NAPALM DEATH

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This interview with Mark "Barney" Greenway of Napalm Death was done by phone by Chris Rohde on August 10th, 2005.

Napalm Death are the grandfathers of grindcore and extreme metal. Who continue to rage on, while bringing intelligence to the world and not just the realm of metal music. They are really in no need of an introduction. Our own Chris Rohde spoke with their singer Barney Greenway on August 10th, 2005.

Where are you guys right now, are you on tour with festivals still??
Ahh Iím in England at the moment. . .

Your back home eh.
Yeahh. Weíre only doing weekend festivals right now, so weíre here during the week, then we fly off, and coming back the day after so. . .. Itís not bad though, itís okay.

How many more festivals are you scheduled for??
We got a couple more to do, we have one each weekend for the next few weeks, then of course we hit the states.

How have been the festivals so far??
Great!! Canít complain, but not that I would you know (laughing). Theyíve been fantastic with good reaction, canít go wrong.

Which festival was your favourite one to play??
You know what man, probably because it was completely different to any of the others; we played a festival in the Ukraine on Sunday actually, this Sunday gone. It was ummm, it was bizarre. We kinda got there only having like an hour of sleep because we played the night before. It was at this like beach whole complex thing, and the stage had these steps that led down to this like podium in the front. It was almost like if you can imagine like an Ozzy Osbourne set. With great big marble steps, it was really strange. I mean it was good. . .. .. I mean I never used the steps or anything because we always play together like a unit, Iím not into running out onto podiums, it really isnít us you know.

What was the crowd like, good response??
It was about two and a half thousand people. Yeah it was a good response; it was the first time weíd ever been to the Ukraine. Playing with mainly local bands.

What about Ozzfest, would ever play as part of that tour??
Well it depends. Weíd have to see what the whole tour would expect from us. Umm, I think you have to be invited to go on that tour, and we havenít been invited yet. But by the same token I wouldnít loose any sleep if we never got offered it. I know for a lot of bands itís the be all and end all ďOhh we gotta get onto the Ozzfest, we gotta get on OzzfestĒ, but you know we donít care either way.

I think unlike Napalm Death, some of these younger bands are trying to get their name noticed to the masses. . . .
Yeah maybe there is that aspect to it as well of course. Although, the Ozzfest is a different thing all together, even for us because it takes you into places were your seen by so many people that we couldnít even hope to reach you know. I mean there still is an incentive there for us, but like I say either way works for me.

Whatís been the response for The Code is Red. . . . Long Live the Code??
Itís been entirely positive. There hasnít been anything negative as far as I know, and I didnít expect there to be at all. It really has been a breath of fresh air. Obviously Iím happy. Weíll just see where we go from here.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming tour with Obituary??
I think itís going to be good, I mean itís nice for us, because we arenít headlining. Like I say, itís not a competition and I donít view it that way, itís just a little less pressure on us you know. We donít have to follow a lot of bands at a really good show, and keep the momentum going even when a lot of people in the crowd are maybe a little bit tired, and have to go to work the next day. Weíre on second from the top, so that takes a little bit of pressure off of us you know.

Since this is a reunion tour for Obituary, and people start to get excited for them, what if they start trying to get you guys off the stage??
Thatís a possibility, but then you know we got to do what we do, and thatís go out there and just go for it!! Thatís the only way we can sort of make people realize that thereís other bands on the bill besides Obituary, so I mean thatís what weíll do. Thatís the best way that you can deal with that sort of situation, and do the best you can. I mean that goes for everything.

Whatís the schedule like for that tour??
Well itís pretty easy actually. Itís like 18 shows in 30 days. Thereís actually lotís of days off in between which weíre not used to, because weíre used to really putting our nose to the grindstone and doing like twenty-five shows in a row. So thereís lots of days off, and itíll be really fun, because thereíll be a chance to hang out quite a lot as well, which we donít usually get.

Any other dates scheduled that arenít part of this tour, like up in Canada, or in South America??
I havenít looked at the dates recently. I donít think there is any. Whether we ourselves will after the fact come and do our own little stint, weíre trying to see at the minute what we can do, because it makes sense to maybe stay over for a little while. Although, we do have something planed in South America, so weíre going to have to see. Itís still up in the air really. The South American dates are in there at the moment, but to be honest weíre not sure if theyíre going to happen, because South America has been slightly unpredictable in recent years. When we first went down there, no band had been down there. Now so many bands have been down there, and of course when you get so many bands going down, kids kind of donít come out as much. So it might fall through, Iím not sure. Weíll have to see. I mean I hope not, thereís countries on the itinerary as it stands that I havenít been to before, so obviously Iíd like to go to as many places as I can before I shuffle off this world you know (laughing).

