An Interview with High On Fire: To Each Their Own

There are some artists that just get a lot of attention. For whatever reason, there is just always something to mention or talk about. Such is the case for Matt Pike. Pike is a heavy metal musician who is well known for his work with Sleep and High On Fire. The latter recently welcomed the release of their seventh studio album, Luminiferous. This was also the second LP in a row where they worked with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge). In addition to this signature sound, Pike puts his all into his own signature style. He has done a tremendous job leaving his mark on the metal community. He takes his inspirations, and creates works of art. Art, that just so happens to be pretty killer.

The singer/guitarist for High On Fire had a lot to say recently about the band’s newest work of art. Unfortunately, that is where much of the press decided to make a story of it. Upon his explanation on some of the lyrical content, they decided to throw around the term “conspiracy theorist.” In my conversation with Pike, he decided to share his thoughts on some of these journalists and how he feels about the idea of judging art.

Ironically enough, he also touched upon eOne’s guitar solo contest, where fans could submit their own solos over the backing track to “The Black Plot.” A contest that he in fact will be the judge of. We also talked about the recording and writing process on Luminiferous. He mentioned why it was easier to create new material with the band, and what it was like to work on a release sober. Check out what Matt had to say below:

Working with Kurt, did you guys pick up where you left off on the last album? Was it easy to get back in and work with him?

            Oh yeah, definitely. We probably did it in about half of the time as the last one. I think we all knew what we were doing on this time around (laughs). We went into the last record blind a bit, not knowing what to expect working with Kurt. Over the course of that album, we found a groove and found a feel for how to work well with each other. It also helped that we tried to maintain a really strong work ethic this time. We decided to record a little bit every day for like two years. That helped a lot. Since we recorded everything that we did, it got to the point to where we reached an understanding of what we wanted for Luminiferous.

When we got to Kurt in the studio, he was just like, “Damn dude, you guys are on it” (laughs). We just wanted to make sure we had our end covered. On Kurt’s side, he always knows what to put in, what to tweak or change, and the whole process just went very smooth. The difference from the last LP was that we were unsure on how to put all of the pieces together back then. This time, we knew what to do and how to put everything together. So our time with Kurt was great. Besides getting snowed out a few times.

Oh really?

Yeah man. We were in Massachusetts and we experienced terrible weather a bit. But besides that, we were all on top of everything until the last note. And when that was played I grabbed my gear, got into a cab, and rushed on over to Portland and Seattle to do a few shows there (laughs).

And this was the first release you worked on sober. Was it more difficult to get things going? Were you overly critical of the process?

            It was a bit, sure. There was a few times where I was like, “I don’t know how to do this without having a couple drinks,” or things like that. You know, I didn’t fully know what I was doing, but it worked out. Outside of a little pot, I was sober. And when I say sober, I mean in terms of alcohol. I’ll never quit pot (laughs).

The album has had lots of great reviews. Do you give any attention to that at all?

            No, that stuff doesn’t interest me. I don’t care. And there has been talk of me being a conspiracy theorist or what have you. It’s just whatever. If anybody wants to put a tin foil hat on me, go ahead. Maybe I lost my mind a little bit, but I’m glad I did. Because if I didn’t I would be just like them. If somebody wants to diss me for having some sort of critical thinking, it sounds like they are part of a much larger problem. The minute that you restrict me from being nuts is the minute we’ve lost all of our freedom, man. We can’t smoke in public, can’t smoke pot, can’t own guns, we can’t do anything. If that is the society that you want to live in, and give me hell because my beliefs are different from yours, then you go ahead.

And for every one individual that criticizes you, there are countless others that hail your music and way of thinking. Theres a reason you are in the top tier of metal music.

            I try not to give a shit. If you want to piss on a guy who makes his own version of art, more power to you. It just sounds a little pathetic when you go and do something like that. Whatever the case may be, I just think it’s bad journalism. Go ahead, take your journalism and shove it up your ass. You know, these people can go ahead and make fun of me all they want.

Well, whats great now is that art lasts. With technology today, if fans dont catch Luminiferous when it is released, they can stumble upon it years from now. This stuff is always available to music fans. Fans will always have several ways to access your music and learn about you for the first time. Which kind of is the case with your other band Sleep.

Yeah, man. I’m an artist. If you don’t like my painting, I don’t really care. If you can access my music, great. I hope it means something to you. The thing is, you can’t judge art. There is no such thing as good art. It is different for everybody.

That brings me right to the guitar solo contest (laughs). Fans have until July 25 to record their own solo for The Black Plot. Are you looking for anything in particular?

Did you say guitar solo contest? (Laughs) Just thinking about that, I expect you gotta play next to like, Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen. You know, duke it out with them (laughs). I wonder how the hell you could do that (laughs). And would I be able to compete? I think I could put together a good solo (laughs). It really is just such a crazy idea.

And to quickly touch upon this tour. You will hit the road with Pallbearer, Lucifer, and Venemous Maximus?

            Oh yeah, man. They are all good bands. I am really looking forward to it.


Matt and the rest of the guys in High On Fire will be joined by Pallbearer, Lucifer, and Venemous Maximus throughout this tour. They will take the stage at Irving Plaza in New York City on Aug. 15. That will be followed by a performance in Brooklyn at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg on Aug. 18. The next day, they will stop at the Theatre Of The Living Arts in Philadelphia on Aug. 19. Luminiferous is available now. For more tour dates and information, head on over to