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Interview With Machine Head's Phil Demmel

Photo of Machine Head

Band Photo: Machine Head (?)

I had the chance to interview Machine Head's Phil Demmel (lead guitars) before the Road Rage show on August 9th in Washington, DC (report/review here). It was short n' sweet, as I was fried from work and being stressed that I would not make it there on time for the interview. Here it is:

Doug (aka deathbringer): Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

Phil (Machine Head): No problem, no problem.

Doug: So you're the newest guy in the band, right?

Phil: Yeah, I'm the "funuguy" [ed. that's pronounced fu-new-guy]. The fuckin new guy. [laughs]

Doug: So did you have to practice up for any of that [Burn My Eyes] set yesterday, or did you have it all down?

Phil: Yeah, I mean, there's about four or five songs that we've been playing over the past year since I've been in the band, so four or five of em I've been really familiar with but the other five - I've been a fan of the band for so long I just know how they go. It was just getting down some of the parts and..., so it yeah, took some work. Logan writes some really cool stuff, so it's just a pleasure playin all that stuff.

Doug: Yeah, I wish I could've seen it, but...I haven't seen you guys live yet.

Phil: Really?

Doug: Yeah, so I'll be glad to see your full set anyway. I love the new album.

Phil: Good deal.

Doug: When did you come on with Machine Head anyway?

Phil: I joined the band about a year and a half ago. I think was like March of 03. I toured with them the summer before - the summer of 02 - Ahrue left and they needed a fill-in guy. I came and offered my services. Hey man, you know, I've never been to Europe. I mean, I played one show, but I said "I'll go tour with you guys, I'll fill in, you know, just as a temporary guy." I played two weeks of festival dates with them; got to play with Slayer, Bruce Dickinson and Halford and some other cool bands. I came back home, and I had some stuff at home that I couldn't deny - I was married basically [laughs]. And uh, things changed and I offered my services to the band and, so I hooked up with em in 03. Wrote the album - I was part of most of the writing, but a lot of it was written, but you know, half of the album wasn't written yet.

Doug: So Machine Head was still on Roadrunner at that time, when you joined them?

Phil: They were just getting dropped. They released Hellalive, which they used a couple songs that I played on - I'm on there. That fulfilled their contract with Roadrunner, so after that, they were dropped. So as soon as I joined the band, it was like, ok, now we're looking for a label.

Doug: Yeah. That was interesting to see from the outside - Machine Head getting dropped by Roadrunner US and then re-signing with them later. How did that all...you guys are pretty happy with Roadrunner now I guess, to have gone back and re-signed with them after that.

Phil: Yeah, we're really happy with them - we've kind of developed a better working relationship. So we kinda resolved our problems from the past.

Doug: So how many more records do you have on the new contract?

Phil: In America, they have the option for the next one. So we just have this one album deal with an option for the next, so we'll see - we're still touring on this one.

Doug: I know "Through The Ashes Of Empires" had a lot of obstacles to overcome, with a late release in the US and whatnot. Has that picked up like you guys hoped?

Phil: We had a really good first month. And we have to get out and work for it on the road. That's what we're doin. Down on the pavement.

Doug: This is your second tour since the release of TTAOE?

Phil: Second American tour. We did the last tour with God Forbid - the weapons of Mass Destruction Tour.

Doug: How's the tour with your label-mates? How's that going?

Phil: Yeah, really, really good.

Doug: All the bands getting along and having a good time?

Phil: Yeah, Trivium and Chimaira are really cool guys. The Chimaira guys have been friends with the band for a long time and all of us are big fans of Chimaira. So it's cool, we get to see a band that we really enjoy and the camaraderie between the two bands - we're really good friends with the guys. The Trivium guys are on their first tour and really young, but really easy going guys you can work with and [they're] just kickin ass every night. It's a really good bill.

Doug: Do you have any interesting stories from the tour so far? I know you're only a week into it.

Phil: Interesting stories from the tour... Played Toronto - that was a really good show. They were filming a Ron Howard film out front of the theater. So I guess Russell Crowe was going to be in it or whatever, so it was cool - they had the street all done up. I don't know - we're only a week in man. The 'Burn My Eyes' thing last night was amazing playing all the old songs and a lot of people coming out for the tour from all areas... you know, singing all the words - coming from me, 'cause I was such a fan of the band back in the day - playing all those songs and being a part of it was really cool. We had some people come back from the Bay - our friends - and hung with us. It was really a celebration of ten years, you know.

Doug: Yeah, that sounds cool.

Phil: Yeah. The New York show was crazy. It was really packed and a really good show. But that's about it. Nothing too crazy. We're still getting into the meat and potatoes here.

Doug: What other bands would you like to tour with?

Phil: I'd like to tour with Slipknot. I'd like to tour with Slayer. Metallica, obviously. Bands like that. We've done the headlining thing.

Doug: You looking to get on an Ozzfest again?

Phil: I'm not sure. We'll wait til next year to do that. It's really expensive. [laughs]

Doug: Yeah, I've heard. I thought you guys would have been ideal for this year's. But with the Roadrunner US deal going through so late, I figured the chances were slim for this year in the first place.

Phil: Yeah, it was buttin up on the day where we're pitching for these tours, but we don't have a label, so we were just kinda caught in a hard spot. The timing with this band has always been kinda suspect [laughs]. So we just...we do what we can.

Doug: Well, I'm out of questions, man. I'm just fried. I'm looking forward to the show. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

Phil: Thanks very much.

deathbringer's avatar

A self-described "metal geek," Doug Gibson has been listening to heavy metal for more than twenty five years and designed and coded Metal Underground.com from scratch over ten years ago.

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