Former MACHINE HEAD and current VIO-LENCE guitarist Phil Demmel spoke to Bax Music about his soon-to-be-released collaboration with drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-DREAM THEATER), vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (OVERKILL) and bassist Mark Menghi (METAL ALLEGIANCE).
"We did a record," he said (see video below). "It's not a project, Mike Portnoy would want me to say. And I agree — it's not a project. It was a record that some friends got together and jammed, and we recorded it. It's a snapshot of these four dudes in time. And it's getting mixed right now. So, we'll probably do some sort of announcement within the next couple of months, and it'll be out probably early next year."
Demmel described the recording experience for the new band as "super cool," explaining that it was the first time he had tracked rhythm guitars in 13 years. "In MACHINE HEAD, Robb [Flynn] was tracking all the rhythms after 'The Blackening', or pretty much during 'The Blackening' on," he said. "And it was exciting for me to be able to be the only guitar player and track the rhythms and do all the solos.
"I can't talk too much about it, 'cause it's still kind of under wraps," he continued. "But it's exciting to be able to jam with Portnoy and Blitz. And Mark Menghi is fucking awesome on the bass. I didn't really know it until we were doing the things we were doing. And I can't talk about what they were doing, but Menghi killed it on it. So it was pretty rad playing with those dudes."
Ellsworth recently told Underground's Voice that his collaboration with Demmel, Portnoy and Menghi was "a fun project. It was kind of a summertime hobby project," he said. "Phil, Mike, Mark Menghi from METAL ALLEGIANCE did a record called 'Made In America - The 1970s', so we took American bands that were done in the '70s and thrashed up the approach. GRAND FUNK [RAILROAD]'s '[We're An] American Band'; MOUNTAIN; CACTUS; BLUE ÖYSTER CULT. We put the MACHINE HEAD, SONS OF APOLLO, METAL ALLEGIANCE, OVERKILL spin on the whole thing. It's a cool project."
Demmel, Portnoy, Ellsworth and Menghi previously performed together in METAL ALLEGIANCE, the all-star collective that is anchored by Menghi, Portnoy, MEGADETH's David Ellefson and TESTAMENT's Alex Skolnick. In addition to their semi-frequent live appearances with the group, Demmel played on three tracks on METAL ALLEGIANCE's 2015 self-titled debut, while Ellsworth contributed vocals to one song on the project's 2018 sophomore effort, "Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty".