High On Fire Interview
High on Fire Interview
Matt Pike, Jeff Matz, Des Kensel (High on Fire) with Monty Wiradilaga and Brian Kracyla
Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo 2009
MT: We are sitting here back stage at Bonnaroo with High on Fire. What’s going on guys?
M: Not a whole lot, just got done playing, just checking out the fest’. I am Matt Pike. I sing and play guitar in High On Fire.
J: Jeff Matz, I play bass.
D: I’m Des Kenzel, I play drums.
MT: That was one hell of a set guys. That was just brutal, back to back metal sets on the same stage. What were the promoters asking for, total destruction or what?!
M: It seemed like a big jam band thing before that and then Dillinger, then us, then Shadows Fall. That’s kinda brutal, someone booked it kinda cool, definitely surprising. The energy comes up a little bit.
D: Yeah, I thought it was cool that it was the “metal stage” for today. Going on after Dillinger, not an easy thing to do. We thought we played pretty good and then we were like ‘Yeah, good luck Shadows Fall.’ (laughs) But I’m sure they’re gonna hold their own.
M: They were playing good. It definitely lights a fire when you after go on after them. And all of us have been touring buddies for a while and shit. It’s kinda funny to have to go on after each other. All the metal bands nowadays are really super tight and really super good and you have to play after your buddy live or something. You’re like, ‘Whoa, step it up a bit!’
D: It definitely keeps us in check as musicians. We’re like, ‘Man, we gotta go play after that?! You fuckers.’
J: We’ve been doing our homework, that’s for sure.
MT: I interviewed Dillinger Escape Plan earlier and I said that it was basically, ‘Wake the fuck up Bonnaroo! It’s the last day. Here’s some metal ya.’
D: It’s your last chance!
MT: So what did you guys think about the crowd? Did you expect anything? Did you expect just hippies or what did you expect a mix of?
D: We weren’t really sure what to expect…
M: I was kinda of surprised at it! Cuz I expected a bunch of hackey-sackers looking at us all weird and shit. Like, “Hey, man, you must be the devil!”
D: But I think something like this, 4 days, even though it’s the last day and we were figuring that some of the people might be tired, everybody still wants to let loose.
J: That was a good enthusiastic response from the crowd.
MT: There were a couple of moments during your set that I had to laugh a little bit because, for one, the girl standing right in front of me hit you with her bra!
J: No, it was her underwear.
M: It was her underwear and…
D: It was a pair of panties and it had skid marks on it! We all saw it!
MT: It did not! It had skid marks?!
D: She probably been wearing whose panties for like 4 days in the tent man!
M: Don’t say it out loud but I saved them for my tour manager.
D: Oh yeah, we’re gonna have fun with those later on, stashing them in someone’s pants or their jacket pocket or something! (all laugh)
MT: I thought that stuff was just reserved for guys like Frank Sinatra.
D: Vince Neal or something… Nah, the panties Vince Neal got, they didn’t have skid marks.
J: Are fans are for real!
M: I only got one pair, that dude got hundreds.
D: The panties Vince Neal got thrown up on stage had front butt skid marks.
M: Damn bro, why you dissin on Vince?!
D: No, I’m not hating! You want front butt or back butt?
MT: (to Matt) Could you possibly the first metal pimp?
D: The first metal pimp! Man, come on, don’t pump his ego! As if we didn’t already have a road case for his ego.
MT: But I saw him. I saw you looking over there, working your magic. I saw you giving her the eye.
M: Well, you’ve got to give them the eye, especially if they throw you their soiled panties.
J: Give them the eye among other things…
M: It could even be the stink eye.
D: She gave you the brown eye!
MT: Give her the shocker after your set.
D: I actually got hit in the head with something during the set. I saw a few lemons get tossed up on stage and then some piece of plastic something hit me in the head.
M: Ha, lemons are awesome, dude.
D: Lemons mean you rock!!
M: Well maybe I’m not fucking Jerry Garcia. Oh well.
J: Bitter pills to swallow.
MT: There was something refreshing about your set. I haven’t seen too much metal with a smile. You had a smile on your face for the whole set. Maybe I’ve seen it with the lead singer of like Dragonforce..
