Skip to main content

Machine Head’s Robb Flynn still gets death threats for calling out racism in metal

Robb Flynn
(Image credit: Nuclear Blast)

Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn has revealed that he still receives death threats after calling out Phil Anselmo for shouting a white supremacist slogan and making a Nazi salute at the 2016 Dimebash concert in Los Angeles. 

Flynn revisits the subject during a lengthy, wide-ranging interview with Stoke The Fire podcast hosts Matt Stocks and Jesse Leach, frontman of Killswitch Engage.

The topic is raised when Leach, who collaborated with Flynn on anti-racist protest anthem Stop The Bleeding, from Machine Head’s 2020 single Civil Unrest, praises the singer for taking a stand against racism in metal, particularly given the backlash he has received for doing so, and observes “it also speaks volumes to the amount of people who are willing to turn the other cheek, or sorta ignore it, especially in our metal scene: that was eye-opening for me.’

“How did that affect you when you got backlash, for example, for speaking out when Phil Anselmo was going through his ‘white wine / White Power’ thing... ” Leach asks. “Did that affect you in a very deep way when you realised how many people were giving you a kickback for that?”

“I gotta be careful with what I say here,” Flynn admits. “My concern [is]… this is the type of shit that always gets picked up by the [online news] aggregators...”

“And they pick out the one line of this amazing conversation we’re having,” Leach acknowledges, “so I guess we'll tread lightly on that. Maybe I can just say I admire you for that… I fucking admire you for speaking out against that.”

“I really do appreciate you saying that,” Flynn responds. “And there was more than a handful of other artists - a good 50 to 70 artists - who reached out to me after I did that, personally, via texts and email, and were like, ‘Finally! Thank you for fucking saying something, that motherfucker has been doing this for twenty fucking years, thank you for finally fucking saying something’.”

“Metal is in this weird place where we’re totally okay to sing about wars and battles and things that happened 200 to 1000 years ago… but like, if we write about the wars that are going on right now… motherfuckers lose their minds.… I don’t fucking get it.”

Moving on to talk about “Nazi assholes” in the ’80s and ’90s metal and hardcore scenes, Flynn admits that metal reflecting “the dark side of life” was one of the reasons he was first attracted to the genre.

When Matt Stocks points out that the ‘Racism In Metal’ video which Flynn posted on January 29, 2016, calling out Anselmo, has close to two millions views, and that no other metal musician elected to make a similar video, censuring the former Pantera frontman, Flynn answers, “Well, because I was there.”

“I had to stand on that stage with the dude while he was doing it. This wasn’t me just commenting on some shit I saw on Instagram. I don’t regret it…  I regret what it did to my family.”

When Stocks raises the fact that Flynn received death threats after posting the video, Flynn notes, “a thousand death threats, and fucking crazy stalkers, and my kids being scared and my wife being scared, for fucking years, it lasted for years. It was bad. We had to get security... it was fucking ugly… really, really scary. It was a very difficult time.”

“And it still kinda goes on,” he adds. “Even to this day, amazingly. It’s been five years now,  five and half years, since that video went up, and I'll still get death threats… I just kinda laugh at them now, because they’re so fucking stupid.”

You can watch the full two-hour interview with Robb Flynn below.

Metal Hammer
Metal Hammer

Founded in 1983, Metal Hammer is the global home of all things heavy. We have breaking news, exclusive interviews with the biggest bands and names in metal, rock, hardcore, grunge and beyond, expert reviews of the lastest releases and unrivalled insider access to metal's most exciting new scenes and movements. No matter what you're into – be it heavy metal, punk, hardcore, grunge, alternative, goth, industrial, djent or the stuff so bizarre it defies classification – you'll find it all here, backed by the best writers in our game.