Sunday, April 29, 2007

In depth interview with Napalm Death!!!

1. Hi! Introduce yourself about anything please.
Hey, this is Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway from Napalm Death. I pretend to sing, but it’s all about the shouting and screaming. As hard as you can.

2. I'm well aware there are many line-up been changed since Napalm Death existed. Up until now, there are no single person was the real line-up since Napalm Death been formed. So, basically Napalm Death now respectively consisted?
I didn’t quite understand the last sentence there. But…I guess you’re trying to ask if we feel like this can still be Napalm Death with no original members (?). If that is the case, then yes we do. There ceased to be an original member in, like, 1986, which is twenty years ago. Most people only know the band since ‘Scum’ anyway. From my side, I’ve always tried to carry Napalm Death forward, and the spirit of the band is very similar to the band in the early days – it’s not as if we’ve dispensed with the ideas and influences of the band. I still love it, I have enthusiasm for it and that’s what counts for me.

3. What does the Napalm Death really means? It reminds me of Napalm bomb, which been used in Vietnam war by US government circa 1960 to 1970. Who's the person made up the name & why you guys choose it?
The name was an anti-war statement, which carries through for us today. I think the original bassist / vocalist Nik Bullen came up with it. I mean, surely there’s no explanation needed why we should reject all forms of war and violent oppression?

4. How old are you guys now? I do believe that you guys have your own daily job... how you separate your time between job and band activities? Or another bands?
Age-wise, we’re all in our mid-thirties. Hey, that was a strange question to throw in at this point. The band takes up a lot of time. I mean, we do things for it everyday and it takes up most of our lives. Although we have a record label and management, we’re very self-contained and like to know what the fuck is going on around us. Shane has quite a few project bands going on otherwise – he’s like a great big music machine. That’s totally cool, but I like to concentrate on Napalm because there is tons more stuff going on behind the band than people would ever get to know about.

5. Whose the one responsible for the making of artworks and the layouts of the most Napalm Death releases? Your favourite artists?
Well, we’ve used a number of people over the years, but my personal favourites are the guy we use now – Mick Kenney – and Mid. They have / had a certain understanding and interpretation of the band which really shows through in their art. I like to use literal art that ‘tells the truth’, mixed with stylistics like body modification. Initially, it’s generally me or Shane who comes up with the basic concept before it’s handed over to the art guy, and in all truth it doesn’t change too much from our initial ideas.

6. Napalm Death invented grindcore back in the early 1980's & I do concern with the evolving sounds been made by Napalm Death since 'Punk Is A Rotting Corpse' demo era until the latest 'The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code' (2005). What is the motivation of Napalm Death been stay strong & maintaining its musical style/structure until now? Basically how the idea of playing faster in every each new releases been developed? Is it coincidentally happened or had an intention to do like the way it is? Napalm Death lyrics has the strong political content especially the song entitled "Instinct Of Survival" in the 'Scum' album, even the shortest song "You Suffer" has its in depth meaning. Who's the one make the most of the lyrics? Did you guys just let the vocalist make all the lyrics alone? As a whole group, how long does it take to make songs for each releases? How much time consume Napalm Death to finish a complete set of album? Generally, what you describe your sound nowadays? Still grindcore?
There is no great master plan to how our albums work out. I know that some people outside the band have other opinions about that, but our thing each time is just to make the best albums possible. We do what we enjoy playing, and it’s enjoyable to me is playing fast and furiously. That said, we do like to throw in some ‘progressive’ elements because standing still and making the same album over and over is boring and cheats ourselves and fans of the band.
I write 95% of the lyrics, just because I have a strong motivation to do so and I suppose I am the vocalist...

Generally speaking, it takes around a month-and-a-half to finalize all the songs, although the guys write the basics of their songs over quite a period of time beforehand (maybe even up to a year). The recording process usually takes us about 3 weeks, so as you can see not much time at all.

In terms of which genre we belong to, I would say Grindcore. But there are a hundred different terms that people like to use to describe Napalm. That’s cool – I really don’t worry about people’s stylistic perceptions of us. No problem at all.

7. Tell me about Garga-Death; the colaboration of Shane Embury & Gargamel Toys in Japan . In my opinion, it's a quirky idea though!
Shane is heavily into the whole Japanese toy phenomenon, and he spends a lot of time there because his girlfriend is Japanese. Consequently he got to know a couple of underground toymakers and they wanted to produce a limited run of a Napalm member mixed with a famous Japanese monster. Hence the Gargamel mixed with Shane. The hair is cool, huh?

They said they might do one of me if the original one sold well, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s not exactly up there in popularity with the Pokemon toys!

