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Machine Head Members Reflect on a Decade of Rocking With Guitarist Phil Demmel

Machine Head Phil Demmel
Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images
A milestone just passed in Machine Head‘s career, as guitarist Phil Demmel just surpassed a decade as a member of the band. As such, his bandmates have chimed in with congratulations and recollections of their time spent rocking together.

Demmel, a founding member of Vio-Lence that also featured Robb Flynn, began touring with Machine Head in 2002, but didn’t appear on a record until 2003′s ‘Through the Ashes of Empires.’ He subsequently contributed to two of the band’s bigger albums — 2007′s ‘The Blackening’ and 2011′s ‘Unto the Locusts.’ Within the history of the band, Demmel followed original guitarist Logan Mader and Ahrue Luster.

Drummer Dave McClain’s posting reads as follows:

Seems like yesterday that Phil rolled his amp into our practice room and first jammed with us. I remember thinking when the jam session was over, that it felt like a perfect fit. At first, it was just going to be a temporary gig for some European festivals that we were doing. A last hurrah for Phil before he retired from music. Lucky for us (and hopefully him) he didn’t retire and wanted to be in MH on a permanent basis. We welcomed him into our Island of Misfit Toys with open arms! Ten years later, we’ve been thru great times, trying times and down right horrible times. I would not trade any of them for anything and I’m proud to have experienced them with our Phil! Love you, duder and here’s to another ten years! 

- Dave

Frontman Robb Flynn, who also performed with Demmel prior to Machine Head, went more in depth. His posting reads as follows:

10 FREAKIN’ YEARS IN MACHNE HEAD!!!??? MAN, has it flown by. Crazy … Technically it’s almost 11 years as Phil began jamming with Machine Head back in June 2002, a month after Ahrue (who?) quit. We were getting ready to do a festival run that summer to close out the ‘Supercharger’ tour. On the itinerary was headlining Germany’s With Full Force Festival for the first time so we were playing some really cool festivals and we needed a guitarist. I probably wasn’t quite ready mentally at the time, so while I enjoyed those first practices with Phil; it wasn’t until the first show on July 1st, 2002 at The Ambassador in Dublin, Ireland that it became apparent to me. That’s all it took to completely erase the memory of our old guitarist for me. Just looking stage right to see Phil rocking-out and in my head saying, “Hey, I remember THAT guy.” It was a great feeling. Right then and there I knew we had our guy.
Phil has been in Machine Head for 10 years officially today, but I’ve known Phil Demmel for *cough* 26 years! Though it’s hard to remember, I met Phil somewhere back in 1986, when I was 18 years old. He was in Vio-Lence and I was in Forbidden Evil, we practiced in a Fremont, CA warehouse district behind a studio / jam room called Fast ‘N Furious owned by Pat Sauger and the Annihilation guys. Vio-Lence was moving in to rehearse at F ‘N F and Phil and couple of the other guys came by to watch a Forbidden Evil practice. I remember liking him, he was very friendly, always smiling, and had a cool car (LOL)! I started going over to Vio-Lence practices and watched in awe as they produced some of the most ferocious riffs and songs I’d heard. Thrash Metal bordering on punk rock. I LOVED it!
Little did I realize, but the Vio-Dudes had their eyes on me to replace their then-guitarist, Troy Fua. And while Phil will insist to this day that he “stole me away,” I happily left Forbidden Evil, eager to play in such a ferocious group, and in January 1987 I played my first show with Vio-Lence. We made a heck of guitar team back then and that was something we worked at. But there was always a natural chemistry that didn’t take much effort; we complimented each other’s style. We started writing instantly and the riffs flowed easily.
Back then in many ways we were the odd couple, Phil was, and remains, more outgoing. He could talk to most people about anything, all the chicks loved him! I was always more introverted and would lose myself in my guitar. But we weren’t so odd when it came to hanging out as we partied like HELL, we RAGED, and being around him really brought me out of my shell. I looked up to him in a lot of ways. He came from a stable family that was very supportive of him in whatever he did. I didn’t have any of that. It was great to see and to just be around as those things made me a better kid and later a better man.
10 years, plus 5 years before that, plus a 10 year break-up in the middle somewhere, but we’re still together singing ‘Careless Whisper’ whenever we get hammered! We’ve lived A LOT of life together. We’ve experienced more crummy 2 month van tours than I care to remember, the 2 of us driving all night on only a few hours sleep only to end up as bed-mates in a crappy Motel 6′s double bed next to Debbie Abono’s bed. Entire tours eating one meal a day at Denny’s, and then hoping the club would feed us, all while loading our own gear in and out of vans, then when life got good, out of trailers!
There was no road crew back then except for Joe (our manager back then, riding in the van with us, who is still with us now!). There were fights, hilarious 3-hour-drunken wrestling matches, hotel rooms destroyed, more arguments than I can even remember, a lot of tears cried, and so many more good times and full-on-side-splitting-belly-laughs I could write a book about it. We’ve played A LOT of sh— clubs to 50 people, and we’ve stomped a mudhole in the ass of 30,000+ people countless f—ing times.
As I’m writing this, it dawned on me, we’ve written 6 albums worth of material together, and are about to write a 7th … wow … some pretty goddamn good metal I’ll tell you that. I’m grateful you are in Machine Head. We are lucky to have a band member like you. You’re a great guitarist, a great songwriter, a great teammate, and above all a great friend. I love you dude. Here’s to 10, 15, 25 more! – Robb

While celebrating 10 years with Demmel, Machine Head recently parted ways with longtime bassist Adam Duce. The group is currently in the process of holding auditions to replace Duce, with a full summer of touring on Mayhem Festival ahead of them.

Next: Machine Head's Robb Flynn Inspired by Randy Blythe's Honesty

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