Napalm Death - Godflesh - Techno Animal - Jesu - Pale Sketcher Page 3

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JUSTIN BROADRICK - Napalm Death - Godflesh - Techno Animal - Jesu - Pale Sketcher Page 3
By Dimitri Nasrallah1985 to 1986
The Birmingham scene of the mid-'80s is littered with young outsider music fans of punk offshoots such as industrial and metal, and who connect through a network of record shops, concert, fanzines, and mail-order labels. It is through this community that Justin Broadrick meets core Napalm Death member Nick Bullen.
I met Nick Bullen at the flea market where I met Andy Swan," Broadrick says. "Me and Andy Swan had already got together and were doing Final, and we'd always hang out at this store, and one day this other kid comes up who looks like the same age, and we started talking to him and he happened to be Nick Bullen. He told us about Napalm Death, who we'd heard of because they were on a compilation on Crass Records, Shit Detector. I was suitably impressed, because it was coming from the Crass background, that I gave him a bunch of cassettes from Final. He actually came over to my parent's house and we recorded some Final stuff together. Then I played him some of the stuff I did with guitar, which he then played to another guy in Napalm Death. Basically, they were impressed with what I was doing with guitar, and so I joined Napalm Death."
The early incarnation of Napalm Death still sounded much like Fall of Because: a Black Sabbath-tinged mix of dark, plodding, sludgy, and low-tuned metal. "With Napalm Death we'd play the same pub in Birmingham every weekend, and on that same night every weekend Fall of Because would play as well. I was just on stage all night, 15 years old, drunk off my tits, smoking dope all night, and just losing it basically."
Soon after Broadrick joins Napalm Death, much of the band quits and the band is left as a three-piece, with Broadrick on guitar, Bullen on bass, and a drummer. It is around this time that Mick Harris enters the picture, and his participation in Napalm Death breeds the line-up that will transform the group from just another metal band to grindcore pioneers.
Mick Harris came to see Napalm Death quite frequently at this pub, and he just started talking to me in the crowd one day," Broadrick recalls. "He mentioned that he was a drummer, and that I should go see his band. I was utterly blown away. He was in a psychobilly band that sounded like the Meteors, but sped up to the speed of Discharge. He was also in this two-penny punk band called Anorexia. They were awful, but his drumming was amazing. To make a long story short, we kicked out the original drummer of Napalm Death - we were pretty opportunistic 15-year olds - and we brought Mick Harris into the band. I ended up going to rehearse at the house of Mick Harris's parents, in his bedroom, much to the displeasure of his parents.
All these Napalm Death songs we used to play, I just sat there with Mick Harris and we devised a way to play them ten times faster. So we literally just sped up all these songs that had existed for two years. This is the period of Napalm Death where we actually found a style, which was amazing for us, and we began to play every weekend with that style, supporting every which band that came into Birmingham, we gathered an audience really quickly for this new sound that we'd developed."
Broadrick's involvement in Napalm Death is about as quick as Mick Harris' drumming. Young, passionate, and brimming with control issues, after two years the Broadrick phase of Napalm Death dissolves when he abruptly quits the band. "Nick Bullen and I left Napalm Death after we recorded the first side of [debut album] Scum. I'd had enough of Napalm Death very, very quickly," he says. "When I left the band, Mick Harris hadn't got together the other people yet. As soon as I said I was leaving, Nick Bullen said he was leaving as well. It all imploded quickly. This is before any sort of notoriety outside of the local environment. We were still playing the bar down the street. Mind you, there were a lot of people in that bar, but that's still where we were."
Although Scum would go on to become a grindcore classic, finding anyone to release proves difficult. "The first side of Scum, I couldn't offload on anyone. It was just a demo. I had a hard time dishing it out to anyone. Luckily, Digby Pearson at Earache Records heard it. He had just released like some flexi-disc by this time, but he had been notorious on the scene, having been around the punk scene for many years. He expressed an interest in it. I remember speaking on the phone to him one day, and he said something like, 'Oh, I might do something with it.' And I was like, 'Alright, you can have it. I'll post it to you. You can take it off my hands. I'm not interested in it anymore, and no one else seems to be.' I didn't really care what happened with it."
Given the album's short length, Pearson takes Scum and contacts Mick Harris, who has by then formed a new version of Napalm Death around his ultra-fast drumming. This version of Napalm Death ends up supplying what becomes Side 2 of Scum. "All those guys that joined the band to replace me and Nick Bullen were all fans of Napalm Death," Broadrick says. "They were guys we either hung around with or traded tapes with. Me and Bill Steer used to write to each other before he was in contact with anyone in Napalm. Lee Dorrian was local to us, and he used to hang around, he was a good friend. The other guy on the B-side, Jim Whitely, I taught to play bass myself, over a two-week period. When Nick Bullen got tired of playing bass and just wanted to do vocals, that's when Jim Whitely came in and took over the bass."
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nice work mr Nasrallah, great story, long live Justin!
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really nice interview, thank you!
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Article Published In Sep 10 Issue