Lamb of God Had ‘Bullpen’ Guitarist Phil Demmel Ready Since Last Summer
The pandemic has left bands navigate touring in a different ways, and Lamb of God recently displayed one of their pandemic touring hacks when Vio-Lence guitarist Phil Demmel stepped in to play with the band during their ShipRocked Cruise appearances.
According to Demmel, his performance with the band was no last-minute scramble as it's something he'd been prepared for a year prior. Speaking with Blabbermouth, Demmel revealed that he had actually been contacted about being a "bullpen" guitarist should something happen healthwise to either Mark Morton or Willie Adler during the band's co-headlining tour with Megadeth in 2021.
"They had approached me before their Megadeth States tour last summer and wanted me to learn both parts, Mark [Morton] and Willie's, just in case one got sick, they didn't want to cancel their tour. That's where I am: I'm their bullpen guy when one of them can't make the shows, I'm ready to go."
Given the amount of COVID-related benchings of musicians in multiple bands since touring returning last year, the move proved to be pretty shrewd one that finally paid off to start 2022. While Demmel wasn't pressed into action during the Megadeth run, he did fill in for Adler during the band's recent ShipRocked performances. No official announcement was made concerning the reasoning for Adler's absence, but Demmel stepped right in ready to go during the cruise show performances.
"It's such a high-profile band. I didn't want to go out there and blow it. I wanted the band to sound good. I wanted to keep that pride in what they are and not have a drop-off," said Demmel. "Willie and I play differently. There's different vibrato in our left-hand and pinkies. I didn't want there to be a drop-off. I wanted people to be not-bummed that he wasn't there. And that's not a slag on Willie. If I went to see one of my favorite bands, let's say Queensryche. I want to see [Chris] DeGarmo, I want to see Michael Wilton. No slight against the other dudes, but they better fucking bring it if they're not going to be out there."
This isn't the first time Demmel has been pressed into action by a well-known band. He previously played four dates with Slayer when Gary Holt had to leave the tour to be with his dying father. Demmel also stepped up for Overkill's Dave Linsk at a New Jersey show this past year, and he's filled in for Nonpoint in the past.
"I got the rep of being able to learn songs pretty quick," says Demmel. "The Metal Allegiance, guys, too. I'll play 25 songs with them in a night. It's one of those quirky things where I can learn songs pretty quickly and I can pick them up pretty quick."
While Demmel recently subbed in for Lamb of God, his main gig these days is with Vio-Lence, the band from early in his career that he returned to after his time in Machine Head wound down a few years back. The group's Let the World Burn EP is due March 4 via Metal Blade, marking their first new music since 1993.
See fan-shot footage of Demmel playing with Lamb of God aboard the ShipRocked Cruise below.