Phil Demmel: Machine Head became a Robb Flynn solo project

(Image credit: Charles Elliott)

In September last year, it was confirmed by Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn that guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain had quit the band.

The pair took their final bow after Machine Head's Freaks & Zeroes North American tour which came to an end in November.

In a video message confirming the news, Flynn admitted: “I have held on too tight to the reigns of this band and I have suffocated those guys. I’ve got a lot of drive, but I’ve got a lot of anger and rage, and that drive of mine has alienated folks and the band.”

Now Demmel has spoken about the split and says Flynn essentially turned the band into a “solo project” and reports that he wasn’t happy with the way that the Catharsis album turned out.

He tells the Talk Toomy podcast: “I’m not going to badmouth the breakup or 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 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 became, ‘This is what we're doing.’”

Demmel also goes on to say that he’s not a fan of Machine Head’s last album Catharsis, saying: “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 Robb wrote the lyrics on top of it that.

“Me and Dave talk about it, like, 'Fuck! I wish I could take my riffs back. That isn't what we want them used for.' 

It just became a Robb Flynn solo project – and that isn't what I signed up for

Phil Demmel

“So, I think, in that sense, it just became a Robb Flynn solo project, and that isn't what I signed up for. 

“The last few years were basically collecting a paycheck – and I just couldn't do that – the stress and all the talks and the ‘can't do this,’ ‘don't do that,’ ‘don't stand there,’ ‘don't say this,’ ‘don't sing the words to the audience,’ don't point.'"

However, Demmel says he thinks that Flynn “was just as done with me as I was with him,” adding: “I think I kind of did him a favour 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. It just didn’t work anymore.”

Demmel says he thinks that Machine Head will continue with “hired guns” and praises bassist Jared MacEachern, who he calls “the best musician when I was in the band.”

He concludes: “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.”

Since quitting Machine Head, Demmel stepped in for Slayer for a run of live shows after Gary Holt returned home to look after his ill father.

He’s also resurrected his VIO-LENCE project, while McClain has now rejoined Sacred Reich.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.