HIGH ON FIRE‘s Matt Pike will release his debut solo album, “Pike Vs. The Automaton”, on February 18 via MNRK Heavy. The official music video for the LP’s latest single, “Land”, can be seen below. The track features a guest appearance by MASTODON guitarist Brent Hinds, an old pal of Pike‘s.
“‘Land’ was written after I had just come home from a tour,” Pike said. “It’s like an old blues song. I was thinking of it as like a bunch of old dudes in a subway doing a doo-wop thing. It has the feel of a two-step like my mom used to dance to, like country western. It’s totally about depression and leading a hard life. Later I was playing the song for Brent Hinds from MASTODON who had come out to Portland to jam with me and he laid down this smokin’-ass Billy Gibbons kind of solo. I did one solo and then he did his solo and I’m, like, ‘You’re a dick.’ [Laughs] The bass player from Brent‘s other band WEST END MOTEL, Steve McPeeks, played some stand-up bass — both plucking and with a bow — and it really brought out this depth to the song. I’ve never written a song like that and recorded it and made it as cool as it is. It’s totally different.”
Born out of the challenges brought on by a worldwide pandemic, birthed under hellish red-orange skies bred from rampaging west coast wildfires, and built amidst the yearlong political riots and rallies in Portland, Oregon, “Pike Vs. The Automaton” is both a musical and emotional release. The record was written by Pike with drummer Jon Reid, features contributions from a slew of family and friends, and was recorded with longtime conspirator Billy Anderson, the producer who brought the best out of Pike previously on touchstone titles such as “Surrounded By Thieves” and “Sleep’s Holy Mountain”.
“I was just going bonkers during the pandemic. It was like really, truly miserable. And then all the riots here in Portland and all the political shit. I was trapped in my garage, which was the only place I could go and jam and do anything,” confessed Pike. “I was trapped in there ’cause I couldn’t go jam with HIGH ON FIRE, I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that, no one could fly. I was going crazy. My friend Jon Reid, who was the original drummer for LORD DYING, had moved to Portland and was babysitting my dog, Crom, and he was drumming for my wife’s band, so he had his drums already set up at my place. I finally said, ‘Dude, do you want to come over and just start jamming?’ So, I just started this thing with my friend Jon. I was like, ‘Dude, fuck it. Let’s start a side band and we’ll just demo this and act like we’re starting it as teenagers, you know?’
In December, Pike released the album’s first single, the bizarrely titled “Alien Slut Mum”.
“Necessity is the mother of invention” is a well-known proverb that has proven itself true time and time again. When the need for something becomes imperative, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it. In this true story, the need for Pike was to create and play music with others at a time when that lifelong love was seemingly out of reach.
Other guest musicians on “Pike Vs. The Automaton” include Alyssa Maucere-Pike (LORD DYING, GRIGAX), Chad “Chief” Hartgrave, Josh Greene (EL CERDO), Todd Burdette (TRAGEDY), and HIGH ON FIRE‘s Jeff Matz, who lays down Turkish electric saz on the album’s towering closing track “Leaving The Wars Of Woe”.
“Pike Vs. The Automaton” track listing:
02. Throat Cobra
03. Trapped In A Midcave
06. Alien Slut Mum
08. Acid Test Zone
09. Latin American Geological Formation
10. Leaving The Wars Of Woe
“The album title, ‘Pike Vs. The Automaton’, wasn’t an ego thing for me,” said Pike. “Billy and Jon said, ‘Dude, you should use your name in this. This is your solo project.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to do that.’
“The Automaton, in Greek mythology, is the big robot that’s the guardian of the Gods, basically. It’s a soulless, big machine named Talos. The big machine that’s working against mankind at this moment. In ‘Jason And The Argonauts’, Jason and the Argonauts have to battle this big machine guy that protects the island. Basically, what the album title is saying, metaphorically, is ‘Pike against the world.'”
“I made a psychedelic rock record that SLEEP and HIGH ON FIRE fans would like,” Pike continued when asked for a CliffsNotes description of “Pike Vs. The Automaton”. “And maybe if you’re not a SLEEP or HIGH ON FIRE fan, you might like it too. I definitely think it’s interesting; it has D-Beat punk, two-step. It’s got everything and it still works together, it doesn’t sound odd. It’s just an off-the-wall psychedelic rock record.”