Ex-Machine Head Guitarist Went to See the Band Play Live, Here’s What He Thought of Them

Guitarist Phil Demmel, who played with Machine Head between 2003 and 2018, recently went to the band’s concert. Taking to his social media, Phil said that the choice for group’s temporary replacement Reece Alan Scruggs, who’s sitting in for Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka, was what made him buy the ticket. He said (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“So when I found out he [Reece] was playing, I went to the show. I didn’t tell anybody I was going. I went to Ace Of Spades. I bought a ticket. And I put my hood up.”

“And I’m not hiding for the sake of, like, I’m ashamed to be seen there watching the band — I was a Machine Head fan long before I joined the band — but I didn’t want there to be any attention towards me. I didn’t want it to be about me at all.”

“I just wanted to go and enjoy a band that I had loved. So I put my hood on and sat kind of in the back right before they got on and watched the show.”

“And I’ll tell you what: it was so much fun watching the band with just blinders on and just enjoying a band that I had loved for so long, and watching Reece play with them.”

“And it was really fucking cool, man. I was headbanging and air-guitaring. There was a couple of people in the back that recognized me, and we were hanging out.”

Machine Head - Guitarist REECE ALAN SCRUGGS solo - Live at Ace Of Spades in Sacramento California

“And I had a great fucking time. … I just wanted mainly to watch Reece play my parts. And it was great. He played really good. The band sounded awesome. The place was packed. People were just feeling it. It was fucking great.”

“I had a great time. … Especially hearing the riffs and the songs that I wrote being played, that’s always a good feeling for me.”

He also added:

“Something came out on Blabbermouth [rock and metal news source] yesterday about me hiding and wearing a Groucho Marx [disguise] and all that, but that just wasn’t the case. I had my hood on, just because I didn’t want it to be about me.

Phil Demmel (Vio-lence / ex-Machine Head/ BPMD) Plays His Favorite Riffs

“I wanted to be able to go and enjoy the band that I had loved for so long. And that’s God’s honest truth. And I did. And it was fun. So, there you go.”

Reece, who’s Demmel’s friend, is a full-time guitarist for Havok. You can check out some of his chops in the embedded player below.

Havok, Reece Scruggs. Guitar Lesson/Solo Examples, and Interview 11 5 13

Phil Demmel left Machine Head in 2018 and is the group’s longest-running guitarist, apart from frontman Rob Flynn of course. Although nothing was officially discussed, it seems that Demmel and drummer Dave McClain left due to somewhat strained relations with Flynn.

Nonetheless, in a 2020 interview with Ultimate Guitar, Demmel recalled his final show with the band, calling it an “emotional moment.” He said:

“Yeah, it was. You know, it was 16 years that I played with that band, and poured a lot of my life into it; that’s almost one-third of my life. I had a lot of great times, we had a lot of cool moments, and we had a lot of cool music.

Phil Demmel on Jackson Demmelition performing at The UK Guitar Show 2019

“So, stepping away from that relationship not knowing what was gonna be next – not knowing if anything was gonna be next, what my value was as a guitar player or what my need in the industry was… It was a huge step of faith, walking away from a decent living playing music.

“I still am a union carpenter, but I worked construction for most of my life, so getting up before 4:30 and going back to the grind wasn’t something I wanted to do. As bad as things were, personal-wise, with the band, walking away from making a living like that was a huge step of faith.

“So, there was some fear, there was some concern, and after it was done there was no second-guessing, I’d absolutely done the right thing; the relationship soured, it’s better for everybody.”

Why Phil Demmel Left Machine Head

However, when pressed about whether he’s still in contact with Phil, he replied:

“No, I’m not.”

But during a recent visit to an episode of Jamey Jasta’s “The Jasta Show,” Demmel revealed that he did meet Flynn on a couple of occasions after leaving Machine Head. He said:

“I’ve seen him twice. And one of the days [was] at [last year’s] Bloodstock [Open Air festival in the U.K. where Machine Head played a surprise set and Demmel performed with both Vio-Lence and Lamb of God].”

Machine Head - Live in San Francisco (2015) [Catharsis Bonus DVD]

“He was by our dressing room, talking to the dudes. I just kind of walked by. The first time I saw him, System of a Down and Korn played some West Coast shows, and I went to that show, popped my head in to say ‘hey’ to Shavo [Odadjian, System of a Down bassist] and ‘Thanks for the tickets.’ And I stick my head in, and Robb’s kids are there, his wife’s there.

“I went, ‘Oh, no.’ I saw Shavo and I just went, ‘Hey. Have a good show.’ And I went to front of house to watch. Juan Gonzalez, he works with Deftones forever, he was the front of the house.”

“And so I’m hanging with him. And then I get a tap on my shoulder, and I went, ‘Oh, shit.’ And it’s Dean Dell, the bass player from Vio-Lence, who I haven’t seen since he was let go from the band.”

MACHINE HEAD - Live in New York City Feb 2020

“So it’s, like, ‘Oh, hey, Dean.’ I chatted with him for a minute, and as I’m talking to him, Robb came up and he was, ‘Hello, Mr. Demmel,’ and he stuck his hand out. And we bumped knucks. And that’s been the extent of our contact in the past… it’s been four years now.”

Clarifying their relationship status further, he added:

“There’s no words exchanged. I don’t think that there’s any need to have any words exchanged. In that sense, there’s separate worlds, and they can thrive on their own, and they have been.”

Vio-Lence - Let the World Burn (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

“They’re killing it. I’m doing my thing. Everybody’s okay with that happening. I don’t think that they need to — the worlds don’t need to collide at all. I would prefer if they didn’t.”

“I prefer things this way. I have friends in that camp. And I’m not too sure how welcome they are or welcome they feel to be able to say hello to me, which is weird. But him and I got a divorce, in a sense, and not everybody else, so there’s no beef.”

Photo: Stuart Sevastos (RobbFlynn-PhilDemmel-2012)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.