An Interview with

Jerry Montano

Bassist of 'Death Division'

that took place 1st September, 2013.

Interviewed by Glenn Milligan.

Glenn: What influenced you musically and why from an early age and what turned you on Heavy Metal originally?
Jerry: The first band to influence me was definitley KISS. I remember being VERY young and my grandfather taking me to a Montgomery Wards to get my first b.b. gun and ALL I wanted was KISS's 'Destroyer'. So I got the gun left it in a closet and sat mesmerized staring at the album cover while rocking out to 'Destroyer' on my Mickey Mouse record player - Ha-Ha. Once I saw Gene Simmons spitting blood, breathing fire with demon boots and bat wings I was hooked. KISS to me is ALL about The Demon and the REAL and ONLY Spaceman Ace.

For many years to come I was covered in blood..screaming ‘WHOAH YEAH!!’ and lighting sh*t on fire. Led Zeppelin were also part of my first musical memories as my dad would take me to school in his 76 'vette. As I grew older I found all the staples.. Motley, Maiden, Sabbath, Ozzy, Van Halen, W.A.S.P. etc. until one day I stole a cassette from a music store from a band called Metallica. It was the Whiplash e.p. That BLEW my mind. A few days later I went back and stole the whole album - ha ha.. Sorry for stealing your albums guys!! Anyway.. Metallica led me on a collision course straight to SLAYER, VENOM, CELTIC FROST, DESTRUCTION, EXODUS, MOTORHEAD and KREATOR. Thrash Metal was huge and growing up an hour from San Francisco - it was right in my back yard.

Glenn: Why did you decide to make the bass your main instrument of choice?
Jerry: Funny thing is, I never wanted to be the bass player in the bands -I started as a singer. Growing up playing in bands I took it seriously even as a kid.. So when people would drop out to get jobs, girlfriends etc. I would keep moving on and eventually just decided one day to do it myself. So I saved up a few hundred dollars and put money on a bass at a local store and paid it off weekly. Once I got it I spent a few months figuring it out and started writing the songs and put together a new band immediately. Cliff Burton was a huge help at that point in my life because he was just GOD to me at 14 or 15. A few years later I would figure out we ALL owe it to Geezer Butler and Sabbath.

Glenn: What made you decide to form Death Division and what characteristics were you looking for from each individual members and why?
Jerry: To be honest I wasn't looking to start anything when it happened. I had met Sean a year prior and we sat up at my house 'til 5 am after hours and wrote two songs with ease. He left, we talked about jamming but nothing happened. I already had Rick in my solo rock 'n' roll band I sing and play guitar in 'Down & Dirty' (along with Ace Frehley drummer, Matt Starr). Sean was easy to work with and super cool so it was a no brainer. I had been seeking a new writing partner for a while. I had worked with a few people here and there over the years but nothing really stuck.

A year later, we got together and wrote ‘I’ve Had Enough’, ‘All Hope's Lost’ and ‘We Are The Fallen’ in two days. I immediately called Rick and we started working the songs. A day later I posted on Facebook that I was looking for a drummer. A fan on my facebook replied, "You should get Tim Yeung, He is the baddest drummer in metal!" I kinda laughed it off for a second because I have known Tim for many years and knew he was busy doing Morbid Angel.

As I was kinda laughing to myself thinking, ‘Yeah Right’ my FB I.M popped up and it was Tim. He said he was interested and the next day he was at the house and we were working the songs. ZERO effort. It just happened very natural and organic. The songs have been flowing with ease ever since - In fact it is hard for us to rehearse most of the time without writing something new! That is very rare.

Glenn: Why did you decide to call the band Death Division and what is the meaning of it from your point of view?
Jerry: We had the band started.. Names in the business and were on fire but no name. We all brainstormed on the name situation but nothing really stuck or felt right. I remembered watching a documentary on Discovery channel years back when we were starting 'HELLYEAH' about a place called 'The Dead Letter Division" The concept of this place that EXISTS and OWNED by the U.S Government is simple.. Mail can ONLY be opened by the person it is addressed to. It is ILLEGAL to keep, open or destroy mail that isn't yours. Any mail etc. that is returned or unopened cannot be destroyed by the government and is housed at 'The Dead Letter Division'. This idea intrigued me.. Letters from the old days to Santa from children asking for presents or Dear God letters from people hoping for a miracle or for their prayers to be answered all sitting in a warehouse somewhere.. A place of lost hopes and dreams. DEATH DIVISION. Perfect.

Glenn: What is the personal and social relationship like in the band when you are away from the stage?
Jerry: One of the coolest things about DD is the interaction, personal relationships and bonds we have developed over the years. We are a very close band and very family. It is a special trip.

