Mike [Soldano] and said “Hey, man, I play
in this band called High on Fire” and he
said “Yeah, I know who you are!” He’s a big
fan and he offered to make me an SLO, so
I took him up on it.
What differences are there between that
one and a standard SLO?
Well, it’s basically an SLO, but he and the
guys there souped it up a little for me. So
I use both those amps in conjunction with
an A/B box, and I have my Soldano channel switch, which sits right next to it. I hit
two switches at the same time to get my
distortion. So I have this clean tone coming
through the Soldano, and then I’ll hit both
the pedals and it turns on the Marshall
and the other 4x12s—and the distortion
channel of the Soldano. I’m using three
Emperor 4x12s—one for the SLO and two
for the Marshall. [Editor’s note: Emperor
cabs says Pike’s cabinets have a combination of Jensen JC12-70EL Electric Lightning
and 80-watt Weber Ceramic Thames speakers.] I’ll sometimes use either two cabs or
one for the clean tones, depending on the
size of the venue. I’m also using an MXR
Carbon Copy delay.
Nice, I like that pedal a lot.
I actually bought it to use for some Sleep
reunion shows that we did a while back, and
I ended up using it for High on Fire. It’s killer,
like an old tape delay in this little box. It’s a
great design. I don’t really need a bunch of
pedals, just a little delay from time to time.
What are your thoughts on the Emperor cabs,
and how did you get hooked up with them?
I’ve been seeing those onstage a lot lately.
We were in Chicago when I first heard one
onstage with a band that we were playing
with. I really liked the way that they sounded,
so I got in touch with them, and they made
me a batch. The Green 4x12s that I had been
using for years were beaten up pretty bad by
that point, so I needed to replace them.
How do they compare to the Green cabs
that you had been using?
Well, they have higher-wattage speakers,
but they still sound really thick. Actually, they
sound really similar, but the wood they use is
really thick and sturdy.
You’re also a big proponent of First Act
guitars. Most people only know them for
their entry-level guitars, but they make
some very nice custom instruments.
Man, they’re just the coolest guitar company
ever. Bill [Kelliher] and Brent [Hinds] from
Mastodon told me about them first, then
Kurt [Ballou] from Converge. I called up John
McGuire and Jimmy Archey at the company,
and we’ve had an awesome relationship ever
since. They hooked up me and Bill up with
our nine-strings at the same time.
The top three strings are doubled, like a
Yeah. I was hanging out with Bill one night,
and we thought about how cool it would
be to have a nine-string guitar. We both
called them in the same week, and they
were a little pissed because we didn’t have
a design. They told me that I had to design
it. So I had to go to the drawing board, and
I thought to myself, “So, I get to design
it, and Bill gets to play it. Cool!” [Laughs] I
always really liked those Yamaha SGs that
Santana played years ago, but I wanted
a thicker guitar. I’m a man, I’ve got man
hands, and I’m a big dude, so I need some
weight and durability—because I’m gonna
throw it around and beat it up or whatever.
So I had them make it a half-inch thicker
than a Les Paul Standard. I wanted a baseball bat neck, because I wanted to have
big-ass strings on it—I need to punish with
it. The pickups are from Kent Armstrong,
and are really strong.
What tuning is that in?
C–F–B%–E%–G–C, low to high. I have another
tuning now, too, which I use for the song
“Bastard Samurai” off of the new record. It’s
How long did it take you to get used to
playing the nine-string?