One on One with Piggy D.

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“Music has become fast food.  We want it for $1.00, we want it now, and then it is gone.” – Piggy D.

Matt Montgomery, also known as Piggy D., is most famous as a guitarist in Wednesday 13 and bassist for Rob Zombie.  Maine Music News had the chance to chat with Piggy D. about the upcoming Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and the new Rob Zombie album, “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.”

MMN – You are getting ready to head out on the Mayhem Festival tour, starting June 29th.  When will you start the rehearsal process?

Piggy D. – We have already started.  We started a couple of weeks ago.  The three of us, John, Ginger, and I got together, went through all the songs, and brushed up on everything.  Now that we have a new record out, we have new songs in the mix.

MMN – How much of the new album are you putting into the new setlist?

Piggy D. – It is hard to say with a new record.  We have prepared a lot.  It depends on how long the record has been out, and how familiar people are with it.  People want to hear the old stuff.  In addition, there are certain songs that the band has to play or we will be crucified.  The most I think we would play are three or four new songs.

MMN – Is that something that you guys as a band have total control over or does the label have input?

Piggy D. – Obviously, they would like to see us play the latest single and whatever the next single will be.  However, it all has to do with the flow of the show.  For example, the last few tours we have done, we have opened with Jesus Frankenstein from the last record, which was not a single.  What it does, is it paces the show a certain way.  We like the show to have certain moments and have a series of waves.  Sometimes opening with a slow moodier song sets the tone for the chaos that comes later.  Whereas if you just come out with fire and fast song and fast song and more fire, then you end up trying to figure out where do we go from here?  So, we like to pace it and build it.  It adds a little theater to it.

MMN – What kind of thought process goes into designing the setlist?  Obviously, you are trying to coordinate your lighting, video, pyro and the whole feel and flow of the show.

Piggy D. – It is a very slow process.  We will have a month of time from the first of June with the full band in a room, seven days a week, running the set two or three times.  We rehearse a lot.  Now, that is just music, just getting the music down.  Then we have production rehearsals where we bring in the video, the robots, and all the new props.  There are new costumes and new instruments.  Everything is new.  It is a very detail-oriented process with all the content and everything that goes into the show.  All of that has to be figured out ahead of time, not only for the theatre aspect of the show and the production value of the show, but also for safety reasons – where we can go and where we cannot.  Once all of that is set and locked down, then the four of us – well, Ginger is stuck in a seat – so really the three of us in the front can go nuts, and that part is completely unscripted.  That is also the part that sometimes can end in tears if you are not careful.  It is a very organized production that is very safe.  However, you have the element where you have three rabid monkeys up at the front of the stage, and that is the part where you do not know what is going to happen.

MMN – Every artist either evolves or stagnates, sometimes losing fans of earlier work in the process.  Can you articulate the vision Zombie had for the latest cd?

Piggy D. – I can try.  He has become comfortable with his legacy in regards to what people expect from him.  Take “Educated Horses,” for example, musically it was not much of a departure from the other stuff.  However, people perceived it as a departure because he was not wearing any makeup or a giant claw.  The perception becomes reality to the fans.  Whereas I love that record, many people had stated they missed the old Zombie.  It really was not that different, but it seems like it is because of the lineup changes that we have had.  I have been with the band 7 years, and John has been in 8 years.  We have all gotten to know each other a lot more.  We have all figured out our roles on stage, make up, costume wise and image wise.  We are much more comfortable and have evolved together.  All of that has fallen into place over the past 7 years.  That, in a way, has influenced the music because Rob now feels more comfortable with whom he has around him, and the writing process has changed a little bit too.  He is going back and revisiting old themes that he did with White Zombie and with his first two solo records.  He has kind of gotten that sound back with the new team around him and a new vision.  At least that is how I think it happened.  There is definitely a good mix of the things that he is known for artistically plus a bit of experimentation on the new record, especially with song structures.  I was just saying to somebody else, that the song structures are very atypical on this record.

MMN – What did he want to achieve musically, or as an entertainer, from this new album?

Piggy D. – The one thing that he said a few months before we got started on the new record was that he wanted to write very atypical songs.  He did not want them to be stock, intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, and chorus.  They really are different, and a lot of that happened after the music was recorded.  There was a lot of concentration on the flow of the individual songs and in the flow of the songs on the record.  Whether anyone cares about that anymore – not a whole lot of people sit down and listen to a whole record all the way through.  I understand that it is a busy world and people do not necessarily have 30-40 minutes to dedicate to sitting down with an album.

MMN – Exactly.  We live in a digital world. When you are starting to write an album, I am sure you ask yourself – am I writing an album to tell a story or do I focus on trying to create individual songs that will sell?

Piggy D. – For an artist that started in the 80’s who made those records, it is a process of evolution because music has become fast food.  We want it for $1.00, we want it now, and then it is gone.