M: I’ve done it for the last thirteen years because it’s totally ridiculous. It’s the funniest thing that I’ve ever done in my life. Just playing and doing metal and trying to take yourself too serious, you can’t help it after awhile and you have to laugh. If you have any sort of comedic value or if you knew anything about our band, we laugh a lot. We take ourselves very serious when we play but when you take yourself too serious with your fans and they know that you have personality, you can’t help but to smile or laugh. It’s for everyone. We have a rapport with our crowd and it’s like; yes, we’re goofballs and we play very seriously and very somber sometimes’ but it’s all about emotion and it’s all about a rollercoaster that we all go through. High On Fire is basically about life. Every lyric, everything we have is about us being alive and us having some rapport with our fans. If you can’t smile, you can’t cry, or you take yourself too serious, you have corpus paint on. And I’m with a bunch of goofy ass dudes that are all fucking hilarious. That’s all we do is laugh all day. Then we’re supposed to get all serious about playing?
MT: And you drink Pennsylvania beer, well done by the way. Congratulations on the Yuenglings.
M: It’s not bad shit.
MT: You guys have a new album coming out. Let’s talk about it.
D: Well, we’re still in the writing process. We’re hoping it’s gonna come out this year. Just typical High On Fire fashion we’ve had some setbacks…
M: It’s not that it’s not fuckin good. We have a lot of everything. We had a fallback, my drummer had a little bit of surgery. We…
D: “Your” drummer?!
M: Our guitars haven’t been in tune lately. So, we’ve been recording on a…
MT: Part-time basis?
M: We all kinda suck. Eventually we’ll get around to it. Too many bong hits, too many beers.
D: Hopefully our label wont here that last comment. Sorry guys, too many bong hits.
M: That was a fucking joke.
MT: For the past couple of years, metal has gone through a transformation from a point where it was just straight shred, see how fast you play, to a more technical style. I guess in your old band you played a little faster, faster riffs, now you have got more, I don’t want to say regimented, but more calculated riffs.
D: I feel personally that now “metal” nowadays is a big mix; whether it’s old school thrash or punk rock or hardcore. Long haired dudes and guys with cropped hair can get along.
M: It’s a weird meld because the progressive kind of met the style of punk rock a little bit, the nitty gritty and the total rush style, like Getty Lee and that kind of stuff. It’s kind of like we all crossed over, we’ve evolved. Every band that we’ve been on tour with has kinda been like that. Everybody plays perfectly or has some kind of study behind them and is really kind of better than our forefathers. But there’s still something you get from our forefathers because it’s a different thing when you’re sitting there in a studio recording and when you’re on an open stage and you know how that’s going to transfer to people sitting there watching you. Everybody’s trying to find this feel about it. It has to do with feel and it also has to do with being technical. It’s being zen about how you play. Lots of bands are picking up on the fact that there has to be a little rough about it and it has to be a little more choppy, the chops have to be a little better.
J: And the groove of course has to be there. Its very groove oriented too.
M: The forefathers have handed all of this down. It’s a lot of study of Prague records and classic rock records and AC/DC and Circle Jerks and Black Flag.
D: Yeah, I’m sure a lot of these metal bands nowadays had Shout At The Devil but they also had Black Flag Damaged or the Circle Jerks Golden Shower of Hits. Mix it all together.
MT: So you guys have a big punk background as well?
D: Oh yeah, totally.
MT: Like who?
D: Like I said Black Flag, Circle Jerks…
J: Poison Idea, the Germs…
D: Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Nuerosis…
M: Christ On Parade…
M: Bad Brains!
J: Oh yeah.
D: Bad Brains for sure.
MT: You putting horns in your music then?
D: Oh yeah, we’re gonna have a little reggae breakdown!
M: I don’t know if we’re that crazy about it but…
D: I don’t know if we’re the crack smoking Rasta type.
M: I haven’t smoked enough crack to add trombones and trumpets. I’m just kidding, dude.
MT: Last thing. Do you guys have anything to say to your fans? There were a lot out there representing today, tearing it up.
M: I’d like to say thank you. We’ll continue to keep doing what we’re doing and, fuck, we love you all very much.
D: Yeah, thanks for keeping us out here. Just be patient, the next record will come out and we’ll be back out touring soon.
J: It’ll be worth the wait.
M: We will not let you down. It’s in the works, man. We’re just taking time to do it right, that’s all.