Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Midwest Metal Issue #20 Flashback II

2009 Notes: Another band who was known during their years of activity but went straight to legendary when they disbanded is Sleep. Known these days as the band that gave the world Matt Pike and High On Fire, Sleep was a trio of friends from the Bay Area who recorded a body of work still hailed as highly influential to those in the know. The band broke up after the monumental ‘Dopesmoker’ album had been recorded and shelved and the legal bullshit surrounding the release of it sucked the life out of them. Strangely enough, Sleep reunited for two special sets at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival held in England back in May of this year. Essential Sleep reading can be found in Decibel Magazine’s March 2006 issue.

2001 Notes: In 1999, after years of sitting on the shelf of London Records, Sleep's epic tale of '
Jerusalem ' was finally available. Even though by this time the band was dead, Matt I guess was doing his part to cross promote the album as well as his current band High On Fire, who fucking rule.

Interview with former Sleep Guitarist and current High On Fire Guitarist/Vocalist Matt Pike.

Midwest Metal: Matt what's new with you?

Matt Pike: I've been playing in a new band for about a year, we've just started gigging and also just got out of the studio. We're called High On Fire. I'm really happy with it.

How would you describe it?

Well, it's the guitars from Sleep, sort of, but with a different rhythm section. Less of, well it's along the same lines of Sleep, but without stepping on my old band-mates toes. I'm also doing the vocals.

You mentioned just getting out of the studio. Do you have a deal?

No, not yet. I'm looking. We just got the tape recorded and the first thing I'm gonna do is get a few copies of the tape off to Paula and have her try to get us some reviews and stuff.

A question a lot of people want to know is how and why did Sleep break up?

Things just got really strange between us. After the album (Jerusalem-ed.) was recorded, we were having a hard time. I mean even during the writing, that was a very hard song to write. (ed. Note: 'Jerusalem' is Sleep's final album and it's one song clocking in at over 52 minutes) Very difficult to play, and then the whole label thing, they [
London Recordings] were freaking out.

How in the hell did Sleep end up on a major label??

I don't know, it just happened, it was such a trip. So the break up, it was about time, ya know? We weren't getting along the way we should've been, not for a band that was going to be touring.

Did you get signed off the strength of 'Sleep's Holy Mountain '?

I guess, that and the word of mouth. They approached us, it may have not worked out for the best, but at least something good is coming out of it.

I thought it was strange from the day I got a promo from London.

You did get one?


Right on, cool.

Then they sent the Gummo soundtrack with Sleep, Eyehategod, Burzum, Mortician etc.

That was a fucked up movie.

That movie was twisted like no other!

No shit, I put it on and I was like, "What the hell is my music doing on this" Fuckin' inbred kids killing cats and shit.

That dirty fuckin' kid who fucks the retarded girl!

Dude, whatever. That was just a weird movie, pretty harsh.

Well, back to the ' Jerusalem ' album, someone said that London wanted to remix the album to make it "listenable".

We remixed it for them, we originally spent two months in the studio going over each and every damn note, and believe me there was already like this black cloud in there with us. Then this guy comes in, and takes over the mix that we felt was perfect, and he started dabbling around and we had a big argument with the label about that.

I mean we wanted one track for the whole album and then they went in and made six tracks that we didn't like it. I mean we have no hard feelings, they're just business people and they do what they have to do.

How did The Music Cartel get involved?

Well, he (Eric LeMasters) just called and we talked and came up with a very simple contract that seemed cool and that was it. I mean I'm doing these interviews for him and also myself trying to plug High On Fire.

Let's talk more about the future, who's in H.O.F.?

I've got a kick ass drummer named Dezi and a kick ass bass player named George. They're just a couple of dirtbags that I like jamming with. We're really super tight and the three songs show it, I hope.

How are you handling the singing?

So far it's cool, I mean there's a lot better singers, but as long as I can pull it off and also play guitar I'm fine. I'm just looking forward to touring and touring, that's where it'll really improve.

What are the main differences between Sleep and High On Fire?

I'd say that High On Fire is a less droning type of band. It's similar, but different. I'm trying new things here and there which make for an interesting bunch of songs. It's missing a lot of the stuff I was doing in Sleep, but I'm making up for it with a few of the other things I'm trying to do.
[Sleep Live 2009]