The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

MARK INTERVIEWS MATT PIKE OF HIGH ON FIRE

 

High on Fire is a band that you should be checking out. Their take on Heavy Metal to me is just that- Heavy Metal with no additional label required: the way it should be, played hard and played loud. If you are going to Soundwave this year then High on Fire should be on your ‘must see’ list.  Matt and I had been meant to catch up for the past week, but things kept getting in the way!

 

 

MD: Hi, Matt, thanks for talking to the Rockpit, great to finally catch up?

 

MP: Yeah, no problem, I finally got to this!

 

MD: So, how are you looking forward to coming down under?

 

MP: I’m always looking forward to coming down under! I love Australia, it’s a really cool place and the crowd reaction is awesome! I just enjoy the beautiful country and the wildlife and stuff.

 

MD: The Soundwave Festival, this year, has a wonderful line-up; I thought last year would be hard to beat. It seems to be getting more and more metal all the time. Who are you looking forward to playing with on the bill?

 

MP: Well you know I haven’t checked out the whole roster, but we wouldn’t be complaining about playing with Iron Maiden! But, it’s not really about who you play with; it’s the whole experience that will just be so cool!

 

MD: You always seem to be out there on the road, you’re a very hard working band- do you ever get chance to relax?

 

MP: No, no…. yeah, but we’re always touring that’s for sure.

 

MD: I see you’ve been on some pretty cool bills. Last year you ended playing with Fear Factory in Europe. How was it playing with those guys?

 

MP: That was great; we’ve known the guys for such a long time. It’s great when you’re out on the road with someone you’re familiar with and you know all the dudes, you know what I mean? You know who you’re getting stuck on the bus with!

 

MD: And you were also on the Gigantor bill with Megadeth in 2008, how did those guys treat you?

 

MP: Now that was fucking cool!! (Laughs)

 

MD: critics really loved your latest CD, ‘Snakes For the Divine’ and that was my introduction to the band. I read some great press and can’t find any bad press, have you ever had any? And, if so what was your favourite piece of bad press?

 

MP: We don’t get any bad press really. We are one of those bands that are grateful that the press has always been on our side. It’s winning over the kids that has been the hardest thing for us, because we are not as mainstream or sellable as some other bands. I think it takes a couple of years for people to understand exactly where we are coming from.

 

MD: I just think you have a great sound; it has so many layers to it, unlike a lot of metal bands out there. What can we expect from you guys live in Australia?

 

MP: Oh, well, it’ll probably be really hot and we’ll be sweating! It probably won’t be a big light show and shit like that, as we are playing at four in the afternoon! So, lots of great sounds, and some really loud amplifiers and sweaty kids!!

 

MD: You’ll let the music do the talking! (Laughs)

 

MD: How was NAAM this year? (NAAM is the American Music Industry manufacturer and retailer event of the year).

 

MP: It was good, got to hang out with Geezer Butler, Vincent Collins, and Kerry King. I was hanging out at the Black Star Amp booth and I got to check out a lot of cool stuff. I hung around with Brent Hinds from Mastodon who was having his birthday that weekend; he’s one of my better friends in the world. I had a lot of fun when I was down there.

 

 

MD: I think my favourite track on the CD, is the absolutely wonderfully titled, ‘Holy Flames of the Fire Spitters’! Can you tell us about that song?

 

MP:  Cool! Well, it’s a song about war. I was reading this book on ancient Egypt and they had these priests called The Fire Spitters, so I got that title from something I was reading about, and thought that sounds cool, I’ll put that in there! A lot of titling songs and stuff is just improv. You come across something cool and I thought ‘Holy Flames of the Fire Spitters’: that sounds really mad! Perfect!

 

MD: It’s brilliant! I think the whole image, the cover art, and the song titles are just amazing. Something different and really cool!

 

MD: What do you have planned for the rest of 2011, when you leave us after Soundwave?

 

MP: We do New Zealand, Australia and Japan, then we come home and I think we are going to start writing. Put out another record, that’s what we have planned so far.

 

MD: Five albums in to your career, how do you think High on Fire has changed musically over that time?

 

MP: Well, we’ve gone through three different base players, which always changes your sound. I mean we’ve had George (Rice) and then Joe Preston and now Jeff, and he has a different angle and take on music to the other guys before him. So, it always changes when you add a new member, and they come in liking a lot of new music and stuff, so there’s just more material to choose from, that’s all.

 

MD: I’ve seen in your merchandise, that you do some unusual items. You have ash trays in there. Is that a bit of an anti-PC statement or just making good commercial sense!?