MMN – How did the writing process work out for the album?

Piggy D. – We all brought in a ton of ideas.  I think I brought in 18 different song ideas for the record.  John had twice that, and Rob had three times that.  It was a little bit of a different process this time.  The last record, “Hellbilly Deluxe 2,” everybody was in the studio, every day, all the time, 5 days a week.  Many of the songs were tracked live and the song structures really did not change.  It was John 5, Tommy Clufetos, and I playing the song a few times through before moving on to something else, and then Rob singing on top of it with minimal over dubs.

This one, “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,” was different. Everything was tracked, and then it went through this process of riffs being replaced with other riffs from another part.  Some people would perceive it as editing, but I really like to call it arranging.  It was very careful and very precise as to what serves each song.  The song that I did wind up contributing to was “Lucifer Rising,” a song that was recorded for the last record.  Tommy Clufetos played on it, Joey Jordison played on it, and then Ginger Fish played on it.  That song was an idea Rob had five years ago.  It went through everybody’s filters until it sounded and felt right, and then Rob new exactly what that song was and where it fit.

MMN – What is it like performing as a character?  Is it liberating?

Piggy D. – It is, as much as people look at it like – oh, you are wearing a costume, and you are wearing makeup.  You really get to be somebody else for that hour.  People may not really want to see me in jeans and a t-shirt staring at my frets doing math problems with my guitar.  I want to be entertained when I go to a show.  I want to see something that I do not see every day.  I have always been a theatrically influenced person.  I love costumes and I love make up.  It sounds so trite, but it really is just an extension of my personality.  I get to tap into the things that I have inside me but would never do in public.  Everybody has that weird dream where they are walking through the mall naked.  I get to do that and you can judge me, but no one is going to lock me up.

MMN – How do you come up with your stage costumes?  What kind of thought goes into it?

Piggy D. – A lot of thought goes in to it.  I have certain things that I like.  I enjoy the process of putting things together.  The make-up is something that has evolved over the past few years.  We got into it and started creating our characters.  Mine was very animal-like for a few years.  I wore a lot of animal influenced pieces.  Now, it has become a weird metalized version of a skeleton guy.  I do not have a name for it, but it definitely reflects everything that I am in to.

MMN – Is there anything new theatrically that we can look forward to with the Mayhem tour?

Piggy D. – There are new props, new video, new instruments, new costumes, there is new everything.  I saw some of the props being built a few weeks ago, and they are huge.  They are so insane.  It is so fun to be part of a show like that where there are no rules.  The only rules are – Will it fit in the truck? And will it fit in the door?  Sometimes, even those rules do not apply as I have seen doors removed so it can be fit on the stage.

MMN – Do you have to cut out theatrics due to the size of the tour?

Piggy D. – You would think that because you are sharing the stage with so many bands with so much gear, but it has actually gone the other way.  I think it has to do with the type of venue we are playing in.  A lot are outdoor sheds where there is actually more space.  There is more crew because it is a festival.  We are actually able to bring more gear on this one.

MMN – What did you listen to for music growing up?  What inspires you now?

Piggy D. – Everything.  I had an older brother that was into KISS, Van Halen, and Journey.  I grew up with rock and roll next door to me.  My parents and my brother were in a band before I was born so I grew up with a drum kit, basses, bass amps, guitars, guitar amps, and acoustic guitars in my house everywhere.  My parents were into show tunes, country music, and gospel music.  I had all those records.  Plus, I loved Star Wars, and I loved science fiction and horror films.    I had the Star Wars soundtrack, I had John Williams scores, I had a live Johnny Cash record, I had KISS “Alive II,” and I had “My Fair Lady.”  I listened to everything, and I loved it.  I loved music from TV shows.  The first 45 I bought was the Dukes of Hazzard theme song.  Just weird stuff.  I just loved the music from TV and movies so I could re-enact it in my bedroom.

MMN – Last question, who are you currently listening to?

Piggy D.  – All of that still.  It keeps me grounded.  I really try to keep my finger on new stuff that is coming out.  I try to listen to everything.  There really is not anything that I do not listen to.  The one thing that I have a hard time connecting with these days is metal.  Every now and again a band comes out and I feel like “wow, I have not heard this before.”  I feel like we have been in a dry spell for a while in regards to hard rock and metal.  It has all become very “sound replaced” from a production standpoint.  There are the same bass and snare samples I have heard in the last three records.  It has become very cookie cutter and paint by numbers.  I am always looking specifically in that genre for shit that I have not heard before.

MMN – It feels like we are due for a change.

Piggy D. – Exactly, there are always two or three bands that pioneer a sound and then a hundred other bands rip them off and beat it into the ground and make it boring.

MMN – Thank you so much for your time, and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Mayhem Festival in Bangor on July 17th.

Piggy D. – Cool man.  I love Maine, and I am looking forward to getting back there.