8. Complete these sentences: He’s eating pizza while I’m shitting in my pants happily without him knowing what’s really happens…
…and I’m totally confused!!!

9. Why grind? Why not sludge?
It’s all about the speedcore, baby! I can’t do slow.

10. Earache or Century Media?
Earache equals nightmares and bad headaches; Century Media equals good headaches and someone who actually picks up the phone.

11. Concerning to the 'Scum' LP, I’ve attracted with the artwork of front cover layout… what’s the intention to spread within that image? As far as I concern, Jeff Walker of Carcass who made the artwork... tell me more about it please.
Yes, Jeff made the artwork; it’s actually made up of dots if you look at it closely. It’s basically a bunch of industry leaders and businessman standing over impoverished people from Africa . So the general thread is of the former raping and exploiting the earth and its people. You can also see the names of multinational corporations there and the ‘big beast’ at the back. Still a very powerful cover in my opinion.

12. Are you considered yourself political? Is Napalm Death a political band? Your view on DIY activism?
Well, ‘political’ if you like, but more concerned with free-thinking and equality and humanitarianism in the truest sense of the term. People call me personally a ‘political activist’, but, again, I’m more about the basic things that I just mentioned. After all, it doesn’t matter what the system is – left or right – oppression and exploitation of people is shitty wherever it comes from.

DIY activism is cool - You have to do what works for you personally. What I don’t like is some of the elitist attitudes that say you are less of a person because you don’t engage in the same activities (i.e. vegans who talk shit about vegetarians). That kind of defeats the purpose.

13. What do you think about Malaysia generally?
I though it was very cool when I was there. Of course it has relatively harsh government rule, I think, and the poverty levels are fucking horrible. But on the gig front, I enjoyed myself immensely. The jungle areas were really beautiful.

I have to admit I really don’t know so much about the wider structure of the country.

14. As being English, how you feel about UK government in general?
Fucking lame. I used to be a Labour party member, but now it’s got the point where it’s all about non-protection of the deprived and all that stuff. I’m very disillusioned with all politicians. Amongst other thing, I also am so tired about religious connotations being involved with people living – about this divine right to this and that, the steady steps removal of choice on certain issues like abortion. And people just swallow it down a lot of the time, because things are put to them in such a way as to make such restrictive principles seem bearable. I think it’s shit. But then, all governments do shit things. It all comes back to the same old shit.

15. How about political condition in your place when concerning to the cultural activities, daily life, the system, the people etc. Do you find it hard to keep on living in UK ? Have you been involved in street protest lately? Is Napalm Death still taking place at Birmingham like the earlier days when it's been formed in 1982?
I think everyone, however observant, is a little blind to some things because you carry on in your own world sometimes and things tend to pass you by. In an ideal world this would not happen, but realistically things are little different. I just try and do what’s best for me without hurting or disadvantaging others.

I don’t find it totally hard living in the UK , but there are rules and regulations that affect me as they do everyone else. I certainly don’t live ‘the good life’ – I have to save hard to be able to pay income taxes / local taxes etc.

Yes, I do street protest. There hasn’t been too much lately apart from protesting against Heinz who were shutting down a factory which would take away jobs in the poorest areas. But I think street protest is necessary because it at least lets the hierarchies of this world know that there are people out there who aren’t content to sit back and watch them exploit us without doing something.

Yes, the band still is in Birmingham.

16. How much capitalist and multinational corporations have ruined your life? How much it has strengthened the value of your life instead? Are you financially ok?
They haven’t ruined my life directly by moving me on from my home or anything, but of course they ruin my life as being someone who would like to enjoy clean air and clean food, to see employees of companies being treated with respect and not to see them bullying small and independent people out of existence. I try to boycott stuff from certain companies where I can, but most things these days have some kind of (often hidden) connection these days, which makes it hard to keep up.

Financially, I can survive but not to any level of extravagance. I’m a person with simple tastes, so I don’t need so much.

17. What is your favourite food? Tell me some worth bands to check out from your hometown. Do you like reading books/zines? Tell me your favourite one. I do believe that you have your own favourite list of bands, mind to tell me?
Favourite food is probably pasta, especially something with avocado. I like good coffee, also good chocolate. I’m not too up on the hometown scene right now because I’ve been so busy going here and there with Napalm, but there are the obvious bands like Mistress / Benediction etc. I know that sounds like a bit of a lame overview, but seriously I’ve had my head in so much other stuff.

