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MACHINE HEAD – Robb Flynn’s ‘The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman’




The other night Phil Intragram-ed the album cover of Vio-Lence’s ‘Eternal Nightmare’ and the photo said “Happy 25th ya fucker!” (He is @DemmelitionMH if you want to follow him as he posts picture after picture of his ENORMOUS CRANIUM!… LIKE AN ORANGE ON TOP OF A TOOTHPICK!!!!).

Man, was I surprised.

I don’t really like talking about this subject, but…

25 years? A quarter century???

25 years since I recorded my first album, (with one Mr. Phil Demmel); it took me a second to digest.

That night I went to bed and had a dream. And let me just say, I have been having really intense dreams ever since I started doing this “theta waves” audiobook that I got from my buddy Nick who I mentioned a few journals ago. It’s basically a few hours of waves-crashing-on-the-shore but the sounds are drifting left and right in stereo, it’s pretty mellow. Ever since I started listening to this I’ve been having really intense, sometimes totally fucked up, sometimes totally amazing dreams, theta waves apparently help what’s called “lucid dreaming”.

One night I dreamt that our merch guy (and man-of-many-hats) Pando, died. Not only did he “die”, but he died right in front of me! He was having heart attack and his face and arms turned black, I pounded on his chest, crying, trying to resuscitate him. That dream sucked. Another night I dreamt that Phil recorded this really big (though ultimately good) argument we had on his iPhone and then at the end of the dream, like some fight scene from the Batman TV show, the words “Vendetta” scrawled across the screen of my mind’s eye.

I’m telling ya, weird stuff, and always pretty clear and concise.

So the other night after seeing the album cover post, I have one of these crazy dreams, so I thought I’d tell you about it, cause it was fuckin trippy and kinda cool. I dreamt that I was watching myself, from the outside, like the ghost of Christmas past or something. The first thing I saw was me joining Vio-Lence (always hated that stupid spelling). As I’m watching myself join this band I was trying to tell myself different things. I’m telling myself to ask this or check that, or look into other things that when you’re in the moment, just doesn’t come into play.

The dream started out right after I had quit Forbidden (Evil, as it was back then, and yes, I took the evil with me when I left!) and joined Vio-Lence. I was hanging out with my sorta-friend Vance, snorting crank, and he convinced me that we should go steal two cases of beer from the new gas station on the corner of Fremont Blvd. and Thornton Ave.

Well in 1987 that sounded like a damn good idea, so we did it. We grab the beer, and jet out of the gas station and the owner just explodes out the door and he’s chasing after us with a shotgun, jumps in his Trans Am and chases us down the streets of Fremont. Running for our lives we ditched the cases of beer and cut thru a car dealership and jump a chain link fence. Well, as I was climbing over, my shoelace got caught on the top of the fence and I’m twisted up for a few seconds until I fall. Well not only do I fall but I heard an awful, aching, crunch as I land on my elbow and break it. (True story).

As I’m watching myself and all this unfold in my dream all I can do is shake my head. What the fuck was I thinking? But that’s it right there, I wasn’t thinking, and truthfully for as cool as I thought I was back then, watching myself hanging there from my shoelaces was fucking ridiculous.

So it’s a few days later and I’m now at my Dad’s house on 3141 Kipling Place. This is very surreal as I can see the way things were set up back then and it feels like I can just reach out and touch shit in the house. So as I’m there, there’s a knock at the front door, Phil walks into the house and wow, and he’s so young (but still possesses that GIANT CRANIUM!!). We walk into the living room, my dad’s at work, he’s here to teach me how to play Vio songs. I’ve got my arm in a sling, I’m high on pain pills yet coming down from speed, and him going “oh wow…”, and I’m sure he thinking in his head, “WTF, this is my new freakin’ guitarist…?”

Now it’s a few weeks later after my arm is healed and my dad kicks me out of my house, for the 2nd time. This time it was for having incredibly loud (and incredibly awesome, I must say) sex with this hot Filipino girl who I stole away from my rival neighborhood guitarist Mark Branson. Let me clarify, it wasn’t a full on theft, it was more like a week-long tryst behind his back, but man, she was so hot! My poor dad, recently separated from my Mom, he had to wake up to go to work at 2AM every day to the Merritt Bakery in Oakland, and there I am a drunken teenager, having wild teenaged sex on the floor up against my bedroom door with an unbelievably loud girl. He’s screaming, pounding on my door for me to shut up and get out of the house and what do I do? I just turn my skateboard upside down and cram it under the door up to the trucks to block him from opening it (which worked surprisingly well), so he’s pounding on the door, I’m pounding… well…, and then I stick a sock (one of the old school knee-high gym socks with 3 stripes on top) in said girls mouth to make her quieter…

But of course, don’t stop.

