Napalm Death's Mark "Barney" Greenway
After almost 30 years and 14 albums, most bands lose their musical steam and have little new to say.
As luck would have it though, like their confrontational music rich in quick tempos and societal observations, grindcore stalwarts Napalm Death are far from either slowing down or running low on opinions.
Their latest effort Time Waits For No Slave (Century Media) continues in the dominant, progressive and vicious path as set out by precursors The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code (2005) and Smear Campaign (2006). In fact, it surpasses even those high watermarks, finding the British quintet of vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway, bassist Shane Embury, guitarist Mitch Harris and drummer Danny Herrera invigorated; outshining all previous accomplishments by expanding on the already avant-garde metal sub-genre they helped to create and define. Never ceasing to toil away at their craft, Greenway enlightens as to what finds these guttural gurus releasing what both critics and fans are calling their best albums to date.
Napalm Death have been on a sort of creative renaissance lately. What inspired that?
I have been asked this question quite a lot over the space of the last few albums but there's nothing I could really put my finger on; no grand revelation or light bulb going on in our collective heads or anything. As we were getting Enemy of The Music Business together - it probably goes back that far, if anything - I just remember having a telephone conversation with Shane where I mentioned to him that I wanted to make an album that would absolutely tear peoples' faces off again. It seems we did, if you ask followers of the band. That perhaps just gave us a platform to be able to continue experimenting but with the fast and furious elements of the band brought back to the fore. Everything just seems to come together without too much calculated churning out of music, which is ideal.
How are you keeping it flowing so well, as Time Waits... is yet another impressive affair?
Spontaneity always helps and, perversely, putting ourselves against the clock and really under pressure to finalize album songs in a relatively short space of time. The combination of those two things seem to make the music sound more urgent which is entirely what Napalm Death needs. From a personal taste perspective, I couldn't think of anything much more unfulfilling than making a really polished or metronomic-sounding album. Especially with the last two or three albums, the songs that we've taken into the studio have come out the other end taking on a life of their own in a good way. Going on instinct and attacking your studio stuff with the same ferocity as you would live gets great results. I don't think the majority of bands take that on board which is a bit of a shame, really.
How much of a hand does producer Russ Russell have in this, since you've worked with him a number of times now?
It's going to sound like a massive cliche but Russ is almost the fifth member of the band at this point. He has such an understanding and great interpretation of the band that it takes a lot of pressure off us having to think about getting the sound right on album. Forget about studio etiquette and all that shit. Russ just goes with whatever will make the band sound like a bulldozer coming through your apartment. But still also being forward-thinking by producing some tracks differently to others to give subtle differences without losing the nutty edge. For one, Russ is all about the distortion - essential! And for two, he lets me use a handheld microphone (rather than one of those spaceship-looking, expensive ones on a stand), walkman headphones to monitor through and gives me carte blanche to run around the studio control room barking like a fucking bear!
What do you feel you've had to do in order to keep grindcore progressing as a genre?
We haven't had to do anything and don't feel that it's our place to carry the torch for everyone anyway. What we're concerned with is Napalm Death not stagnating and if people pick up on that, then all well and good. The scene is so well-populated now compared to even five years ago, so there are plenty of bands there to play their own part. I'm kind of loathe in a way to act as any kind of scene overseer because that's when things start to get a little elitist, which is something I really can't abide. Like anything else, there are some bands "attached" to the scene that really float my boat and others that don't so much. Just like everything else in life, I suppose.
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