High on Fire’s Matt Pike Talks ‘Luminiferous,’ Influences, Government Conspiracies + More
High on Fire frontman Matt Pike was a recent guest of Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show. The guitarist and vocalist talked about the band’s new album ‘Luminiferous,’ their influences, government conspiracies + more. Check out the interview below:
The new High on Fire album ‘Luminiferous’ is out now. The band will be on tour through the end of the summer. Matt there's always debate about the state of contemporary metal. What makes right now a great time for High On Fire in the context of the current metal scene?
I think I'm fortunate to have been born on the day that I was born and be the person that I am. I don't think I'm above or below anybody else. As far as I'm concerned, I have the ultimate rhythm section so anything I do, they're going to make 10 times better. Jeff [Matz] and Des [Kensel] are just anomalies of life. They're the best musicians that I could have ever asked for to play with. So when I put my thoughts and my feelings and my poetry, everything into even Des' hi-hat, I know it's going to come out awesome even if I suck, they don't suck [laughs].
I have a good backup in case I fail, and if I don't fail, I put a lot of personal feelings, feelings about this earth and a lot of feelings about how I see the human race going. I just believe a lot of people really need to wake up to the fact that their earth is crumbling around them and disease is not survived. It's not sustenance. It's poison. I just enjoy playing. I'm trying to convey about what I feel about all of that through playing with these amazing men, and touring and being as heavy as possible.
I think we did a really good job High On Fire wise, because we've been doing this for a while now and we have our tricks and our tool bag. Putting it together, though, this one came out way faster and way more furious… it was way easier to convey. I don't know. I'm really proud of this one. I'm really proud of my bandmates for it. It was a serious trip to make. Every time we make a record, some kind of tragedy happens to me and everybody else. We all have our reasons for having change in our lives. You can take that chance and turn it into something beautiful and I suppose that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. I don't know. I don't even know if that's correct, but you have to ask someone higher than me to understand it, so I don’t know.
People tend to mention Motorhead and Black Sabbath to describe High On Fire. But, what bands inspire you? Especially on ‘Luminiferous’ that are far removed from what your band actually sounds like?
Oh definitely, The study of [Tony] Iommi or the study of [jazz guitarist] John McLaughlin, vocalists, I mean there's also even some Jethro Tull. There's some Black Sabbath, some Iron Maiden and some Motorhead, but I never try to emulate anybody exactly. I just know what I like to hear and what we grew up on. We just incorporate all the hardcore and all the metal we grew up on. We were a spoiled generation, because we got to see all the great s--t. Then after all the good s--t turned not original, then the people after us got to hear all of that stuff. I'm sure all of us were a part of that [laughs]. They got to hear all of our older bands. We were just learning how to play. We get together now, and damn dude. We know how to f--k s—t up, just because we know what good songwriting is just because of our heritage. I grew up on Neurosis and The Melvins and Rich Kids on LSD, Circle Jerks and Black Flag.
That's all the hardcore stuff then there's Iron Maiden and Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Slayer. Of course they're all influences. Metallica even before they went super sold out or whatever, "For Whom The Bell Tolls" blew me away the first time I heard it and put an impact on my life because I learned the song on guitar when I was a kid before I even knew how to tune it. I don't know. I suppose that the important part of that is, though, the influences on me but not using your influences so you're directly or copying or ripping anyone off. You're using it to abilify your style.
Style is everything is everything in the words of Charles Bukowski. Style is everything, style is what's going to make you noticed. Someone is going to recognize you whether or not they'll recognize your playing, because you made your style. No one has done that like you, and no one can do that like you because you have your own art. And the sole art of what you do is going to sound like you. If it isn't like that then you're not doing it for the right reasons.
Matt, what's most surreal about non-metal outlets like The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly and NPR praising the new High On Fire music?
I have no idea. You tell me, man. If they're actually craving it then it means I did something right. I don't know. I think it's a real thing and it's not fake, man, we're not fake people. When we step up, we do our things as warriors and we've been doing this for a very long time. There's no rest for the wicked. None of us have done anything less than sacrifice our entire lives to play riffs. It's the most important part. Then, if you smash someone over the head with it because you're good at it, it's because you believe and you are a warrior of that riff. You're a warrior of all the riffs. I don't know how else to explain it.
You're not shy about discussing topics such as governmental conspiracy and alien infiltration. Is it frustrating or amusing that some people are amused themselves by your opinions?