Glenn: What do you consider makes the band work so well since you've been together for 2 years so far?
Jerry: I think the band works well because we all spend so much time together personally we get each other. Any given night out in Hollywood you will find Sean, Rick and I out and about. We really all work well with each other.

Glenn: Have the two years with Death Division sparked any feeling of musical and lyrical maturity and if so in what way?
Jerry: The band has matured and become stronger as we progress. Lyrically it is always different as Sean and I both write the lyrics together. Sean can start in a direction with a verse and I will generally give it an entirely other twist in verse two which gives it a cool dynamic. You can read and vibe all the DD stuff from entirely different angles.

Glenn: What personally attracts you to the style of metal you play as opposed to any others that you could play just as well and for what reasons?
Jerry: I have never looked at what others do or write for direction. Style is something that comes from within. You can’t fake vibe and groove. I was lucky enough to be raised by the kings.. Guys like Dimebag Darrell, Zakk Wylde, Kerry King and Jimmy Page lit my musical path. Artists that never cared about the next Limp Biscuits or Cobras and the Lionheads or whatever may be the next musical fad. I think we just do. We knew we never wanted DD to be limited to any specific style and I feel we are accomplishing that now. We get in a room the old fashioned way and write riffs we dig.. If we don't vibe it or can’t find that part, it goes in the trash! In the great words of Mr. Zakk Wylde, "If you're thinkin you're stinkin".

Glenn: How would you describe the style of metal that you play as opposed to simply saying brutal, loud and aggressive like your typical music journalist would?
Jerry: I guess I would say Extreme Rock?

Glenn: How would you personally describe your style of bass playing?
Jerry: For the most part I am a very tight solid player. If the song calls for more melody and dynamic I get more technical as needed. For me I feel if you are really doing your job as a bass player you are felt all the time and heard and shine at the right moments. I have never been an over player. HOWEVER I absolutely love bass players who can kill it and pull it off.. Ryan from Mudvayne... PHENOMENAL and Les from Primus kill it.

Glenn: What is your favourite bass that you own and why?
Jerry: Ernie Ball Musicman basses. 5 String Stingrays are my weapon of choice.

Glenn: What out of the Devil Division songs are your most preferred to play and why?
Jerry: I love to play them all. Highlights to me are always ‘Can You Hear Me Now’ and ‘The Truth’. They are great crowd interaction songs.. Groovy.. vibey and heavy.

Glenn: Where do you get most of your lyrical ideas for your songs from and which ones mean the most to you and why?
Jerry: Lyrically it varies as Sean and I write the lyrics together.. For instance ‘I've Had Enough’ was written about hating god or religion originally from Sean's POV and I changed it to read more like a failed doomed relationship. It is up to the listener to read between the lines and find their own meaning,

Glenn: Doe you live with any regret in your musical career and if so what and what have you personally learnt from that and why?
Jerry: Regret? No. Mistakes are just stepping stones to a new path and a lesson learned. We all fall down.. What matters in the end is how you handle it and what you do after. I am very appreciative of all the opportunities I have had over the years.

Glenn: How is your current relationship with Glenn Danzig and are you in touch with the various members at all especially since the 25th Anniversary of the band is coming up?
Jerry: Glenn is great! I saw him recently at Kirk Hammett's Party in Hollywood.. We got caught up and had a great time. I am still very close with Tommy Victor, Doyle and of course my bestest Johnny Kelly! Johnny actually got me the gig originally!! I am proud to have been part of Glenn's Legacy. The guy is a true icon.

Glenn: You have a nice set of tattoos there - which ones mean the most to you and for what reasons?
Jerry: Never really thought of that. I just dig fire and skulls. I'm a bass player.

Glenn: How did you come to be on the GIGANTOUR 13 bill and what have been the highlights so far?
Jerry: Justis Mustaine had got a hold of our songs and turned Dave on to them.. It all happened very quick. We ended up at Vic's Garage (Megadeth Headquarters) and turned out Dave really liked the band. We worked very closely with Dave over the past few months and he invited us to be a part of Gigantour 13. Dave has been very good to us and a believer in DD going as far as mentioning DD on "That Metal Show" and TONS of press. Can't say enough good things about them. Highlights of the tour were by far hanging with my old bandmates.. HELLYEAH.. Playing with SLASH in DALLAS TX .. seeing David and Will kill it nightly and being on tour with BLS.