As far as books go, I like all sorts – whatever catches my eye. Usually an everyday story with a good political twist. I just read a huge history of the old Soviet KGB, ‘The Mitrokhin Archive’ which was very deep and took forever to read. For music zines, I like a little more than just band interviews. There’s a great one in the US called ‘Impact Press’, which tries to uncover all the latest authoritarian scams. There’s also a very cool, more music-related one from Wales called ‘Mass Movement’, which is very well put together and entertaining.

Shit, I’ve got tons of bands I like…Discharge, Celtic Frost, Death, Anti-Cimex, Siege, Straight ahead, Negative Approach, Motörhead, Das Oath, Swans, Gore, Journey, Styx…there are tons more but I can’t think of them right now.

18. Do Napalm Death consume drugs? Beers? Are you guys vegetarian/vegan?
I personally don’t do drugs (other than alcohol and caffeine) because I just don’t feel the urge and that they would be counter-productive in my life. One or two of the other guys may do that, but I don’t know. Whatever people do on that score is whatever they choose. Beers? I like only a couple on a Friday night or something. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being drunk, as I had an alcohol problem some years ago.

I’m vegetarian; Mitch just doesn’t eat red meat or chicken. I think people should definitely be aware of the cruelty of the meat process, but I don’t get violent or anything with people over it.

19. After years you get involved in this phenomenon called 'scene', what you've got through this? What you've expected to gain in the first place when you've decided to entered in before? What made you interested to get involved? What's the condition that you hope for to be adapted and to be practiced logically/practically in this grind/hc/punk scene?
I was just into the music and the friendship and the desire to make a difference hopefully on a wider scale. That’s all I expected when I first started going to shows. Once Napalm Death opened up in the wider world it kind of changed, but not in a negative way for me.

However, one thing I don’t like about scenes and scene politics is all this elitist bullshit – people stabbing you in the back because they have nothing better to do. And all those scene rules and regulations are like the very thing they are supposed to be rejecting from society. We took some shit at first when I joined the band, and I used to worry about what the ‘scene judges’ think, but then I thought ‘why should I give a shit about people who would rather give us shit as easy targets than the government or someone?’ If they don’t like what we’re doing, that’s up to them. I don’t have to justify myself at all, or the band.

Most people are cool though. I don’t expect any terms and conditions in a scene, except to let the scene go however it goes.

20. Which shows you guys played enjoying a lot all these while? Any great event happens there publicly? What's the last event/show/gig that you've attended lately? When? Is it great?
I always enjoy getting out to new places. Hopefully we’ll be going to China this year. South America is cool because it’s so many different countries with different ways. Japan has a really different feel, also.

If you mean is there a really great gig event here in England , nothing that I’ve been to. It’s all just festivals, gigs etc. etc.

Last show I went to other than Napalm Death was an all-dayer in Birmingham in December. It was cool actually, but I don’t remember any of the bands names…which doesn’t make it sound so cool at all. But it was, trust me on that one!

21. Any great moments during the Napalm Death Malaysia Tour back in 2001 that you guys wish to share here?
Just the gigs were awesome, plus going out into the jungle in the tropical rainstorms was a simple but amazing experience. Even though I’m not at all a religious person, there was a temple cut into the mountain that was just an amazing piece of architecture. The monkeys there stole Jesse’s beer. They were a lot cleverer than him. Ha ha.

22. Mostly ex-Napalm Death bandmates which out from the band were/are forming another bands that also made a big impact to the musical scene worldwide. The most notable ones are Cathedral (Lee Dorrian), Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine (also Lee Dorrian), Carcass ( Bill Steer ), Godflesh (Justin Broadrick), Jesu (also Justin Broadrick) & Scorn ( Mitch Harris ). Also the side project bands along the way of Napalm Death existence such as Brujeria (Shane Embury), Lock Up (also Shane Embury & Jesse Pintado ) & Meathook Seed (also Shane Embury & Mitch Harris ) been considered as groundbreaking & outstanding. According to these profiles, will you considered Napalm Death has proven that all the past/present band members are multi-talented, worth checking out & deserved supports from every side of people in the scene?
Well, in my opinion, people in Napalm Death just seem to always have interesting extra things to offer. But it’s not up to me or any of the other guys to tell people that they deserve respect or whatever. The music kind of speaks for itself, so if people get something from it, then fine. You’ve always got to get on and continue to make interesting music – that’s the point rather than just sitting back and soaking up all the compliments.

23. Some infos I've got, saying that Napalm Death has been influenced by groups such as Siege, Larm, Heresy, some old metal band like Venom, Celtic Frost, Possessed & those NWOBHM in developing grindcore sound. Also anarcho punk movement back in 70's/80's such as Crass, Flux Of Pink Indian, Rudimentary Peni, The Ex, Discharge, Amebix etc are helping Napalm Death to develop political awareness lyrics. Is that true?
I’m not sure about the NWOBHM, but the rest of it is pretty accurate. As far as awareness lyrics, yes you can have those influences, but you should always look to your own perspectives - even if those perspectives are inevitably going to be close to those of the bands you mentioned at the end of your question.

