BlogJanuary 21, 2015 4:11 PM ET

Machine Head frontman talks racism and calls out All That Remains singer

Robb Flynn of Machine Head

Machine Head vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn posted a lengthy and thought-provoking piece on Facebook today detailing his thoughts on racism in America, and how far we still have to go. Flynn also took a shot at All That Remains frontman Phil Labonte and his "ignorant ass world views."

Here's the full post.

I'm scared.

I've spent more than a few hours debating whether to write this General Journal.

I never do that. I just sit down and start writing, not really knowing what to write and eventually something clicks, and I go with it.

So here goes…I just watched the movie "Selma." If you've never heard of it, it's the story of black civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and his non-violent marches and protests that took place in Selma, Alabama. This happened in the years following President Johnson's de-segregation of the south, when black people were supposed to finally be able to vote, but ultimately they were denied that right for several more years. Who voted against it? Well it was done by the still extremely racist, local and state governments including Alabama's notoriously racist Governor George Wallace.

While so many emotions ran through my mind while watching this, surprisingly the thing I cannot get out of my mind was the violence. Shocking doesn't even begin to describe the absolute savagery. I mean we're talking "Passion of the Christ"-level shocking! The sheer viciousness of people at that time is something I hope many of them feel great shame for in their old age.

The film breaks down all the legal mumbo-jumbo that went into keeping black people unable to vote. It's really something to see the government's tactics ranging from blatant intimidation to the more "subtle" state funded "voucher system," in which you had to have someone "vouch" for you to vote!? But with a glitch…of course. That glitch was if no one within one hundred miles had ever voted (like every black person in the area) then it was impossible to get someone to "vouch" for you, thus… you couldn't vote. It was legislated racism and in the sickest of ways, and it was admittedly, very clever.

Everyone should go see his movie.

But no one will.

It's already bombed. Despite winning many awards, according to my "Flixter" app, it's only grossed $9 million (compare that to the gajillionth pro-war movie "American Sniper" which grossed $90 million). But watching "Selma" on Martin Luther King day, somehow seemed like the right thing to do, especially in these confusing, fucked up times. I needed to try and make sense of this, to make better somehow, to figure out an answer to what is going on these days.

But there was no answer.

It was depressing, and sad, and horrible, and uplifting, and ultimately powerful.

So why am I debating it?

I put up a post on my Instagram about a week ago of a photo of a sign inside The Metro in Oakland where we were rehearsing for our Evening With tour, that read "Black Lives Matter – Oakland to Ferguson". There was a surprising amount a vitriol pointed at me in the comments. Lots of posts about "good job alienating fans on the eve of a tour", and how "they wouldn't be spending their hard-earned money on my CD or my tour" and that, "the next time something goes down, they're going to make signs saying "White Lives Matter", (because apparently white people have been equally oppressed for a few hundred years).

They wouldn't spend their money on my tour…

That one hit me.

Apparently metal musicians aren't supposed to have opinions on the issues of the day, we're just supposed to "rock and party bro". And while we still do that with the best of 'em, all of my favorite bands had some kind of moral consciousness. From Black Sabbath's anti-Vietnam war screed "War Pigs", to Metallica's "Disposable Heroes" and "One", to System Of A Down's "Sad Statue" or "BYOB", to Bob Dylan's "Masters Of War", to Springsteen's' "Born In The USA", and John Lennon's "Imagine".

If you think about it, musicians and artists are probably more affected by the world than most, hence our ability to channel things and feelings into music and art.

Three nights ago we got into lengthy discussion about Ferguson and the Eric Garner murder. It's a divisive subject. Some folks feel Michael Brown got what he deserved, some don't. That case more than any, is the toughest to call. Did the cop act in defense? Could he have done something different? Did an 18 year black man, high on nothing more than marijuana, (and who granted, had aggressively just stole cigars to roll blunts with), really reach into a cop car and try and grab the officer's gun? Or, did the cop just lose his wits and blow an unarmed black man away? I've read a lot on both sides, including the police officers testimony and the friend of Michael Brown's, and both seems a little dubious. It's really fucking hard to make heads or tails of.