 

MP: ( laughs) It’s just kinda cool, they look cool and you always want something like that, a little knick-knack, then when you buy a t shirt, you can have another item with it… or not!

MD: What influences you, day by day to make new music? What drives you?

 

MP: Oh, just stuff I read, you know. Then there’s music like Sabbath and Ozzy, and Iron Maiden, AC/DC, and all the bands I grew up with, and a lot of the thrash metal stuff, like Slayer, Exodus, and some of the darker side of metal: Celtic Frost – stuff like that.

 

MD: It would be cool to see you on the big 4 tour!

 

MP: We were supposed to actually but we couldn’t get it together quickly enough, I hope we get a stab at it if they do it again.

 

MD: The lead song off the new album “Frost Hammer” has been really well received: what can you tell us about the song.

 

MP: Well originally, and this is the funny part, that the song really came about when Des told us his wife was pregnant. It was really cold and we were joking around and I said ‘You know – we should call him Frost Hammer’. And we kind of got this nick-name ‘Frost Hammer’: so the song is about his son coming into the world! And I thought it was pretty clever – me and Jeff then worked on the lyrics, and I think it turned out a really early thrash-style piece of music. It has a catchiness to it though that people picked up on – there are always one or two songs that end up being crowd favourite though.

 

MD: I must admit I love your lyrics – they give a whole other dimension to the band.

 

MP: Thank you, we try!

 

MD: If you could have been involved in the creation of any album or piece of music what would it have been and why?

 

MP: Ummm, everything I’ve done up until now. I’m really happy to have been able to do that. Anything I did with sleep (Matt’s previous band) and all the High On Fire stuff. I’m really proud of what I’ve done with my career and I wouldn’t be doing anything else.

 

MD: That’s a great answer.

 

MD: Do you like the tag ‘Stoner Metal’? How do you think of yourselves?

 

MP: Ummm, well I mean it’s Metal of course, but I think that we are pretty original in the way we go about things. No one sounds like us that’s for sure!

 

MD: Yeah I agree, the sound is pretty unique and I kind of hate labels myself but I understand why they exist. I just find High On Fire has a cross-genre take on Metal. Like you say, it’s definitely Metal and it’s definitely original! There are just so many elements to the band and you always shake the sound up some.

 

MP: Yeah, I think it’s really important to change it around a bit, have that well rounded sound – change it up and down. Some are slow, some creepy, some heavy, all great elements in writing a good record.

 

MD: And it’s so powerful too, some of the songs have a dark brooding, almost gothic (small g- and in a good way) feel to them. I can just imagine a really full and rich, big sound live.

MP: It’s something we strive for – we’re a people’s band!

 

MD: You mentioned some of you influences earlier – what about locally in the Bay area?

 

MP:  Oh I love Opeth, Tragedy, The Melvins, stuff like that _ I grew up listening to them all. You know if you grew up in the bay area around the punk scene you were definitely spoiled with a lot of cool bands.

 

MD: So Matt, what is the meaning of life?

 

(Laughs)

 

MP: I don’t know you tell me!

 

(Laughs)

 

MP: I guess the meaning of life is: well who knows why we are really here, so I think it’s to do the best that you can with the time that you have! Life can be pretty boring.

 

MD: When so you think the new album is likely? Anytime later this year?

 

MP: I don’t know, I mean you’re never sure because sometimes an album kind of writes itself. So you can’t always say how it will turn out every time. It’s kind of gonna be what it’s gonna be, you takle it oe piece at a time and eventually you get there!

 

MD: In March you put together an interesting bill with some newer bands: Priestess, Black Cobra…

 

MP: Oh yeah that was great- they were all our picks – people who we had known for a long time. All the bands were really heavy and it was a really entertaining show.

 

MD: I still can’t get over how much time you guys spend on the road! Well thank you so much Matt for talking the time to catch up with The Rockpit! We will definitely be in the crowd making some noise for you at the Soundwave shows. It’s been great too finally catch up.  What do you plan to do on your time off?

 

MP: I don’t know I guess I’ll go and hold a koala!

 

(Laughs)

 

There are lots of things down there that you don’t get to see anywhere else in the world so it will be cool.

 

MD: One thing’s for sure, it will be as hot as hell when you are here! Best of luck for Soundwave and the Sidewave shows.

 

MP: We hope that we will do well. We went OK last time so hopefully a few more people will be on board this time.

 

MD: Well you are certainly the ‘Can’t miss’ list for a lot of people I know at Soundwave.

 

MP: Cool see you soon!

 

MD: Thanks Matt.

 

 

 

Mark Diggins spoke with Matt Pike of High on Fire February 2011.