Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
May 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Still Smokin’

music HighOnFireYou don’t have to be high to appreciate High On Fire’s music…but it helps

If Matt Pike has an official mission statement, it might well be Dopesmoker, the one-song album he helped create during his days as guitarist for the ’90s doom metal band Sleep. An epic tale about a caravan of marijuana worshippers taking bong rips as they march through Jerusalem (“Follow the smoke to the riff-filled land …”), Dopesmoker found the band stretching out what was essentially a single musical idea for more than an hour, with Pike making only occasional, momentary departures from a menacing C power chord.

Pike, now the frontman for the Oakland-based metal trio High On Fire, is clearly still high on more than fire. Ample proof of this can be found in the video for the song “Fertile Green.” Straddling the line between amazingly ridiculous and ridiculously amazing, the clip depicts a gun-toting outlaw biker using an occult text to conjure a naked female demon made of marijuana.

De Vermis Mysteriis, the album from which “Fertile Green” was culled, is a concept album that chronicles the time-traveling adventures of Jesus’ twin brother. As Pike explains, “Fertile Green” is the chapter of the tale in which Christ’s twin “has to go to an oracle and bring her a baby so she can further her herb garden.” The offering of this baby, it turns out, is a twisted metaphor for the time-tested pot grower’s practice of “sacrificing” male plants. “If you get too many males fertilizing the female, obviously you have an oversaturation of being fertile,” Pike says. “So the males usually get thrown in the fire, or they get made into hash or whatnot.”

Drawing on the works of writers like Robert Bloch, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, Vermis raises questions about God, quantum physics, fate and the supernatural. According to Pike, a good deal of the album’s lyrics “came from always wrestling with being brought up religious, wrestling with glimpses of things that I believe are past lives, and always being very sensitive to paranormal stuff. I just think it all relates to what my soul is.” Though he’s not certain what his soul might be, he cryptically states, “I think pretty soon I’ll be a little more certain.”

The last of these comments may refer to the health problems Pike has been contending with lately: The tour that brings High On Fire to The Catalyst on Tuesday, Dec. 18 is the band’s first since Pike’s return from rehab, where he detoxed from booze and cocaine over the summer. Though he admits that it’s not easy staying clean on tour, he also notes that he’s enjoying his first taste of sobriety since age 12.

Pike hints that his new, healthier lifestyle isn’t stopping him from living up to his “Dopesmoker” title. And when he expounds on De Vermis Mysteriis’ philosophical premises, one is inclined to take him at his word.

“Everybody has their own set of binoculars,” he muses. “Even though we all share the same consciousness, it’s a different aspect of that consciousness. I suppose that consciousness is what we all call God, or whatever—the male and the female: the Goddess, which is more like a dream state, and the Father, which is more like when you’re not dreaming, but you are asleep, and then your consciousness, which is: You’re in this earth, and that could be more like Hades or more like different dimensions.”

The guitarist adds that in his view, our actions in this dimension affect life on other planes. “Everything echoes, you know? And even though there’s no sound in space, there’s vibration, and as the vibration moves through space, it directly affects what I sense to be other beings and other consciousness.”

Point taken, sir: The post-rehab Matt Pike is just as stony as ever. 


High on Fire plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18 at The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Corrosion of Conformity, Goatwhore and Lo-Pan open. Tickets are $20/adv, $22/door. For more information, call 423-1338.  Photo: T Couture

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival