Spitting The Triple Six's With Jerry Montano
Band Photo: Danzig (?)
Jerry Montano of Danzig and Nothingface is one of the rare metal personalities of today that seems to understand the true scope of metal music and its great history up to this point. He's never been one of those players that gives off one of the typical major rock star attitudes. And what's even more amazing with him being as in demand as he is, he has never played in a band just to try and get rich quick. This is what endears Jerry Montano to the hardcore metalheads like myself in the true underground scene. I have also yet to ever see someone that looks as downright ominous plucking away on the low end as Montano does. Whether he's played alongside the greats like Danzig or Dimebag Darrell, one thing you know you're always going to get with Jerry Montano is someone that is there because of the pure love they have for the music. I want to sincerely thank him for being even bigger than life by spending time on this interview with me. I don't know what better way to celebrate 6-6-6 and with that, I hold the devil horns high and proud.
Rocket: Let me first say it's total honor to have this opportunity to interview you. I know quite a bit about your background and what it's taken for you to make it in the music business. How does it truly feel for you at this point to have accomplished all these great things you have?
Jerry: You know it feels great to have had the opportunities I've had come my way over the years. It is something I try not to take for granted. It has been very cool thus far… but this is still just the beginning for me. But yeah, it's a long way from bar-backing at Bar Deluxe in Hollywood when it was still dangerous and dirty as all fuck!! And living at the Coal Chamber party house back in the day where it all kinda started. I miss that shit!!
Rocket: Most metal fans know you from your work with the legendary Danzig, but myself and the hardest of the hard metal heads around know you played bass for one of the baddest underground metal acts that ever existed called The Deadlights. I had the great fortune of witnessing this band open for Megadeth at The House of Blues on Hollywood's Sunset Strip back in 2000. It was one of the baddest musical performances I've ever seen. I know you still hear this question all the time probably, but could you briefly explain to everyone what exactly happened with The Deadlights?
Jerry: The Deadlights! Yeah, I remember those shows...Megadeth...MegaDave! Awww, he actually treated us well. Where to start, that goes back a few years. The Deadlights time was exciting for all of us. When I say that I mean for the whole small circle of us friends in the scene. Around that time there was definitely an energy buzzing around Hollywood with ALL of us and our bands. It seemed like every week one of us were scoring a deal. I guess it's kinda like the hair days in that aspect. For our generation anyway. It was normal to go see us play at The Teaszer,The Roxy, Whisky or Troubadour on a weeknight in Hollywood and catch us with bands like System of a Down, Static, Snot, Coal Chamber, Hed pe, or Downset, playing for our friends just like any local bands all over the country. Shit, I can remember a keg party we played one night and it was ALL of the bands I mentioned for like five dollars at some abandoned old hospital in downtown L.A. back in 95-96. I think I was in the band SUFFER then w/ Blasco from Zombie. Anyfuckingway… it was a cool time. Actually it was Shavo from System of a Down who hooked me up with the guys in The Deadlights (then SUCTION) They opened a show for my old band 57 Crown (Mike Savage from Pygmy Love Circus, Jeff Chambers of Danzig, Joey Gold Love/Hate and yours truly) at Mogul's w/ System and tracked me down. I think I turned them down cause they were from OC/Huntington Beach. Eventually. I heard some of what Duke had going on and agreed to come down and meet him and play with the band. The rest is history. I knew the second we wrote and recorded the song Sweet Oblivion that it was gonna happen very fast and that it did.....ended almost as quick. The demise of the band unfortunately was due to a certain member's inability to live without drugs. Poor record sales and a changing of the guard at the label. All in all it was great learning experience. I wouldn't have done shit different. I had a blast. Duke and I are still very close.
Rocket: I can imagine after The Deadlights were done that you had to be looking around going, "What do I do now?", after all the effort that had gone in that direction. How did you ultimately land in Danzig?
Jerry: Good question. I remember I got the phone call after Ozzfest 2000 that we had been "officially" dropped by Elektra... it was a strange time. One minute you're on top of the world, flying all over the country playing shows, getting drunk surrounded by ass and then in a blink of an eye you're at home and the phone stops ringing! Fuck!! It happens! Luckily for me at the time I had a few things lined up…(Nothingface/Gasoline) It all worked out. But at the time it was devastating. I remember I got a fucking J.O.B.!! for a month. Then I got a phone call from an old friend from the past..(Maxwell). I walked outta work and never returned! It was pretty Rock-n-Roll. I think like two weeks later I was on a bus killin it onstage with Nothingface. Good Times. As far as Danzig goes....In '99 we toured a lot with Type O Negative. The guys and I really bonded and became total family. We are really close. Anyway Joey C. had just left Danzig after landing his gig with Queens....And Johnny Kelly took over. I was actually playing in UNIDA (John Garcia ex-KYUSS) at the time. I had been filling in for Scott Reeder for a bit (great guy and amazing bassist). I was out in the desert doing shows w/ UNIDA . Johnny called me up and said "Dude learn the tunes and you're in the band!" After a few conversations with Glenn, I was in. Pretty fuckin cool.
Rocket: I have heard so much over the years about who Danzig truly is or who he isn't, you know where I'm going with this. Tell us what your experience has been like working so closely with this punk/metal legend.
Jerry: Legend is correct. Think about that word. Really. Not many people in this lifetime achieve that kind of status. To work with one of my ALL time favorite vocalists EVER has been a dream come true. Glenn is a very down guy. Not to mention great friend. Real. He has always stayed true to what his vision is or has been no matter what at all costs. Conscience don't mean shit to him. I respect that. He has taught me A LOT. It's been cool to have been taken under so many amazing and talented peoples wings over the years. I'll leave it at this. There are 3 men in black. Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Glenn Danzig.
Rocket: Can you tell us how Dimebag Darrell's onstage murder in 2004 affected you, bro? I know you, Dime and Vinnie remained real close over the years, having played together in the side project Gasoline.
Jerry: Fuck. It fucking broke my heart, man. It still doesn't really register well to me. I recently met the officer from Columbus, Ohio who ended that guy. Pretty heavy. A great man and a true hero who saved lives that night. Unreal. Dime and Vince became like my older brothers. They always looked out for me and supported me for many years. Shit I remember staying at Dime's and finding out I got the Nothingface gig and he was MORE excited about it than I was! And I was on fucking FIRE! I'll never forget the day they asked me to be a part of GASOLINE. I could have never imagined in a million years I would eventually end up touring and befriending my idols; Let alone being asked to play alongside them in the band. Fucking words cannot explain that shit! I remember being onstage blowin up Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy alongside Vince, Dime, Thurber and Jerry Cantrell.....C'MON with that C'MON.
Rocket: Hahaha… Thin Lizzy rules! What's your favorite memory of Dime?
Jerry:That is a hard one. I have been blessed with countless. I would have to say the night he decided I needed a "Reset Button" tattoo. Somewhere during Ozzfest we got into a conversation about our family's and childhood and struggle. He told me that when they (Dime and Vince) were younger they got matching tattoos together…(Vinnie's only tattoo) reset buttons .....as a reminder. He told me that I needed one. I told him the only way I would get it is if he tattooed it on me himself....!! I think it was his first tattoo!! He shows up at my bus one day pounding on the door!! He managed to get this guy to come to the PANTERA dressing room with his machine. After a few shots it was on!! Very cool. I look at it every damn day. To this day, I have one of the originals! It's my fucking Picasso. Seriously I could go on forever about him.
Rocket: I'm sure you could, brother. It's just such a treat to get these kinds of priceless memories that went on between fellow musicians of both your caliber. Now I know you are a big punk rock fan. Someone who knows what punk rock really is. Who have been some of the bigger influences for you from that genre? I imagine you had to be into Suicidal Tendencies growing up, right?
Jerry: Growing up I was really into The Misfits, Fang, Fear, Black Flag, GBH, Minor Threat, The Germs, early Suicidal, Blitz, Crumbsuckers, Cro-mags, Christ on Parade. I am a HUGE fan of the dirty rock n roll and glam shit as well. Anything from The Dolls to my favorite The DeadBoys to Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers…to Slade. If it has attitude, balls and reaks of danger I am in.
Rocket: Man, I remember seeing you perform at the first Blackest of The Black concert several years back here at the Universal Amphitheatre with Superjoint Ritual opening up. This was the first time I learned you were even with the band and was so stoked to see that you landed somewhere solid after The Deadlights. I'll tell you straight up, after seeing SJR light that stage up for barely forty minutes, I leaned over to my my buddy and said, "Man, Danzig has his shit cut out for him tonight." I didn't think there was any way at his age he could deliver the purely unholy set that you guys came out and did. I've been seeing real metal shows since I was 12... going on 25 years now... and that was one I'm always going to remember. What does it feel like when you walk off the stage knowing you just crushed everyone in the house?
Jerry: Thank you. That is very cool. It is the shit! Unfortunately it goes by in a blink of an eye. Really. Coming off stage is like coming down off acid. Its euphoric for the few minutes it takes me to come to and unwind. I love it. Then we throw on some Pantera or AC/DC and really get down to what we do well!! Slingin' Booze!
Rocket: What kind of basses are you currently playing on stage and in the studio?
Jerry: Ernie Ball. Period. I will never understand how people can play all those "Other" guitars. I guess cause they are free! Personally I think real guitars are Gibson and real basses are Ernie Ball or Fender. Period.
Rocket: Spoken like the true bad ass you are, man. I have played on just about every brand of bass over the years too, working as a roadie and whatnot and those are the two best sounding hard rock basses around. Heavy as all fuck but so well worth the tone. Now, most metal bassists today play with a pick, not fingers due to the speed of the music. What is your approach and why?