Any fond memories from touring in the last while that stand out??
Umm, well Japan is always interesting. That place is just different, itís so different. Its culture is completely different. I mean yes everyone knows about the technology and all the rest of it. But thereís another side to Japan. I mean when you get out there beyond the sort of neon and the tower blocks in the city, you get to the traditional Japanese wooden houses in the hills. I mean its beautiful man, itís a beautiful place and it still blows my mind when I go there. Itís a really fascinating place.

Then thereís Shane Embury whoís having toys made of himself over there. . . .
YEAH!! They made a toy of him yeah. Like in a gargomel style. It looks like Shane, where it has characteristics of him. But itís still in a traditional Japanese figure. He loves it; heís beside himself with the whole affaire (Laughing).

Are you guys jealous of him (Laughing)!?
Nahh No!! I mean you know Shaneís got these very defining characteristics (laughing). Itís good that they did one of him you know. They may do one of us all also. But what makes a toy, god only knows, but it might be something thatíll make me laugh long and loud.

I recently checked out the new video for ďThe Silence is DeafeningĒ, how was that experience?? Who was the brain behind the concept of the video??
It was slightly strange for us because weíre not really a video band, we donít do that many videoís, and when we do, we generally produce them ourselves. However, Century Media behaving like a label should behave (laughing), which is a first. . .. They said okay you can do a video, would you like to film?? We were like Yes!! But we donít want to do anything thatís overly glossy or overly tacky. They said okay, weíll get you with this guy that kind of understands what you are about. And; Me and this guy came up with this loose concept, and he developed it further. Mitch actually from Napalm got his input into it too, and we came up with what we did really. I donít have to explain the concept itís fairly clear. It was a good experience, cause mainly Roger was very free and easy as a producer. When you do stuff like videoís you have to do take after take after take, and it can get quite tedious. It really can. I hope that people that are reading this donít say, well ha ha listen to this guy complaining and heís out there doing videos. But I mean it is a quite tedious process. But Roger made is very easy, and it was fun, it really was. I enjoyed it, It was good.

Itís a different video though. With the sign language going on in the bottom portion of the screen.. .
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean itís hard these days, so many things have been done in videos now, itís hard to come up with something that is fresh. I thought that was great, that was Rogers idea. Weíll probably use him again. Whenever we do another one you know.

I like the fact that in the video you guys are playing close together grinding out the music. It gives the viewer the live feel, like if someone were to go see you perform. . . .
Our live performances have always been about kind of close, and maybe in a positive way, Closter phobic, being boxed in and in some cases being boxed in by the audience. So yeah youíre right, it does give that format, the way we shot it. That was one of the things that Roger said to us, I wanna keep the actual composition of the shots nice and tight.

So youíre still happy with the Century Media deal then??
Yeah man, I canít complain. I mean there have been a couple minor points here and there. But on the whole I have had less headacheís by far then with previous record labels that we dealt with. Century Media at least if you call them thereís someone on the other end of the phone, you havenít got to wait like two weeks to even get a reply. So thatís got to be a good thing.

So you will continue and release more material with Century Media??
Well yeah, weíve got like a three album contract with them. So weíre in there for a while, unless thereís any major breach of contract you know.

Are you just concentrating on touring right now?? Or are you writing anything at the moment??
Well the touring cycle for the Code is Red. . . is still in itís very early days. So thereís still much to do. Ummm, maybe we might write some stuff if thereís a couple windows here and there. I mean Shaneís got a couple things already, so it might be nice to get a rough idea. That will take a little bit of pressure off us for when we do go in and record later on.

How do you personally prepare and write for Napalm Death??
Itís kind of like riding a bike you know, you never forget I guess. What I do as my process is basic and very simple. I take a tape home and sit in my room with a walkman, complete silence with no distractions. In fact even if itís a sunny day I will still close the curtains and turn the lamps on and just write like that. I need absolute concentration. Itís just the way I work.

How about for a show, how do you prepare mentally and physically??
Iím always prepared, Iím always prepared!! Iíll do a stretch here and there, but nothing too rigorous. I donít stretch my voice at all. I just go for it!! When show time comes on I kinda have a little bit of nervous energy. Too be honest, this might be a little too much information, but Iím shitting like a race horse!! (Both of us laugh) I mean when it comes to show time, I go to the bathroom like four times in a half an hour before a show, still to this day.

How do you feel after the show??
I still got the adrenaline rush. You feel invigorated!! If you have ever played in a band and played on stage, or have done any kind of sporting activity, you get an adrenaline rush. That adrenaline rush is one of the best feelings in the world!! Itís better than any drug you can get or mention.

So how do you feel after twenty-five days straight of playing shows??
Pretty fucked!! (We both laugh) Thatís the accumulative effect. Itís not quite the same.

