were listening to it, and going, 'Wow! This is really good.'"

And so, "Live at St. Pete" was born. Look for more of our interview with Earl in this space in the coming days and weeks.


Crowbar to release 'Symmetry in Black' this spring

NOLA metal miscreants celebrate 25th anniversary

Crowbar 2014
Photo by Zack Smith
When the thaw comes, so will the sludge, as New Orleans riff maulers Crowbar are set to deliver Symmetry in Black, their newest album, on May 27.

A day earlier, it will released in Europe through Century Media Records.

Produced by founding guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein and Duane Simoneaux, Symmetry in Black comes on the heels of 2011's Sever the Wicked Hand. Windstein is beyond excited about Crowbar's latest.

"We are so proud and excited about what we have accomplished with this record! The focus, determination and attitude in the band is at an all-time high," said Windstein. "We are 100 percent ready to get this juggernaut rolling and never touch the brakes again. Crowbar will not be stopped!"

Symmetry in Black will be Crowbar's tenth studio LP. Furthermore, this year is Crowbar's silver anniversary, marking 25 years since the band arrived on the metal scene kicking and screaming from the womb.

"Crowbar is my heart and soul," said Windstein. "The music is part of me that I am extremely proud of. It's an amazing feeling to be putting all of my energy and focus into something that I created 25 years ago! We are extremely excited to release our tenth full length and to bring the riffs to as many people as possible on tour. See you on the road!"

Having finished recording, Crowbar will fly over to the U.K. for a short tour. Windstein, guitarist Matt Brunson, drummer Tommy Buckley and bassist Jeff Golden will be supported by Hang The Bastard and Dropback. Crowbar will hit the European festival scene this summer, making appearances at Roadburn and Bloodstock. U.S. fans can witness the Crowbar carnage at Maryland Deathfest.

Backstage Auctions Announces Line Up for The 2014 Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction

The Rock God and Metal Monsters Auction will include over 700 pieces of rare hard rock and heavy metal memorabilia featuring Anthrax, Megadeth, KISS, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Pantera, Motley Crue, The Cult, Helmet, Nickelback, Overkill, Ozzy, White Zombie and more.

Backstage Auctions is proud to present their annual "Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction". The online event, which is scheduled to go live in March, features amazing pieces of rock history direct from the
David Ellefson Bass Guitars
Big 4 Tour
personal collections of artists, producers, managers and record industry professionals.

"Our annual hard rock and heavy metal auction has really become our most popular auction event we host and this year we are super excited about so many rare but highly personal items from both musicians and industry executives," explains Backstage Auctions founder Jacques van Gool.

There is definitely a wide range of collectibles featured in the auction including guitars, drum heads, amps, pedals, gear and accessories, artist stage
Charlie Benante Drum Head
Anthrax Anthems Album 
worn apparel, RIAA Gold and Platinum records awards, recordings, incredible vinyl collections, original artwork, rare concert posters, vintage t-shirts, historical ephemera, photos and negatives with "money shots", picks and sticks
and the list goes on.

Spanning several decades of rock history, the items up for auction are definitely iconic pieces that collectors and fans will go nuts over. "It's not every day that you get a bass guitar from the legendary David Ellefson, but to get two that were used on the Big 4 tour, well that's every fan or collector's dream," says van Gool.

One band that is sure to steal a huge chunk of the spotlight is Kiss, with consignments of rare (and some never before seen) pieces of Kiss history – all coming directly from former Aucoin Management employees.  "Each year we think that we have hit the peak of rare Kiss memorabilia, but once again we have managed to find a new summit," says van Gool.

Kiss 1978 Platinum RIAA Record Awards Solo LPs
Of course giving fans and collectors direct access to authentic and rare pieces of rock history is always what the goal when we build our auction events, and this years Rock Gods and Metal Auction is no exception. The “Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction” is a not-to-miss opportunity for fans and collectors around
the world to own an authentic piece of one of the most significant genres of music history.

For more information and to get your VIP All Access Pass for the event visit Backstage Auctions.

The online auction starts March 30, 2014 and will run through April 6, 2014.

A special VIP All Access preview of the entire auction catalog will be available beginning March 23rd. Register today for your All Access Pass.


Source: Eddie Trunk - Trunk Report

Exclusive new late tonight. Ace Frehley called into my radio show live tonight and confirmed that he and Peter are being denied the opportunity to perform at the R&R Hall Of Fame ceremony by Gene and Paul, who will perform instead with the current band. Ace said (and the HOF confirmed to me
directly) that the HOF wants the original band. However Gene and Paul to date have declined to allow this to happen.

