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PHIL DEMMEL says his reasons for leaving MACHINE HEAD were 99 percent personal

Photo credit: Jim Louvau


In a new interview with Nikki Blakk of the San Francisco Bay Area radio station 107.7. The Bone, current Kerry King guitarist Phil Demmel, who left MACHINE HEAD more than five years ago, reflected on his time with the band. He said in part: “I’ve seen a lot with that band and its members. It was a good ride. It was an awesome ride. It was an awesome experience, seeing success on a bunch of different levels with them. And a great learning experience and a great musical experience.

“I wanna keep it positive and remember all the good stuff and all the stuff that we achieved and the music that we wrote and the shows that we played — headlining some festivals and playing these amazing shows and meeting… I met my wife through the band,” he continued

“I think that I was pretty instrumental in maintaining that band’s success. I think that me and Dave (McClain, former MACHINE HEAD drummer) and Adam (Duce, former MACHINE HEAD bassist), we played a huge part in not just writing and creating, but I think even in the networking sense. Meeting people while I’m out with the band and introducing these athletes and other entertainers that maybe heard of the band, but having them come out to the shows and branching and bringing awareness in that sense. So I feel like I really contributed to that band. I’m proud of what I’ve done. And I’m proud of the way that it ended and the way that I exited and I transitioned. Yeah, I’m proud of that time. I think that we definitely made a mark during that time.”

Asked if he felt that he was going to have a career change after his departure from MACHINE HEAD or if he was just done with everything that was going on with the band and he needed something new regardless of what it ended up being, Demmel said: “The whole ‘Catharsis’ cycle, there was just a shift in the dynamic in the band. Me and Dave felt it extremely. He was more on the fence than I was — on the ledge, I’ll say; Dave was more on the ledge than I was… I didn’t really like the record. I liked some of the stuff that I contributed to. I liked some of the songs that were on there. It’s not a horrible record. It’s not. But it was just a weird record in the sense that you could just feel this dynamic shift with everything… But I felt that once my wife and I bought a bar in Dublin, California and we had the business that I wasn’t so reliant on the MACHINE HEAD paycheck and I felt that I could be done with the band. I didn’t wanna be done with music. We had the Pro Tools in the studio set up in the house and I was learning how to program some drums and I was learning and I was writing different stuff. So, I had one foot on a banana peel and the other one out the door. And I slipped on that banana peel and I was out the door. It was time for me to go. I didn’t know what was gonna happen and I didn’t care.”

Elaborating on his reasons for leaving MACHINE HEADDemmel said: “It was the music, but it wasn’t the music. It was 99 percent personal that I couldn’t be there anymore. It was affecting my sleep. It was a toxic entity in my head, in my heart that I had to purge, and I tried to — I wouldn’t say ‘play ball,’ but I tried to go along as long as I could, until I couldn’t. And then it was just — one thing happened to where it was just, like, ‘Oh, I’m fucking done. I can’t be in a band like this anymore,’ and delivered my resignation… I didn’t know what was gonna happen after I left, but I knew that I was instantly relieved and I was smiling and happy and a hundred percent sure that it was the right decision.”

Regarding why he ended up doing one last tour with MACHINE HEAD even after announcing his exit from the band, Phil said: “I quit with a tour on the books, and they were supposed to do a video that weekend. And I said, ‘I’m not doing any of it. I’m done.’ And I called Dave on the way to Robb‘s (FlynnMACHINE HEAD leader), and Dave is, like, ‘Oh, you beat me to it. I’m quitting tomorrow.’ And so I called Robb the next day and said, ‘Hey, it’s a dick move to bail on tour.’ And it was. I said, ‘If you can’t find anybody to replace me, then I’ll honor the tour and we can…’ whatever.”

Demmel clarified that Flynn didn’t attempt to convince him to stay in MACHINE HEAD. “He was just as done with me as I was with him, so I don’t think that it was ‘it’s not you, it’s me’-type breakup,” he said. “I think that we were just done with each other.”

He added: “Dave and I honored the tour. It was an awkward situation, going on a honeymoon with somebody you just asked for a divorce for. And so the whole tour was pretty awkward.”

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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