Interview with Machine Head guitarist Phil Demmel
Mia Timpano: Have you ever experienced any great pain in your life?
Phil Demmel: Yeah. Yeah, I have. This past year has been really hard for me. My father passed away a year ago. And the circumstances in which it happened … it was really hard for me and I’m still … I’ve spent the last year drunk. Quit drinking a couple of months ago to kinda deal with it. So it’s been really trying for me.
I actually lost my grandfather recently, and it’s that weird thing where you go, Okay, I need to get really drunk right now.
[laughs] It was that. It happened to me while I was on tour. I was in Italy. And we were playing. And we were playing ‘Descend the Shades of Night’. It’s a song about death. His health had been declining, and I would think of him during the song, and I cried during the song sometimes when we’d play. […] So we had gone on to play the show, and during the show I passed out on stage, during the song. I’ve had a history of black outs. So they take me out after, and we were on our way to Zurich the next day, and I just kinda felt weird on the way there. Woke up to a call from my sister. And it was a voicemail, ‘Hey, we really need you to call home.’ Called home, and she gave me the news that my dad had passed. So it was kinda shocking. I knew that it was coming, but you’re never ready. You’re never ready to hear that news.
Dave, my drummer, he kept asking me, ‘What time did it happen? What time did he die?’ And I said, ‘Man, I don’t know.’ And I did the math. So what happened was that he got out of his dialysis, sat in his car, and he took they keys and set them on dashboard. Just went to sleep. So it happened at the same time I passed out on stage. And just knowing that he touched me in that way was just … it was a blessing but, it still was hard to deal with. It’s amazing, but it’s just really hard to know that.
Originally broadcast on 3RRR FM 3 Nov 2008.
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