Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Sep 18th
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

 

Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Feeding Frenzy

Culinary journey ‘The Trip to Italy’ isn’t the foodie film you’d expect 

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.