Jerry: Growing up my favorite players were Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler, John Paul Jones and Roger Waters...I always played with my fingers. In fact I can still play faster with my fingers than with a pick. However I have found over the years, I could get a better attack recording with a pick. I was always dead set against pick bass players. Always. But the truth is - for me anyway- I feel I get a more defined tone recording and playing with a pick. Kind of an underlining growl. I still go back and fourth.
Rocket: Again, I totally agree. I have always been religious about the fingers… but as I have gotten older and wiser, I see how important the pick can be too. Break down your current bass rig you are performing out with for us in detail.
Jerry: My rig is basic. I use two 1985 Ampeg Classic 300 watt bass heads. Ampeg only made 500 of them. What makes these Classics unique is they made them from left over parts from the 70's apparently there was enough to do a limited number of them. They are seriously the sickest. And the always reliable 8x10 cabs.usually two.sometimes Three!! Absolutley NOTHING touches AMPEG period. EVER. I also have a few new Classics i use in Nothingface. I use a SansAmp psa1 to add that bit of spice and growl to my tone..Also for when I need that really nasty dirty ass distortion....(I like the sound of that!) I also use a BBE Sonic Maximizer for xtra Bottom and High end. Other than that My boys @EV take good care of me for all my wireless needs.
Rocket: I thought Danzig's Circle of Snakes album from 2004 was a pretty solid effort and showcased so well his amazing vocal range even at this late point in his career. It's been known that Danzig was moving onto other side projects and calling it a day in and around that crazy backstage fight incident between he and this cat from North Side Kings. What's the situation? Is there going to be another Danzig album? Will you be involved?
Jerry: Circle of Snakes is a very cool DANZIG album. A lot of classics songs. My faves are 1000 Devil's Reign, When we were Dead, Netherbound, Circle of Snakes and Black Angel/White Angel. I had a great time working with Glenn and Tommy (Victor) on that record. I know he is starting to get into film and such. I think for him after touring and writing and recording records since 78 he is looking for something to change it up a bit. It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I recently laid down some bass tracks on some very old cool shit from DANZIG 1, 3, 6 and 7 for an upcoming Lost Tracks of Danzig album he is doing. It has a lot really amazing stuff on it. Other than that, at the current time nothing is planned for the band that I can let you in on anyway. Other than we are headed down under in September.
Rocket: Let's get to the big question of the day. What's up with Nothingface? This is some kick ass stuff I'm hearing from this band. How did you get involved with this group and what's the future there?
Jerry: Awww, my true love!! Tom Maxwell and I go back a long ways man. We met each other and became friends about 13 years ago or so. He came through the town I lived in with Nothingface minus Matt Holt. We really hit it off and I ended up coming with them to some of there shows in L.A. and Hollywood back in the day. Like I said earlier after The Deadlights ended Bill Gaal quit the band and I took over. Ever since Maxwell (Maxhell) and I have been writing and recording together with our partner in crime Tommy Sickles. We just recently wrapped up a tour we did for our East Coast fans. It really felt great to be back. Nothingface is my passion. My heart and soul. It is everything I have worked for. Maxwell, Sickles and I have just finished writing the baddest Nothingface record to date. It is truly Amazing. Dark, haunting and crushing. Big... big things with this new record. I am very proud of what we have done with this album. I cannot wait for the world to hear the monster Montano-Maxwell and Sickles have created.
Rocket: Man, you have got my attention. Ha! The metal world needs something giant and significant to happen and it sure as hell isn't going to come from Avenged Sevenfold. So besides Nothingface, are there any other music projects you're going to be working on that we should know about?
Jerry: There is one VERY big one. But you'll just have to wait. Very soon.
Rocket: Damn, that's like dangling an earth rock in front of a dazed crackhead, dude. It just is not fair. Haha! Okay – so we'll have to followup with you on that one. What is the one piece of advice you'd give to a young fan of your music who is starting to learn how to play a bass guitar?
Jerry: Have fun. Do what feels right. Never follow rules. Be a leader. Don't be a pussy. Do what you feel is in your heart. Never ever be afraid of change. Have faith. Play til your fingers fucking bleed. Play some more. Learn all the Sabbath records!!! Learn the first 4 Metallica records. Getcha some B.L.S., Pantera, and Zepplin. Learn it. Know it. It is relevant.
Rocket: Yeah, that is so true. You have got to study early Metallica and old Sabbath covers, even the blues too, I think. It all starts from there. Hell, Sabbath was a blues band when they first came out as Earth. So great point. I think too many kids coming up today are clueless to any of this, cause I do not here any of this influence in so much of what's being sold as metal today. They might as well be playing guitar for Barbara Streisand for all I damn care. It just is not paying any respect to what came before it. Alright, I hate to end this killer discussion, we could go on all day and night obviously. My final question, to kind of throw you a curve ball. Where do you think you would've ended up, had you not found the bass guitar instrument?
Jerry: That's easy! Jail. This is the only occupation I could think of where I could get away with half the shit I pull. Or dead. But that wouldn't be fun now would it? Cheers.
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