Matt Pike of High On Fire Finds Zen in the Face of the Apocalypse

Matt Pike of High On Fire Finds Zen in the Face of the Apocalypse
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This weekend, fans of grind, sludge, thrash and punk will flock to Pomona, for the annual showcase for heavy extreme music, the Scion Rock Fest. This year, the festival will contain four stages (two at the Glass House, two at the Fox Theater) and includes headliners Machine Head and High On Fire, as well as Crowbar, Red Fang, Blast, Exhumed, Big Business, and King Buzzo and over a dozen other heavy hitters.

Guitarist Matt Pike, from the bands High On Fire, and Sleep, recently took time with the Weekly over the phone to talk about bands he's stoked to see at Scion Fest this weekend, as well at other topics such as the art of meditation and staying sober, guitar playing for both High On Fire and Sleep, Sleep's performance at the Burgerama Music Festival in Santa Ana a few months ago. We also touched on other esoteric, mysterious and mind opening subjects like out-of-body experiences, the Apocalypse, UFOS, and the supposed secret societies out to control the world.

OC Weekly (Alex Distefano): As a guitarist, is it easy for you to transition, from playing slower with Sleep then faster with High on Fire?

Matt Pike: It's apples and oranges for sure, sometimes I have to take my head out of one band, and put it into another for a few days. Sleep was my musical training; I learned a lot of my style and the basics from playing with Sleep. But I was always into classical, bluegrass, jazz, and more. High On Fire has just been a progression for me musically; the riffs and skeleton of the music all comes form the foundation of my guitar playing. Also working with different members of each band, I have to alter my playing but still there are similarities people can hear.

Tell us what bands you're excited to check out on Saturday in Pomona at the Scion Festival.

There are a bunch of bands I am looking forward to checking out. Exhumed, Crowbar, Big Business, Midnight, Red Fang, and tons more. We know Machine Head from Oakland they practice very close to us. I am mostly looking forward to hanging with all my tour buddies and family it's going to be a very fun day with lots of cool bands playing.

Tell us what it was like for Sleep to play the Burgerama Music Festival a few months ago in Santa Ana, as the only heavy metal band?

I've played a lot of festivals all over like that but that show was a strange one. Some of those bands were bizarre. Some of them I don't even know if they were bands or not, I just saw kids up there making random sounds, which is cool I guess. But the best part was that even though we didn't fit in, our set was fun, people were super into it and there was a good energy in the room when we played. I had fun and we think the sound came out good for that show.  

Do you keep up to date on current events and the news? Also, do you follow topics such as UFOS, conspiracies, secret societies, and ancient mysteries?

I take in what information I find fascinating from the illuminati to ancient history and UFOS and the Apocalypse. I realize a lot of that stuff is sci-fi or whatever.... I just like to read and think about it all. But, I do think there is more to this world than a lot of people are paying attention to without a doubt. There are people in control behind the scenes, and they want to have it so the governments can enslave people around the world. Everyone is connected with credit cards and now cell phones and now there is no such things as privacy. Biblically one could argue that the whole 666 number of the beast thing is happening; everyone is being tracked and technology could be what leads the downfall of humanity. To the people in control, whoever they are it's all about world domination.

You've talked in the past about being sober. Does this include smoking weed as well? Also, Do you meditate? If so, what works best for you?

Well for me it's completely sober, from even smoking weed. But I'm just a human being so I had had slip ups but part of being sober takes practice. For me though, my problem was booze. I never had a problem with smoking a little weed here and there. My problem was drinking whisky for years on end. But I put in my daily practice to keep healthy. As for meditation, I do practice Yoga when I can and I go to acupressure. I struggle with my sobriety but overall I do well with it. I have a pretty hectic life and have a problem with anger management so that stuff helps me keep calm and keep clarity. I don't preach to anyone but this stuff can work for me. I count breaths or with acupressure you kind of go off into a different dream state where I had some out of body experiences and visions and stuff. I do it to keep my mental and physical health up to par. I also go hiking a lot; unlike my old days where I would just sit at a bar doing blow and drinking bottles of whisky.

After the Scion Festival in Pomona, High On Fire has a few shows on the East Coast and Midwest, then some dates in Europe. Any other plans or announcements you can make for fans?

We have some shows in the Chicago area at the end of this month lined up, then we'll be going to Europe for a tour this summer, June and July; and also we're playing the Hopscotch Festival in North Carolina at the end of the summer as well. That's all we have lined up for now. After that we plan to make a record. It's a crazy project that is still in the works. I can't really explain what it's about now, but I've been writing a lot of crazy intense material that will up the ante, and bring things to another level.

High on Fire perform at Scion Rock Fest (at Fox Theater Pomona) on May 17 at 9 p.m. For full details on the festival, tickets and set times, click here.

See also 10 Punk Albums to Listen to Before You Die 10 Goriest Album Covers 10 Most Satanic Metal Bands

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