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PHIL DEMMEL opens up about why he quit VIO-LENCE

Photo credit: Jim Louvau


In a new interview with Nikki Blakk of the San Francisco Bay Area radio station 107.7 The Bone, guitarist Phil Demmel discussed his decision to leave VIO-LENCE, the band that he formed nearly four decades ago. He said: “The VIO-LENCE thing just became… (Drummer) Perry (Strickland) left, or Perry‘s no longer in the band, and it just became — and I love Christian (Olde Wolbers, former FEAR FACTORY and current VIO-LENCE bassist) — it just became something not familiar anymore. And it hit me when we played the Whisky (A Go Go in February 2023 in West Hollywood, California) and it was Adrian (Aguilar), the drummer’s first show. And we were having this kid Miles Dimitri Baker, who plays in ICE NINE KILLS right now, come down, and he was gonna be my fill-in for some dates. And so he was gonna play on a song or two. And I show up to the show and I walk backstage and, man, there was 50 people backstage and I knew maybe the guys in the band and a couple of other people. It was just, like, ‘Man, this isn’t my home anymore. This doesn’t feel like home.’ And no slight against the dudes, ’cause I loved playing with Adrian, I loved playing with Christian, and Ira (Black, now-former VIO-LENCE guitarist, also formerly of I Am Morbid) really worked hard for the band and was a big — he was a big fighter for the band. He worked hard. He cared a lot. Ira was a very productive member of VIO-LENCE. But with everything that was happening, it was just time for me to go… The Kerry (King) thing was firing up, the CATEGORY 7 thing was firing up, and I just did not want to let that be a distraction from the other stuff I was doing.”

Demmel added: “I loved the (2022) VIO-LENCE EP (‘Let The World Burn’) that I wrote, and me and Sean (KillianVIO-LENCE singer) wrote and we recorded with the dudes. And I’m super proud of those songs and the way that the recording came out. (Producer/engineer) Juan (Urteaga) did a tremendous job.”

Circling back to the high turnover of members in VIO-LENCEDemmel said: “(Former OVERKILL guitarist) Bobby (Gustafson was in the band for a couple of years) and Miles and this kid Jesse‘s playing now. IraAdrian, (drummer) Nick Souza has played, (former CANNIBAL CORPSE and current EXHORDER guitarist) Pat O’Brien‘s been in. And this is all within the past couple years. So it just wasn’t the thing that I started in high school, and the songs meaning the same.”

Phil added that “it was cool traveling and doing the stuff that we did. And Sean wants to continue and travel and do the fun stuff. I’m still a partner with him in the business.”

As for the possibility of VIO-LENCE making new music without Demmel being an official member of the band, Phil said: “That’s all something that remains to be seen.”

Demmel‘s final concert with VIO-LENCE took place on February 11 at Carioca Club in São Paulo, Brazil. The gig also marked the last show of VIO-LENCE‘s Latin American tour with EXHORDER.

Kerry King‘s debut solo album, “From Hell I Rise”, was released on May 17 via Reigning Phoenix Music. All material for the LP was written by the 59-year-old musician, who was accompanied during the recording sessions by guitarist Demmel, drummer Paul Bostaph (SLAYER), bassist Kyle Sanders (HELLYEAH) and vocalist Mark Osegueda (DEATH ANGEL). Helming the sessions at Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles last year was producer Josh Wilbur, who has previously worked with KORNLAMB OF GODAVENGED SEVENFOLD and BAD RELIGION, among others.

KERRY KING will be special guest on the upcoming LAMB OF GOD/MASTODON North American “Ashes Of Leviathan” co-headline tour. The six-week run will launch on July 19 in Grand Prairie, Texas and will wrap on August 31 in Omaha, Nebraska. KERRY KING will make the band’s 2024 concert debut in May, first at the Welcome To Rockville festival (May 9), followed by Sonic Temple Arts & Music Festival (May 16). They are also confirmed for Hellfest, in France, this Summer. 

This past December, it was announced that VIO-LENCE will return to the stage in April 2024 for a special eight-date headlining tour during which they will perform their classic 1988 debut album, “Eternal Nightmare”, in its entirety. The trek runs from April 5 in Cambridge, Massachusetts through April 13 in Chicago, Illinois. Support at the dates will come from EXHORDERDECEASED and MORTAL WOUND.

At some of VIO-LENCE‘s recent shows, the band’s touring lineup consisted of classic-era vocalist Killian alongside more recent additions, drummer Adrian Aguilar (EXMORTUS),guitarist Miles Dimitri Baker (VOIDBRINGERINTERLOPER, ex-RINGS OF SATURN),bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and guitarist Ira Black (VICIOUS RUMORSHEATHENMETAL CHURCH). Notably, those dates featured only Killian from the VIO-LENCE lineup that played its first comeback gig in April 2019 at the Oakland Metro in Oakland, California.

VIO-LENCE played its first show with Aguilar in February 2023 at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California. Aguilar joined VIO-LENCE following the departure of Strickland.

Although MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn was part of VIO-LENCE‘s classic incarnation and played on “Eternal Nightmare”, he wasn’t approached about taking part in the band’s reunion.

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