When asked in a new interview with Ultimate-Guitar.com on how he ended up taking the spot, Phil responded: “Well, I was back on a Saturday night, I’d just played my last show with MACHINE HEAD. It was a home show, and the wife had been home with the kids, taking care of them.
“And I was finally coming home, you know, after quitting a band I’ve been a part of for 16 years,” he continued. “She got hammered, you know, threw up… She was super-hungover the next morning, so I woke up and I was just saying, ‘Hey hon, I got this, relax, it’s all taken care of…’ I was sitting at the foot of our bed – I’ll never forget this – I looked at my phone, and I got a text from [SLAYER guitarist] Kerry King saying, ‘Hey – if it would be possible for you to be out here in a couple of days and learn 19 Slayer songs in the process…’ [Laughs]
“So, I dropped the phone – I literally dropped the phone on the bed and she asked me, ‘Hey, what’s wrong?’ And I read it again, just to make sure, but it was indeed Kerry, saying, ‘Hey, we need you out here, can you do it?’
He added: “I showed it to her, and she said, ‘Absolutely, you need to go.’ So, it was a lot of mixed emotions for me.
“I’d just come off of this pretty emotional and awkward last tour with MACHINE HEAD where I’d quit before [the tour began], but we still finished our obligations and touring and, you know, going into this next step of wandering, ‘What’s gonna be next for me?’ and then one of my favorite bands…
“The reason I play heavy music is because of SLAYER, seeing them in 1983 or 1984. And having them call to fill for one of my guitar heroes, Gary Holt, filling his shoes while he’s taking place of another legend, Jeff Hanneman, in one of the most iconic bands of all time, on their farewell tour, you know…”
When asked what was it like to be on stage on SLAYER, Phil said: “I was, uh… [Laughs] I was on the stage, right, so I’m watching the intro, with Tom [Araya, bass/vocals], and I realized I had rehearsed everything, except for when do I walk out on stage. [Laughs]
He continued: “I said, ‘I’m all sh*t, Tom, I don’t know when I was supposed to go up there!’ And he looks me straight in the face and he’s all, ‘Bro, you were supposed to be out there right now!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, f*ck!’, and I start running, and he grabs me by the arm with a big old Tom Araya smile and he’s like, ‘Just kidding, man. Wait ’til the pentagrams come together,’ and he gave me that last nod of, ‘You’re gonna be fine.’
“And, you know, the first show was kind of a blur because I didn’t want to f*ck up, I just stayed just kinda locked in; there was so much pyro, and cool artwork going on behind me, and lights, and I just hovered over my monitor, making sure I stayed in time and didn’t f*ck up my parts. [Laughs]”
SLAYER played its final show of their farewell tour last November at the Forum in Los Angeles. One day later, Kerry‘s wife, Ayesha King, said that there is “not a chance in hell” that the thrash metal icons will reunite for more shows.