Ace said it was important he let the fans know exactly what was happening since tickets are about to go on sale to the public and he didn’t want fans to purchase them expecting a reunion performance even for a song or two. Ace said he is undecided if he will even attend in light of this decision. Even though the HOF would prefer the original band, they will not stand in the way of the current band playing if that is all Gene and Paul are willing to do.

Assume anything is possible that something could change, but at this time there are no plans at all for Ace and Peter to play, or perhaps even be there depending what they decide. As I have said consistently when there was news to share I would let it come directly from a member, and tonight Ace let everyone know exactly what was going on. Said he was most upset for the fans who voted them in and were hoping to see a song or two, but also said it is now time to move on. He is working on a new album and said the stress was really killing him about the HOF and he needed to let fans know what was up before tickets went on sale. Peter will likely have a similar statement on his site tomorrow.

I’ll continue to keep you posted as more info develops but that’s where things are at now. I’m sure the audio will be on YouTube of Ace’s call but you can hear the entire show next weekend as usual on all affiliate stations and online outlets as well. Sad day for long time Kiss fans but at least we know where things stand as of now. The producer/director for the HOF show Joel Gallen expressed an interest in coming on the air soon. As usual my door is open to any and all to discuss. More soon.

Original Story Here: Eddie Trunk - Trunk Report

CD Review: Pro-Pain – The Final Revolution

CD Review: Pro-Pain – The Final Revolution
All Access Rating: B+

Pro-Pain - The Final Revolution 2014
Chances are, The Final Revolution will not be televised. Too unflinchingly honest, too hostile and too ugly, the fiery cross-pollination of hardcore and metal that Pro-Pain's been spewing since the early '90s couldn't possibly ever appeal to an anesthetized mainstream that would rather stick its head in the sand and pretend that everything's swell, even as the world devolves into utter chaos.

Maybe it's not as bad as these fearsome New Yorkers, led by firebrand bassist/vocalist Gary Meskil, make it out to be, but there's plenty to be apoplectic about. Pro-Pain's been raging about the socio-political ills that have befallen humanity for a long time now. The Final Revolution is Pro-Pain's 14th studio album, and it is brutally efficient, always going for the throat. 

His guttural voice a flamethrower that leaves behind nothing but scorched earth, the idealistic Meskil barks out his plain, unvarnished truth with all the tenacity of a junkyard dog, sticking up for the beaten-down common man with deep passion and unimpeachable integrity. And the music of Pro-Pain is just as uncompromising, like that of The Exploited or Earth Crisis, although it's a damn sight more metallic.

Relentlessly intense from the word "go," with disciplined grooves and breakdowns, flurries of double kick-drum violence and furious, sometimes down-tuned, riffs, The Final Revolution relies somewhat less on the thrash dynamics of its predecessor, Straight to the Dome, and gets to the point quickly. Aggressive, with rhythms that seem to enjoy slamming into walls, "Deathwish" is followed by another punch to the mouth in the bruising "One Shot, One Kill," and Pro-Pain keeps upping the ante, as the unstoppable momentum of "Southbound" crashes headlong into the high-velocity "Problem-Reaction-Solution," which is just prelude to the even more blistering "All Systems Fail." Immense, permanently stuck in overdrive and more weighty than expected, the all-consuming guitars are predatory and full of piss and vinegar, always wanting to go faster, but content to downshift ever so slightly when a change in direction is necessary.

Going 10 rounds with Pro-Pain is exhausting, a rigorous test of stamina, as Pro-Pain rarely strays from its righteous path, plowing straight ahead with intellectual and instrumental vitality and a visceral energy that is ferocious, raw and dangerous. Pro-Pain may have been a bigger deal in the mid-'90s, when their particular combination of hardcore and metal was being devoured by a wider audience, but they haven't lost any of their vitriolic fervor. It's serious music for serious people.
– Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Andi Deris and the Bad Bankers – Million Dollars Haircuts on Ten Cent Heads

CD Review: Andi Deris and the Bad Bankers – Million Dollar Haircuts on Ten Cent Heads
All Access Rating: A-

Andi Deris and the Bad Bankers -
Million Dollar Haircuts on
Ten Cent Heads 2014
The Occupy Wall Street movement has a sympathizer in Helloween singer Andi Deris. Disgusted by the obscene, unchecked greed and corruption of a diseased banking institution that's somehow escaped punishment for its sins against humanity, Deris' anger is palpable on his first solo album since 1999, recorded with his band, the aptly named Bad Bankers. 

A hard-hitting protest record that gets in the gutter with its subject matter and beats it with brass knuckles, Million Dollar Haircuts on Ten Cent Heads has a grimy, contemporary metal edginess and visceral crunch that fuels his rage against fat cats and tyrants. At heart, though, Deris is still a power-metal proselytizer, prone to sculpting melodic curves out of walls of guitars and crushing rhythms to make dramatic statements in the sweeping "EnAmoria" and the equally expansive "Must Be Dreaming."

Nevertheless, with its brawling guitar riffs and sneering vocals, the punishingly heavy opener "Cock" doesn't mince words, couching its indignation in thick, grinding machinations, before the prowling, seething grooves of "Banker's Delight (Alive or Dead)" express their frustration in a particularly vicious manner. Embracing nu metal samples and other production enhancements that bands like the Deftones and Korn make such effective use of, Deris and his rabble-rousers raise hell in a dark, blustery "Blind" that turns moody and watery, as does "Who Am I." More scathing, "Don't Listen to the Radio (TWOTW 1938)" is straightforward traditional metal with a hooky chorus and driving, slightly scratched-up guitars, and it's a song of sturdy construction and strong opinions, the kind that leads to fist-pumping and other expressions of rebellion.

Even if all it amounts to is street-level sound and fury that, although it does actually signify something, never comes close to reaching deaf ears in corporate boardrooms, hearing Deris' impassioned, well-articulated call to arms is, if nothing else, a direct and forceful shock to a financial system desperately in need of an overhaul. And Deris is in fine voice, expressive, charismatic and wide-ranging, clearly warming to the task he's undertaken, and sounding especially vital when he gets his dander up. http://www.eagle-rock.com/http://www.ear-music.net/en/news/
– Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Deep Purple – Now What?! Gold Edition

CD Review: Deep Purple – Now What?! Gold Edition
Eagle Rock Entertainment/earMusic
All Access Rating: B+

Deep Purple - Now What?!
Gold Edition 2014
At least there's still some gas in the tank. If nothing else, 2013's Now What?!, their 19th studio album, made the case that today's Deep Purple is not at all devoid of fresh musical ideas, even if they seem incapable of crafting something as instantly gratifying as "Highway Star" or "Smoke on the Water."

Shape-shifting intoxicants such as "Weirdistan" and "Apre Vous" were elaborate mazes of epic prog-rock construction, while "Out of Hand," with its sweeping strings and its exotic atmospherics, kept building and building into a majestic piece of sonic architecture. As they did in the old days, when the Mark II lineup were hard-rock royalty, Purple charged into the breach of "Hell to Pay" with youthful vigor and industrious riffs and funked up a driving "Bodyline," before falling back into the shadows with smoky, jazzy fare like "Blood From a Stone," the bluesy "All the Time in the World" and the grumbling, gnarled tribute to a horror movie icon delivered in the dark, spooky camp of "Vincent Price."  

All of these tracks made Now What?! a stylistically diverse listen, full of intriguing and dynamic instrumental passages – especially from guitarist Steve Morse, the former Dixie Dregs' six-string wizard, and keyboardist Don Airey, the two additions who weren't there in Purple's heyday. Packaged with new bonus tracks and a second disc of live recordings, a Gold Deluxe Edition of Now What?! has recently been issued, and it's available in a double CD version or a more lavish boxed set that includes a DVD with a 20-minute interview, a t-shirt, poster and sticker, and all the singles from Now What?!

The real prize here is the 70 minutes of unreleased concert performances stuffed into disc two. Also known as the "Now What?! Live Tapes," it's a rousing collection of Purple classics and newer material, played in European locales like Milan, Italy, and Rome, among others, with improvisational brilliance and high-flying musicianship that hammer these songs into sharpened weapons. Here's where the spirited gallop of "Hard Loving Man," enveloped by Airey's mushrooming keyboard spells, gathers terrific momentum, as does a driving, rollicking rendition of "Strange Kind of Woman," Ian Gillan belting it out to the back row with rawness and urgency. And it's where the slow burn of "Smoke on the Water" grows into a four-alarm fire, and a slithering "Perfect Strangers" hisses and strikes out at its prey, while "Vincent Price" turns into something more sinister and fun.

