PHIL DEMMEL Says VIO-LENCE Is Taking 'Delicate' Approach To Reunion: 'We're Still Kind Of Feeling Each Other Out'

PHIL DEMMEL Says VIO-LENCE Is Taking 'Delicate' Approach To Reunion: 'We're Still Kind Of Feeling Each Other Out'

VIO-LENCE guitarist Phil Demmel (formerly of MACHINE HEAD) recently spoke with Australia's Heavy magazine about the group's upcoming tour of the continent. The full conversation an be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):

On the resurrection of VIO-LENCE and upcoming Australian tour:

Phil: "This whole thing kind of started slow, right after I quit MACHINE HEAD and did a little bridge thing with SLAYER [filling in for Gary Holt]. Sean [Killian, vocals] reached out about doing a couple of shows, and I was pretty floored, because he wasn't looking too good the last time I saw him. [Editor's note: Killian received a liver transplant in 2018.] We did a couple of little reunion shows. [Former MACHINE HEAD drummer] Dave McClain was stoked for us. He was back in SACRED [REICH], and they're doing some stuff. Basically, the four other guys in the band all work, so to be able to tour, we can't do it, but doing something like an Australian run, which would only be a week and a half, two weeks tops, it's something that we're able to do, so everybody's super excited to do it."

On leaving MACHINE HEAD and rejoining VIO-LENCE:

Phil: "It was a big decision, and I think I've spoken about that quite a bit enough to where people know kind of what happened in that situation. The VIO-LENCE decision was pretty easy. My only concern was Sean, and how he was physically. I think that all the other things could be put into place, but there's no VIO-LENCE without Sean Killian. [It was about] making sure that he was going to be good, and be able to pull it off. I didn't want to go out there and just kind of prop him up and have him just be going through some — not midlife crisis, but some sort of thing that he just wanted to do. I wanted it to be quality, because we've always put on a pretty quality product whenever we got together and jammed."

On the group's first jam sessions upon his return:

Phil: "They were fun. We kept it kind of light. We went out to [drummer] Perry's [Strickland, drums] house and practiced in his living room, because he had his kit set up there. It was fun to play those songs again. Everything was loud, and you couldn't hear Sean all that well. We had the same PA from 1990. [Laughs] It was really, really fun getting back together. We all enjoyed those songs so much and [it] took us back to a point to where it wasn't about anything other than just playing the music. It's good to be back in that place again."

On how it felt to revisit the group's music:

Phil: "It's pretty special. Some of the songs, I wrote in 1986 or 1987... From the playing standpoint, they're pretty hard to play. What I've been doing previously for 16 years wasn't a lot like what these songs are. They're pretty bludgeoning. There's no dynamics. There's no clean parts. It's straight-ahead thrash. They're songs that I've always known — like, I haven't forgot [sic] them. There's MACHINE HEAD songs that I'd forget... I forgot how to play the 'Halo' riff. It's not a hard riff, but it just slipped my [mind] — like, 'How does this fuckin' riff go?' But the VIO-LENCE riffs were always embedded so deep."

On Killian:

Phil: "Sean is by far my favorite lyricist ever. His lyrics are fuckin' smart and clever and funny and brutal, and I can connect so hard with them. Hearing these lyrics again and hearing him sing them again, it brings a smile."

On the prospect of new music:

Phil: "We're just kind of enjoying getting through the shows and playing with each other. We're going to be getting to a part where we're traveling together, so we're still kind of feeling each other out in that sense. New music? Sean's itching to write some new music. I'm not itching as hard. I've got a lot on my plate. VIO-LENCE is definitely a priority, but that's just a step I haven't... It's hard, because you have this comeback, and then you play the songs, and you want to be good. I don't want to put out something that isn't as good as 'Eternal Nightmare' or some of the songs from 'Oppressing [The Masses]'. I want to have something that's quality. I want to be with these guys long enough to know that that can happen, because I don't want to put out something shitty. I don't want to taint the feeling that people would have, because I know the live show's there, but I don't know that the creative part, that aspect of it, is there yet. Until I'm sure of that, I just kind of want to enjoy what we're doing now. [We're] just really trying to be kind of delicate with it. All the fun we're having, I don't want to fuck it up."

VIO-LENCE released three studio albums between 1988 and 1993. The group reunited soon after Demmel left MACHINE HEAD in late 2018.

VIO-LENCE performed its first comeback concert in April at the Oakland Metro in Oakland, California and spent the last few months playing select shows in the U.S.

The band's current touring lineup consists of Demmel, Killian, Strickland, bassist Deen Dell and guitarist Ray Vegas.

Although MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn was part of VIO-LENCE's classic incarnation and played on the band's debut album, "Eternal Nightmare", he wasn't contacted about doing the comeback shows.

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