But we were all in agreement that the Eric Garner's murder was absolutely and unequivocally wrong. Though Garner was no angel, 5 police officers should not have choked an unarmed black man to death, (with a banned chokehold), who said "I can't breathe" 11 times, and whose only crime was selling un-taxed cigarettes. And the grand jury clearing of both officers involved in record speed. And then there's the 12 year shooting of Tamir Rice by an officer deemed unstable by his previous police force that was even more disturbing.

We talked about it more the next day, and the conversation evolved into the bigger picture. About income inequality, about Wall Street's sniping of of American Corporations in the name of shareholder profits, and how unbelievably powerful the media is nowadays, and how (subliminally clever) they are at repeating the headline (no matter how off-base) over and over again, knowing that if they say it enough times, it'll eventually sink in. Like how "protests" and "die-in's" were suddenly deemed "riots". Like how, of the 300 people arrested for not "clearing the streets" only "2? were for assault or destruction of property.

We talked about how the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class, is stuck eroding away in the middle, all while we are stuck in 14 year-long-war that's cost us trillions of dollars. That we're a country willing to spend millions of dollars a day to bring freedom to Iraq, and yet, we just played in New Mexico where many of the Navajo Nation Indian reservations (the original American's) don't even have basic needs like running water or electricity.

What's even more surprising, is the a very small but very vocal minority of the police themselves. An Indiana police officer sold T-shirts saying "Breathe Easy. Don't Break the Law." A veteran San Jose Police Officer, Phillip White, tweeted: "Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you. ?#?CopLivesMatter?".

And here's where all the naysayers will rant that I'm "anti-police".

And that would be completely missing the mark, because I also was deeply moved by the story by the black police officer whose brother was a junkie, and how it deeply affected his life to want to do justice for the world, and yet how he's reminded of racism whenever he walks through a store in his street clothes, and how the undercover still follows him around.

And then there's this:

Did you hear about the police officers in Florida that were active Ku Klux Klan members? Hactivist group "Anonymous" broke the story, and when they did, the chief of police fired the officers immediately (an admission of guilt if there ever was one). That's right, active KKK in the police dept.! Though this is apparently not illegal?!

Are you really going to say black men still getting targeted is a coincidence? That white people have it just as bad?

And then as I was writing this, someone sent me Phil Labonte from All That Remains ignorant ass world views from his Revolver magazine cover story. WTF!? rightfully slammed him, and good for them! And shame on Revolver for not!

So yeah, I decided that watch "Selma" on Martin Luther King Day in America, in Texas.

When we were talking earlier that day, I remembered that when I bought my second house (which I lost when the bubble burst a few years ago, and my family and I had to Short Sell) we inherited all the original paperwork from this 1950's house. Right there in the paperwork, it said, "no negroes shall live in this house". It was kinda shocking, especially by liberal California standards.

A big point I hear repeated is that "black people don't want to work, and that if they just picked themselves up by their bootstraps, they'd make good", and yet here I have a document from California saying that even if they DID pick themselves up by their bootstraps, the city would not let them live there. Real Estate agents used to get fired for even showing houses to black people in the the neighborhood.

All legislated by the local govt, the county, the state… the nation.

But we have a black president!

It's only been 50 years since black people could even vote, do you really think we've come that far? That the old ways have completely died.

They haven't.

Isn't it interesting that 50 years on from MLK's assassination, they still haven't found his killer?

Could you imagine someone like FOX blowhard Bill O' Riley (a high profile white person, but not a politician) getting assassinated and not finding the killer for 50 years??!! People would be incredulous!

And so I sat there thinking…


Writing this journal… and so I decided to write down the words "I'm scared", to own what I was feeling.

Scared of what other bands were gonna think of me writing this.

Scared of what fans were going to think of this.

Scared because here I am in Texas, then New Orleans and then Florida and then Atlanta (where the last time we headlined there some asshole in the front row kept yelling out "Kill Niggers!") and I'm about to put out a Journal on racism in America, with people already threatening to not go to my concerts.

But you know what?

Fuck it.

I believe in this to my fucking bones.

