Interview by Will Harris
MR’s Will Harris recently caught up with vocalist Barney Greenway of Birmingham living legends, Napalm Death. He chats about playing as support to Soulfly and releasing ‘splits’.
So Barney, you’ve already been touring a bit, how’s that going?
Yeah it’s all right, I mean our touring’s kind of sporadic at the moment, we tend to do weekend shows and it’s usually in Europe, not over here. Yeah we’ve just done a run of four UK shows and it’s been all right. We had the choice of doing the Soulfly gig or doing our own one, so we figured we might as well do this to maximise the people I suppose. And it’s good in a way because I think Soulfly’s audience is definitely going to be different from ours, so hopefully it’ll work in the sense that people haven’t seen us before.
Well I think Max is quite a big fan of yours.
Yeah, I’ve known Max since the 80’s, and as has Shane and obviously it goes back to the Sepultura thing.
So you’re going on tour in the US with Municipal Waste in a couple of weeks, that’s a pretty big tour.
I think it’s like five or six weeks.
How do you find American crowds compare to British ones?
That question comes up quite a lot, people asking about crowds around the world and that and I don’t make comparisons; how do you make comparisons? I find it pretty hard. Everybody appreciates gigs in their own way, so it’s actually really hard, it doesn’t go by nationality. Some people like to jump around, other people like to just stand and watch and both is fine.
Absolutely. It can be, and you can go to one place and it’s one kind of response and go back there a year or so later and it could be different. It really is like that and I don’t think it really means anything.
You recently did a split EP with Converge. How did that come about?
You get to know bands down the years and Converge are quite a like-minded band, there are quite a lot of similarities to Napalm and so we just put it out there that it’d be something good to do and Converge were into it. And then Shane helped it along because he was in close contact with them at the time, and it just kind of happened spontaneously. I think the EP came out pretty well, I think at least.
I think it’s a really cool way to share fans.
Well you know the split thing is historically quite significant, certainly from the hardcore scene in the 80’s/90’s, and it is good; for the community side of things it’s good for this kind of music. Scenes can be incredibly inhibiting sometimes, they can be quite negative in some ways but the good part about it is the community spirit — it’s a horrible cliché but it can be good.
And there’s one you’re doing with the Melvins soon as well?
Well hopefully! One of the tracks is finished, I’ve still got to finish the other track but I’ve just got to get five minutes to do it.
Is that the Cardiacs cover that you’ve already done?
Yeah that’s finished, then it’s just another one to be done.
Are you planning to do a lot more splits now?
Yeah we will be, I mean we haven’t got any definite plans but just to say that there will be something.
It seems to be something that’s coming back now.
It does. The thing is we’ve got a lot on our plate, see don’t forget most bands aren’t as active as Napalm is, we’re active all the time, so therefore that cuts out our window of doing new stuff. Some bands can do it, but I reach the point where I get a bit of a mental block, and to say ‘ahh it’s a split so put any old track out’, that’s not good enough. I’ve got to feel that what I put into something was worth it.
Speaking of releases, Utilitarian, the album you released earlier this year, sounds brilliant and as good as some of the best stuff you’ve put out. Has the writing process changed at all?
No it’s all been pretty much the same. We do our own thing, we write our own stuff and then come together. Shane did a couple of tracks on the last album where he jammed it with Dan, but that’s quite lengthy for us. Some bands can do it in a small amount of time; for us that jamming thing it just feels like it needs to go, and we’re quite impatient in terms of wanting it to fucking explode!
Do you write while you’re on tour?
No I don’t. For me I wouldn’t say it’s not a good environment but it’s not conducive to good concentration. I find it very distracting, it’s not the ideal environment; I need to sit in a room and be not disturbed by anything.
Do you prefer the touring or the writing?
They’ve both got their upsides and their downsides. The writing has its downsides like when you get mental blocks and you can’t write anything for ages, it’s really frustrating, but you just have to learn to walk away from it and say no, it’ll happen when it happens.
What else have you got lined up in the future?
Just this American tour. Next year hasn’t got much in it yet. It’s like a little bit in Germany at the start, and a couple of UK things, but that’s really about it so far.