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Machine Head’s Robb Flynn Addresses “Dictator” Criticisms


In an email to his “General Journals” email list, Machine Head mastermind Robb Flynn has addressed the criticism some fans have leveled his way that he runs the band as a “dictator” or a “Robb Flynn solo project.”

Those accusations first picked up steam back in 2018 when longtime band members Phil Demmel (guitar) and Dave McClain (drums) left the band. While bassist Jared MacEachern, who replaced founding member Adam Duce in 2013, stuck with Flynn, Demmel in particular had some not-so-nice things to say about how Flynn runs the band.

Flynn’s latest message comes as a general state of the union-type email as the world — or the U.S., at least — begins to reopen en masse. Titled “Welcome to the Reemergence,” you can read the full letter here, in which Flynn reassures fans that Decapitated’s guitarist Wacław “Vogg” Kiełtyka and drummer Matt Alston are still in the band despite their geographical separation from Flynn and MacEachern. Flynn also encouraged fans to check out the newly-released Arrows in Words From the Sky three-song EP, which Machine Head put out last Friday, June 11.

Addressing head on the accusations of how he runs the band, Flynn explained:

“When I do go and delve into the social media cesspool, the majority of the bullshit pertaining to us as a band, or me as a person, is pretty fucking toxic. It’s just part of the job I guess… but in addition to the usual ‘trend-jumper’, ‘wigger’, ‘virtue-signaler’, ‘liberal-snowflake-pussy’ fare, the things that seem to appear more than usual is ‘Robb Flynn solo project,’ ‘Robb Flynn and the hired hands,’ or the endless ‘Dictator’ shit. 

“A band is a beautiful thing.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that a band of like-minded individuals coming together for a common cause is anything but an amazing experience.  If that band sees some success, it is even better because it was for the most part done as a team.

“Do you know what the ultimate is?  

“Being young, starting a band, and living, breathing, eating, and shitting everything that evolves around said band.  No wives, no kids, no jobs, nothing but the band and the four or five people 1000% committed to it.  Ideas fly, open minds connect, results are grinded through completion and that’s how things operate for as long as they can.”

“Do you know what can be rather shitty?  

“Being older, established, having bills, mortgages, taxes, diapers to pay for. It is no longer four or five people living, breathing, eating, and shitting everything that has to do with the band. There are wives, kids, side hustles, a mindbogglingly complicated business arrangement, then after ALL of that, you finally get to the band and have to dig deep as to what you have left to put in.  And then you go away from all that ‘home life’ for 16 months on tour, and everything at home resents you for being gone… and you do your damndest to strike some uneasy balance.

“Does that sound like a dream-like situation? 

What I’m trying to sum up is this.  I’ve been in bands since I was 17 years old. This October, I’ll have been in Machine Head for 30 years!? I quit my last band, to start this band, call the shots, steer the ship, and not have to answer to anyone.  To forge my own destiny, carve my own path, to rise or fall by my own blood, sweat and tears.

“Nothing has changed. 

“Would I love to have three or four people around that I could lean on, collaborate with, and celebrate with?  

“Of course. I genuinely enjoy being in a ‘band’.  But that’s just not the reality at this point, this time, and this age.  If this past year plus has taught us anything, this is all one big game of survival.  If I have a song, or two, I’m going to get it recorded, I’m going to release it, and I’m going to do my part in surviving. 

“Survival sounds extreme, but that’s where we’re at. I’m proud (and a little insane) at the openness I’ve shared with our friends, fans, and listeners.  I’ve done my best to take you along on this journey with us as we continue to bulldoze through obstacles both great and small. It’s not always pretty, sometimes it’s downright ugly, but most of the time… it’s a fantastically, beautiful, life-less-ordinary.

“And that’s all I’ve ever promised.

“But please know, I’ll never apologize for doing what I’ve done to keep my life’s work alive.”

As someone whose life has gotten significantly more difficult in the past few years as a result of “being older, established, having bills, mortgages, taxes, diapers to pay for,” I can fully appreciate what Flynn is saying. I get it, man.

Demmel, for what it’s worth, reflected on leaving Machine Head two years later and came off as much more appreciative of his time in the band.

You can, and should, listen to Machine Head’s new EP below.

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