Ex-Machine Machine guitarist, Phil Demmel, was recently on the Talk Toomey Podcast and shed some light on the bands break-up. During the chat the California native shared that he was not a fan of the band’s last release, Catharsis and it became more of “a Robb Flynn solo project”. Throughout the episode, Demmel expresses that he wishes no ill will towards vocalist Robb Flynn but they could no longer be in a band together.
“I’m not gonna badmouth the breakup or him [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 he [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.’ and…”
Demmel also admitted that he wish he could take back his riffs from Catharsis because they weren’t implemented they way he had hoped. He mentioned the many restrictions during his tenure in the band.
“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.’”
He talked briefly about the matching outfits and how he went along with it to avoid being “a squeaky wheel”. When asked about if Flynn ever directly admitted that he was aware of suffocating his bandmates, Demmel replied that he felt that they were both tired of each other.
“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.”
While talking about the final tour with Machine Head, Demmel admitted that at times it was awkward and forced. Him and drummer, Dave McClain originally did not want to participate on the final run:
“…I wasn’t gonna do the [last] tour,” he revealed. “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.”
Overall, Demmel explains that his time in Machine Head was a positive experience and now tries to focus on the brighter times ahead:
“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.”
You can check out the entire episode with Demmel below and if you haven’t yet, order the album here.