Where are the god damn protest songs? Where are the "War, What Is It Good For's"? Where are the "Fight The Power's"? Where are the white metal bands protesting about Ferguson and Staten Island? Why don't metal bands stand for anything anymore? When did we reach this point in society where it's unpatriotic to question our military or our police? Why are so goddamned proud to just fall in line?

Martin Luther King said in one of his speeches (not included in the movie) that, "history will not reflect back on this time of unrest and remember the evil that was done, or the viciousness of the bad… but the appalling silence of the good".


Post Comment
anonymous 1/21/2015 1:29:26 PM

Wasn't Phil LaBonte in the Marines? Of course he holds fcked up views.

anonymous 1/21/2015 1:34:58 PM

This is incredible. And i'm glad people actually give a shit. I'd gladly pay for your albums and support your live shows. It's refreshing to see leaders in the 'underground' music scene that have compassion for the real world. My utmost respect to Robb Flynn, he's always been awesome, but just seems to get even better with age.

anonymous 1/21/2015 1:36:05 PM

I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house

anonymous 1/21/2015 1:37:14 PM


anonymous 1/21/2015 1:44:09 PM

cant say fck on lambgoat. But the article has th "u" in fck. Hmmm

anonymous 1/21/2015 1:51:22 PM

Dear Rob, I agree with everything you are saying. If you are looking for the protest songs, you will find them in hardcore. You don't even have to look too hard.... They are out there, just not in Metal music for some reason.

anonymous 1/21/2015 1:59:59 PM

Rob Flynn..metal wigger with an identity crisis.

anonymous 1/21/2015 2:15:09 PM

fck yeah

anonymous 1/21/2015 2:18:27 PM

fck Yeah I wish all metal singers were like you

anonymous 1/21/2015 2:28:41 PM

...stick to metal

anonymous 1/21/2015 2:43:34 PM

Rob, thanks for digging deep and speaking earnestly despite your trepidation over your journal's reception. Much love and respect man.

anonymous 1/21/2015 2:44:03 PM

Thanks for speaking up. Unfortunately, metal attracts a lot of dumb, racist, religious nutjob neo-cons. Just keep calling out their ignorance.

anonymous 1/21/2015 3:00:36 PM

in b4 keyboard klansmen komments

anonymous 1/21/2015 3:08:02 PM

Check out Architects, they have music that's stands for something!

anonymous 1/21/2015 3:24:17 PM

I'll tell u Rob all the young not a 90's metal half ass Pantera spinoff band kids are busy with axe fx and triggers they don't care about race cause they don't see color like we once saw! Just like people that smoke cigs that's just about to be done also and fck All That Remains didn't that dude get kicked out of Shadows Fall?

anonymous 1/21/2015 3:31:47 PM

I have personally experienced more racism from black people than anything else.

anonymous 1/21/2015 3:32:01 PM

I don't see how artists and musicians 'are more affected by the world'. In fact I'd suggest they're more detached, given the high than average proportion of narcissistic douches who fall under those labels who are clearly ill-informed about all manner of things. Otherwise fairly bland sentiments that no one will really disagree with.

anonymous 1/21/2015 3:45:44 PM

So yeah, I decided that watch "Selma" on Martin Luther King Day in America, in Texas. First, "to watch" Second, fcking lol. In America, in Texas y'all.

anonymous 1/21/2015 3:51:11 PM

That was boring. Thanks for wasting my time.

anonymous 1/21/2015 3:52:13 PM

Great words, Rob. Solid. Look into the hardcore scene more. Mall metal is where you're finding the trashy, racist ideology still breathing heavy.

anonymous 1/21/2015 4:01:38 PM

"Thanks for speaking up. Unfortunately, metal attracts a lot of dumb, racist, religious nutjob neo-cons. Just keep calling out their ignorance." Truth. And it sucks that they're the loudest.

anonymous 1/21/2015 4:03:11 PM

Right on, man! Too many people in the scene are brainless sheep that swallow whatever BS comes out of the status quo. Rock has always been about rebelling and is a genre that came out of the black community. Metal heads need to learn the roots!

anonymous 1/21/2015 4:04:53 PM

You ROCK man!!!!!

anonymous 1/21/2015 4:40:14 PM

Everything rings true, except that MLK's killer was caught, officially anyway.. If you want to go down the conspiracy rabbit hole, then that's a whole other conversation.

anonymous 1/21/2015 4:56:27 PM

Molotov Solution is stoked.

anonymous 1/21/2015 5:04:35 PM

Sounds like this moron and his shitty band are just as bad as Disturbed and everyone in Disturbed. Oh well, neither of those bands have anything to do with metal anyway.

