During an appearance on "The Ex-Man" podcast hosted by Doc Coyle (BAD WOLVES), former MACHINE HEAD guitarist Phil Demmel said that he wants to remember all the positive things that happened during his 15-year stint with the band.
"I spent a good year letting out a lot," he said, reflecting on some of the early interviews he gave after his departure from MACHINE HEAD. "I think that I kept my lips pretty tight, actually. There were some things that needed to be shared, a lot that doesn't need to be talked about. And I spent a year talking. And then I looked back and said, 'A year is good enough.' It's coming up on two years that I quit now.
"There was so much good and there was so much fun and so much learning and so many good experiences that I don't want the 98 percent of good — I don't want the two percent to ruin that 98 percent, or that to be the headline or be the focus of what my experience in that band was.
"That band gave me a second life," Demmel continued. "From not being in music and pretty much quitting on music to concentrate on a failing marriage, it brought me into what has been my calling — it's what I'm meant to do. So I'm grateful for having that chance in MACHINE HEAD to play and make that music and have those experiences. I made some awesome memories with those dudes, and that's what I wanna kind of focus on now."
Demmel went on to say that looks back fondly on most of the albums that he recorded with MACHINE HEAD, a list that includes "Through The Ashes Of Empires" (2003), "The Blackening" (2007), "Unto The Locust" (2011), "Bloodstone & Diamonds" (2014) and "Catharsis" (2018).
"I was their guitar player for 16 years, and that's only a fraction of what that band has been," Demmel said. "There was this whole couple of lives before me, and there's gonna be a life after me. It's a testament to what [MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn is] capable of as a musician. I'm proud to have been a part of that. He hasn't done it alone for all this time; it's not just been him. He's had help every step along the way. But it's predominantly his vision and his show. [He had help from] Logan [Mader, guitar] on the first couple of records, [Dave] McClain [drums] and Ahrue [Luster, guitar] on the next couple. Me and McClain on the ones after that. It was a group, and I'm proud of what that band and that group accomplished."
Reflecting on how he informed Flynn of his decision to leave MACHINE HEAD, Demmel said: "I called him, went over to his house, asked him to come outside. I gave him my key to the studio, gave him my credit card, gave him everything right there. And he was, like, 'What's going on?' And I said, 'You know what's going on.' I said, 'It's not working anymore. We're done.' And he knew it… He was just as done with me as I was with him."
Asked if his and McClain's departures from MACHINE HEAD were intentionally "coordinated," seeing as they were announced on the same day, Demmel said: "Man, I hate to talk for Dave. I wanna just make sure I've got my words right. Dave and I talked a lot — we had talked a lot — and Dave was more on the ledge than me. So he was ready to go before I was.
"We had a tour lined up, and I think Dave was gonna wait until after the tour," Phil explained. "We were supposed to shoot a video for 'Triple Beam' or something like that, and Robb was going, 'What about the video? What about the tour?' And I said, 'I'm done. There's no more, nothing, for me.' Then I texted him back the next day, and after thinking about it, I said it's a dick move to bail on the tour, it's a dick move to bail on what's been set up. And I wanted them to get somebody else to [play guitar on the tour]. And if they couldn't do that, I said [I would] honor the tour. He was on his way going out to the studio when Dave was quitting on him that day."
Back in June 2019, McClain told "Robb's MetalWorks" that he no longer believed in MACHINE HEAD's songs and musical direction toward the end of his tenure with the band.
Demmel has spent much of the past year and a half playing sporadic shows with the reunited VIO-LENCE, which recently inked a deal with Metal Blade Records. The band's new EP is tentatively due to be released in early 2021.