Machine Head Interview
That's in Machine Head's tour-bus 25th November 2003 in Lille where we met new guitar player, Phil Demmel for a very cool conversation.

First, Phil, you're a new Machine Head member, would you let us know your history as a musician ?

I've been playing guitar for about 25 years, right out of high school what's in America, that's about 18 years old. Joined a band called Vio-lence and … with Rob… Rob came in a couple of years later. We put out 4 albums and toured and stuff. Rob branched off of Violence and started Machine Head. Vio-lence broke up. I was in a band called Torque, and I sang and played guitar also. I was in a band called Technocracy after that. We put out an album through Muslim Records. So at that point, Arhue had quit Machine Head, and I kinda filled in for him for a couple of dates. So kinda brings us kind of where we are current right now.

You're currently on tour around Europe since the beginning of November. How is it and what's the reaction of the fans with this new album called " Through the ashes of empire " ?

Shit every night's been either sold out or close to, and the reaction's been amazing. Everybody's really liking the album, it's selling really good. The shows have been packed, people have been really going nuts so it's been a really really good tour. Every night just about just rocking. Very cool.

About this new album Through the ashes of Empire, the music seems to be more heavy, more hardcore, and more melodic at the same time, as if it's a best of Machine Head. What's your opinion about that?

I kinda agree with that. There's mixtures of all 4 albums on. There's the brutalness of Burn my Eyes, a mixture of the two the more things change, you still get some of the mellow stuff from The Burning Red and thinges of the more electronic parts from Supercharger too, and I think Rob's done an outstanding job with the writing and putting stuff together. You know he produces the album as well, so. He really poured is heart into this album. That kinda silenced a lot of people who were doubting him, so it's my favourite by far.

This album was released through Roadrunner Records in Europe. How does it work for the USA?

We're still in negociations with 4/5 labels in the US. It's something that we need to take care of now. We're coming upon the end of the year, we need to get this taken care of, or we're gonna be killed by imports and by, you know, downloads. The american fans can only get it by import or mail order. Right. It will cost them a lot, maybe something like 4O€. But they'll pay to get it.

In the limited edition, why did you choose to include a second CD with demo versions of the songs?

I think that was just a little added incentive to, you know, for the collectors. We always throw something in for the avid collectors to have everything that we have. We had all this materials with the demos, the videos and stuff, that we liked to give the fan an extra idea of what's going on with Machine Head. Give them that, the little extra. If they want that then they can get this one as well. So. Avid fans want to know everything so it's like, we do that for them.

The cover of this new album seems to be very cold. It makes me think as if this album was from a hardcore band. What do you think about that and what can you say about the cover?

I don't know about the hardcore thing. I mean that's your own personal interpretation. I think that the cover kinda solidifies the overall theme of the album, you know, through the Ashes of Empire, survival, you know, standing through the test of time, you know. We've been through a lot over the last ten years, and it's still...we've put out this album. Whether we've been 5/6 years ago. Basically it's about survival, weathering the storm.

The cover and the title are not very happy. Why did you choose such a name and is it in relation with the 11th of september?

This is to the best of my knowledge, no there isn't any relation to the september 11th. I think that I kinda explored the title and know it all ties in about the survival and what the band represented and have been through. Not a lot of happy moments in metal, heavy metal isn't happy, the album is very honest. Rob goes into a lot of personal shit and it's not frolicking in the park, it's not picnics and lollipops. It's about heavy shit, so we wanna definitely convey that message.

The lyrics are very personal

Rob writes from his heart. He says what's he doesn't mind bearing his emotions on his sleeve and that's what gets his inspiration right. He comes up with some really good shit.

It's good for the band that you write with the heart.

That's the thing with european fans. It's like you guy, you know when something's real and when it's not. You guys take your music so serious and you know when somebody is being honest and when they're not. So that's what I respect about you know being in Europe. You guys know your metal for sure.

I'm not sure but I think that Machine Head is better in Europe that in the USA?

Because Colin Richardson, his reputation precedes him. He's the best. The band loves him and he loves the band. They've got a good working relationship. All the shit they put out, all their best work's been together and I mean this proves it, I mean, Colin's just amazing. He's worked his magic on it and he's if not the best but one if the best metal producer that there is, I think.

You're a member of Machine Head for a bit more than one year. How do you feel to be in that band. How do you feel, was it easy for you to be in with the other guys?

