Longtime guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain both left Machine Head in 2018. McClain went on to rejoin his old band Sacred Reich, while Demmel has filled in with Slayer and will be doing a few Vio-lence reunion shows without Robb Flynn.
Now in a new interview with Talk Toomey, Demmel says the last few years of time with Machine Head felt less like a band and more like Robb Flynn's solo project that he happened to be participating in.
"I'm not gonna badmouth the breakup or him. 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 he 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 just became, 'This is what we're doing.'"
Demmel also says he really doesn't like Machine Head's 2018 record Catharsis, and Flynn's rules on what he could and couldn't do as a member of the band became too much.
"There's moments of what I wrote that I like. I wrote most of the music to 'California Bleeding', but then [Robb] wrote the lyrics on top of it that I just wish that… Me and Dave talk about it, like, 'Fuck! I wish I could take my riffs back.' 'No, that isn't what we want them used for.' So, I think, in that sense, it just became a Robb Flynn solo project, and that isn't what I signed up for. And the last few years were basically collecting a paycheck. And I just couldn't do that. The stress and all the talks and all the 'can't do this,' 'don't do that,' 'don't do this,' 'don't stand there,' 'don't say this,' 'don't sing the words to the audience,' don't point.'"
Demmel did not even want to do the last tour.
“…I wasn’t gonna do the [last] tour,” he revealed. “I was hoping that they’d get somebody to replace me. And then Dave said, ‘Well, I’m not gonna do the tour unless you do the tour.’ So, if Dave left, then the tour [would have been] canceled. So we just kind of agreed to, ‘We’ll honor the tour [and] be done.’ The last tour, [it was] totally awkward. Me and Robb [weren’t] talking. It [wasn’t] mean, but there [was] no talking. Onstage, it [was] kind of forced.
I’m sitting here now just kind of processing everything that has happened, and I think that there is still some… I don’t wanna say ‘bitterness,’ but just… I don’t know if I’ve been able to really process the way everything has ended and gone.”
If it's any condolence, Phil, I don't think a lot of people like Catharsis.