308 1/21/2015 6:15:06 PM


anonymous 1/21/2015 6:19:31 PM

I gotta say, you did the right thing. When people make comments like "just stick to making music" they forget that musicians are people too. To somehow imply that your opinion isn't valid just because of your profession is just pure ignorance. We are all human, we are all affected by terrible events, and it is everyone's responsibility to bring injustice to light. If not, then you are compliant with the status quo, and part of the problem, not part of the solution. Thanks for writing this.

anonymous 1/21/2015 6:25:06 PM

Stray from the Path makes a living protesting, and so does RATM.

anonymous 1/21/2015 7:34:47 PM

Hey Rob, I guess this is where you find out 90% of your band's fans are fcking morons. Look at the comments. Anyways, you are okay by me. Stick to your guns.

anonymous 1/21/2015 7:35:39 PM

You just GAINED one more fan. I don't even know what you sound like yet. I'm in.

anonymous 1/21/2015 8:00:50 PM

LOL what a fcking retard. Derrppderrrp lets cherry pick a handful of bad things out as proof of institutional racism. People like him are why America sucks.

anonymous 1/21/2015 8:08:59 PM

Good post. Just want to point out that his killer, James Earl Ray, was captured a little over 2 months after the assasination

anonymous 1/21/2015 8:15:23 PM

I grew up listening to anarco-punk, which is obviously very socially conscious and political. Metal has always seemed like a doltish redneck genre to me, and it's good to see someone break the mold. I've never heard Machine Head, but I'll be buying a couple of their albums tomorrow. Even if I don't like the sound, I'll be glad I supported someone with this much needed perspective.

anonymous 1/21/2015 8:49:41 PM

I was gonna shred Rob Flynn on this whole thing but....damnit. Fuucking lol You really can't even try and reach people of this level of childish naivety, laughably misplaced anger, and cringe-worthy white guilt. Selma tanked because it plain sucks, and people don't want to pay 13 fcking dollars to get beat over the head with the "YOURE A RACIST AND SHOULD HATE YOURSELF" bat for 2 hours. Sit down, Rob.

anonymous 1/21/2015 9:06:07 PM

Robb Flynn is clearly suffering from libertardism. Half the world is up in flames. We have a president who's advisors are members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nation of Islam. George Soros putting 33 million into starting a race war in Ferguson and Flynn is crying about shit that happened before we were even born. All good, the 15 year olds living in the basement of their parents house will keep cheering him on.

anonymous 1/21/2015 10:36:15 PM

"Isn't it interesting that 50 years on from MLK's assassination, they still haven't found his killer? " James Earl Ray. He died in prison.

anonymous 1/21/2015 10:53:24 PM

Lol. Dude makes a perfect example of why uninformed or barely informed musicians should NOT comment on serious issues. "Hey guys, i saw a movie and it really opened my eyes". Christ, dude sounds like a 14 year old.

anonymous 1/21/2015 11:16:27 PM

Machine Head has been a favorite band of mine since Rob formed it following Vio-lence, and I have overlooked a lot of his dumb rants making him look like a Dave Mustaine wanna be, but this one I can't overlook. Sympathetic to a bunch of animals that have looted, rioted and attacked people deliberately because of skin color who had NOTHING to do with the shooting of a thug?

anonymous 1/21/2015 11:41:08 PM

Thanks for writing this, Everything is well said. all these haters lack half a brain and need to go drink more moonshine.

anonymous 1/22/2015 1:30:17 AM

dude's such a tool. always have been.