The sound is warm and clear, as Morse really struts his stuff in these live recordings, showing how adept he is at seamlessly changing character, this chameleon who can master the blues and jazz, while also riffing like a metal madman and soloing into the stratosphere. All pulling together as a powerful unit, Purple still performs with feverish enthusiasm and stunning chops. Age hasn't diminished their skills, although their bland bonus take on Jerry Lee Lewis' "It'll Be Me" may be thrown away as carelessly as expired milk, and the rare, but ultimately lackluster, B-side "First Sign of Madness" doesn't argue for being deserving of greater attention than it's already been given. There are riches to be found in this Now What?! Gold Edition, although some of its luster's been worn away. http://www.ear-music.net/en/news/http://www.eagle-rock.com/
– Peter Lindblad

DVD Review: Foghat – Live in St. Pete

DVD Review: Foghat – Live in St. Pete
All Access Rating: B+

Foghat - Live in St. Pete 
The road is littered with the spent carcasses of bands that couldn't survive the grind of touring for interminably long stretches at a time. Roger Earl is made of stronger stuff, and so is Foghat.

Barnstorming their way through the '70s, the raucous blues-infused, boogie-powered, hard-rock gypsies toured relentlessly, proving themselves to be a dynamite live act night after sweaty night, slugging it out under the lights on stages from coast to coast and country to country. If anybody needed confirmation of their raw firepower in a concert setting, 1977's searing Foghat Live album, one of the truly great concert albums in rock 'n' roll history, settled the issue for good.

Earl is all that's left from the original lineup that broke off in 1970 from British blues freight train Savoy Brown, but bassist Craig MacGregor's been a fixture in Foghat since 1975, and those are his boisterous, brawling grooves on classic releases Foghat Live, Night Shift and Stone Blue. And they aren't ready to call a day just yet.

Joining forces with vocalist/guitarist Charlie Huhn, who's played with the likes of Humble Pie, Gary Moore and Ted Nugent, and lead/slide guitarist Bryan Bassett, formerly of Wild Cherry and Molly Hatchet, Earl and MacGregor, such a powerhouse rhythm section, are keeping the Foghat legacy alive, the band still going at it hammer and tong onstage, as a new no-filler live DVD, "Live in St. Pete," so emphatically makes clear.

Devoid of frills, but filmed with great attention to the stellar musicianship of this version of Foghat, "Live in St. Pete" lacks the state-of-the-art visual sharpness taken for granted with such releases these days, but the images of a rollicking band having a whale of time and completely comfortable in its own skin are shot with welcome clarity and warmth.

Full of vim and vigor, and as tenacious as junkyard dogs, these blue-collar heroes run through high-energy favorites like "Drivin' Wheel" and "Fool For the City" with passion and a youthful playfulness, even though they've probably played them both thousands of times. Cooked to a rolling boil, with that insistent throb, "I Just Want to Make Love to You" is maybe less wolfish here than in Foghat's heyday, but they bring more unabashed joy to it nowadays, while Foghat's cover of "Take Me to the River" is delivered with gripping soulfulness and gospel fervor, thanks to Huhn's hard-scrabble vocals.

"Road Fever," "My Babe," "Stone Blue" – Foghat rides roughshod on all of them, but saves their best for the churning closer "Slow Ride," where Bassett's delicious slide guitar drawl sounds greasy and cutting at the same time, as he unleashes a bevy of sinister and seductive movements. "Live in St. Pete" is unspoiled Foghat, suffused with the humidity and summery atmosphere of Florida. The good times never seem to end with Earl and the crew. www.foghatcellars.com; www.facebook.com/foghat; www.youtube.com/foghatmusic
– Peter Lindblad

Monte Pittman: To the Third Power

Guitarist talks new album, Madonna and Prong
By Peter Lindblad

Monte Pittman and group - 2014
Monte Pittman hit the jackpot. Having moved to Los Angeles in his mid-20s to teach guitar, the native Texan, in short order, became Madonna's guitar teacher, having been introduced by the man she was dating at the time, famed British director Guy Ritchie, also a student of Pittman's.

Within a month, Pittman was playing alongside Madonna on the "David Letterman Show," her performance coinciding with promotion for her album, Music. That was only the start of their working relationship, as Pittman went on to provide guitar for all of Madonna's five tours since then, the first being the 2001 Drowned World Tour.

That, in and of itself, would make Pittman the envy of any struggling musician trying to find work in the field, let alone all the perks, such as performing in some of the biggest venues and music events in the world, including the 2012 Super Bowl. Then, along came Prong.

Joining the alternative-metal attack dogs, Pittman played bass and guitar for Prong on the raging albums Scorpio Rising and Power of the Damager, as well as the live effort 100% Live. Prong and Madonna couldn't be more different, of course, but that doesn't really concern Pittman. He's enjoyed both experiences immensely.

These days, though, Pittman's focus is on his burgeoning solo career, christened by 2009's sonorous acoustic vessel, The Deepest Dark. It was a successful debut, hitting No. 1 on the Best Selling Acoustic Albums list at CD-Baby.com. A Kickstarter campaign helped Pittman record the follow-up, 2011's grungy rocker Pain, Love & Destiny. On CD Baby, that one kicked up a fuss, reaching No. 1 on its Rock Album and Pop Album charts, while also cracking the Top 10 Albums list as well.

Now comes The Power of Three, Pittman's most metallic offering yet. Together with drummer Kane Ritchotte and bassist Max Whipple, as well as Flemming Rasmussen, who helped Metallica achieve thrash nirvana with Master of Puppets, Pittman and company went to Copenhagen, Denmark, to map out and execute a hard-driving record, one that often gnashes its teeth in the most savage manner possible, while still leaning on well-crafted melodies.

In this wide-ranging e-mail interview, Pittman talked about his extraordinary career and a record that promises to soon make him a household name in the world of heavy metal, Madonna or no Madonna.

Before recording The Power of Three, did you have an idea in mind of what kind of album you wanted to make? 
Monte Pittman: Yes. I knew exactly what I wanted it to be like. We recorded the album in the order you hear it. We got off the plane and recorded "A Dark Horse." The last song we recorded was "All Is Fair In Love And War." I set out to make an album that would have been my favorite album when I got my first guitar.

There are a lot of heavy riffs and really satisfying thrash elements to this record, especially with "A Dark Horse," but there's also a song like "Everything's Undone," which has a good, strong melody as well. Was it important for you to make a diverse record?
MP: I like a variety of different music and different bands. I think it all comes from what's fun to play on the guitar. If you don't have a good melody, then you may not have a song. I usually make sure that the song can work on the acoustic. You hear everything a little differently that way and may pick up a new idea on the way.

Talk about the making of both "A Dark Horse" and "Everything's Undone." Did those songs evolve in different ways?
MP: After I finished Pain, Love, & Destiny, I was sitting outside by the fire and the lyric "A Dark Horse you've been having nightmares for years about" came to me. That was the beginning. I wrote a majority of "A Dark Horse" probably at the end of 2004. I didn't know where it would go. It wasn't a Prong song. I thought one day I'll make a heavy album just for fun or something. When I started seeing the big picture with making The Power Of Three, I started looking at it again. Then I pieced it all together on an acoustic. Sometimes when I write, I'll hang on to something for a while. If I still like the song later on, then I know I might have something. "Everything's Undone" was written when I got my first prototype for my signature Jarrell MPS guitar. Those guitars are very inspiring to play.

Monte Pittman has played
guitar for Madonna and Prong
Was there a song on the record that ended up sounding much different than you originally intended? And does that happen a lot for you, or do you have them mapped out so well beforehand that they end up being exactly what you thought they'd be?
MP: No. I put a lot of work in the demos, and I knew what I wanted everything to be. Once Flemming started in on it, I handed the keys over to him and it became his baby. On "All Is Fair In Love And War," we left room to be in the moment while recording. So I guess that one would be the most different. The original main riff for "Missing" was more like Cannibal Corpse at first. That song is all written from the Enigmatic scale. 

How did you hook up with Flemming Rasmussen for this record and what was his biggest contribution to the album?
MP: I met him on a day off in Copenhagen while on tour. We stayed in contact and would get together when I came back into town. We would say, "One day we should work together on something." We did an acoustic EP in one day the last time I was on tour in Copenhagen on a day off. He had been helping me with my demos, and he sat me down and said I need to concentrate on the heavy songs I was writing. So I did. Flemming was going to produce my Pain, Love, & Destiny album, but our schedules didn't match. Flemming had several massive contributions to the album. He had us all record together at the same time. When you hear the album, that's us playing in the same room at the same time recording all analog. He would always get us in the right frame of mind. Flemming has done a little of everything ... Metallica, Rainbow, Cat Stevens and Morbid Angel. I like that he's done different kinds of albums.

Talk about the choice of cover art for The Power of Three. Why is it special for you?
MP: My friend Kevin Wilson, who runs Sacred Tattoo in New York, suggested I check out Cam Rackam. Kevin has a gallery in his shop where artists do exhibits. Cam had a painting of Charon that I was blown away by, so I went with that one. Megan Massacre was going to do the album cover, but she's one of the best tattoo artists on the planet. She was too busy. She wound up buying the original painting of Cam's also! 

