Guitarist Matt Pike wrote Dopesmoker with Sleep and started his new band High On Fire in 1998. Their new album (with drummer Des Kensel and new bassist Jeff Matz) is called Death Is This Communion and is out now on Relapse. Matt Pike speaks to Nikki Darling the day after she was slightly electrocuted. Special thanks to Matt Pike for doing one of our three best interviews yet.
I decided to give you a killer interview because you were electrocuted.
Is it true that every time you were supposed to do an interview something happened to the journalist?
Some dude was diagnosed with some weird disease and someone else’s mother died, and I’m like, ‘What’s next? Is someone’s nose going to be chopped off?’ It’s really starting to freak me out. I was like, ‘Jesus Christ, is she okay?’ I’m like, ‘What did I do?’ I’m so nice. I’m a lover fighter—you sound so nice. Yeah, when they said you were electrocuted—I love talking to people. I bet you looked so cute getting electrocuted. Were you naked?
When you were electrocuted, had you just gotten out of the shower?
No, I washed dishes and plugged in a lamp.
There’s this kid here and he just made up this amazing game—he wants me to step in his shoe print. We’re in my backyard in the dirt and he puts his shoeprint in mine and, man, only a kid would come up with something this beautiful. No competition, no ego, just imagination. I’m sorry—do you have questions you want to ask?
Do you believe all creativity comes from pain?
Not all of it, but I would say about eighty percent. To be good you have to be enlightened or bring yourself to the canvas—bring your art to the fret-board. In this country, if you’re an artist, you fucking starve to death, or if you’re a capitalist and you make your own money, maybe you’re okay. And I’m all for that—but in other countries, though, they respect art, and here it’s not like that. And here you gotta bring the art. A little pain never hurts. It works—you need pain for art. Are you into graffiti? My girlfriend likes you. I love this woman. Hold on, she wants to talk to you—
Girlfriend: Hello? Are you the one who’s been to my house?
Give me back the phone—give me back my interviewer!
Is Joe Preston still with you guys?
No, it’s Jeff Matz—he quit the band, Joe Preston did. We toured him a little too much. We’re still best friends with Joe and George [Rice], and Jeff is down to tour. You know what my favorite thing—my whole thing is? I will shut you down, and I’m very competitive. We turned down this tour with Slayer because our drummer had a back thing, but we would have shut them down—I will shut you down. I would shut Slayer down.
Jack Endino and Steve Albini get into a fight—what kind of fight is it, who wins, and why?
Compasses and pocket protectors would be thrown all over the room. I don’t think there would be a strike until it was calculated. And as far as who would win, Jack is bigger, but Steve Albini would have minions and would have people with arrows hiding in corners. But I wouldn’t want them to fight. Those are two of my favorite people. If you’re going to fight, don’t fight over a soundboard. Man, can anyone else get injured during an interview with me? Do you have any other questions about me? You can ask me whatever you like. Ask me whatever you like—like what if I’m a quick comer? I don’t fuck good but I come quick. You know why my girlfriend loves me? Because I’m this retarded all the time—I kind of hold the whole world in contempt where I don’t want to bomb anything, but I want to make fun of it.
How old are you?
Girlfriend in background: Liar!
I was born in 1985. I’m thirty-five.
Did you go to college?
It was a community college in Los Altos. Northern California. My major was jazz photography. I sound like a pretty Ferrari dude, don’t I? I am, dude—I am the Ferrari. I was like, “Do you wanna go to the graveyard and drink wine? It’s a photo shoot—you gotta have wine.” Hold on, I’m gonna go outside because tonight is friend night and everybody’s talking. I’m a social satellite—if I see something, I’ll grab it and not let go. That’s how you catch a raccoon, you know—with something shiny. You put a quarter in a log smaller than the raccoon’s little hand, and it will always grab it and it will never let go of it. That’s kind of my mentality.
What was it like to tour with Lemmy?
Oh, he was really cool. I started keeping a journal of all the crazy things he would say and then I actually got to interview him a while ago, and he’s one of the coolest dudes. And balls—balls warrior. And to have that kind of faith in what you do—no one could even COMPETE. Not even Ozzy. Ozzy’s had a silver platter. I mean, Lemmy was Jimi Hendrix’s roadie, and I have the utmost respect—do you even know how hard he works? And people are like, ‘You have the spirit of Lemmy,’ and that means so much and I have a big heart and that guy—I respect him so fuckin’ much. He’s amazing. I don’t even compete with Lemmy’s toilet paper that he wipes his ass with. My lighter sucks—it says I’m going nuckin’ futs. I can tell you’re a Gemini—you’re fucked. Oh, man, ‘Hi, I’m Matt—I’m a dick!’ No, I’m nice, and everyone’s like, ‘I love you so much—you’re an asshole.’ The rest of my band totally rules and I’m retarded and I don’t even know why those dudes even play with me. And Des is the best drummer, and Jeff is the best bass player and it’s so awesome. I’m so stoked to be playing with the dudes I’m playing with. And on the non-denominational route and displaying my heart on to that canvas—obviously I’m not an atheist, but I’m a—what will we call it? A narcissagnostoartist?
Who came up with the title for Death Is This Communion?
I came up with that one because what is communion, you know? Or think of it the Catholic way—like you can go to church and pray and ask questions, but what’s the only way out of this life? Is there really a savior and all this? The only way you can really know is to die—you can have any faith you want. Muslim, Buddhist, Christian. I’m here for some reason—I’m here to do what I’m here to do, and I believe that I’m here to be with others for some reason, and the only way we all know is in death and that might seem kind of grim, but that’s how I feel—that’s the way I see it. I have dark parts to my personality. That’s how I see it.
Have you ever been to AA?
Hell no—rehab is for quitters!
You’re going to read this and call me up and bitch me out.
Then I’m going to send my girlfriend to to spank you and you’ll have to say, ‘I’m sorry’ and the dark shadow will barf on you.
HIGH ON FIRE PLAY FRI., SEPT. 21, WITH MONO, PANTHERS AND COLISEUM AT THE EL REY, 5515 WILSHIRE BLVD, LOS ANGELES. 8 PM / $19 / ALL AGES. WWW.GOLDENVOICE.COM.