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High On Fire Frontman Matt Pike Talks Metal Alliance Tour, Sobriety + More

Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

Frontman Matt Pike of High On Fire was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Pike spoke about the band’s upcoming massive trek with Anthrax , Exodus, Municipal Waste and Holy Grail, as well as his sobriety with being out on tour. He also explains why pajamas are very important to him while on the road. Read Full Metal Jackie’s interview with Matt Pike below:

High On Fire just recorded two shows in New York for a live album. The last studio album ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ was recorded in Massachusettes. What do a bunch of guys from Oakland like so much about working on the East Coast?

Well I don’t know – I overdose myself with clam chowder [Laughs] I don’t know I really like the town itself, Salem is really cool. They have graveyards, I always go into the graveyard and write the lyrics, they just had all these cool graves. I’ve been to these weird archaic, antique-y kind of s—t and they got that whole witch burning vibe there. Overall just working with Kurt [Ballou of Converge] is really cool.

In the past you’ve tended to tour more with sludge and doom bands and now you’ll be on the Metal Alliance tour with Anthrax, Exodus, Municipal Waste and Holy Grail. What elements of thrash and speed metal excite you most as a fan?

I kind of grew up on all of it, I grew up on hardcore punk and we’re talking old school like Black Flag and Circle Jerks, Corrosion of Conformity. Punk and metal were crossing over and that’s kind of where we got thrash from – I just grew up on that whole scene, going to punk and thrash metal shows. Anthrax was actually one of the first metal shows I went to and I’ve always liked Exodus and Gary Holt’s a hero of mine – he’s such an awesome guitar player.

I’m really excited to be going on this and hopefully picking up some shredding techniques off the other players and it’ll be good to be out with Municipal Waste, too. I don’t know much about the Grails yet but I’m curious – everybody talks good about them so I’m looking forward to it.

Matt, High on Fire pulled out of last summer’s Mayhem tour so you could focus on getting healthy and you’ve been pretty candid since then about sobriety. What was your biggest misconception about sober touring musicians and what changed that perspective?

Well what changed it was my liver submission – I got 40 good years of partying my ass off and I had a lot of fun doing it. You get used to doing certain things if you’ve been on the road for twenty something years and you get used to your comfortable buzz every night and then all of sudden you take that out of your repertoire, you become a little more anxiety ridden and anti-social. It’s hard to get back to that page without having the substance that helps you calm your brain and your nerves.

It’s a different way of living – I believe everybody should enjoy life and everybody should be able to drink for a period of time and do drugs for a period of time and f—ing do whatever they want for a period of time. It’s all about learning how to live life and I believe everbody should exercise too and everything in moderation. I wasn’t a person that could really take a lot of things in moderation – I always had to outdo everybody, it’s just kind of my personality. [Laughs]

I’m doing good now, I’m feeling healthy and I’m learning how to deal with it. I still love partying, I just watch everybody else get drunk and smoke a little bit of weed and I’ll be cool.

Recently you talked at length about pajamas with ‘The Village Voice.’

Oh yeah, that’s my thing man. I run to the bus, take a shower, get in my pajamas with slippers and play Angry Birds. Occasionally I’ll go out and say “Hi” to people, sign a couple of things and go back into the bus and just chill.

You just answered my question. My question was going to be, what’s the most non-metal thing you do? It’s so atypical of metal that by defying metal stereotypes in doing it, it actually becomes metal.

[Laughs] Yeah, well I guess I answered your question then – being in pajamas and slippers and everyone looks at you all weird, it’s kind of funny.

What else is going on with High On Fire this year?

Well we’re going to Europe at the end of this month – I’ll be over in Europe in February and then after that it’s the Metal Alliance tour and I can’t wait to see all the fans and play some songs for you.

Full Metal Jackie will welcome vocalists Bobby Blitz of Overkill and Chuck Billy of Testament to her program this coming weekend. She can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.

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