The High on Fire and Priestess Interview — ”Creep Show’
High on Fire frontman Matt Pike has lots of influences, including Black Sabbath, Motörhead, St. Vitus, Celtic Frost, Trouble and Cathedral. However, it’s what he does with those influences that separates him from other contemporary doom, prog and thrash bands. Instead of aping his heroes, he integrates what he likes about their playing into his own style, which, itself, morphs between subgenres, often mid-song. And he’s had plenty of time to learn what works.
Before he formed High on Fire in 1999 with bassist George Rice and drummer Des Kensel, Pike fronted Northern California stoner metal legends Sleep, who, starting in 1991, created monoliths of Sabbathian riffage that were bolder, fuzzier and more intoxicating than anything since Trouble’s 1985 album ‘The Skull.’
Sadly, Sleep’s third and arguably most memorable composition was also their last, the 52-minute-long single-song album ‘Jerusalem,’ (later released in unedited 63-minute form as ‘Dopesmoker’), which was composed of sludge-soaked riffs that droned on and on, gradually transforming into other equally dense and devastating passages. Sleep recently reunited after more than a decade and are planning a short tour for October.
Of course, that’s not to take anything away from High on Fire, which emerged on a roll in 2000 with ‘The Art of Self Defense,’ and which in February released their crushing, gargantuan fifth studio album ‘Snakes For the Divine.’ The band is currently on tour with Priestess, Bison B.C. and Black Cobra. And in May, High on Fire will open for Metallica in Europe and Israel.
While they’re not exactly birds of a feather, Pike and Priestess frontman Mikey Heppner have a lot in common. Like High on Fire, Montreal’s Priestess are inspired by Black Sabbath and Motörhead and clearly have listened to Mastodon — but they’re also driven by the blazing blues rock of Thin Lizzy and even Lynyrd Skynyrd.
It’s both their greatest strength and their worst curse. Having an identifiable Southern twang gives them a pretty original sound, and for those who like ‘em, they rock like a skyscraper in a tornado. But some metalheads find them too old-school to really rip, and certain classic rock fans consider them too heavy to groove.
Yet being on a sonic island of sorts is what makes bands like High on Fire and Priestess so interesting and gives them a perspective on their craft that many of their peers lack. So when Pike and the much younger Heppner agreed to swing by ”Creep Show’ central, we were stoked to pair the two up and get their takes on the tour, the majesty of Black Sabbath, their respective metal scenes, pranks they’ve pulled on the road and more.