PHIL DEMMEL Says He Was 'Welcomed With Open Arms' When He Filled In For GARY HOLT In SLAYER

August 17, 2020

Former MACHINE HEAD guitarist Phil Demmel has once again said that playing with SLAYER "saved" his musical career.

Demmel filled in for SLAYER guitarist Gary Holt for four European shows in the fall of 2018 after Gary returned home to be with his dying father.

Phil, who had only played his last show with MACHINE HEAD the day prior to being asked to join SLAYER on the road, spoke about the experience of sharing the stage with one of his favorite bands during a brand new interview with "Drinks With Johnny", the Internet TV show hosted by AVENGED SEVENFOLD bassist Johnny Christ.

"I'm going from some serious esteem issues in my playing and my worth in the industry and just wondering where I am, and, 'Am I worthy to be in a band?', going from that to one of the biggest metal bands in the world and my heroes and the reason why I play this type of music saying, 'Hey, you're worthy. We want you to be here to take care of this spot,'" Demmel said (see video below). "Gary Holt's a hero of mine from 35 years in the Bay Area scene, watching this dude that's innovative filling some pretty big shoes.

"So I think that SLAYER experience saved my musical career, and maybe saved me as a person in some sense," Phil continued. "But it was cool, stepping into that band and helping out. I was part of their meet-and-greets, and they really welcomed me as not just kind of a fill-in but, 'You're part of SLAYER for this bit.' I had some great experiences with some real people.

"The two camps operate completely different. The MACHINE HEAD [is] totally pro, but this is just a different world that I was stepping into. And [SLAYER's support band] LAMB OF GOD's out there, and ANTHRAX is out there, and the OBITUARY guys are out there. I was just welcomed with open arms."

Holt began filling in for SLAYER guitarist Jeff Hanneman at live shows in 2011, and became the band's full-time co-guitarist as of 2013, while remaining a member of EXODUS.

Demmel joined MACHINE HEAD a decade after his previous band, VIO-LENCE, broke up. VIO-LENCE also featured Robb Flynn, who went on to form MACHINE HEAD in 1992. Phil joined MACHINE HEAD in 2003.

Demmel announced in October 2018 that he would leave MACHINE HEAD at the end of the band's fall 2018 North American tour, explaining in a statement that it was "simply time" for him "to step away and do something else musically." Demmel has since relaunched VIO-LENCE and is currently working with that band on a new EP, to be released in early 2021.

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