PHIL DEMMEL Says He Played His First Show With SLAYER After Only 'Two Songs Of Rehearsals At Soundcheck'

November 1, 2019

Guillaume from Thomann's Guitars & Basses recently conducted an interview with former MACHINE HEAD and current VIO-LENCE and guitarist Phil Demmel. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the current status of VIO-LENCE:

Phil: "In January, I got home from the SLAYER thing, and Sean [Killian], the singer from VIO-LENCE, had a liver transplant. He was sick for a while. We didn't know if we were going to see him again. A year later, we hear, I was speaking to him, I hadn't seen him, his transplant took, he's still been going through some complications and stuff. He calls me in January and says, 'Hey, let's do some shows!' I don't know if he's talking about going to the movies. 'Like, VIO-LENCE shows? What the fuck are you talking about?' I said, 'It's all up to him.' There's no VIO-LENCE without Sean. He's the ingredient that needs to be there for that to happen. We called the other dudes. We call up Perry [Strickland, drums] on board, we call Ray [Vegas, guitar], he's onboard. He's the guy that replaced Robb [Flynn, guitar; also of MACHINE HEAD] and he was actually in the band longer than Robb was in the band. Ray is onboard. Dean [Dell, bass] was, like, 'Ah, I don't know. Maybe…' He was the most non-committal dude in the world. He's always been that way — can't commit, can't commit. He said, 'Maybe. We'll see.' Sean gives him the ultimatum: 'Okay, let me know by tomorrow.' So, we got everyone on board. We book a show. We just said, 'Let's just low-ball and play a little punk rock club.' A thousand-capacity sells out in hours. Then I go, 'Fuck yeah!' The guys are, like, 'Oh my god!' I said, 'We should try to do another show.' They're, like, 'No way man!' We get them to commit to another show. We put it up on sale and it sells out in minutes. A thousand cap is pretty good. But the guys are kind of shitting their pants a little bit. [Laughs] We put the shows together and it was like it was 1986 all over again. No barricade. No backdrop. Half-stacks and just people all over the stage and just pitting everywhere. It was like a family reunion; everybody came out of the woodwork to go. It's just kind of blossomed and the dudes all have jobs and it's hard for them to get away. So, we can't really tour, but we've been taking on one-offs. We played in Belgium. It was our first Euro show. We played the Alcatraz festival. We're playing in Mexico City next week. We're playing in Brooklyn; we're going to Puerto Rico; we're going to Japan. We're going to do a two-week tour with SACRED REICH in Australia. So, it's super-exciting."

On how he came to play with SLAYER in 2018:

Phil: "MACHINE HEAD did its last show. It's the next day, kind of hung over. I wake up and I get the two-year-old out of bed and I'm standing at the foot of the bed and I get a text, and it's from Kerry [King, guitar]. It's, like, 'Hey, man. Can you learn 19 songs and be out here in two days?' [Laughs] I dropped the phone onto the bed, at the foot of the bed. [Phil's wife, Marta] is, like, 'What?' I pick it up and read it again to make sure it's not, like, 'Maybe, perhaps.' Or, 'There's a small chance.' It's, like, 'No, we need this to happen.' And I show it to her and she's, like, 'You have to go.' Oh my god. Amazing, right? So, I'm, 'Send me the song list now! I need to get started now.' He sends me the set. Monday, I just got divorced from MACHINE HEAD. I go down to the storage and I pick up my gear. That's my Monday. Then Tuesday morning, I'm on a flight to Germany, listening to all the songs and writing them down and structuring them out. The flight takes off. Then my Spotify, it's, like, 'Oh, fuck. I forgot to download!' I hop online real quick and I'm able to do that and spend the entire flight just mapping out the songs and figuring them out, and going through them in your head because I don't have a guitar. I land there. 'Cool, I'll have a night, through the night into the next day to work on the stuff.' The guitars don't show up. So, I call ahead to Scott Ian [ANTHRAX]: 'Hey, do you got a guitar I can tune down? It's all on the truck.' 'Jonny Rock And Roll' from ANTHRAX, Jon Donais, I always call him 'Jonny Rock and Roll' — I can't pronounce his last name: 'Nobody has a guitar.' Kerry has one that is locked because he uses the Kahler, but it's in drop B, but it's one song, 'Payback' is in that. I'm like, Alright, I need to learn that one anyway so I'll spend my time on that.' So I spend my entire night transcribing these other songs and solos from drop B into E flat standard and just going, 'Okay, here's the fingering. I can't play along to it.' But then we played the first show with two songs of rehearsals at soundcheck before the first show. It was insane. But if you ask anybody whatever your favorite band is if they called on this notice, and you'd fucking do it. You'd do it. You get it done. Everybody's, like, 'Oh, I wouldn't have done that.' Yeah, you would have. If 'X band' would have called, you'd bear down and you'd do it and get it done."

VIO-LENCE released three studio albums between 1988 and 1993.

Although Flynn was part of VIO-LENCE's classic incarnation and played on the band's debut album, "Eternal Nightmare", he wasn't approached about doing the comeback shows.

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