Yeah, it was an easy transition, I've only actually been in the band about eight months now, and after doing the tour with them and the festivals last year. I've known these guys for 15-20 years, so they're my brothers and I get along with them. Just to bring it into a professional aspect and to be working together as musicians, Rob and I are so similar in the way that we write that it's just been an amazing band between us and I'm really looking forward to writing the next album and I think that it's a perfect fit for all of us. You know they never truly ever had a lead player, somebody who can, someone who had the mindset first for playing leads, cause that's kind of where I'm at, even when I'm doing rhythms I'm throwing little phils in. It's been an amazing fit.

The guitar part in Machine Head seems to be very difficult. You're the third guitar player. Do you know exactly what to do for staying in the band?
What the secret is?

It seemed like the previous 2 guys wanted to branch off and do a different thing. I'd always wanted to be in Machine Head, even when, as soon as I'd heard them play, it's just like magic I even… My second band Torque was basically a Machine Head, not covered but we sounded a lot like them, so you know I, this is the music I like doing. I respect Rob as a song writer. I think that I can put my shit in, you know, to kind of compliment what he does, I mean it's known that he is the driving force behind the band, but if I can throw in little sprinkles of flavour along the way, then I'm fine with that. I mean I love what the dude writes so I think that the other guys just wanted to go off and be a movie star, you know and Arhue just wanted to play other shit you know. I don't really think Arhue fit in with them as a family first and then a musician, you know. So it's no fault of his own, I just think it was just a bad mix.

On your website,, it was possible to hear 3 covers: Battery from Mettalica, Jizzlober from Faith no More, and Toxic Waltz from Exodus. Why did you make them and will they be online again?

These covers we've done strictly for the website. They had a contest with these people on the board and they voted on which three they wanted to hear. That was strictly for them to listen to, they were going to be streamed to that nobody could download them and it was not meant for them to download or anything other than for them to listen to, you know how hackers are, so somebody got in there and was able to download them and now they're selling them or what ever the hell's going on, that was just a fun thing for the website.

Machine Head does exist more than 10 years now. Do you think all the Machine Head members have the same hunger to continue for the same time?

Current members? That are in the band for now?


Of course that's what we love to do, we love to play music, of course we have different interests outside but this is first and foremost our business venture, and it's music, we love playing music so, ehm, if we can oh yeah, see you in ten years, and I'll still be in the band.

Since you were in the band, have you got a special story, sad or funny, to tell us which happened on stage for example?

We were playing in Madrid, I guess it was a couple of weeks ago, maybe 3 weeks ago. I went up to the front a couple of times. It happens, I mean people spit, I noticed people started throwing shit. I was getting hit with glasses and shit, I caught 3 guys who were doing it. I watched them, so I was going back and forth, flipping them off, talking to them you know… can I swear in this? Can I swear, can I curse? …OK so I was telling them to suck my dick and I had everybody in my section turn on these 3 guys and I kept getting pelted with shit so I waited until the end of the show then I jumped off into the crowd, I went right in front of them, grabbed them in the head and fucking bopped them in the face a couple of times and he was just fucking scared. Rob had them, the crew jumped in behind me and we… I should have handled it differently, I should have got security to do it, but at that point I was just pissed off, and you know the dude was just - he won't do that again. He won't be spitting on any othe band anytime soon.

What do you think is your best memory with Machine Head for the moment?

Probably with Full Force last year. The festival in Germany. We had a live on a sunday night. Night out playing the Burning Red for 40000 people and seeing everybody there; Grasspop was very cool too, that was my first very big festival, you know playing with Slayer…

Do Rob, Dave and Adam have news from old Machine Head members, or they don't care about them?

Do we see them? Yeah we see them, we see Chris Kontos once in a while, he's in a band called the Servants, I go see them play, they're a cool rock band, and see them at shows and shit I don't see Logan that often. I think Adam talks to him every once in a while and I haven't seen Arhue, he's busy doing his own thing.

You've got lots of songs now. How do you make the choice of the songs for a show?

I guess what we did was we broke ot down into albums. We figured we've got 14 tunes to play. Have to play this one, have to play this one, start piecing it down like a puzzle, like what do people want to hear, what haven't we played them in a while, you know is it a heavy set, which it is cause the new albums kind of heavy but you know also how many from the new album are people gonna know, you still have to. Cant' be w new album show cause people aren't gonna know it so much, they want to hear the old shit too, so it's a mixture of all that, how well does a song go over live tonight, have you seen us on the tour yet? OK so there'll be songs you've never seen Machine Head play before, we're trying to come forth like a new, we're a new band, new album, new back to the roots type deal, new guitar player we're trying to come across as a new band so you haven't seen this Machine Head show before.

Well, Phil, thank you very much. I'll leave you the last word.

Thanks to the fans, people hanging with us, thanks for the support. Go buy the new album.

Interview by Manu
Translation Manu

Copyright Hammerock - Spiritribe 1999