A Conversation with Shadow & The Thrill/Great White Guitarist Tony Montana
Tony Montana first came on the scene as the bassist for Great White on the tour for Once Bittten... and was part of the band through it's most successful period. After spending time away he reunited with vocalist Jack Russell playing bass and then guitar in Jack Russell's Great White. He now has a new project called Shadow & The Thrill and took some time to talk about his new music as well as his career in various lineups of Great White.
Please press PLAY below to hear the MisplacedStraws.com conversation with Tony Montana:
On how Shadow & The Thrill came together - Around 2013 I started really bearing down on a collection of tunes that I've been mulling about for a while, I really wanted to do something special. I didn't want to just put it through the normal project mill that I would normally do and just kind of get the songs out. I felt it was ready to do it for real, I really wanted collaboration from somebody that I thought was was going to add something to that it. Brentt Arcement, I played on and off with Brentt over the years, he always struck me as a drummer that really had a sense of groove that really matched mine, it was just kind of very at simpatico. I thought "well, this is the guy" and he had actually moved back to his home in New Orleans and I thought "well, that's it, going to New Orleans and I'm going to record an album in New Orleans apparently". :46
On recording the track "Sugar Bowl" - That was one of the the the first 5 songs that we attacked in New Orleans. Brentt brought such a different approach to the demo. The demo of the song is much more acoustic driven and not quite as heavy, a little Led Zeppelin III let's say. We decided to take a little more Hendrix-y, Robin Trower direction. His drum track and his B3 track just made it just kind of natural honestly. We also did an acoustic version of the song. We kind of redid that and there's a Nashville producer that took the tracks and mixed them and that is going to be a bonus track for the vinyl version of the record. 5:46
On covering two Tommy Bolin songs - My old manager, Alan Niven, had suggested this Tommy Bolan track a long time ago, not this one, the other one that we cover for the album, "Shake the Devil" unfortunately is not on the album. We did a video, released it as a single, but he had suggested that I cover "The Grind". When I first heard that song, and we're talking a long time ago Alan suggested this to me, I heard that song I thought "how come I've never heard this before? This is a hit song" and Allen is well known for choosing great songs and great bands. So he chose that he said "you should do this" and I'm like "okay, I'll put that in my back pocket as well". So I'm kind of learning about Tommy and getting more educated about his contributions to Deep Purple and James Gang. So when we started the album my manager, Pete Merluzzi, said "you should hear this track too" and he played the original version of "Shake the Devil" and I thought the groove of it is just absolutely perfect for Brentt and for me and for us together, I thought "man, I'm doing this one too" . It was like okay we're going to do two Tommy Bolin covers? We won't put both of them on the album because that's a little goofy but I'm covering this song and I'm gonna turn into a monster and so that's what we did. 7:40
"Shake The Devil"
On how he first hooked up with Great White - I was in an LA band, playing guitar, that used to open up for Great White during their transition. They had a major label release, they were let go from EMI, and then they came back home Los Angeles, regrouped, put out another album, played around LA again and my band used to open up for them and those were, I would say right now, some of the funnest shows I've ever done in my life, even till today. They were fun and I was a fan of Great White. The very first E. P. that they put out with songs like "Streetkiller", "No Way", "Out of the Night", the very first E. P., not the one that they did for EMI, the Don Dokken produced E. P. I was a huge fan. It felt like big the big time. I had been studying music in college and playing guitar and doing whatever. I was teaching at a store in the Los Angeles area and one of the sales guys named Jerry Lynn Williams was such a sweet guy and he was a co-writer of Great White's "Save Your Love" and so he was tight with the band and he came to me one day at the store and said "Hey you know they're looking for somebody to come in and play bass, you should go and check this out" and that's how I got hooked up with the band again. 13:40
On his departure after the Hooked record - I really wanted to stretch out as a writer and producer. I wanted to produce and I had sounds in my head that I wanted to make happen. There were definitely some strained relationships within the band at the time. We've spent 5 years in the tube basically, running around in a metal tube all the time stuck next to each other in a bus or a plane and 5 years of pretty intense work and good work but you know after a while...it was time for me. I was very intent on starting a family and I had the same girlfriend the whole time I was in the band and I wanted to get married. It just didn't feel like that life is conducive to what I wanted next and they felt that and it was just like "Hey it's time for you to go if you're not feeling it". So it was it was it was a perfect time for me to go and I ended up having like my two sons and being married and trying some different things in life after that. 16:30
On reuniting with Jack Russell -I'd gone to see (Jack Russll's Great White) at The Whisky here in LA and I watched the band that he had at the time. In my mind's eye it really wasn't... I thought the legacy of the band and myself, my legacy, his legacy, Alan Niven's legacy could be better served if I was involved so at that point I decided I'm going to get involved and he called me we just we just went for it. 19:15
On the possibility of a reunion of the classic Great White lineup - I would hope that that's a possibility I don't I don't think it is, unfortunately. In fact that was one of the reasons why I was in contact with Jack years ago because I saw that the 25th anniversary of ...Twice Shy was coming, I thought "Well we should really do something". I had purposely been out of the loop, so I reached out to Mark (Kendall) and Michael (Lardie) at that time because I was a third party at that point and they just wouldn't have it. They really, really just hated (Jack) and I was like "Whoa, okay" I mean I wasn't part of it, I didn't know why they hated him so much. When I left the band it was still pretty much a unit but I ended up literally on the other side of the aisle in a federal case with Jack against those guys over the trademark, over the name, and I think I saw some of the true colors there at that point. Why they hate us I can't judge them all about that. Unfortunately I don't think it's going to happen so and that's their loss. 21:48
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