Piggy D. Interview Questions

Matt Montgomery, also known as Piggy D., is most famous as a guitarist in Wednesday 13 and bassist for Rob Zombie.  Maine Music News had the chance to chat with Piggy D. about the upcoming Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and the new Rob Zombie album, “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.” 

MMN – You are getting ready to head out on the Mayhem Festival tour, starting June 29th.  When will you start the rehearsal process?

Piggy D. – We have already started.  We started a couple of weeks ago.  The three of us, John, Ginger, and I got together, went through all the songs, and brushed up on everything.  Now that we have a new record out, we have new songs in the mix.

MMN – How much of the new album are you putting into the new setlist?

Piggy D. – It is hard to say with a new record.  We have prepared a lot.  It depends on how long the record has been out, and how familiar people are with it.  People want to hear the old stuff.  In addition, there are certain songs that the band has to play or we will be crucified.  The most I think we would play are three or four new songs.

MMN – Is that something that you guys as a band have total control over or does the label have input?

Piggy D. – Obviously, they would like to see us play the latest single and whatever the next single will be.  However, it all has to do with the flow of the show.  For example, the last few tours we have done, we have opened with Jesus Frankenstein from the last record, which was not a single.  What it does, is it paces the show a certain way.  We like the show to have certain moments and have a series of waves.  Sometimes opening with a slow moodier song sets the tone for the chaos that comes later.  Whereas if you just come out with fire and fast song and fast song and more fire, then you end up trying to figure out where do we go from here?  So, we like to pace it and build it.  It adds a little theater to it.

MMN – What kind of thought process goes into designing the setlist?  Obviously, you are trying to coordinate your lighting, video, pyro and the whole feel and flow of the show.

Piggy D. – It is a very slow process.  We will have a month of time from the first of June with the full band in a room, seven days a week, running the set two or three times.  We rehearse a lot.  Now, that is just music, just getting the music down.  Then we have production rehearsals where we bring in the video, the robots, and all the new props.  There are new costumes and new instruments.  Everything is new.  It is a very detail-oriented process with all the content and everything that goes into the show.  All of that has to be figured out ahead of time, not only for the theatre aspect of the show and the production value of the show, but also for safety reasons – where we can go and where we cannot.  Once all of that is set and locked down, then the four of us – well, Ginger is stuck in a seat – so really the three of us in the front can go nuts, and that part is completely unscripted.  That is also the part that sometimes can end in tears if you are not careful.  It is a very organized production that is very safe.  However, you have the element where you have three rabid monkeys up at the front of the stage, and that is the part where you do not know what is going to happen.

MMN – Every artist either evolves or stagnates, sometimes losing fans of earlier work in the process.  Can you articulate the vision Zombie had for the latest cd? 

Piggy D. – I can try.  He has become comfortable with his legacy in regards to what people expect from him.  Take “Educated Horses,” for example, musically it was not much of a departure from the other stuff.  However, people perceived it as a departure because he was not wearing any makeup or a giant claw.  The perception becomes reality to the fans.  Whereas I love that record, many people had stated they missed the old Zombie.  It really was not that different, but it seems like it is because of the lineup changes that we have had.  I have been with the band 7 years, and John has been in 8 years.  We have all gotten to know each other a lot more.  We have all figured out our roles on stage, make up, costume wise and image wise.  We are much more comfortable and have evolved together.  All of that has fallen into place over the past 7 years.  That, in a way, has influenced the music because Rob now feels more comfortable with whom he has around him, and the writing process has changed a little bit too.  He is going back and revisiting old themes that he did with White Zombie and with his first two solo records.  He has kind of gotten that sound back with the new team around him and a new vision.  At least that is how I think it happened.  There is definitely a good mix of the things that he is known for artistically plus a bit of experimentation on the new record, especially with song structures.  I was just saying to somebody else, that the song structures are very atypical on this record.

MMN – What did he want to achieve musically, or as an entertainer, from this new album? 

Piggy D. – The one thing that he said a few months before we got started on the new record was that he wanted to write very atypical songs.  He did not want them to be stock, intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, and chorus.  They really are different, and a lot of that happened after the music was recorded.  There was a lot of concentration on the flow of the individual songs and in the flow of the songs on the record.  Whether anyone cares about that anymore – not a whole lot of people sit down and listen to a whole record all the way through.  I understand that it is a busy world and people do not necessarily have 30-40 minutes to dedicate to sitting down with an album.

MMN – Exactly.  We live in a digital world. When you are starting to write an album, I am sure you ask yourself – am I writing an album to tell a story or do I focus on trying to create individual songs that will sell?   

Piggy D. – For an artist that started in the 80’s who made those records, it is a process of evolution because music has become fast food.  We want it for $1.00, we want it now, and then it is gone.

MMN – How did the writing process work out for the album?