Do you see this record as a progression from Pain, Love & Destiny or a shift into different territory?
MP: It's a natural progression. Sometimes I write for what I don't have, and I needed some faster/heavier songs. On Pain, Love, & Destiny, I would sneak in some heavy parts as fills going into a chorus. My song, "(I Am) The Black Rabbit" isn't too far from where the material for The Power Of Three is.

You left Longview, Texas, at age 24 and headed for Los Angeles, where you ultimately became a guitar teacher. How tough a decision was that for you and what was attractive about teaching guitar?
MP: I taught as an apprentice under my teacher, Robert Browning. I love teaching. I keeps everything fresh in my head. When you teach, you have to know it in a different way than just being able to play it.

As the story goes, your third student was Guy Ritchie, the British filmmaker. And then you started teaching guitar to his wife at the time, Madonna. What do you remember about meeting each of them for the first time, and what were they like as students?
MP: They were just dating at the time. They were both great to me. They treated me like family. They would learn everything I gave them to learn. Luckily for me, Madonna was just releasing her Music album, and there was a lot of acoustic guitar on there.

Monte Pittman released an
acoustic record in 2009 called
The Deepest Dark
You've been playing with Madonna and helping write songs for her for a long time now. In working with her, and teaching her Pantera riffs, what would fans of hard rock and heavy metal find most surprising about what she's like as an artist?
MP: Most people will say they admire her work ethic and that she's always pushing the boundaries. Madonna has something for everyone. Even the most diehard metal heads will usually point out at least one song they like. Even if you don't like that style of music, you can't deny "Open Your Heart" or "Ray Of Light" or "Secret" aren't great songs.

Is the approach to that kind of songwriting different from the creative process for your own solo work? If so, what's different about it?
MP: Not in the situations I've been in. It usually comes from playing your guitar and coming up with an idea.

When you were asked to play with Madonna, what was your reaction? 
MP: I was excited! She has always been super cool to me. She hadn't toured in seven years, so it was an exciting time to be in that position. 

You worked with Prong on Scorpio Rising and Power of the Damager, co-writing songs and playing guitar, adding backing vocals and some bass work. And those were great Prong records. You also played guitar on the Prong live album 100% Live. What did you find most rewarding about you're experience with Prong?
MP: Thank you! I would say the most rewarding thing is being able to help put one of my favorite bands ever back together. Live, Tommy Victor would let me start "Another Worldly Device" since that's one of my favorite songs. I learned a lot of things that come in handy now with my own band from playing in Prong.

Do you have a favorite Prong album of those two?
MP: Power Of The Damager I guess. I played bass on that one minus a couple guitar solos. We stayed out at Sonic Ranch outside of El Paso and at Al Jourgensen's house making that one, so we had a great time making it. I started doing background vocals with that and that helped open the door to me singing on my own.

You did an acoustic solo record as well, with 2009's The Deepest Dark. Did you have to approach that differently than other projects?
MP: That was my first solo release. I made it just acoustic guitar and vocals so I could recreate it anywhere. That's what started it all. The Deepest Dark was going to be the soundtrack for a film but that never happened. That's one of the reasons I didn't release it before. I wasn't ready yet. Going back and forth between Prong and Madonna took up all my time.

You've done so much in music. Do you have a favorite moment from your days with Madonna or Prong that is really special to you or unusual?
MP: Playing events like Live 8 and Live Earth. That's a great bonus playing with Madonna. Live 8 was Pink Floyd's last show. Getting to watch them rehearse and soundcheck the day before was something I'll never forget. I happened to be one of the only people around with them backstage at the end of the night, so I got to see them all say bye to each other. Also, I got up onstage with Paul McCartney for "Hey Jude." He invited people up from all the bands for the finale. At Live Earth, I joined Spinal Tap to play "Big Bottom." They invited anyone who could play bass to join them. With Prong, there were so many great times on the road. Shows with Anthrax, Type O Negative, and Soulfly ... it was never a dull moment.

What are your hopes for The Power of Three and what are your plans for the coming weeks, months and years?
MP: To get this out there to every pair of ears that will listen. I'm working on booking some shows now that I'll announce soon. I've got enough material written for the next two albums, and I'll keep writing as I go along. I'm putting the team together still and finding the right people to keep pushing this forward.

Video Review: Korn's 'Spike in My Veins'

New Korn video addresses privacy, cult of celebrity
By Peter Lindblad

Korn - The Paradigm Shift
Orwellian paranoia runs rampant in Korn’s new video for “Spike in My Veins,” which premiered this week at rollingstone.com. And the Nu Metal revolutionaries attempt to make the case that privacy is being eroded in this age of the 24-hour news cycle and Internet overstimulation with their own version of the Ludovico technique, that horrifying aversion therapy that Malcolm McDowell’s character undergoes in “A Clockwork Orange.” Korn’s treatment is far less violent, but almost as disturbing.

