Matt Pike (Sleep / High on Fire) Plays His Favorite Riffs While Actually Wearing a Shirt
Welcome to one of our heaviest Gear Factor episodes yet. This time, we've got High on Fire and Sleep riff lord Matt Pike taking us through some of his major influences and his own career's fattest licks.
Pike was drawn to Black Sabbath growing up. There was Zeppelin, there was AC/DC and there was Van Halen. There’s all that stuff, but there was something about Sabbath that really laid the groundwork and the blueprints for what we play today," stated Pike, who tells us "Into the Void" was the first song to really draw him in.
“This was the first one when I smoked weed for the first time. I was with this friend of mine and I just remember hearing ['Into the Void' riffs]. That was like the first real entrance into heavy metal that I wanted. That changed my life, that riff,” says Pike.
“There’s a lot of High on Fire riffs that are based off Tony Iommi’s playing,” says Pike. “The whole point is I wasn’t trying to imitate Tony Iommi. I was just trying to evolve Tony Iommi’s playing from back then to my own standards or my own soul or music. I learned from him. That’s the school of Iommi.”
Iommi wasn't the only influence along the way, with the guitarist riffing through some Van Halen, jamming a harmonic minor part from Yngwie Malmsteen and crediting Mahavishnu Orchestra's John McLaughlin for imprinting upon his work. But it does circle back to Iommi, whose influence can be heard on one of Sleep's first tracks, "The Druid," which was inspired by Sabbath's "Hole in the Sky."
During the Gear Factor session, Pike reveals his playing evolved over time. “When I first started no one would let me do solos or nothing and then when we became a three-piece in Sleep they started letting me go off. I was in a jazz improv class at a community college and so I wanted to do my jazz improv stuff. I just started going off and the solos were off the cuff improv and then I’d go back and re-learn them like the solo from ‘The Druid’ I just played,” says the guitarist.
Pike also gets into a little bit of his technique, explaining his love of a "question and answer" approach to playing with High of Fire. He demonstrates it with his first High on Fire riff for "Blood for Zion" and unleashes some blistering riffage based around the 12th fret from "Fury Whip." Check out Pike's playing and get more out of the riffs that shaped him in the Gear Factor episode above.
Having enjoyed critical success supporting Sleep's 2018 album, The Sciences, the group just announced an indefinite hiatus in November. That puts Pike back in High on Fire's orbit as they work toward the follow-up to 2018's Electric Messiah.
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