Guitarist Phil Demmel of Machine Head speaks with Mayhem Music Magazine about the band, home life, & playing for the hometown crowd


Mayhem Music Magazine:   Let’s talk about the new album. What’s the title?  When is it rolling out?

Phil Demmel:  We’re in the mixing stages right now. We’re starting to mix. We’ve had, as records go, some difficulties with certain things, just rolling with the punches. “Suffer Unto The Locust” will be out on Road Runner Records on September 20th this year. Seven songs so different from each other, same Machine Head brutality with … I mean, we’ve all grown as people, we’ve grown as band mates, we’ve grown as friends, we’ve grown as family men, and with that comes life’s tribulations and stresses and emotional roller coasters.  We draw our inspiration off of what we go through. So we’ve captured some of those things and wrote about them and recorded them.

Mayhem Music Magazine:   As far as lyrical content, did you add into this one, this album?

Phil Demmel:  I did. I contributed to four songs. I kind of came up with a couple concepts and a third that me and Rob . . . there’s a song called “I Am Hell.” I thought about writing about a pyromaniac and his journal, taking him from the beginning of his sickness through it, taking pages out of his diary and what he goes through. We learned that pyromaniacs, the males act out of revenge or out of stuff like that. The female, they act out of, almost 99%, out of love, crimes of passion. That makes them so much more dangerous.  This is kind of taken from the female’s . . .

Mayhem Music Magazine:   Perspective?

Phil Demmel:  Exactly. “If you don’t love me, you’re not going to love anybody ever.” I came up with a concept of “Locust.” I’ve had a few instances over the course of my life with people coming in under the guise of . . . there’s a line that says, “behind an angel’s disguise an insect preys.” People who come into your life under false pretenses, hey, this is . . . they just wanna be a band mate, friend, a lover, anything, and you find out that they’ve just been lying to you about everything. They drain you of your money.

Mayhem Music Magazine:   Of your humanity at times.

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Phil Demmel:  Exactly. Humanity. Exactly. And how draining that it is. But once they’re discovered, they just up and oh, okay, we’ll fly away to the next harvest or crop of whatever, unsuspecting prey.  It’s a metaphor for somebody like that. I’ve had a couple cases like that, and whenever I hear certain parts of the song it just grips me to my core. It’s a song of hope, but it’s still a song of describing how these people are.

Mayhem Music Magazine:   It’s got that aggression behind it for dealing with the emotions in the past.

Phil Demmel:  Absolutely. I had somebody come into my life who stole money out of my mom’s purse. They just come with, ‘”Hey, I’m a cool dude. I like sports like you do. I’m your buddy. Look this way while I grab money out of your room.” They get caught and they just fly away to the next one.

Mayhem Music Magazine:   You’re a family man now, right?

Phil Demmel:  I am.

Mayhem Music Magazine:   How has that grounded you? Because you’ve got to talk about times on the road, you’re non-stop in the music industry where, as you said, so many people are pulling you in every which way. when you get home how’s your dynamic? Is it hide from the world or do you just . . .

Phil Demmel:  Well, I’ve been going through this with my son and being away from him and for the past year and a half or so I met the person I’m meant to be with, I met my wife. She’s in a band as well, and I haven’t had to be away from her while I’ve been the one the road, but I’ve been home while she’s been on the road, and I had to deal with being away from my son, so I know how to channel that.  It gets harder as he gets older but being away from her is new for me. Being at home you’re, it sucks. You’re doing the things that you would do when she used to be there. It’s familiar territory and it’s our things to do and it was almost unbearable. Really. I want you. I miss you so much I want you to be here. But I know you’re doing what you do because I’ve been on the flip side of that. Now, this is the first time that I’m going to be away. Granted, it’s only been a couple of days, and then I was able to see her because we’re playing locally, but we’re going to go into a stretch here for three weeks before she’s going to go on the road but I can see her. Ask me that after I go through this and we’ll see.

Mayhem Music Magazine:   Well, perfect segue. I’m originally from the Bay Area, so I was here when all the metal bands were were playing smaller venues, like the Stone, the Omni, the Old Waldorf.  How does it feel for you to be playing a show as large as The Mayhem Festival? You guys played San Bernardino but this is your home crowd here.

Phil Demmel:  It is our home. It’s crazy. I’m a 44 year old man now. I was playing those clubs when I was 19, and to think that we’d come to see whoever here at the Shoreline, the hugest bands. It’s kind of surreal. Fast forward to we’re here now. It’s crazy to even think that me and Rob playing together this much later in our careers and being the biggest and it’s crazy. I don’t even think of why or any of that; it’s just what a blessed life. So lucky to be doing what I love to do with the band that I’ve always wanted to do it with.  I’m enjoying the success and the respect. It’s fucking awesome!


We hope you enjoyed this interview with Machine Head’s Phil Demmel. Be sure to check back for more music interviews.

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About The Author

I've been a part of music industry as a concert photographer for over thirty years. At an early age I hit the road shooting for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Quiet Riot, Ted Nugent, Twisted Sister, just to name a few. My love for music has never wavered. I started Mayhem Music Magazine as an outlet to share both established and new artists with others who truly love music.

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