24. Tell me your opinions about the condition of mother earth nowadays. As it slowly down to rot, what's thing come to your mind that you think deserved to be heard by all those evil-richness-scumbag that keep continuously sucking those mineral greedily out from the soil?
Profit and greed to that extent always cloud the vision, so it’s hard to know what to say to these people. They won’t stop what they are doing, and whilst I’m not ordinarily into trusting the forces of ‘law’ to do the decent thing, the situation seems a bit desperate and action needs to be taken sooner rather than later.

Otherwise, I think that if we all stepped back as individuals and came to the conclusion that raping the earth would really fuck us all in the end, the power of us all calling a halt to certain actions individually would put indirect pressure on these people in power and make them stop.

Back to my original point though, if those who are exploiting the earth really can’t see the problem now with melting ice caps, forest fires, rising oceans, species dying etc., then there’s not too much hope. Negative, I know, but there you are.

25. What's your opinion to plastic images of models in some fashion magazines that being appeared gloriously to promoting those wasted crap product towards readers/spectators, which is after many years human condition (especially in this globalization era!) being measured by those media that they're not cool enough, not beautiful, not fit enough, not included in 'selected circles', not this, not that etc... so that they (human) will keep consume those product in order to get those cool, beautiful, fit etc just like the images of those 'appealed models' that they've exhibited? Not just the 'normal' people being hypnotized, as we can see randomly there are also have numbers of people in the scene which care too much about what they've to wear, to act etc for their outlook rather than care about the way of their thought which sometimes leads to hc/punk is more likely a fashion show that have a dress code to be followed which I can see is all pathetic. Need your views here.
I don’t swallow what ‘product’ magazines tell me, for starters. I make my own mind up about what I want in my life. Again, as with the last question, it needs more of a revolution in thinking progressively by individuals and groups to just not take the bait.

To take this into the context of the scene, I hear what you’re trying to say, but there is a danger here of falling into the age-old trap of elitism again. So, a person might be wearing skate clothes and have gelled hair or something, but they could equally point the finger at a person with the Discharge back-patch and liberty-spiked hair. Both are arguably uniforms of identity. Giving shit to the former just kind of gives the impression that you are more superior because you put out an aura that you’re more into social topics. It doesn’t actually achieve anything because it gives a judgmental hierarchy to the scene. I used to do the same thing before I actually stopped and thought about it, but I have more constructive things to do now than point fingers at people because what I’m doing is supposedly more important than what they are. All that stuff is petty and pointless.

26. What’s your opinion on marriage and on having children? Did you find it necessary as a bond for a couple to keep on living together? Or is it such a state of mind (or psychology) in proving that they are already shared their life?
Simple: do what you want. If it suits you and you’re not restricted by it, go get married. Nothing like this is necessary or essential to enjoy life. If you want children, do it because it pleases you and your partner. Not because of societal pressure or preconceptions. If you wanted to live the rest of your life without having children, then that’s your choice again.

27. Mind to tell me future plan of Napalm Death? Future releases?
Our new album ‘Smear Campaign’ comes out in September. It’s raging stuff, with a few new elements on there like we always try to do. The concept of it is religious interference, even down to that in our everyday lives which often goes unnoticed.

Once that’s out, we should be touring the USA with Hatebreed, then going to Japan , and then come back to Europe until the end of the year. I’m looking forward to everything.

28. I think that's enough for me to ask you. Anything left to say or something to add? Mind to asking me one question about something you'd like to know? Please state your latest address to be contact please. Thanks for the attempt to answer this interview and allow me to make this set of questions for you. Your participation is highly appreciated. Thank you.
Thanks very much for the interview. It was a long one, but we got there in the end. If there was one thing I’d like to ask, it would be: how is it to play shows right now down in Malaysia ? The last ones we did were so cool, and we were very grateful to the organizers down there.
Thanks to all the readers for staying with this very long interview. Hope I didn’t bore you too much. Peace. Contact:

*This interview had been sent to Napalm Death on Monday, May 29th, 2006 and replied by Mark 'Barney' Greenway on Tuesday, July 18th, 2006 thru e-mail before Jesse Pintado died (July 12th, 1969 - August 27th, 2006) and before the new album (Smear Campaign) being released on September 15th, 2006. "Smear Campaign" is a great album after "Scum" (July 1987) by the way. Thanks for reading!

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