ineedmoresalt 1/22/2015 2:36:54 AM

^ always have been always have been always have been

anonymous 1/22/2015 4:52:49 AM


anonymous 1/22/2015 5:15:03 AM

Skindred stand up for world to unite together with no racial or discriminitive boundaries. Our strong opinions are somehow coined to certain communities of the world. It's the world's attitudes alone that need to be changed and with the higher authorities sorting things accordingly and sensibly. Music can't change the world, our attitudes can.

anonymous 1/22/2015 6:14:32 AM

Didn't this moron use the N word on the first Machine Head album?

anonymous 1/22/2015 6:46:22 AM

want to rant about black racism? Try walking around being indian/middle eastern. try being a devout muslim. "random bag checks" "gas station owners" "bahandibats". sorry if black oppression isn't high on my list of give-a-shits. there's people out there who have it WAY worse, just don't have a back story of slavery, "in America".

anonymous 1/22/2015 6:46:41 AM

did we seem to forge that 1) the writer of the movie wrote the movie as "she interpreted the events, not on most actual facts" look that up, she said it. 2) there's just as much reverse racism, it will never end on any side of the color wheel and 3) yes, its ONLY been 50 years, and blacks now buy houses, vote, are elected officials, moviestars, singers, and presidents?

anonymous 1/22/2015 6:55:55 AM

I've always loved this band and will continue to go see them but idk about this rant. People need to stop assuming the black race is the only race of people that are victimized. Nothing else makes the news because it's not "interesting" to hear about some white dude getting beat by a group of blacks or a native american being persecuted. People are ignorant, period. I'm white and I've been a victim of discrimination by black people. GTFO

buzzsaw 1/22/2015 8:18:56 AM

a jewish lawyer wrote all of MLK's speeches. Why wan't that in the movie? huh weird

anonymous 1/22/2015 8:48:18 AM

I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house I remembered that when I bought my second house

anonymous 1/22/2015 8:54:59 AM

Rob, I really respect and appreciate what you had to say. I just wish your band didn't suck so hard

anonymous 1/22/2015 10:43:48 AM

you should do more research man...Unfortunately everyone is jumping on the wagon that, in this country, only black people got oppressed, only black people were slaves, only black people get murdered by cops, only black people this and that...Well I am sorry to inform you but, all the races that were slaves in this country range from, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and other Latinos/Hispanics, Irish, Native Americans (1/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 10:44:35 AM

(in fact in California, a state you mentioned, a Native American scalp was turned into the state government for payment which was then reimbursed to California by the federal government around 1907 or 1910, now that is fcked up) and since I'm on Native Americans, 99% of their population was murdered, Not by "whites" but by the invading people of..ENGLAND. (2/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 10:46:44 AM

And those who were not murdered were enslaved, the women beatd, the kids assimilated into white(ENGLISH) culture, made to be so embarrassed of there "Savage" ancestry they would not even admit that they were Native. Native Americans were completely conquered...utterly destroyed as a culture, And now people who are actually less than 50% Native American can claim that they are Native Americans and get benefits from it? (3/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 10:52:28 AM

That is disgusting...if a care is 70% purple and 30% green...would you call it a Green car? NO. so once again the white(English) have won..white people and yes even blacks(and all other races obviously) who are 30-40% "native" can go around claiming they are native that is disturbing. Can we stop saying all WHITE people...The Irish were slaves in the coal mines with Native Americans(4/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 11:08:41 AM

...mines owned by rich families who were descendants of ENGLISH. History is a mother. and honestly blacks perpetuate there own misery through the "culture" that the majority of blacks practice. why can't we call-out that culture? Because blacks have been oppressed we can point out that the culture a majority of them practice is violent and SUPER oppressive to women?(5/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 11:26:46 AM

Black culture is majorly fcked up. and I really hate calling it "black culture" because honestly it's not. and not all black people participate in it. but that culture is claimed by a majority of black people, so what can you do? (6/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 11:30:28 AM

But anyway...all of this know what that does? it reminds me that the only two groups of people that exist in this country is white and black... it makes me feel like I don't exist. Where is the media when a Latino/Hispanic or Asian who is wearing "thug" clothing gets profiled, or even worse gets killed when they don't have a weapon? there is no coverage because apparently we don't exist, and apparently we have been oppressed?(7/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 11:37:59 AM

