2012 has been a busy year for Matt Pike and the road-worn battle-metallers of High On Fire. April saw the band release their sixth record, De Vermis Mysteriis, to much head-banged acclaim. A trippy, Bakshi-esque animated video for “Fertile Green” followed in August. Summer would have also seen the band take the main stage at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, but Pike pulled out of the tour to spend some time in alcohol rehabilitation for a few months. Now living alcohol-free and freshly back on the road, he’s noticed a little difference in playing sober.
“Last night’s show in San Antonio would have been gig number five for me since rehab,” says Pike. Sobriety brings a new set of challenges to playing live.
“I get a lot more anxiety-ridden before shows; I’ve gotta ease into it. Our recent dates in Australia were alright, but Austin was a little tougher, because I have a lot of friends there who are generally a lot drunker. But last night went pretty smooth, I thought, so I’m getting used to it,” he says.
A fresh perspective should prove fertile ground for a new record, but as far as what’s been written for the next High On Fire record, “Not a whole lot. I’ve definitely been writing in my notebook and playing guitar. I’ve got a couple of good pieces of music written. But as far as a theme, I don’t know yet. Writing for a record takes me time to develop. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen, I just kinda let things unfold,” he explains.
High on Fire also plan a return to next year’s Roadburn Fest in Holland, where they’ll be playing two sets, one of which will be comprised of the recently-rereleased The Art Of Self Defense album in its entirety. “Walter Roadburn asked us to do two sets, seeing as we just re-released that record. So instead of just a single set, we decided to do the second set around the songs on that album,” he clarifies.
Seeing as Pike is known for being a student of the esoteric, the subject of the Mayan calendar is broached – does Pike think the world’s gonna draw to a cataclysmic close come December 21, while High On Fire are still on tour? “The world’s not gonna end, but we’re moving out of nighttime into daytime. People’s psyches are gonna have a lot to do with what happens in our future. Human beings are more powerful than we think. We’re not just ants; our psyches are going to be a lot more open, and we’re going to better understand our role in the universe. How we affect the galaxy, other genes, other dimensions – we’re all part of the same consciousness. That consciousness is what mankind has called God, the Devil, whatever religion you take it from – we’re all made up of that one consciousness, but we’re all separated so the consciousness misunderstands itself. I believe that a lot of third eyes are going to awaken, and there’s gonna be a big change in the way humanity thinks. We’re gonna realize how bad we fucked ourselves, and I think we’re entering into an age of a lot of pain, but also a lot of unconditional love. I don’t have a definitive answer; I’m gonna plead Ozzy: ‘I don’t know’,” Pike elaborates.
With that said, there’s still one burning question: Matt Pike, are you happy? “Uh, yeah! I am. I am happy. I’m just living, trying to be a beam of light and not destroy myself.”
High On Fire will bring their thunderous battle metal to Vancouver’s Venue December 16, with guests Goatwhore, Lo Pan and Anciients.
By Kyle Harcott