Phil Demmel

Last updated

Phil Demmel
Phil Demmel in 2011.
Background information
Born (1967-04-02) April 2, 1967 (age 51) [1]
Dublin, California
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1985–present
Associated acts Machine Head, Vio-lence, Torque, Technocracy, Slayer

Phil Demmel (born April 2, 1967) is a musician, who played lead guitar in American heavy metal band Machine Head between 2002 and 2018, making him their longest running member in that position. He was also a founding member of Vio-lence, which also included Machine Head guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn. Demmel was also a member of Torque.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Machine Head (band) American metal band

Machine Head is an American heavy metal band from Oakland, California. The band was formed in 1991 by vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn and bassist Adam Duce. The band's aggressive musicianship made them one of the pioneering bands in the new wave of American heavy metal. They are also credited for being part of the second wave of thrash metal scene in the early-to-mid 1990s. Machine Head's current lineup comprises Flynn and bassist Jared MacEachern. Duce, guitarists Logan Mader, Ahrue Luster and Phil Demmel and drummers Tony Costanza, Chris Kontos and Dave McClain are former members of the band; Mader and Kontos are currently touring with the band as part of the 25th anniversary tour for its first album.

Vio-lence is an American thrash metal band formed in 1985 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout its existence, they released demo tapes, one EP and three studio albums. Vio-lence is best-known for their association with the 1980s Bay Area thrash metal scene, and often credited as one of the leading lights of the second wave of the genre, along with Pantera, Sepultura, Sacred Reich and Dark Angel as well as their Bay Area counterparts Testament, Death Angel and Forbidden. Their most stable line-up was Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn on guitars, Deen Dell on bass, Perry Strickland on drums and Sean Killian on vocals; this lineup recorded all their studio albums. After breaking up in 1994 and reforming for occasional live performances from 2001 to 2003, the members of Vio-Lence reunited in January 2018 for a benefit of Killian, who was battling with liver cirrhosis. The band announced their third reunion in January 2019.



Demmel joined Machine Head shortly before the recording of the 2003 album Through the Ashes of Empires . [2] He began touring with Machine Head in 2002. He is long time friends with Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn, either since or before they both played in Vio-lence.

<i>Through the Ashes of Empires</i> 2003 studio album by Machine Head

Through the Ashes of Empires is the fifth studio album by groove metal band Machine Head. The band moved away from the nu metal genre featured on their previous two albums, and towards the style of their debut Burn My Eyes and their second album The More Things Change... It was released in the UK, Europe and Australia on the Roadrunner Records International label on December 16, 2003. At this stage, Machine Head still did not have an American record deal, having parted ways with Roadrunner Records US after the Supercharger album was released. Through The Ashes of Empires was such a success that Roadrunner Records US, in an unprecedented move, quickly offered Machine Head a new contract and the album finally reached North America on April 20, 2004. This album was also the first album to feature guitarist Phil Demmel, until his departure in 2018.

Robb Flynn American musician

Robert Conrad "Robb" Flynn is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the heavy metal band Machine Head. Flynn formed the band along with Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Tony Costanza after leaving Bay Area thrash band Vio-Lence.

In 2007 Demmel appeared as a guest on the album DDP 4 Life with Chuck Billy's and Steve Souza's Dublin Death Patrol. [3]

<i>DDP 4 Life</i> album by Dublin Death Patrol

DDP 4 Life is the debut album from Dublin Death Patrol, a thrash metal band formed by Testament vocalist Chuck Billy and Exodus vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza and released on April 13, 2007.

Chuck Billy (vocalist) American vocalist

Charles "Chuck" Billy is an American vocalist, who is best known as the lead vocalist for the thrash metal band Testament.

Steve Souza American singer

Steve "Zetro" Souza is an American vocalist, best known for his work with the thrash metal band Exodus from 1986 to 1994, and again from 2002 to 2004. He rejoined Exodus for a third time in 2014. Souza is one of two singers, along with Chuck Billy, for the band Dublin Death Patrol. He also sings for the death/thrash metal band Tenet. Souza recently announced his new thrash metal project, Hatriot. He was also the lead singer for the thrash metal band Legacy.