What about the recent terrorist attacks in London. Has that given you some fuel for your lyrical fire??
Ahh it does, in much the same way as Bush and 9/11 did. My immediate response to it and the first thing that comes to mind is why do the innocent always have to suffer for the actions of those at the top. Youíve got Bin Laden out there, youíve got Blair and Bush jigging it up there at the top, and itís the innocent people who are getting hurt in between you know. And Tony Blair has flat denied it, and if Tony Blair thinks that heís had nothing to do with whatís going on in the Middle East, then he must think that we are really stupid. Or thatís what heís trying to tell us. If he thinks that he doesnít have anything to do with the big powerful governments in this world; They still continue to push there agenda in the Middle East, and try to turn it into something that is not desired to be, then Blair and Bush must think I and we and everyone was fucking born yesterday. You know if you fuck with people, and fuck with peopleís countries sovereign nations, and you expect them to sit there and take it, then you really do need your fucking head taken, because it just ainít going to happen.

Exactly. . . then youíre just asking for more. . ..
Exactly!! I mean everything everyone has said has come true. When Bush was standing on that air craft carrier saying that the war was over, we have prevailed!! Well, no you havenít. There are people in that country that are fighting for their freedom. As far as there concerned their countryís freedom. And theyíre going to keep doing that, and their not going to stop, and they will use whatever means necessary to stop your desire of whatever transformation of the country that Bush believes it to be. That will continue, they will never stop that. As with Vietnam, it was a huge mistake, and Iraqi is going to be exactly the same. Mark my words!! Everything thatís happening so far suggests that completely.

So do you agree with the policy ďShoot to KillĒ that London has at the moment??
No I donít. I think itís absolutely overreacted. I think thatís not the way to go. Itís tit for tat this whole thing. I mean Bush and Blair are trying to enforce this whole new society on a country that by in large doesnít want this tribal society. I donít agree with oppression wherever it comes from. I donít agree with one person heading a country and oppressing the other country, of course I donít. When you do that, you cannot expect people to sit down/sit back and take it. But by the same token, the shoot to kill policy with the guy over here recently; when they were chasing him for no other reason than just because. . . He came out of his apartment and he got stalled by the police, and he ran away, then they shot him in the head six or seven times, thereís no justification for that in my opinion.

With your lyrics you are trying to make people aware, but whatís your biggest goal when writing, and releasing them through Napalm Death?? What are you wanting out of it??
Well you know, I guess the overall thing Iím trying to say is if you are wanting to solve the problems of this world, and all those problems make Napalm Death irrelevant, then what you got to do is start at the top. I mean the super powers and the corporations of this world that aid and abet the super powers, and the religious factions that govern this world and their ideologies that govern this world, that being Christian or whatever, you will never get to really truly get to the root of the problems. These are the causes of poverty, theyíre the causes of intolerance between people, theyíre the causes of many environmental problems of the eco system being fucked up. What you have is this continual self perpetuating cycle and when you donít deal with these people, you let them ride over the rest of the world. Itís going to continue to be a problem. Thatís what I try to address. Hereís a small example of what was done recently; Bush has finally acquired the rights to drill in the last unprotected part of I think itís Alaska or somewhere in the Artic. He has finally acquired the rights to do that, and up till now it has remained protected. I mean how fucking sad is that!? Hereís this guy that ignores all protocols, the Kyoto agreement, Bush has said no I donít want to know. What gives him the fucking right to do that?? When other people are trying to work towards improving our environment and the eco system. What gives him the right to do that??

Well heís the president of the United States of America (said very sarcastically). . .
Yeah of course. This might sound a little naive, I think the whole world needs a radical readjustment. We need a peopleís response to people like Bush and others like him. We need to be able to turn around and say well no, Fuck you!! You are not going to do this, and if you do this you will be brought to account for it. I mean theyíre quick to put Saddam and people in the dark, when are we going to get people like Bush, Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Regan. . . . well you canít with Regan now, obviously heís elsewhere, but when are these people actually going to answer for their crimes?? When theyíre quick to point the finger at others. Itís this level of hypocrisy that really frustrates me. A lot of people, especially the percentage of the American populace that votes Bush, and will continue to vote for Bush, can they not see that our lives are just as important as their lives. The people in the Middle East, their lives are just as important as everyone elseís. Can they not see that all these people need to be accountable?? Surely, I mean surely we have to come to a point where everyone is accountable.

Do you see this ever happening??
Not in my generation. Like I said, some people might consider it naive, but that is my solution. You know what!! Iíll give you another thing; I think the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. should be disbanded. I think they are the biggest bastions of dishonesty and corruption that there is. Again the American government are quick to point out corruption in other governments; Iran, China, the list goes on, but they are very slow to acknowledge corruption in their own backyard. Of course of which daddy Bush presided over for many years.

Okay now switching back to you and the band, there are a couple Napalm Death tribute albums in the works as we speak, what do you think of that??
Great man, I mean Iím flattered!! I say flattered cause thereís nothing else I can say. Itís really nice you know for them to do that. Just thanks very much I guess.

