For the past dozen years, Jeff Matz has held down the low end for stoner metal masters High on Fire. After cutting his teeth with Seattle motör-punks Zeke, Matz moved down to Oakland to join High on Fire in time to play on 2007's Death Is This Communion. He's appeared on every HOF album since, including the band's latest psychedelic riff-storm, Electric Messiah.
If the record sounds extra thick and beefy, that might be because Matz runs his signature Dunable bass through a guitar amp and a bass amp. "I always do the split amp thing to cover more sonic territory," he explains. "I'm trying to be a bass player and a rhythm guitar player at the same time, basically."
In the spirit of all-encompassing heaviness, Matz recently sat down with Revolver to tell us about his five favorite riffs of all time and how they inspired his path to the four-string thunder-fucker.
"I'm fortunate in that my dad had a killer record collection so I got exposed to some good stuff at a very early age. One of the bands I loved that he listened to a lot was Crimson. This song had a big impact on me musically — the main riff just crushes. I love the note choices, the timing, [Robert] Fripp's crazy guitar lines. For me this song contains all the elements that make Crimson one of my all-time favorite bands. I actually heard the live version from Earthbound before ever hearing the studio version, so I'm very fond of it — it's so raw and bombastic sounding."
"Another band that my folks used to listen to, and a fairly obvious one. Definitely one of the bands that made me want to play music to begin with, and [Geezer] Butler is probably my biggest bass influence. This is maybe my favorite song on Master of Reality, which has always been my favorite Sabbath album. Love the interplay between the guitar and bass on this one — and Butler's bass playing, especially on the solo section."
"Black Flag was one of the bands that really got me into punk rock. Through them, I became obsessed with many SST Records bands, which had a huge impact on the direction I took with music. Hard to pick one song or album from Flag, but this song has the raw elements of early Flag — Robo's signature Latin-infused drumming, and [Greg] Ginn's guitar playing is totally fucked in the best way, especially the little lead walk up at the end."
"I came to love Motörhead after I had already been into punk rock and classic metal for some time. They took elements of blues-based hard rock and the rawness of punk and created their own genre. They are probably my all time favorite heavy band. Overkill is my favorite album, and the title track has it all — including the blueprint for metal double bass drumming. As a bass player, Lemmy's aggro, distorted rhythm guitar approach has influenced my sound and playing immeasurably."
"When I first moved to Oakland and started playing with High on Fire, I was roommates with Rich Doucette, the sarangi player in Secret Chiefs 3. He turned me on to Middle Eastern and Indian music, and one of the first things he showed me was the Aein-e-Mastan album by Seyed Khalil Alinejad, a Kurdish tanbur player. He also sold me a tanbur around this time, which you can hear on 'Khanrad's Wall' on Death Is This Communion. I was obsessed with this album for months — I'd sit around and learn the songs on tanbur — it sparked my love for Eastern sounds. 'Ali Bood' is probably my favorite track; it has a really heavy, deep groove. I love the sound of the ensemble playing on this one."
Jeff Matz on his Signature Dunable bass:
"I'm absolutely in love with the neck profile. It's a super-quick neck, really easy to play. It's a three-pickup bass, which lets me get a wide variety of sounds, from a [Fender] P-bass to a Rickenbacker type sound. And having two different outputs to assign which pickup goes to which amp opens up a lot of sonic possibilities. It's kind of like having a few different basses in one."