Phil Demmel is having himself one hell of an end to the year. Demmel recently wrapped up his 15 year career in Machine Head, and quite literally the next day after his last show with the band, received a text from Kerry King asking if he could learn 19 Slayer songs in two days. Demmel would become Slayer live guitarist Gary Holt's temporary fill-in as Holt headed home to be with his dying father.
As we all know at this point, Demmel accepted and is out there doing a great job with the band. Demmel tells Sweden's Metal Casino how it all went down.
"I wrapped up the Machine Head tour — I quit Machine Head, did our last show — and the next day I got a text from Kerry King saying, 'Do you think you can learn 19 Slayer songs and be out here in two days?' So, my wife had been at home with our son and running our business, and I had been gone for two months. And I showed her the text. She was so happy to have me home. So I showed her the text, and she had said, 'You've gotta go. You have to go do it.' So I started studying [the songs] on the plane. And I came out and played my first show [Monday] night."
Now for the million dollar question – did Phil Demmel even sleep during those 48 hours?
Turns out he knew some of the songs:
“There was songs that I knew, but I didn’t know every little part, and I had to figure out what part is Gary’s and how they do it live now. So it was a lot of work – it was a lot of work – but it paid off. I killed it. I got it done. Very exciting.”
“I had to concentrate on what I was playing [live], so I’d look up every once in a while [and see the crowd]. Scott Ian was just saying that some of the guys were running back: ‘It’s his first night, and he’s yelling at the audience.’ So, yeah, I was feeling it. Sometimes I tend to smile onstage, and there’s no smiling in Slayer. You can’t smile onstage. So, yeah, I felt very welcomed by everybody.”
Watch the full interview below: