With their latest set of new music, All Empires Fall, due out on April 1st, 2016 via Relapse Records, gym rats the world over are soon going to have 24 minutes of pummeling new Tombs tunes to amp them up pre-workout! We checked in with vocalist and guitarist Mike Hill to better understand how health and fitness plays a role in both his life and music.
Weights, cardio, calisthenics, CrossFit, MMA... what's your jam? Hill: Martial arts with a bit of strength & conditioning is my thing. I train Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; it’s kind of an obsession actually. I’m not a weightlifter per se, I’m not interested in getting jacked, primarily I want to improve my power and overall conditioning so I can last more rounds of Muay Thai or Jiu Jitsu.
Describe your weekly routine and/or an average workout for you? Hill: Monday is a day that I get body work done, work on joint mobility and get acupuncture. Monday night has been devoted to working on band stuff. Tuesday is an hour of BJJ then and hour of Muay Thai. Wednesday is cardio day, so it’s a lot of rounds of conditioning then an hour of western-style boxing. Thursday is an hour of BJJ then and Hour of Muay Thai; Friday is sparring day. Either Saturday or Sunday is day where I hit some kettlebells, do some deadlifts and squats; maybe work on some "beach muscles." When the band gets busy, this obviously changes. When I’m home, I’m always training martial arts!
Do you ever listen to your own band's music when working out? Hill: NEVER!
Being a touring musician, how do you stay fit on the road? Hill: This is really hard. For me, diet is the hardest thing to keep on point. We eat at Denny’s a lot, so you can see what I’m getting at. On a long tour, I start out with the best intentions; I bring almonds and try to pick up food at grocery stores when I can. By the end of the tour it’s pretty completely out the window. I try to stretch and do some push-ups and body weight stuff. I would love to bring kettlebells out on the road, but there is rarely anywhere to actually work out.
Some people go Vegetarian and Vegan while others slam steaks, whole poultry farms, and a kitchen sync in regimented 6-meal sittings. Where does your diet sit? Hill: I go in and out of a ketogenic diet, the sort of Paleo thing. I do a lot of intermittent fasting and crank up the fat in my diet in the form of grass-fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil and avocados. I eat small quantities of meat and tons of vegetables and nuts. The veggies are usually in the form of a blended cold juice or blended soup that I add olive oil to. I don’t eat a lot of fruit; when I do it’s mostly berries. Occasionally I eat sprouted bread, but I mostly stay away from grains.
Supplements, yay or nay, and why/why not? Hill: I take a few supplements but in general, I’m not that deep with them. I think having a great everyday diet is the best thing to do. I take a good probiotic, krill oil and glucosamine. I have a lot of joint injuries so the oil and glucosamine is mostly for recovery. I like the Onnit Hemp Force protein powder for the occasional post-workout drink in the event that I won’t be able to eat after training.
How do you find your healthy lifestyle impacts your music and/or live performance? Hill: I believe in the body/mind connection so, for me, being in shape makes you mind sharper, it allows me to focus on the tasks in hand. Also, training hard makes you calm and the calmness allows my mind to be free which allows me to be more sensitive to the creative process. Without a doubt, being in shape directly impacts the live performance. I remember a few years ago we were playing a festival in Belgium. I was watching one of those mosh-style bands play. The band was doing one of the heavy chug riff intros; the singer ran out on stage and went really hard for about 30 seconds then totally gassed out. No cardio. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me.
Do you balance the "rockstar" lifestyle with being fit/healthy? Or is it 1 or the other for you? Hill: I don’t get into any rockstar activity. I may have a beer, but it’s always some kind of craft beer. I like flavor so I’m not into slamming Buds or PBRs. In reality, I’m a big water and coffee drinker.