Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 03rd
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


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Making a Scene

As it celebrates its 30th year, Santa Cruz County’s Open Studios is one of the most successful in the country—and a make-or-break event for many local artists


A Ritual & Initiation

The Pope has come and gone, but his loving presence ignited new hope and goodness in many. While he was in NYC, China’s ruler arrived in Washington D.C. East (China) and West (Rome), meeting in the middle, under Libra, balancing sign of Right Relations. The Pope arrived at Fall Equinox. Things initiated at Fall Equinox are birthed at Winter Solstice. The Pope’s presence was a ritual, an initiation rite—like the Dalai Lama’s visits—offering prayers, teachings and blessings. Rituals anchor God’s plan into the world, initiating us to new realities, new rules. The Pope’s presence brings forth the Soul of the United States, its light piercing the veils of materialism. The Pope’s visit changed things. New questions arise, new reasons for living. A new wave of emerging life fills the air. Like a cocoon shifting, wings becoming visible. The winds are different now. Calling us to higher vision, moral values, virtues that reaffirm and offer hope for humanity. A changing of the guard has occurred. Appropriately, this is the week of the Jewish Festival of Sukkoth (’til Oct. 4), when we build temporary homes (little huts in nature), entering into a harvest of prayer and thanksgiving, understanding our fragile and impermanent existences. We are summoned to reflect upon our lives, our humanity, our nature, our spirit and each other. Offering gratitude, becoming a magnet for others. We observe. We see the needs. We love more.


The New Tech Nexus

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


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 2

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Extra Pop

Assembly’s pop-up space goes into regular rotation, Cabrillo wine dinner, and a visit to Mozaic


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist


Downhill Cellars

An easy-drinking Chardonnay from Downhill Cellars


If whales have a message for humans, what might it be?

“Do not come in the water and join us.” Howard Hall, Santa Cruz, Retired