MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn has uploaded demo versions of the band’s songs”Imperium”, “Days Turn Blue To Gray” and “Descend The Shades Of Night” to the group’s official YouTube channel. The final tracks were included on MACHINE HEAD’s “Through The Ashes Of Empires” album, which celebrated its tenth anniversary earlier this week.
In the latest installment of his online blog, “The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman… And Other Ramblings”, Flynn offered up a lengthy explanation for how the demo recordings came to life.
“In May of 2002, not long after we finished the ‘Supercharging America’ tour, our-then-guitarist Ahrue Luster quit the band,” Flynn wrote. “It seems weird even talking about theAhrue era of the band as feels like a lifetime ago, probably because it WAS a lifetime ago! Literally thousands of bands have come and gone from that era he was with us (’98-’02). We get on fine now, so I don’t have anything negative to say about him other than he was just really a bizarre choice to get in the band. However, to his credit, he did bring in a some cool songs (‘Blood, Sweat And Tears’, parts of ‘The Burning Red’, parts of ‘Silver’ and ‘Blank Generation’), but yeah, when he quit no one in the band was surprised, and most Head Cases [MACHINE HEAD fans] just went, ‘Meh.’
“Once he was gone, we decided to continue as a three-piece and to write and record the next album that way. It was a good decision as we weren’t interested in bringing in another person, and truthfully, we couldn’t think of anyone off hand if we wanted to. We figured we’d cross that bridge when touring came up, and guess what? We had some pending European festival dates coming up in June. Someone (possibly [then-bassist] Adam [Duce] or our managerJoseph [Huston]) brought up getting my old VIO-LENCE guitarist, drinking buddy and partner in crime Phil Demmel to fill in for the dates. Phil was recently back on our radar as Adam had filled in playing bass for VIO-LENCE in the summer of 2001. But Phil playing with us? At first I wasn’t into the idea. After I’d quit VIO-LENCE, there was a long period where Phil and I didn’t talk, things didn’t end on a good note, and I blamed him for a lot of it. On top of that, I had also taken a personal vow to never to mention VIO-LENCE in interviews, advertisements, album covers, ANYTHING related to MACHINE HEAD. I wanted MACHINE HEAD to stand or fall on its own merits and I wouldn’t use my previous band in any way to help sell or sink it.
“When VIO-LENCE broke up, [Demmel’s] next band TORQUE opened for MACHINE HEAD a few times, and later his next band TECHNOCRACY would open some shows too, but we didn’t really hang out anymore. It wasn’t until almost eight years later than him and I had a real heart to heart (leaving an Oakland Raiders game) that we cleared the air, and after that, we hung out a lot. Usually at football games or shows.
“Once I was on board, we decided to see what he’d say, so Adam reached out to him (viaAOL AIM… anyone remember that?) and Phil came back and said, ‘Yes.’ In fact, he told us that it would be perfect as he had decided he was retiring from the music business. He’d been doing it for 10 years since VIO-LENCE ended and he was frustrated. He had been married for a while, had a long-standing steady job and the band thing hadn’t been working so what better way to end his music career than by jamming with one of his favorite bands? His choice was a good one, he’d be jamming with his old friends, touring the world for two weeks where he’d be playing over Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson, headlining festivals to 20,000 people and then go and settle down.
“It was perfect situation. We didn’t want a band member and he didn’t want to join a band and it was a simple agreement. Phil wheeled his stuff over from the VIO-LENCE rehearsal room (they’d recently reunited and had done a string of weekend shows, but were also getting ready to retire) and when we jammed together, it was just awesome! There was a chemistry. Something was different about the energy in the room. We all felt it.
“And while I felt something, I didn’t voice it, I didn’t want to.
“We went on tour and the first show was in Dublin, Ireland with EVILE and GAMA BOMBopening. The show was nutzo!!! About halfway through the show, I looked to my right and thought, ‘Hey, I remember that guy!’ There he was, stage right muggin’ it up and smiling like a Cheshire cat every chance he got. The next show was a ‘secret’ TEN TON HAMMER show in London at The Garage (or as the Brits say ‘the gair-ige’) and hanging out on that small stage, jamming cover songs, annihilated on vodka, having onstage chug-a-lugs with hammered fans, and playing to a frankly insane group of Head Cases, there was something happening, something real, a connection.
“And it wasn’t OK to talk about it…
“Because he was retiring…
“And we didn’t want someone in the band…