PHIL DEMMEL On Upcoming VIO-LENCE EP: 'It's Definitely My Best Playing That's Ever Been Recorded'
December 7, 2021
Reunited San Francisco Bay Area thrashers VIO-LENCE recently completed work on a new EP, "Let The World Burn", for an early 2022 release via Metal Blade Records. The effort was recorded at Trident Studios in Pacheco, California with producer Juan Urteaga, who has previously worked with TESTAMENT, MACHINE HEAD and EXODUS, among many others. Mixing duties were handled by Tue Madsen.
"Let The World Burn" will mark the first collection of original material from VIO-LENCE's current lineup, consisting of guitarist Phil Demmel, singer Sean Killian and drummer Perry Strickland, along with the band's latest additions, guitarist Bobby Gustafson (ex-OVERKILL) and bassist Christian Olde Wolbers (ex-FEAR FACTORY).
In a recent interview with Mark Kadzielawa of 69 Faces Of Rock, Demmel stated about "Let The World Burn": "We had decided to write [some new material]. I didn't wanna do a full-length record. Ten tunes is just… I've got a baby at home. I've got a five-year-old who's just the highest of energies and exhausting. So my time is very valuable and I just don't have the time to write a full-length record. I just felt, let's take little baby steps with the band and see if we can write a couple of tunes — maybe do three or four. It ended up being a five-song EP that we're gonna put out on Metal Blade Records in the beginning of March next year."
Regarding the songwriting process for "Let The World Burn", Demmel said: "Man, in the 16 years that I was in [MACHINE HEAD], it had thrash moments, but towards the end, there wasn't. And I had written thrash songs. I always have riffs, but it was exciting to… Fuck, [I'm writing an] all-out thrash song. I wanted to capture some moments of 'Eternal Nightmare' [VIO-LENCE's 1988 debut album], and there are some signature VIO-LENCE sounds that I wanted to perpetuate and continue. But also, since I've been playing thrash for a bit too, my right hand has gotten a lot stronger. I'm playing the best that I've ever played. And so I'm pushing the riffs. These aren't songs that you're picking up at Guitar Center and just playing in Guitar Center; they're pretty hard to play. I wanted to push everybody in that sense."
He continued: "I needed [Perry] to be able to accept this material in a language that I could speak with him. And I had to teach him how to understand my language. And it was hard. And it was grueling. It was me and him in a room… Mostly, this record musically was written… I wrote the music but with Perry for… 99 percent of it was just me and him in a room fucking hammering it out. So I'm super proud of him for what he played on the record. It's some of his best playing. It's definitely my best playing that's ever been recorded. Towards the end of my time in [MACHINE HEAD], I wasn't tracking rhythms, so it'd been a long time since I really tracked a metal record. I did a BPMD record and tracked those, but fuck, this is a thrash record, so tracking the rhythms was something refreshing and super cool to me. We did it with Juan Urteaga in his spot, and he's awesome to work with. I had a great time. It was just a great experience recording with Perry. And I kind of let Sean do his own thing 'cause he had his vocals down. Sean is just destroying it on these songs, man; his voice is so unique. And nobody sounds like him. It's sinister, man. 'Cause he had a real high register that he was singing in back in '88, and there's moments of that, really, now. But it's dark, man — he's singing dark. And I fucking love it. I love his lyrics. He's the favorite lyricist that I've ever worked with. He's smart and he's witty and he's colorful with what he does. I thoroughly enjoy his lyrics."
In August 2020, VIO-LENCE released a new digital single, "California Über Alles", a cover version of the DEAD KENNEDYS classic. The band also filmed a music video for the song with director Scott Kirkeeng.
VIO-LENCE released three studio albums between 1988 and 1993. The group reunited soon after Demmel left MACHINE HEAD in late 2018.
The band performed its first comeback concert in April 2019 at the Oakland Metro in Oakland, California and spent most of the ensuing months playing select shows in the U.S. and Europe.
Although MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn was part of VIO-LENCE's classic incarnation and played on the band's debut album, "Eternal Nightmare", he wasn't approached about taking part in any of the comeback shows.
Killian underwent a successful liver transplant surgery in March 2018. The year before, Killian was diagnosed with stage four liver cirrhosis, which was caused in part by a genetic condition called hemochromatosis.
VIO-LENCE's last album, "Nothing To Gain", was recorded in August 1990, but wasn't released until 1993.