High on Fire: Changing the Game

It's like a really spiritual thing for me. It's a release of anger. I'm just expressing myself through my instrument.

-Matt Pike

Photo of Matt Pike Dirt Junior

"For me, it's like I'm kind of pissed but having fun. Just look out and get out of my way because for the next 60 minutes I just want to blow you away," says Kensal. "Now, being 34, I've got to prepare myself, mentally and physically, for the hour and fifteen minute workout that I get."

High on Fire by Jason Bergman
Pike considers his inspiration and tells us, "It's like a really spiritual thing for me. It's a release of anger. I'm just expressing myself through my instrument."

The lion's share of Communion's tracks were road tested over six months before High on Fire retreated to Seattle with producer Jack Endino's (Nirvana, Soundgarden) for three weeks to "tighten them all up," according to Kensal. Pike laughs about how Endino encouraged them to "not be lazy," adding, "I think we found a very good chemistry. I've worked with Billy [Anderson] and [Steve] Albini before. I had good chemistry with them but this was something a little different, like he really was into the project he was doing."

"We really try to capture what we sound like live but in the studio, just kind of detail it. Polish it up but get the live, raw grit sound to it [too]," Pike says. "We work on guitar tones really hard, and on how we'd exactly like the drums to sound [as] if we were playing live but polishing it so it sounds like a good record."

High on Fire's Matt Pike
Every good record is made up of good songs, and Death Is This Communion is no exception. Much of the lyrical symbolism pertains to Pike and his bandmates' life of nonstop touring. "Half my life I spend on tour and most of the shit I write is pretty much about my life in some sort of metaphorical way or not. It definitely goes into my playing, and I could say the same for the other guys," he comments.

Prior to and during recording Communion Pike was reading writer David Icke, whose work is riddled with conspiracy theories about who and what manipulates societies, including shape shifting reptilian humanoids that have been roaming and covertly ruling the Earth since the era of Atlantis. Icke is clearly the inspiration behind the sloping guitar fog of "Cyclopian Scape." However, the industrial punk meets Motorhead charge of "Rumors of War" was spawned by America's penchant for fear mongering to justify its actions. "It's very much about the state of our country and how we're starting shit with the rest of the world," points out Pike.

While High on Fire can't quite be labeled as black metal, they still reign supreme to the fans whenever they make a tour stop in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden. "It's really weird," laughs Pike. "All the black metalers and Viking dudes and shit fucking love us. Every time we go to Scandinavia we definitely have seen the crowd get bigger and bigger."

High On Fire will spend the bulk of 2008 on the road bringing the fury to their fans across the globe. While no details have been released for the next album, Pike assures us they'll keep things interesting.

"It's supposed to jar you a little and make you think," says Pike. "It [should] draw you in and make you love the whole record and not just love one song or the hit flavor of the month. I don't write music like that."

High on Fire tour dates available here...

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ndant703 Wed 2/6/2008 07:01AM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Govindaze starstarstarstar Wed 2/6/2008 09:17AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Thank you Jambase! I personally fucking love these guys. Can not wait to see them live with the new bass player. Thank you for ignoring all the crying about " hey man, that's not a jamband". It's just music folks. Don't be scared! HA!HA!

carlsefni starstarstarstar Wed 2/6/2008 09:42AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great article -- I haven't heard the new High on Fire album yet, though reading this certainly makes me want to!

BTW, there is no bad music: only music a given individual likes more or less. Just 'cause I read Jambase doesn't mean I only like the Dead and Phish and stuff -- there's plenty of great music with an improv vibe, and you can sometimes find it in heavy stuff as well ..... (I'm not sure System of a Down are a very apt comparison with High on Fire, but your mileage may vary ;)

kyuss1313 starstarstarstarstar Wed 2/6/2008 09:45AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Matt Pike has been one of my faves for years now. KUDOS jambase for spreading the word. HoF are one of the greatest bands this decade, finally getting their just dues. For those who scoff at the riff... grab Sleep's Holy Mountain. changed my life 15 years ago, while I was knee deep in Phish and Dead. "Escape the Sea with ascending motion. I touch the sun and return to ocean..." PIKE F"N RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All Loving Liberal White Guy Wed 2/6/2008 02:57PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy


All of those themes that you just mentioned in metal are all part of real life and it pisses some people off. So instead of going crazy they vent through it thourgh metal and show it for what it is. We all can't live in a word of magical forests and not work and take molly and mushrooms all day and be all hippity dippity listening to noodling music for hours on end. If you don't like metal than don't listen to it. Like Feist says "I Feel It All" so therefore I listen to all the music that the world has to offer because I'm always hankering different sonic flavors. Oh, and to answer your question, modern day patroitic country is a worse form of music out there.

ndant703 Thu 2/7/2008 06:15AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Yes, those themes are a part of real life, but only a part. Dont you think that alot of metal bands overdue it? and it's kinda just an act? You cant be all pissed off and angry all of the time, can you? I do agree with the modern day patriotic country being unlistenable, haha. But carlsefni is correct - Im just not into it, thats all, Im not saying they're bad musicians.

kyuss1313 starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/7/2008 01:52PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Just because a guy plays heavy music doesn't mean he's pissed/angry/aggro or any of it. It's the density not the decibals that make the sound. Just like any jam band or any form of truly creative song/riff writing, the expression is the point. Read some lyrics before spouting off that metal=anger. Far from it. I've never seen a frown on Matt Pike's face. He loves what he does, and feels good doing it. Isn't that what playing music is about, heavy or not?!?!

Govindaze Fri 2/8/2008 03:10PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Well said kyuss1313.( great name by the way. loved those guys too ) Heavy does not equal angry. It can even be deeply psychadelic. High on Fires jamming makes me think of techtonic, mountain building events.

kyuss1313 starstarstarstarstar Tue 2/12/2008 07:41AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Govindaze--- check out Mammatus if you want to hear what the earth sounds like when it's hungry or throwing a tsunami at us. Heavy, yes, but far from angry... and yes, HoF makes mountains with their sound...now go further...