Rather than setting out to make its audience impotent, there’s a sense that Korn is sounding an alarm with a bombardment of images that haven’t yet exceeded their expiration dates in the public’s ever-shrinking consciousness. There’s Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman yelling into the camera after the Super Bowl. There’s Justin Bieber and then there’s Justin Bieber again, with his smiling mug shot and a scene of him in tough-guy mode wanting to fight all comers while being pushed into a limo. Tongue stuck out in full twerk, Miley Cyrus, like Bieber, is everywhere, as are egomaniacal rapper Kanye West and disgraced Toronto mayor and noted party guy Rob Ford, dancing without a care in the world and caught by a surreptitious camera making insane threats to do somebody bodily harm.

There are a lot of puzzle pieces that beg for context in "Spike in My Veins," but it's not long before it starts to make sense. All those scenes of cops in riot gear beating people up and press conferences of government officials shamelessly trying to counter the very serious accusations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden suggest totalitarianism isn’t just a Russian or a Third World problem. Although it's not the wildly creative game-changer "Freak on a Leash" was, it’s a fairly effective statement put forth by Korn and director David Dinetz, as well as his creative team at Culprit Creative – the idea being that our obsession with celebrity and scandalous media firestorms are preventing us from confronting very immediate and devastating attacks on privacy in this country, just as junkies avoid reality by shooting up.

Quick cutaways lend the thought-provoking video a sense of urgency, hammering home the sense that it is well past time for action and that apathy is more dangerous than ever. What is being spiked in our veins is not heroin. It’s the constant stream of salacious garbage the media spews like vomit that's dulling our senses. Of course, this sort of thing has been done before. Public Enemy, U2, Ministry … the list of artists who have made similar socio-political indictments through the medium of video is lengthy to say the least. But, if nothing else, at least Korn is staying up on current events.

And they are growing more adept at building tension in tracks like “Spike in My Veins,” as the verses simmer to a roiling boil here, thankfully lacking the momentum-killing down-tuned silliness and irritating vocal histrionics of Korn's past. With its explosive, shattering chorus, strong grooves and thick riffs, “Spike in My Veins,” off the critically acclaimed album The Paradigm Shift, crashes into your living room with the kind of raw emotion and intensity that children of the Korn feed off. Still, as far as the video goes, it's mostly just Korn performing in front of a wall of TVs, even if the parade of familiar cable news touchstones is smartly arranged and edited to both incite and excite. And for those wanting some stunning visual effects to go with their sensory overload, the “Matrix”-like effects that make an octopus of Jonathan Davis’s wheeling arms are pretty bitchin’. Keanu Reeves thinks so, too. 

CD Review: Monte Pittman – The Power of Three

CD Review: Monte Pittman – The Power of Three
Metal Blade Records
All Access Rating: B+

Monte Pittman - The Power of Three 2014
Diehard fans of alternative-metal misanthropes Prong know who Monte Pittman is, and so does Madonna. If nothing else, Monte Pittman has connections, but that's only part of his story.

Leaving his Texas home behind, Pittman headed for Los Angeles to set up shop as a guitar teacher. Quite by chance, his third student was British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, then-husband of the Material Girl. In short order, Pittman became Madonna's instructor, which led to him joining her onstage at a "David Letterman Show" promotional performance tied to the release of her album Music and then becoming a full-fledged member of her touring lineup beginning with the 2001 Drowned World Tour, not to mention his guitar work on every one of her records since then.

That's all well and good, but it's not exactly metal. Teaching her to play Pantera riffs ... that's metal. There's actually video evidence of it on YouTube. When it comes to gaining street cred with the metal community, however, bringing six-string savagery to Prong on the hard-hitting Scorpio Rising and Power of the Damager, two of their most ferocious studio albums, as well as the band's blazing concert manifesto 100% Live, would more than do the trick. And they say politics makes strange bedfellows.

As a solo artist, Pittman has gravitated from the full-bodied acoustic meditations found on 2009's The Deepest Dark to the brooding grunge of 2011's Pain, Love & Destiny. His latest album, The Power of Three, finds Pittman and co-conspirators Kane Ritchotte (drums) and Max Whipple (bass) raging through 10 tracks of aggressive, boot-stomping thrash-metal and straightforward metallic groove-mongering suffused with strong melodic currents. "Blood Hungry Thirst" is all of that and then some, while the hard-charging "A Dark Horse," with its shadowy, sinister acoustic intro knitted together by Pittman's fingers, "Missing" and "Delusions of Grandeur" tear the roof off The Power of Three with furious riffs and heart-pounding speed, leaving just enough room for Pittman to reel off spectacularly frenzied solos.

