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Monte Pittmans hårda insats: Lärde Madonna spela styva Pantera-riff

av Mattias Kling
The queen of chugga chugga. (Foto: EDUARDO VERDUGO/AP)
The queen of chugga chugga på scen i Mexico City i november 2008. (Foto: EDUARDO VERDUGO/AP)

Monte Pittman har inte bara ett ståtligt namn – om denna halvslaka ordvits tillåts så här på onsdagsförmiddagen – den Metal Blade-aktuella strängtrixaren är också anledningen till att popdrottningen som nämns i rubriken ovan fick för sig att skänka lite groove metal-glans till sin turné 2008.

Pittman backar upp Madonna under hennes Sticky & Sweet-turné.
Pittman backar upp Madonna under hennes Sticky & Sweet-turné.

Vilket måhända inte är någon nyhet i sig. Redan då nämnda vända var aktuell, för sisådär fem år sedan, svämmade nätet över av klipp som visar då Madge fogar in några toner av Panteras ”A new level” i egna kompositionen ”Hung up” – ett drag som fick Dallasgruppens mer dogmatiska anhängare att mässa om helgerån och kulturskymning.

Få verkade emellertid bry sig om exakt varför superstjärnan valde just denna strategi. Men för den som anser sig behöva skingra några frågetecken förklarar Pittman själva uppkomsten i senaste numret av amerikanska Revolver Magazine. En ganska omständlig och omfattande anekdot, som därför får ta sin plats på originalspråk i korrekthetens namn.

Dimebag Darrell – för evigt saknad riffmeister.
Dimebag Darrell – för evigt saknad riffmeister.

”There are so many little details that led to it. It wasn’t like one thing that happened. That goes back to me playing in Prong. There was a Prong show we played in Dallas. That’s the closest place to where I’m from that we played. Dimebag came to the show. He came early, around sound check to say hi to everybody. Tommy Victor was introducing me to Dimebag. It’s just me, Tommy, and Dime backstage at the Galaxy. Tommy’s saying, ’This is the new guy; he’s playing guitar with us.’ Dime kind of knew about me from the area because I had a band there, [longtime Pantera producer] Sterling Winfield did our last album, so there was a little bit of a familiarity. And Dime was saying, ’Do you guys do ’Cut Rate’?’ And we’re like, ’Yep.’ He’s like, ’That’s one of my favorite Prong songs ever.’ And he’s looking at me, like, ’You can do the solo, right? You got that part?’ And he was kinda singing out how the solo went. And I said, ’Yeah, that’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to play because the song does not let up.’ And we played it faster than how it was on the album. He said, ’You gotta stay on top of that string!’ And I’m like, ’Yep, I know, yep.’

Fast forward years later, I’m playing bass with Prong. We were playing in Oklahoma City and we’re exhausted, doing a lot of traveling and playing every day. And we played that song, and I had to play that on the bass, which is even harder (than playing it on guitar). And I’m thinking, ’How did Paul Raven do that?!’ Then this voice went off in my head: You gotta stay on top of that string. And I realized what Dime had been saying to me. When you play fast, your pick naturally goes away from the string, but it doesn’t need to go far away from the string. And so I kind of realized what he was saying, and that changed my right-hand technique forever.

Now fast forward again, we’re getting ready for a Madonna tour (Sticky & Sweet). She and I go back and forth (practicing the guitar). We work on some left-hand things, then we work on some right-hand things. I said, ’Let’s work on your right hand. Here are some techniques.’ Then I told her the story about how Dime told me, ’You gotta stay on top of that string.’ That kinda led to me filling her in on the whole story of Pantera and how that relates to me. They weren’t just a band that I found out about—that was our hometown heroes.

The next day, she comes back, and on the guitar I could tell she had been practicing what I told her. She was just chugga chugga chugga on the guitar. I was like, ’Wow! That’s so much better! That’s a huge difference.’ She said, ’Yep. You gotta stay on top of that string.’

And so at the same time, she had gotten a new musical director. He wanted to do her song ’Hung up’ with her playing guitar. But it’s in D minor. That would be a great segue to me showing her drop D tuning on the guitar. So I was showing her the song, and I was like, ’You know what, I gotta teach you some Pantera.’ So I showed her the riff to ’A new level’ because I thought it would be easy to remember how the notes just move up chromatically, one at a time. She loved that. She kept playing that all the time.

When we were in band rehearsals doing ’Hung up’, once we ended the song, she would start going into that Pantera riff. The rest of Madonna’s band, they’re not really familiar with that music, so they just started playing what she was playing. Every day in rehearsal when we would end that song, we would just start playing that riff. I thought, ’Oh that’s cool, that’s fun.’

But then all of a sudden, you would start to see, like, some runners bring water in to stock the refrigerator. And the tour manager just happens to walk in, doing something. All of these people just started showing up at rehearsals who are there working, but just kinda popping their head in the door, like, ’Hey I wanna see Madonna play that Pantera part again.’”

Och så var det med det. Den som därmed blir intresserad av Pittmans prestationer på solokvist riktar genast sin nyfikenhet mot gitarristens nya platta ”Power of three”, som släpps i övermorgon via Metal Blade. Ett rekommendabelt smakprov därifrån är stycket ”A dark horse” som går att inspektera i spelaren strax söderöver.

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