Glenn: What countries have stood out to you regarding their venues and fans and why with regard to any band you have been a member of?
Jerry: That is a hard question to answer because I've been all over the world so many times. Places that stand out are Greece, Norway, Australia, Chile, Slovenia & Dallas fking TEXAS!!! :)

Glenn: Care to tell any cool road stories that have happened over the years that you can legally speak about?
Jerry: So many crazy and cool things over the years.. I remember buying Dime a chrome skull and writing on it for his birthday on Ozzfest 2000. Then later he used it as a prop in the famous Dime/Zakk camo Guitar World shoot... Almost dying in a plane on our way to Monterey, Mexico when I was in Danzig alongside W.A.S.P. and MOTORHEAD.. The guys from Type O Negative rigging an 18 inch pink dildo through the lighting truss and spotlighting it over my head every time I sang without me knowing lol .. Almost dying in Indianapolis and being brought back to life.. Falling off the stage in 06 with on the Nothingface tour.. Random semi PG related stories. Ha - I have def been blessed with the greatest life in the world.

Glenn: What does it mean to you be recently being placed on I-Tunes and what are your thoughts of real CD's versus downloads and why?
Jerry: I think it is sad that kids won’t have the excitement of going to a record store and FINDING new music.. Searching it out.. Buying it.. Going home and looking at the record covers etc.. Kinda like how we go to book stores and browse books. Music has become disposable and it is tragic in my eyes. A record collection was something I took pride in as a kid and new every word.. All the print. Nowadays it’s an Mp3 and people just skip through songs and hardly ever even listen to an entire song. I am appreciative of what digital media has done. It has come at a grave cost in my eyes.

Glenn: Can you tell us much about the forthcoming album in 2014?
Jerry: The upcoming 'Death Division' record is going to be VERY diverse, It's going to be moody, violent at times yet still driven. Half of the record is done currently.

Glenn: What do you imagine will be up and coming for you good self and Death Division in the near and also distant future?
Jerry: Death Division will spend 2014 and 2015 on the road with our fans old and new.

Glenn: What have been the proudest moments in your career so far and why?
Jerry: That is hard to say. Probably landing my first major label record deal with 'The Deadlights'... Hearing ‘Walking On Bodies’ from Nothinface on the radio... Hellyeah debuting Billboard #7... Playing bass for Dime and Vinnie Paul's side band Gasoline alongside Jerry Cantrell...Recording my first DANZIG record and DEATH DIVISION. I am so proud of my new band and guys.. We have come so far on such trying times with so much against us as a baby band.

Glenn: What do you like to do outside the band and what got you into these hobbies and interests?
Jerry: Outside of the band I do my OTHER band ‘Jerry Montano's Down & Dirty’ - My Southern Rock 'N' Roll band that I sing and play the guitar in. I also love to cook, go to the gym, hike and every Tuesday night in Hollywood I do a club night with a buddy of mine from a local band called The Dark! Toxic Tuesday's at a spot called The Velvet Margarita in Hollywood. Just a dirty, goth type Hollywood Rock ‘n’ Roll bar where we showcase up and coming local talent as well as national stuff! But really my life is just music. Always has and always will be.

Glenn: What do you like and also dislike about living in and around Hollywood, California and for what reasons?
Jerry: I moved to Hollywood in 1994 with a bag of clothes, a bass guitar with NO where to live and NO money. Looking back it wasn't the wisest decision in the world - ha. HOWEVER it changed my life forever. I consider Hollywood my real home. I lived on the streets for a while and on the rooftop of a music/poster store. It's there I met Dino Casarez, El Duce and Rozz Williams.. I worked at the shop in the daytime and at night when it would close I would go to a bar called Bar Deluxe at night til after 3 am 'til close then walk back down Hollywood Blvd. to the shop to crash on the roof. I would lay on the rooftop and watch the helicopter spotlights .. hear the sirens and screams through the night til morning. It was intense but very, very electric.

I ended up being invited to a party off of Melrose to a guy who managed an apartment complex named Dez. Through Dez I ended up meeting Meegs and lived in the Coal Chamber house in Hollywood ‘til I joined my first LA band SUFFER alongside Blasko Rob Nicholson. That was pretty much ground zero for what would be called nu metal.. All of us bands would hang out at keg parties and talk about how we would all be big someday.. Pretty funny. On a Saturday night early a.m it would be guys from.. Coal Chamber, Fear Factory, Snot, System of a Down, Static, Downset, Brujeria, HED pe etc.. It was also very common to see all of the same bands on the same bill for $3 on a Wednesday night.. That was pretty much the beginning of the story for me. The rest is history I guess. Hollywood is where it all started. I love my home and the crazy people in it. I love to travel all over the world and experience all the culture but in the end nothing beats coming back home. I love LA.

Glenn: What would you like to say to the fans out there who have read the interview?

Jerry: I would just like to thank all the people who allow us to do what we do. Without our fans we are all nothing. We are just a bunch of guys from LA trying to build a name and get by like everyone else. So to all our fans old and new, THANK YOU for ALL your generosity and support. And PLEASE continue to support local music!! Support all arts!! And please check us out on FB :)

A big thank You to Jerry for an extremely in-depth and concise Interview