Demmel has suffered from a loss of consciousness and fainting several times whilst playing live with Machine Head. At first believed to be a side effect of dehydration, Demmel has since spoken out stating that an existing heart condition was the cause. On the subject of his collapse whilst playing in Bristow, Virginia:

"I've suffered from episodes of Cardiogenic Syncope for the last 17 years or so but (doctors) ran a series of tests that came up inconclusive. I hadn't had it happen for a while until last December in Italy, when I passed out roughly about the time my father passed away back in the States. The incident in Virginia felt similar to what has happened in the past" [4]

Syncope (medicine) transient loss of consciousness and postural tone

Syncope, also known as fainting, is a loss of consciousness and muscle strength characterized by a fast onset, short duration, and spontaneous recovery. It is caused by a decrease in blood flow to the brain, typically from low blood pressure. There are sometimes symptoms before the loss of consciousness such as lightheadedness, sweating, pale skin, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, or feeling warm. Syncope may also be associated with a short episode of muscle twitching. When consciousness and muscle strength are not completely lost, it is called presyncope. It is recommended that presyncope be treated the same as syncope.

Demmel announced his engagement to Bleeding Through keyboardist Marta Peterson in January 2012. Before that, he had two children. [5] [6]

Bleeding Through American metalcore band

Bleeding Through is an American metalcore band from Orange County, California. Formed in 1999, the band blended influences stemming from modern hardcore punk, symphonic black metal, and melodic death metal. Although the band was often labeled as simply metalcore, when Brandan Schieppati was asked if he considered Bleeding Through a hardcore band, he said: "I think we're a hardcore band and I'll never say we are a metal band, we're all hardcore kids and we came from the hardcore scene. Ours is just a different version of hardcore, we're trying to do something which adds a different variety to the hardcore scene, which has been sounding the same way for so long."

Following Demmel's departure from Machine Head in November 2018, [7] musical outlets reported there were rumors that he would reunite with Vio-lence, who planned to do shows and possibly release new material "in the not too distant future." [8] [9] A reunion of the band was officially confirmed on January 8, 2019, and they will be performing occasional live shows that year. [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

In December 2018, Demmel joined Slayer for a few shows on their final European tour, filling in for his friend Gary Holt who left the tour to be home with his dying father. [15]


Demmel has always used Jackson guitars, since his days with Vio-Lence. He first used Randy Rhoads models, then later in the 90's he began using a white King V. When he joined Machine Head he had his white V and a Jackson Warrior which can be seen in the videos for Imperium and Days Turn Blue to Gray. Around the time of The Blackening's release he had his own signature V with Jackson, named The Demmelition King V.

The Demmelition King V has the line's classic sharp V-shaped alder body, with a more aggressive edge thanks to its additional cutouts and set up for the low-tuned brutal player. Its through-body quartersawn maple neck features a bound compound-radius ebony fingerboard (12" to 16") with 24 jumbo frets, mother-of-pearl shark fin position inlays and black-bound headstock with an inlaid mother-of-pearl Jackson logo. The barrage comes from an EMG 81 bridge pickup and an EMG 60 neck pickup, each with its own CTS volume control and both controlled by a three-way Switchcraft® switch.

Other features include a Floyd Rose Original double-locking two-point tremolo bridge, black hardware and die-cast tuners. Available in red with black bevels, black with silver bevels and white with black bevels. In 2010, Jackson released the PDX Demmelition King V. The guitar is a lower-end model of the pro series, featuring EMG-HZ passive pick-ups, a licensed Jackson Floyd rose, a bolt on neck and a rosewood fretboard.

For amplification, he uses Peavey 5150 and 6505 Amps with Marshall 1960BV cabinet in the studio. Live, he has recently turned to the AxeFX preamp for practical reasons.

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  1. Phil Demmel about forgiveness and the future of MACHINE HEAD, March 15, 2010
  2. "Through The Ashes Of Empires". Road Runner Records.
  3. "REVIEW: Dublin Death Patrol – DDP 4 Life". August 15, 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  4. "Machine Head | Heart Condition Caused Rocker's Collapse". Contactmusic. August 21, 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  5. "MACHINE HEAD Guitarist Engaged To BLEEDING THROUGH Keyboardist". Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  6. "Machine Head's Phil Demmel Engaged to Bleeding Through's Marta Peterson". January 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  10. "VIO-LENCE To Reunite For One Show In Oakland; 'Eternal Nightmare' To Be Performed In Its Entirety". January 8, 2019. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  11. "Vio-lence Announce Second Reunion Show". January 10, 2019. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  12. "Resurrected VIO-LENCE Announce Second Reunion Show, Rumored To Be Opening For OVERKILL Later This Year". January 10, 2019. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  13. "Reunited VIO-LENCE To Play Exclusive European Show At Belgium's ALCATRAZ HARD ROCK & METAL FESTIVAL". February 16, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  14. "Vio-lence Announce Second Reunion Show". February 27, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  15. "GARY HOLT To Miss Rest Of SLAYER European Tour; Ex-MACHINE HEAD Guitarist PHIL DEMMEL To Step In". . December 2, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2018.