In a new interview with Pierre Gutiérrez of Rock Talks, Phil Demmel reflected on his final album with MACHINE HEAD, “Catharsis”, which got mixed reviews upon its release in January 2018. He said (as transcribed by Phoosi.com): “The record is what it was. I thought that there was some good stuff on that record. I enjoyed a lot of the stuff that I wrote. ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’, I fucking love the riffs that I did for that. ‘Hope Begets Hope’ I wrote; I love the music for that. [There are] a lot of good moments on that record, man. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, and it just didn’t for me on that record. But I love ‘Bloodstone & Diamonds’ , I love ‘The Blackening’ , I love ‘Unto The Locust’ , I love ‘Through The Ashes Of Empires’ .”
Demmel, who previously said that he hated “Catharsis”, insisted that he doesn’t have anything negative to say about his former group.
“I’ve almost been out of the band four years now,” he said. “[MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn], he started the band in ’92. It’s been 30 years, man — it’s been 30 years, and still going so strong. There’s things that I don’t like that I was in the band for, but the dude is an amazing musician; he knows how to write a song. He’s such an underrated guitar player — fuck, such a good guitar player — and he’s got that band still clicking 30 years later, man. I can’t hate on that. I won’t.
“Everything that I’ve said before I felt like because I wasn’t able to do press for awhile that it needed to be my side of the story or there was parts that needed to be answered, there was questions that needed to be answered,” he explained. “I don’t think that I really slammed him. I told the truth about some stuff, but it hasn’t been, ‘Oh, he sucks.’ I’m not gonna do that because it’s just not fucking true. So it’s time to move on.”
Demmel left MACHINE HEAD at the end of the band’s fall 2018 North American tour. He was in MACHINE HEAD for nearly 16 years, during which time he played on the aforementioned five of the group’s studio albums.
In 2019, Demmel told the “In The Pitts Of Metal And Motor Chaos” podcast that MACHINE HEAD ended up becoming a Robb Flynn solo project toward the end of his time with the group. “We weren’t a band,” he said. “That was Robb‘s trip, and we were basically just being told what was gonna happen… Everything had changed over time. Shit, we were together for 16 years and stuff changes after that. It’s been the band that he started. So things shift, and as they weren’t what we agreed to or what we wanted to be a part of, [drummer Dave McClain and I] just left. So we do our own thing, and [Robb] does his thing.”
Demmel told SiriusXM‘s Liquid Metal that there were “a lot of things” that he couldn’t do while he was a member of MACHINE HEAD, including speak to the press. “There was a point where we were taking liberties and still doing [interviews],” Phil said. “It got to be where the talks that came along with it, it was unbearable. It was just like, ‘Man, I’m punching the clock here. I’m gonna show up. What songs do you wanna play? Okay. Cool. We’re gonna play the songs. When are the dates? Okay. Cool.’ For the last cycle, it was the paycheck. That was my living. I didn’t like my job anymore.”
Phil also revealed that he decided to quit MACHINE HEAD after spending “many stressed-out nights” talking with his wife and occasionally “losing sleep” over everything that was going on with the band. “And it just got to the point to where I [couldn’t] do this anymore,” he explained. “It’s unhealthy for me physically, it’s totally unhealthy for me mentally, and it’s taking its toll on my family now, and there’s where I’ve gotta draw the line,” he said. “This isn’t fun, and I’ve gotta quit my job. And there was a straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Demmel announced his exit from MACHINE HEAD in October 2018, explaining at the time that he wanted “to step away and do something else musically.” Phil, who first played with Robb in VIO-LENCE in the late 1980s and early 1990s, went on to complete MACHINE HEAD‘s “Freaks & Zeroes Tour” before officially leaving the band.
Demmel spent most of 2019 and early 2020 playing sporadic shows with the reunited VIO-LENCE, which recently inked a deal with Metal Blade Records. The band’s new EP, “Let The World Burn” — featuring the first all-new VIO-LENCE music in more than three decades — came out on March 4.
Although Flynn was part of VIO-LENCE‘s classic incarnation and played on the band’s debut album, “Eternal Nightmare”, he wasn’t approached about taking part in any of the comeback shows.