Join with the black movement maybe? but then we would have to give up our identity, we want our own movement too. maybe? and on top of that...just because minorities have a commonality of being the minority, does not mean our cultures are similar in the least..and blacks are racist towards Latinos/Hispanics and Asians...I've seen it. experienced it...there is so much fighting caused by race... (8/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 11:39:31 AM

maybe we should focus on Humanity as a whole...maybe? is it possible not all "white" cultures have oppressed? Last time I checked the English started that...oh and if you do more history the first Africans that were sold to the whites(ENGLISH) were sold by Muslims...possibly Kenyan Muslims...weird huh?(9/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 11:51:06 AM

I'm gay (11/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 12:09:19 PM some history...realize our problem is just "race"...its about powerful people maintaining their power..and as we all sit here discussing racism...they are we all sit here and think the lowly racist cop is the one we should be worried about..those in their positions of power are winning...The only way to fix the bottom is by taking off the top. as long (10/15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 12:09:54 PM

as those in power are not held accountable, how can we hold a lowly cop accountable? where do you think they get their power? from those in power...which we put in power, which we let remain in power...think about that. (11/12/13/14 of 15)

anonymous 1/22/2015 1:14:22 PM

^christ...even the gay native american muslim doesn't get it.

anonymous 1/22/2015 2:18:11 PM

Pro-war movie? It's pretty sad you see it that way...You write your journal entries while other people preserve our freedom. Your military stance is ignorant and un-educated. Bummer.

anonymous 1/22/2015 2:47:04 PM

Hey Rob, sit the fck down!

birdman_prrr_prrr 1/22/2015 2:59:59 PM

Rob needs to shut the fck up and write some more riffs like that intro from Davidian

anonymous 1/22/2015 3:08:28 PM

Good for you Rob Flynn. I'm a little older more like late 60's Rock & Roll & protest Vietnam & 70's & 80's rock and because of my son 90's which included according to my friends metal. I'm just happy that younger people are standing up for something I have believed in all my life. THANK YOU.

anonymous 1/22/2015 6:54:54 PM

Reading this nu metal bro goatee muse about politics..the equivalent of asking Ja Rule for his political opinion.

anonymous 1/22/2015 7:19:18 PM

Lame. Just as many blacks are racist as whites. Get over the oppression bullshit. Everyone has to learn to make choices. Don't rob people, don't sell dope, don't steal cars and don't fight the police. Black, white, red, whatever you call yourself. Follow the law and do what's right and you can succeed. It's just easier to blame the other guy than it is to do whats right.

anonymous 1/23/2015 12:13:07 PM

i don't listen to metal, but i'm buying your album dude!

SN00PY 1/23/2015 1:16:33 PM

Many would say "you are the frontman of a band. Stick with being a musician, not politics." But I would rather say, how about you get the fck out of being in a shitty band and start becoming a journalist. If only this retard produced as good of music as he did views. None of them I fully agree with, but then again.

anonymous 1/23/2015 5:55:44 PM

This is an amazing and well thought journal. When will people wake the fck UP and realise that being a total c*nt because you think someone else is a total c*nt just makes the world fck of fcking c*nts. The only way the world will start to heal is if one c*nt at a time starts to be the bigger person and offer peace to their fellow man. Otherwise we might as well fcking burn this place to the ground, it'll be the same shit just quicker. Any moron can do the maths on that.

anonymous 1/23/2015 8:14:23 PM

^^^...This guy. It's math, singular genius. At least we know what education level we're dealing w/ here

anonymous 1/26/2015 8:58:45 PM

It's "maths" in the UK, which makes sense because "mathematicS."

anonymous 2/1/2015 1:44:54 PM

You're an idiot ^

anonymous 12/31/2015 11:32:54 AM

Since these articles are being re-read, MLK's family won a lawsuit in '99 against the US Gov in effect proving that James Earl Ray was a patsy. http://www.washingtonsblog .com/2015/01/martin-luther -king-assassinated-us-govt -king-family-civil-trial-v erdict.html And read up on COINTELPRO