During an appearance on "The Jasta Show", the podcast hosted by HATEBREED frontman Jamey Jasta, Phil Demmel reflected on his 16-year stint with MACHINE HEAD and his decision to leave the group in October 2018.
"I loved being in that band — I did," the guitarist said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "I loved being in that band. It's the band that I wanted to be in since [guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn] started it. And being in it was a life dream come true. And it just got to a point to where he was going one way, and we were going another way. And it's okay — it's totally okay."
Looking back on his last album with MACHINE HEAD, 2018's "Catharsis", Phil said: "I wrote some heavy stuff for that — I wrote 'Heavy Lies The Crown', which is a fucking banging fucking song. I wrote parts that I was really proud of. And [Robb] was just in a different spot going in another direction.
"The dude has been in this band for 20-plus years now, still relevant, still fucking killing it. And that says a lot — that says a whole fucking lot. I can't say that it sucks. I can say that I didn't like it. And I bailed — it's as simple as that. I didn't like not being able to do things, though. I didn't like not being able to talk to the press. I didn't like not being able to do endorsement stuff.
"I've gone through a lot since we parted, we broke up or whatever," he continued. "And even Jose [Mangin, SiriusXM personality] and [Chris] Jericho [who hosts his own podcast], and a bunch of dudes were, like, 'We wish we could have talked to you earlier.' And I get it — I get it. There's a bubble you live in in that world. And, dude, I was in the bubble for a while, and it was fucking awesome — until it wasn't. I like jamming with other people, I like doing all these different things, and for that role, it wasn't allowed. And so that's where you just move on. And now I'm able to. And everybody's happy."
Demmel admitted that it's "still emotional" for him to reflect on his exit from MACHINE HEAD. "Because of the way that it ended, and the awkward [final] tour, and the goodbyes. I wanted to sever and just go, and I couldn't bail on the [North American] tour [which was scheduled to take place in the fall of 2018]," he said. "I quit, and then I came back the next day and said, 'Hey, it's a dick move to bail on the tour. If you're gonna have to cancel the tour, then we should figure out a way to do it.' So it wasn't the clean break that I wanted, but none of my breakups in the past have been very fucking clean [laughs], so I'm kind of used to that."
Demmel reiterated that he has many more fond memories of his time in MACHINE HEAD than the bad experiences that preceded his exit from the group. "I spent 16 years in that band," he said. "I said it a bunch, and I'll say it again. I don't want the two percent to ruin the 98 percent of good that it was. 'Cause it was amazing, dude. And how can you frown on that? A couple of dudes don't get along anymore. I'm not gonna bash… I think that I have praised [Robb] more than I ever have praised him since we broke up. The dude is a phenomenal talent, he writes amazing songs, he's got a great ear for notes and phrasing, he's driven beyond driven, and I won't fault him for that."
During his time with MACHINE HEAD, Demmel played on five of the group's studio albums: "Through The Ashes Of Empires" (2003), "The Blackening" (2007), "Unto The Locust" (2011), "Bloodstone & Diamonds" (2014) and "Catharsis" (2018).
Demmel spent most of 2019 and early 2020 playing sporadic shows with the reunited VIO-LENCE, which recently inked a deal with Metal Blade Records. The band's new EP — featuring the first all-new VIO-LENCE music in more than three decades — is currently being recorded for a tentative late 2021 release.
Although Flynn was part of VIO-LENCE's classic incarnation and played on the band's debut album, "Eternal Nightmare", he wasn't approached about taking part in any of the comeback shows.