San Francisco Bay Area hard rock band HIGH ON FIRE was on tour and set to perform in Tokyo, Japan on Friday, March 11 when the powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami struck off the island nation's shore, collapsing buildings, touching off widespread fires and unleashing walls of water up to 30 feet high. The popular U.S. group was unharmed, but shaken after surviving its second natural disaster in sixteen days; the band was also abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand during the 6.3-magnitude earthquake of February 22, the country's deadliest natural disaster in 80 years.
"Our thoughts go out to all the people of the world who have already been through such agony during these tragedies and are now going through much worse," said the band in a statement. "To all those who have lost loved ones in particular, you have our deepest sympathies."
On February 23, NBC Bay Area spoke with HIGH ON FIRE frontman Matt Pike following the Christchurch earthquake. That interview can be seen at this location.
HIGH ON FIRE (guitarist / vocalist Matt Pike, drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz) toured New Zealand from February 19 to February 24 before taking part in the 2011 Soundwave Festival, an annual traveling music fest held in major cities in Australia. Upon the conclusion of the Australian live dates, the group flew to Japan where it performed in the cities of Osaka (on March 9) and Nagoya (on March 10) before traveling to Tokyo for a planned show on Friday. The band and its crew is expected to return to its hometown of Oakland, California this evening, or as travel from Japan allows.
HIGH ON FIRE's new album, "Snakes for the Divine", sold around 8,600 copies in its first week of release in the United States to debut at position No. 63 on The Billboard 200 chart. The follow-up to 2007's "Death is this Communion" was made available in North America on February 23 via E1 Music. The album was recorded at The Pass Studios in Los Angeles with producer Greg Fidelman and is described in a press release as "HIGH ON FIRE's magnum opus, capturing every nuance of the legendary band's ongoing musical progression and evolution into one of heavy music's all-time greats."
Photo credit: T. Shinn