What bands of today have caught your personal attention??
Nasum. Bands like the Oath, have you heard of them??

No I havenít. . . .
They are quite an underground hardcore like Killing Joke grindcore band, fucking excellent band!! Umm bands like that you know. A bit more left-field stuff maybe like the Swans, well later day Swans if it was going to be contemporary. Also Bruce Banner, I donít know if youíve heard of them. . . . All kinds of stuff.

Now Iíve talked with you a couple times, and Iíve meant to ask you this question but keep forgetting. . . . With the first Leaders, then Enemy of the Music Business, and Order of the Leech you had an extra track at the end of each one that was sort of like a joke. What was the point of that??
Ohh yeah yeah, I mean that was purely just like five minutes in the studio and just being really fucking stupid. (Laughing) English sense of humour is quite off the wall at times you know; there it is so take it for what it is.

Right, it seemed like an inside joke, and I just wondered about it. . . Ö .
Yeah, itís always directed at someone specific in the studio. If we have an engineer or whatever that we kind of pick up on and make fun of. Then we sort of get them involved in just a stupid fuck around at the end of an album. And you know a couple of them are directed kind of in a way like when you go to a country and you get some guy turning up who is an ultra fanatic. Then heíll say something in a really monotone voice, something like ďHi Iím so and so, I am black metal!! I am from blah blah blahĒ (both of us laughing) I mean this guy like really needs to laugh at a joke or watch a comedy or something. (Still laughing) You know when you get the real serious types, you kind of direct it at that, but in a fun way.

Alright, well to finish this off Iím going to mention some names, if you could answer with whatever comes to mind first:

Rudimentary Peni:
Ooooh loved them, Yeah!! Loved them!! Umm one of the early sort of bands, the Crass/Conflict type bands. They really branched out into different areas of music and stuff, I mean yeah totally loved them to bits man!! Their lyrics and everything man.

Max Cavelera:
I have a lot of respect for Max, when they came out of Brazil; I saw where Max came from and it was pretty deprived. I think maybe they might have lost their way a little bit you know, both bands. Although everyone's always talking about a reunion without actually mentioning it to the bands themselves. To their credit they have actually said that ďWe believe in what weíre doingĒ. So fair play to them. It would be very easy for them to get together and do a tour and stuff, and make a lot of money off it. But they are doing their own thing at the moment, so more power to Max, and Derrick as well, the guy who sings for Sepultura.

What about Max doing guest vocals for Napalm Death??
Ahh why not!? Max has been a friend of ours since the late eighties. We go back a long way, so there wouldnít be any reason why not.

Justin Broadrick:
I havenít seen Justin for few years now. Heís kind of living a more reclusive lifestyle out there somewhere. Justinís doing his thing you know, Justin is Justin. Again more power to his albums as well.

Jesse Pintado and Terrorizer:
I hope Jesse gets his Terrorizer thing together and it works out for him. Itís quite an unfortunate thing that happened between us, but it was a decision that we had to come to for the good of the band and for the good of Jesse. I donít really have any regrets with that. I hope now that Jesse can move forward with himself, and do what makes him happy.

So heís done for good with Napalm Death!?
Heís done with us now, yeah.

Discharge is the greatest punk band ever!! Or is that just the European way of thinking:
(Laughing) Well yeah of course thereís a debate that could go on and on. . . . Some people say the Ramones, some people say the Clash, ahhh thereís all sorts of names, some people say the New York Dolls. For me Discharge is one of them, they are one of them. Thatís because thatís my generation where I really got access to punk. For me the more balls out powerful era was Discharge after the seventies stuff was better for me. I prefer it to the seventies stuff.

Side ďAĒ of Scum or Side ďBĒ:
Both!! I couldnít separate the two because they both have got a different feel. Side ďBĒ is completely distorted and noise. Side ďAĒ is a little less so, but still great. Great writing, overall itís a classic album.

Nik Bullen or Lee Dorrian:
Ahh again both!! Both have their own attributes. Iím not going to pick either one, because I genuinely like what both of them did.

Itís not really a fair question I know. . .. .. .
Nah man, I would tell you. I wouldnít be afraid to offend either one of them. I truly think that the both of them did their own thing, and both of them are as relevant as each other.

Okay then, how about Barney Greenway or them??
Umm well, as a fan point of view Iíd have to say them. Itís just that Napalm was my favourite band long before I joined. It depends on who you ask. Opinions are like assholes, everyoneís got one (laughing).

Well thatís it then man. Thank you very much for taking time out to answer my many questions!!
Ahh good man. No problems man.

Well good luck in the States on tour, and get up to Canada!!
Will try man. Cheers.


Links of interest:

Napalm Death
Century Media