During a recent interview on the “Talk Toomey” podcast, Phil Demmel opened up about his departure from Machine Head. The guitarist says the band got to a point where “it just became a Robb Flynn solo project, and that isn’t what [he] signed up for.”
Demmel said the following:
“I’m not gonna badmouth the breakup or [Robb]. I think he’s an amazing musician, and the times I had in Machine Head were awesome. The last few years just weren’t. We just didn’t work as people anymore.
I think [Robb] strayed from the path of being a band. He stayed on his path. Instead of us being on the same path or asking to be on the same path, it just became, ‘This is what we’re doing.'”
Demmel also said he “hates” the band’s latest album “Catharsis“:
“I hate the last record. There’s moments of what I wrote that I like. I wrote most of the music to ‘California Bleeding‘, but then he [Robb] wrote the lyrics on top of it that I just wish that… Me and Dave talk about it, like, ‘Fuck! I wish I could take my riffs back.’ [Laughs] ‘No, that isn’t what we want them used for.’
So, I think, in that sense, it just became a Robb Flynn solo project, and that isn’t what I signed up for. And the last few years were basically collecting a paycheck. And I just couldn’t do that. The stress and all the talks and all the ‘can’t do this,’ ‘don’t do that,’ ‘don’t do this,’ ‘don’t stand there,’ ‘don’t say this,’ ‘don’t sing the words to the audience,’ don’t point.’”
For his part, Flynn basically said they had “grown apart” and that he “held on too tight to the reins of this band,” suffocating the other guys in the process. Demmel was also asked about that statement and whether or not the frontman told him that directly. He responded with the following:
“The way I remember it, the final talk that we kind of had… I don’t wanna speak out of turn here, so I’m gonna choose my words pretty carefully. I think that—personally; I only speak for me—I think that Robb was just as done with me as I was with him. I think it was, like, ‘Maybe we can go to therapy,’ but it was kind of things that are just being said just to, like, ‘Hey, we both know this is over.’ I think I kind of did him a favor by not having him have to fire me. I think that he believed what he said. And he knows what’s happening, but it’s just the way that he’s running things now. And so, it just didn’t work anymore.”
He went on to discuss the final tour after being asked if it was awkward:
“…I wasn’t gonna do the [last] tour. I was hoping that they’d get somebody to replace me. And then Dave said, ‘Well, I’m not gonna do the tour unless you do the tour.’ So, if Dave left, then the tour [would have been] canceled. So we just kind of agreed to, ‘We’ll honor the tour [and] be done.’ The last tour, [it was] totally awkward. Me and Robb [weren’t] talking. It [wasn’t] mean, but there [was] no talking. Onstage, it [was] kind of forced.
I’m sitting here now just kind of processing everything that has happened, and I think that there is still some… I don’t wanna say ‘bitterness,’ but just… I don’t know if I’ve been able to really process the way everything has ended and gone.”
The guitarist also said he is sure Flynn will move forward with a new lineup:
“There was never a doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t [carry on]. Especially in my position — I think that the guitar position for that band would just be a plug-and-play situation. I contributed heavily to the material. But in the end, Robb wants to do what he’s gonna do, so I don’t know how much that would be a factor. The records that I contributed to — five records; well, actually four — I’m not gonna count the last one. ‘The Blackening’, ‘[Unto The] Locust’… Those records would look entirely different without my contributions.
I think losing Dave McClain is a huge, huge blow. I think that he was such a part of that process, and finding somebody is not gonna be easy. But there’s never been a doubt in my mind that [Robb will] find two people to probably just be hired guns. I don’t think that he wants to take on the headache of the corporation and all that. This is what he’s good at. He’s an amazing musician. He’s great with notes and note selection and melodies and layering stuff. And he’s got Jared [MacEachern, bass] with him, who’s fucking… I think he was the best musician when I was in the band. The guy is classically trained and knows theory and can sing his ass off and can play.”
Despite all this, Demmel doesn’t regret his time in the band:
“I look back at my time in the band and I’m really proud of everything that we’ve done. I helped take this band from its lowest point to its highest point. We wrote some amazing records, played some amazing shows. So I’m trying to reflect on all the positive stuff. And just being free now of… So much was held back towards the end—in the past couple of years, three or four years—and just being stress-free is what I’m kind of focusing on now. Just focus on all the positive stuff that we’ve done and move forward with all the fun stuff that’s happening now.”
This news comes after Demmel previously said Flynn was not approached about participating in Vio-lence’s reunion shows, which are set to take place on April 13-14 at the Oakland Metro in Oakland, CA. Those shows will reportedly be followed by another to be announced date overseas.