Enlisting recording guru Flemming Rasmussen, who was at least partly responsible for the white-hot intensity and epic swells of Metallica's Master of Puppets, Pittman left no doubt about his intentions. The Power of Three was going to be a lethal killing machine, with burly production that didn't simply cater to a guitar hero's whims and able to stick to the militaristic tautness of Helmet. There's plenty of Pittman's dynamic shredding to go around, but the drums – Ritchotte's cymbals crashing and rippling in little blurs – and bass are just as assertive, with Pittman's reedy vocals sounding disembodied, almost like a younger Ozzy or Fu Manchu's Scott Hill.

And when Pittman chooses, he displays an affinity for generous hooks and wide-sky choruses, such as the ones in "Everything's Undone," the best song the Foo Fighters never wrote, and the even more expansive, billowing "End of the World." Rich in melody, these are the exceptions, as Pittman and company would rather sink their teeth into gnarled, mauling riffs, like those found on "Away From Here" and "Before the Mourning Son." That's where the power of this threesome really lies, the only problem being that it's pretty standard-issue stuff. There's nothing truly original here, just some intriguing variations in tempo, a thick, heavy sound, riffs to die for and a tightness that other bands would do well to emulate. http://www.metalblade.com/us/
– Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Boston – Life, Love & Hope

CD Review: Boston – Life, Love & Hope
Frontiers Records
All Access Rating: B+

Boston - Life, Love & Hope 2014
Tom Scholz doesn't like to be rushed. In his never-ending quest for aural perfection, Scholz sure takes his own sweet time making records, holed up in that state-of-the-art studio of his worrying himself to death over every little detail. Remember those eight long years between Don't Look Back and Third Stage?

It's no wonder then that each successive Boston album sounds more pristine than the last, clean almost to the point of being antiseptic. And while he knows how to make those transcendent melodies sparkle, relationships, on the other hand, aren't so easy for him to control.

Life is messy, as evidenced by Brad Delp's suicide and the always-simmering tensions between original members of Boston, including the prodigal Barry Goodreau. The product of months and months of writing and recording, Life, Love & Hope, released via Frontiers Records, is the first studio album from Boston in a decade, and it finds Boston struggling to retain its signature elements and, at the same time, evolve into something new. Even for Scholz, that's a long time between records, but, of course, a lot has happened in that time, starting with the tragic loss of Delp, one of classic-rock's most angelic singers.

Not surprisingly, for all its maturity, production clarity and graceful artistry, Life, Love & Hope is missing some of the pop euphoria of Boston past, although opener "Heaven On Earth," the title track and "Someone (2.0)" are the kind of grand melodic fountains of soaring rock guitar, breezy synthesizer harmonies and vocal weavings that Scholz and company patented so long ago. And they, along with the brilliant burst of silvery power-pop that is "Someday" rescue Life, Live & Hope from adult-contemporary hell, which is where it's headed with mid-tempo schmaltz like "You Gave Up on Love (2.0)" and "The Way You Look Tonight."

Shoved to the front of the mix like never before, even at the expense of Boston's trademark electric guitar hooks, the singing on Life, Love & Hope is spectacular, as Scholz combines his lead vocals with those of bassist Kimberly Dahme, David Victor, new sensation Tommy DeCarlo and Delp, his contributions provided posthumously. A record that is both familiar and unnervingly different, meditating deeply on heartbreak, loss and the belief of better days ahead, Life, Love & Hope at times feels emotionally heavy, especially on exquisitely crafted, if somewhat overwrought, ballads "If You Were in Love" and "Love Got Away" and the elaborately constructed "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love."

Lush strings, rich Spanish acoustic guitar plucking, compressed-air keyboards and found sounds, such as the black helicopters portending a sinister conspiracy in the clunky, lifeless "Sail Away," are integrated seamlessly throughout Life, Love & Hope, as Scholz seeks to broaden Boston's palette to accommodate a more progressive, even contemporary, approach. There is still a place for earnest, big-hearted arena-rock anthems in Boston, though, with Scholz building multilayered sonic orgasms for aging ears. But this is a new Boston, grappling with adult issues while holding onto to the last vestiges of its youthful naivete.
– Peter Lindblad