It's frustrating to a point but actually if someone’s not smart enough to f--king breath, it's like a turkey drowning in the rain. If you don't see what's going on, if you don't see them crashing the American dollar, them crashing the he Euro… I'm sorry but the American dream is dead. Your constitution pretty much got pissed on the minute the Patriot Act got into play. They're going to come and try and take your guns. They're going to come and try to take your freedoms. They already took our smoking, hey man, I'm a smoker and if you don't like smoking get the f--k out of the bar man because your f--king liver matters more than your lungs anyway. It's going to go out quicker. It's frustrating to me that like Holland has such a perfect thing where they treat you like an adult, and then the American government is saving us from ourselves because we want to stick up and maybe have some personal f--king freedoms in this world. Actually they’re taking them away day by day.
I voted for Obama and it’s a regret that I have because he's just following after George Bush. Pretty soon, mark my words, if there's not a military law soon or there's not some f--king Ebola epidemic which was created in a lab by some f--king Rockefeller or Bill Gates, all the f--king elite that want us all f--king dead. They want six billion people dead and they will do it any way they possibly can pull it off. They're going to do it in a way with like a sick cow, and they need to give you a morphine injection or they need to give you oxygen just so you don't feel like you're going to die in a plane crash. You know what? The plane has been crashing for about f--king 10 years now.
The minute 9/11 happened was the day that the U.S. no longer had any sort of f--king prestige. There's no prestige with 9/11 and killing our own people with people that we hired, Saudi Arabia that those motherf--kers have been in bed with since f--king Afghanistan. We're the ones that armed Al Qaeda to begin with and then all of a sudden it's ISIS, where the f--k did ISIS come from? That's an ancient fertile f--king crescent kind of term for the goddess that liked to fly over - you know the epic of Gilgamesh? You know what ISIS was? She was a fucking reptilian goddess who liked to fly over the clouds and f--king curse IMGT with the plague. If you read back and you read into history and you actually do some research, you're going to realize that the mythology of man actually can obtain some truth to it if you put some f--king classic common sense to it. But no one is going to believe me and they'll call me crazy right now, I'll put a tinfoil hat on my head. I don't really care, because they're going to understand when the FEMA camps start. Then they'll start telling me I'm right.
I don't really care. I’m speaking out against it, because if we do something now we can do something now. If we don't do anything now and people don't f--king wake up? Pretty soon we're all f--king slaves and everybody's just a TV baby like we have been since the 70s. People have been dumbing themselves down for way too long now and it's time to wake up and turn your TV off and throw it in the hallway. Time to read a book, dude. Time to think. Critically think. That's what they don't like. That's why they put fluoride in your water. They put chemtrails and they feed it to your children. Then they abduct your children and act like nothing happens. It's a sickening society that's in a world that can be saved, in a world that is great.
There is hope in the world, it's just, man, people need to stop relying on FOX News to give them their information and to stop feeding their kids from Wal-Mart. If they do that, then they might have a f--king chance at survival. If not, I'm going to continue to play music and when I have to survive I'll survive. But this place isn't going to be how it is in about five years. So, it's not going to be the same. No one believes me. Well, you don't have to. It's the f--king truth.
Matt, between High On Fire and Sleep, you've been on the road quite a bit. What feels odd about being home, when you're away from that nomadic life?
I get about a week or two at a time. I don't know. I feel like it's my duty to do the both of them. To create as much as I can. In this society that are selfish and 1% are allowed it going and it's not going to well. People who can't take care of themselves will fall and this is what I believe and this is why I do what I do double fold. I want everybody to see in the public eye. I don't want fame, fortune or anything like that. I just want people to see me and f--king put something on me dude. Do you know who I respect? George Carlin. Have you ever seen that man talk before he had the malfunction? It's a tragic thing what happened to that man. Do you realize that that man was doing exactly what I'm trying to do right now? Everybody called him crazy, but actually that dude was smart as s--t. Maybe I'm insane. And if I am, just chalk it up to the dude has good lyrics because he's f--king nuts. And if it makes any sense to anyone else? Hey man, f--k, right on. If I finally lost it then chalk it up to the record that I finally lost it… its a really good record. If that is cool?
Everything you got going on is cool with me.
I have to say what I think because there's going to be a lot of people who talk against me or find me repulsive in some weird way but it's because of the programing doesn't allow them to think outside their own box. If you believe it, cool. Keep on what you keep on. I'm not trying to distract you from the distraction they already have on you. I'm just trying to play music and do a good job.
Many thanks to High on Fire’s Matt Pike. The band is currently out on the road, check out their tour dates here. Their new album 'Luminiferous' is available now at iTunes. Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.