Former MACHINE HEAD and current VIO-LENCE guitarist Phil Demmel recently filled in for LAMB OF GOD guitarist Willie Adler during the band’s January appearance on the ShipRocked cruise. The reasons for Adler missing the cruise have not been disclosed. Adler‘s brother, Chris, departed the band in 2019.
Demmel‘s appearance with LAMB OF GOD marks his third high-profile fill-in gig in four years. Demmel stepped in for SLAYER guitarist Gary Holt for four European shows in the fall of 2018 after Gary returned home to be with his dying father. Demmel also subbed for Dave Linsk at OVERKILL‘s November 13 concert at The Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey.
In a new interview with Phoosi.com, Demmel discussed how he became such an in-demand hired gun: “The SLAYER thing happened within 24 hours of me quitting MACHINE HEAD,” he said. “I think [SLAYER drummer] Paul Bostaph‘s girlfriend knew that MACHINE HEAD was done and knew that I was home, so they reached out for that. As the urban legend goes [laughs], I had three hours to learn 19 songs. It was pretty successful; a fill-in trip, one of the higher-profile things you can imagine — SLAYER on their final world tour. I filled in for my buddies in NONPOINT, too. The OVERKILL gig was more about me and Bobby [Ellsworth, vocals] doing the BPMD record together [2020’s ‘American Made’]. We’re familiar and I got the rep of being able to learn songs pretty quick. The METAL ALLEGIANCE, guys, too. I’ll play 25 songs with them in a night. It’s one of those quirky things where I can learn songs pretty quickly and I can pick them up pretty quick.”
Demmel was then asked whether his nerves for the LAMB OF GOD and OVERKILL gigs were on the same level as playing with SLAYER. “I was pretty confident with the OVERKILL songs,” he said. “We had three good rehearsals. I didn’t rehearse with SLAYER at all. I played two songs at a soundcheck. [Laughs] ‘Okay, we’re good!’ It’s like, ‘Fuck!’ OVERKILL, we had a couple of days of rehearsal. I had two and a half, three weeks to prepare for that. I felt pretty strong with that.
“The LAMB OF GOD gig, that was a big deal. They had approached me before their MEGADETH States tour last summer and wanted me to learn both parts, Mark [Morton] and Willie‘s, just in case one got sick, they didn’t want to cancel their tour. That’s where I am: I’m their bullpen guy when one of them can’t make the shows, I’m ready to go. It’s such a high-profile band. I didn’t want to go out there and blow it. I wanted the band to sound good. I wanted to keep that pride in what they are and not have a drop-off. Willie and I play differently. There’s different vibrato in our left-hand and pinkies. I didn’t want there to be a drop-off. I wanted people to be not-bummed that he wasn’t there. And that’s not a slag on Willie. If I went to see one of my favorite bands, let’s say QUEENSRŸCHE. I want to see [Chris] DeGarmo, I want to see Michael Wilton. No slight against the other dudes, but they better fucking bring it if they’re not going to be out there.”
VIO-LENCE will release the “Let The World Burn” EP on March 4 via Metal Blade Records. The EP marks the band’s first release since 1993’s “Nothing To Gain”.
LAMB OF GOD‘s latest, self-titled album was released in June 2020 via Epic Records in the U.S. and Nuclear Blast Records in Europe. The follow-up to “VII: Sturm Und Drang” marked LAMB OF GOD‘s first recordings with Art Cruz, who joined the band in July 2019 as the replacement for Chris Adler.
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