Piggy D. – We all brought in a ton of ideas.  I think I brought in 18 different song ideas for the record.  John had twice that, and Rob had three times that.  It was a little bit of a different process this time.  The last record, “Hellbilly Deluxe 2,” everybody was in the studio, every day, all the time, 5 days a week.  Many of the songs were tracked live and the song structures really did not change.  It was John 5, Tommy Clufetos, and I playing the song a few times through before moving on to something else, and then Rob singing on top of it with minimal over dubs. 

This one, “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,” was different. Everything was tracked, and then it went through this process of riffs being replaced with other riffs from another part.  Some people would perceive it as editing, but I really like to call it arranging.  It was very careful and very precise as to what serves each song.  The song that I did wind up contributing to was “Lucifer Rising,” a song that was recorded for the last record.  Tommy Clufetos played on it, Joey Jordison played on it, and then Ginger Fish played on it.  That song was an idea Rob had five years ago.  It went through everybody’s filters until it sounded and felt right, and then Rob new exactly what that song was and where it fit.

MMN – What is it like performing as a character?  Is it liberating? 

Piggy D. – It is, as much as people look at it like – oh, you are wearing a costume, and you are wearing makeup.  You really get to be somebody else for that hour.  People may not really want to see me in jeans and a t-shirt staring at my frets doing math problems with my guitar.  I want to be entertained when I go to a show.  I want to see something that I do not see every day.  I have always been a theatrically influenced person.  I love costumes and I love make up.  It sounds so trite, but it really is just an extension of my personality.  I get to tap into the things that I have inside me but would never do in public.  Everybody has that weird dream where they are walking through the mall naked.  I get to do that and you can judge me, but no one is going to lock me up. 

MMN – How do you come up with your stage costumes?  What kind of thought goes into it?

Piggy D. – A lot of thought goes in to it.  I have certain things that I like.  I enjoy the process of putting things together.  The make-up is something that has evolved over the past few years.  We got into it and started creating our characters.  Mine was very animal-like for a few years.  I wore a lot of animal influenced pieces.  Now, it has become a weird metalized version of a skeleton guy.  I do not have a name for it, but it definitely reflects everything that I am in to.

MMN – Is there anything new theatrically that we can look forward to with the Mayhem tour?

Piggy D. – There are new props, new video, new instruments, new costumes, there is new everything.  I saw some of the props being built a few weeks ago, and they are huge.  They are so insane.  It is so fun to be part of a show like that where there are no rules.  The only rules are – Will it fit in the truck? And will it fit in the door?  Sometimes, even those rules do not apply as I have seen doors removed so it can be fit on the stage.

MMN – Do you have to cut out theatrics due to the size of the tour?

Piggy D. – You would think that because you are sharing the stage with so many bands with so much gear, but it has actually gone the other way.  I think it has to do with the type of venue we are playing in.  A lot are outdoor sheds where there is actually more space.  There is more crew because it is a festival.  We are actually able to bring more gear on this one.

MMN – What did you listen to for music growing up?  What inspires you now?

Piggy D. – Everything.  I had an older brother that was into KISS, Van Halen, and Journey.  I grew up with rock and roll next door to me.  My parents and my brother were in a band before I was born so I grew up with a drum kit, basses, bass amps, guitars, guitar amps, and acoustic guitars in my house everywhere.  My parents were into show tunes, country music, and gospel music.  I had all those records.  Plus, I loved Star Wars, and I loved science fiction and horror films.    I had the Star Wars soundtrack, I had John Williams scores, I had a live Johnny Cash record, I had KISS “Alive II,” and I had “My Fair Lady.”  I listened to everything, and I loved it.  I loved music from TV shows.  The first 45 I bought was the Dukes of Hazzard theme song.  Just weird stuff.  I just loved the music from TV and movies so I could re-enact it in my bedroom.

MMN – Last question, who are you currently listening to?

Piggy D.  – All of that still.  It keeps me grounded.  I really try to keep my finger on new stuff that is coming out.  I try to listen to everything.  There really is not anything that I do not listen to.  The one thing that I have a hard time connecting with these days is metal.  Every now and again a band comes out and I feel like “wow, I have not heard this before.”  I feel like we have been in a dry spell for a while in regards to hard rock and metal.  It has all become very “sound replaced” from a production standpoint.  There are the same bass and snare samples I have heard in the last three records.  It has become very cookie cutter and paint by numbers.  I am always looking specifically in that genre for shit that I have not heard before.

MMN – It feels like we are due for a change.

Piggy D. – Exactly, there are always two or three bands that pioneer a sound and then a hundred other bands rip them off and beat it into the ground and make it boring.

MMN – Thank you so much for your time, and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Mayhem Festival in Bangor on July 17th.

Piggy D. – Cool man.  I love Maine, and I am looking forward to getting back there.

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