Robb Flynn Reveals The ‘Machine Head Secret’ He Kept From Ian Gillan

In a recent interview with Brazil’s Kazagastão, Robb Flynn shared a detail about the naming of his band, Machine Head. Contrary to what some believed, the band wasn’t named after Deep Purple’s album of the same title, which was also a secret to Ian Gillan.

Deep Purple Wasn’t A Big Influence On The Vocalist

During the chat, Flynn looked back on some of his musical influences during his early years in the music industry. He revealed his love for rock bands from that period while mentioning a particular taste when it came to choosing a favorite among them.

The frontman’s list of favorite classic rock bands didn’t include Deep Purple at the time, although he was familiar with the band’s 1972 album:

“Deep Purple in California wasn’t that popular in the ’80s. It was other stuff that was way more popular. So, for lack of a better word, it was just off my radar. And then, of course, later on, obviously, I knew that ‘Machine Head’ came from Deep Purple. I probably haven’t even listened to the record all the way through. I’ve heard the big songs — ‘Space Truckin’,’ I’ve heard, obviously, ‘Smoke On The Water.'”

He had to keep this a secret from Ian Gillan when they met in 1996, though, as he explained:

“I tell you what, though, I met Ian Gillan. We were in Liverpool mixing our second record, and he was in Liverpool recording a solo album. And we just happened to be at the same studio. And he came over into our studio one night and [was], like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ We were, like,’ Oh my God.’ And I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that we weren’t named after his band. [Laughs]”

Meanwhile, Gillan encouraged Machine Head to perform for him in the studio, as the singer recalled:

“I’m certain that he thought that we were. But we just hung out. We went to the f**king studio, and he was, like, ‘Play me some of the new songs.’ And so we ended up playing him a bunch of songs. And we played it pretty loud. He was probably almost 60 at this point — [in his] 50s. And he started playing it, and he’s, like, ‘Oh, I need it louder.'”

Detailing the memory, he added:

“And he just literally turned it up to full blast — I mean, the giant studio speakers. And we were, like, ‘Holy s**t. All right, let’s go.’ And he sat there, and he listened to the f**king whole record. And he’s, like, ‘Hey, come over to my studio and listen to my solo album.’ And he was kind of going through like a folk phase or whatever. And he came over, and he ordered just f**king bottle after bottle of vodka, Jack Daniel’s, beer, just chainsmoking cigarettes the whole [time]. I mean, we just had the f**king best night. [He was] telling story after story after story.”

Where Did The Name Come From?

Neither Robb Flynn nor the other Machine Head members cited a specific influence for the band’s name choice since its formation in 1991. But drummer Dave McClain once talked about the matter to R.A.G. shortly before a show at Bogart’s in Cincinnati. He revealed:

“Rob just came up with a name thought it sounded kinda cool. It wasn’t from a Deep Purple song. He thought it sounded kinda cold & mechanical and liked the name.”

While Deep Purple didn’t influence Machine Head’s title, other bands in the scene affected the group in different areas throughout the years.

The Influence Of Other Bands On Machine Head

Machine Head’s latest album came out in August 2022 following the release of its fifth single, ‘No Gods, No Masters.’ The record featured some of the band’s most aggressive songs, like ‘Become The Firestorm.’

So, while talking about black metal’s possible influence on the album, Flynn told the ‘Behind The Vinyl‘ podcast:

“I don’t know if I’m drawing necessarily from black metal because I grew up in the thrash scene, and so I would probably say it’s more like something like Possessed ‘Seven Churches’ because that was a band that I would have seen that would have been doing the tremolo picking type of stuff — so, s**t like that.”

Mentioning his love for Possessed, he said:

“But, yeah, all that early death metal was such a big… I think my third or fourth show was Possessed before ‘Seven Churches’ was even released. So that type of death metal really had a big, big impact… I loved Possessed, man — I f**king loved that band.”

Machine Head will go on tour under the name ‘Slaughter The Martour North America 2024’ to support the latest release. The trek will kick off in the band’s hometown in San Fransico on January 19.