PHIL DEMMEL Told SEAN KILLIAN He Wanted To 'Shut Down' VIO-LENCE Following Latest Lineup Changes
February 27, 2023
VIO-LENCE's founding guitarist Phil Demmel has addressed the band's future, just one day after the San Francisco Bay Area thrashers played their first show with drummer Adrian Aguilar (EXMORTUS) at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California. Aguilar joined VIO-LENCE following the departure of Perry Strickland.
VIO-LENCE recently announced that Demmel will be unable to make the group's shows in Asia, Australia and New Zealand in early March and will be temporarily replaced by Miles Dimitri Baker (VOIDBRINGER, INTERLOPER, ex-RINGS OF SATURN).
The rest of VIO-LENCE's current lineup includes singer Sean Killian, former FEAR FACTORY, bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and guitarist Ira Black (VICIOUS RUMORS, HEATHEN, METAL CHURCH).
Notably, VIO-LENCE's shows in Asia, Australia and New Zealand will feature only Killian from the lineup that played its first comeback gig in April 2019 at the Oakland Metro in Oakland, California. The VIO-LENCE lineup that appeared at the Metro consisted of Killian, Demmel, Strickland, bassist Deen Dell and guitarist Ray Vegas.
On Sunday (February 26),Demmel got on Instagram Live to offer what he called "state of the VIO-LENCE address", including to discuss what he involvement in the band may, or may not, be going forward.
He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "In all honesty, 'cause that's kind of how I roll, it's kind of weird playing these shows. With Perry gone now… Everybody's awesome. Miles is awesome. I love Christian. Ira is super pro… It's just weird. And being the founder, co-founder of this band and being a part of just about everything that it's done, seeing it come to a bunch of fill-ins and me and Sean, it's just…
"I'm in a weird spot right now with how it is," he admitted. "We played last night. The show was great. Adrian did awesome. Playing the tunes was great. The fans loved it. It was packed. But I'm just kind of really torn right now in the sense of what VIO-LENCE is and what it's gonna be and what my role is gonna be in that and how I feel about that. So I'm just spitting it all out right now.
"I had a talk with Sean about it. And actually, in all honesty, I've asked him to — [laughs] this is an overshare, for sure — but I've told him I wanted to shut it down," Demmel revealed. "I get the feelings of 1991 all over again when Robb [Flynn] left and then Perry left. And God bless Ray and Mark Hernandez, and it just became something that it wasn't. And that's how it's kind of feeling to me a little bit. It's kind of what it feels like.
"I'm in a very fortunate spot music-wise, with lots of options and lots of things I could be doing or am doing, in a sense, and realizing that to ask that of those dudes to not do it anymore is selfish on my part. And maybe that's why I made the first reachout about… So thinking about it today moved my perspective to the point where it's… The kids are loving it. And for the people that didn't know the members of the band, as opposed from the older fans that have known us as those five that were on those records, then it's…
"I don't know what to do," Phil added. "I'm just sharing how I feel about it all. I love the dudes that are jamming with them. Like I said, I do. It's nothing against them. I think they play the parts great. It's definitely different.
"The thing with me and VIO-LENCE is that we were always this dangerous element — not, like, dangerous… Well, back in the day, definitely. [Laughs] But it was just this weird things-can-go-off-the-rails-at-any-moment-type deal. And as you put different people in those pieces, then you kind of lose what that's about. And maybe that's what I'm missing right now. And I've been apart from it, from all the things that I've been doing and have chosen to do. So it's hard to let go. And I'm not letting go; I'm a partner in the business. And as much as I'm gonna be playing? Probably not a bunch. So I think it's fair to the fans to know that… I will announce what shows I'm gonna be at, and I think it's fair of the band to let the fans where and what lineup is gonna be playing, in that sense, and let them decide what they wanna do."
Demmel also confirmed that he will perform with VIO-LENCE at the Hell's Heroes V preparty on March 23 in Houston, Texas and at the Milwaukee Metal Fest in late May in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but revealed that he will likely scale down his live appearances with the band, to the point where he will no longer play any live shows with the group.
Strickland announced his departure from VIO-LENCE earlier this month by sharing a video of him performing with the band and captioning it: "I'll Miss playing these songs !" After one fan asked Perry in the comments to clarify whether he has in fact exited the group, Strickland responded: "yes about a month ago".
Among the people reacting to Strickland's announcement was former OVERKILL and VIO-LENCE guitarist Bobby Gustafson, who wrote: "Good luck with what ever you do in the future. We had some good times finally."
One day after BLABBERMOUTH.NETposted a story about Strickland's exit, VIO-LENCE took to Instagram to share a posted for the band's upcoming Asian tour dates and captioned it: "Nobody quit Vio-Lence!!! #blabbermouth". When one fan responded, "Perry says different!", the VIO-LENCE account doubled down with: "like I said nobody QUIT Vio-Lence." Another fan wrote "Well he did" in reference to Perry "quitting" VIO-LENCE, to which VIO-LENCE responded: "No he didn't he is no longer in the band."
Gustafson joined VIO-LENCE in January 2020 as the replacement for Vegas but announced his departure from the band last October. At the time, VIO-LENCE cited "logistical difficulties that weigh too heavy to function in a productive manner" as the reason for the split with Bobby.
In March 2022, VIO-LENCE released a new EP, "Let The World Burn", via Metal Blade Records. The five-song collection, VIO-LENCE's first original release since 1993's "Nothing To Gain", was tracked at Trident Studios in Pacheco, California by Juan Urteaga (MACHINE HEAD, EXODUS),mixed by Tue Madsen (DARK TRANQUILLITY, HEAVEN SHALL BURN) and mastered by Ted Jensen (ALICE IN CHAINS, DEATH ANGEL).
Formed in 1985, VIO-LENCE helped define and refine what came to be known as the Bay Area sound, dropping three seminal albums before splitting in 1993. Leaving behind a heady legacy, they reformed briefly a couple of times in the intervening years before becoming a full-time going concern once more in 2019. After playing a string of successful shows, the quintet started to think about new music and delivered "Let The World Burn", showcasing their first new material in 29 years.
VIO-LENCE's recording lineup on "Let The World Burn" consisted of Gustafson, Demmel, Killian and Strickland along with Olde Wolbers.
VIO-LENCE reunited soon after Demmel left MACHINE HEAD in late 2018.
Demmel was in MACHINE HEAD for nearly 16 years, during which time he played on five of the group's studio albums: "Through The Ashes Of Empires" (2003),"The Blackening" (2007),"Unto The Locust" (2011),"Bloodstone & Diamonds" (2014) and "Catharsis" (2018).
VIO-LENCE played its first show with Black in August 2022 at the Brutal Assault festival in Jaromer, Czech Republic.
Black, who grew up in the Bay Area and previously played with VICIOUS RUMORS, HEATHEN and METAL CHURCH, filled in for Demmel, who was on the road at the time with LAMB OF GOD as the temporary replacement for Willie Adler.
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 the band's reunion.
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