Man, she was hot.

It was SO worth getting kicked out all over again. However, this time it was for good.

So there I am watching myself, homeless, no car, just a Powell & Peralta skateboard, and the bus (AC Transit) and BART for transportation. Of course I was shaking my head again at myself and my situation. I mean yes, the Filipino girl was smokin’ but now I’m fucking homeless with an on again/off again job with my Uncle Donny doing construction where my title on the job was simply: GRUNT. I spend the next cluster of time moving around from various couches and floors with different acquaintances or friends until I’m sitting there watching myself living with Vio drummer Perry Strickland, his wife and young boy in his small Hayward, CA. apartment, it’s empty, I’m eating Spaghetti-O’s, day in and day out. I then move in with a crazy friend of ours named Jimbo where we have some of the most insane alcohol-and-crank-fueled parties known to man. While I fast forward through the parties in this dream, they were legendary.

I can’t exactly place where I was physically at when I see myself receiving the news that Forbidden was getting signed, not only were they getting signed but they were getting signed before us! So I get the news and I’m seeing myself just pissed off to no end. I then am witness as Vio gets signed (though I wasn’t really involved in any of it as I was low man on the totem pole).

I watch as we record the first album with John Cuniberti, we were in Hollywood, drinking, not getting along, the struggle, the laughs, getting asked by John to play half the bass tracks on the record after coming back hammered on Margarita’s from a dinner with the label. I’m watching while I’m asked to play some of Phil’s guitar parts the next day. Everything is so real, I want to go and fix more than a few of my guitar parts during the recording, or grab my Charvel out of, well, my hands to re-record something that I know I could have done better, like the rhythms in “T.D.S. (Take It As You Will)” which I always thought I slopped thru.

I’m now on the road in the summer of 1988 and I have a great view watching us on the Testament tour. Having this perspective is crazy . We’re nuts on stage, just a constant blur of motion from the first note to the last, but as I watch us perform I know exactly what we were thinking at the time, we were arrogantly thinking that we were drawing all these people! We had the album with great distribution; we had the back pages of every Metal magazine in the world, our label sent out how many free demo tapes? Of course we’re drawing a “ton” of people!

I’m now backstage and watching myself go crazy, I was a kid in a candy store and wasn’t leaving until I had a mouth full of cavities! I fast forward through parties, groupies, blowjobs, bathroom stalls, Newark, New Jersey, good times. I see me loading my own gear, changing my own strings, paying my dues, not realizing it. I smiled at the young me because this due paying stuff would work to my advantage later in life.

I can hear Motorhead’s “No Remorse – The Best Of” blasting with “We are the road crew” on endless loop. I can still hear Joe Gizmo and The Spudmonsters demo titled “Garbage Day” also on endless loop. Don’t ask me where the hell I fit in the van with all of us, our equipment, luggage, and 7 people with no trailer, but I was back in the van driving for 7 hours after the shows. I’m then in a Motel 6 somewhere in America sharing beds with Phil Demmel and Debbie Abono, listening and watching Phil sleep-walking/talking in his sleep (which he still does!), I’m at our daily Denny’s stop watching Phil and Perry argue.

I fast forward to later, watching us on the road with Voi-Vod. Again, we’re on fire on stage but instead of thinking we’re the main draw, our arrogance was fading, the tour was a DUD. I found myself back in the van, the vibe was different, I was dealing with a crippling back injury after a hit ‘n run while skateboarding, pain pills and speed, getting thru the shows. I wish I could have spoken to myself on any one of those drives, instead of wasting the hours in a hungover, pain pill stupor or sleeping to avoid my surroundings, I would have told myself that “you’re in this for the long haul”.

I had gotten a taste of the road and couldn’t see any other route in life I wanted to take.

Perspective is a valuable thing in life, it’s not something you can buy or borrow. It’s something you have to live through to achieve. You have to survive. You have own your victories. Own your mistakes. You have to go through the good, the bad and the in-between to grow.

If during this crazy dream sequence I was able to actually speak to 1988 Robb what would I have said? Of course knowing what I know now I probably would have wanted to say a lot. But I also know that 1988 alcohol and crank-fueled Robb would have told me to “fuck off!”. Even as he was swinging from the top of the fence by his shoelaces I doubt he would have listened.

I sometimes ask myself, is there really anything I would have done different?


Not at all.

The journey made me who I am.

Happy 25th Birthday Eternal Nightmare.