NAPALM DEATH's BARNEY GREENWAY: 'Politics Doesn't Mean Anything If It Doesn't Help People'
February 23, 2020
J. Vuorela Interviews spoke with frontman Mark "Barney" Greenway of U.K. grindcore pioneers NAPALM DEATH prior to the band's February 14 concert at Kulturhaus Astra in Berlin, Germany. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On NAPALM DEATH's longevity in spite of the fact grindcore is often considered a niche subgenre of metal:
Barney: "What I would say is that you could argue that it is no longer a niche genre. It's obviously grown exponentially since I first started, and before I started, it was growing then. The thing is with us, it's almost like riding a bike. We know the way we want to express ourselves musically and lyrically to an extent. So, we just do it. The noise and the concrete mix of sound is natural to us. We just keep able to write fresh ideas within that sound, so we keep doing it and it seems to work for us."
On the status of NAPALM DEATH's long-awaited new studio album:
Barney: "It's kind of almost finished, certainly the music. It's still got to be mastered. It's a little way off yet, but it's done. It's just in that process where you think, 'Yes! I've finished the album. Oh shit, now I've got to do all this stuff before it gets released.'"
On the creative process for NAPALM's next studio album:
Barney: "My thoughts on it are I'm satisfied that it's achieved what it needed to in terms of it's still extreme as anything, but it moves a couple of steps forward, progression-wise. That's all you can ask for. After that, it will be up to people to decide, which, with the last album especially, it's said to be one-hundred percent people liked it, which is fucking weird, almost. You have to pinch yourself when you don't see or read a little bit of negative reviews coming through."
On what's the main problem facing the world politically:
Barney: "Here's the thing: You could argue either way because, yeah, I have very much come from, 'Yes, I have my own ideas but I've come from a left-wing background.' That was always my mindset and actually, my upbringing was in that in direction. In that sense, I'm political. But other days, I think to myself 'What's the point of having things left and right and et cetera?' In the end, what really matters is people. Politics doesn't mean anything if it doesn't help people. I've got two different kinds of things I need to say. What I'm trying to say is that you could say NAPALM is political in one respect, but you could say also it's apolitical because what it's really about is humanity and human beings and understanding them. That's what it's really about. The thing is that as I was saying as you were overhearing the last interview, people say 'The world is really shit right now.' It's always been like that. When was it never shit? When you look in certain places, of course, it was shit. Look, we're in 2020. A hundred years ago there was an end of a war where a million fucking people, actually, what was the First World War had seven million deaths? For nothing. For effectively a game of fucking chess across a small piece of countryside in the Lowlands in France, Belgium, that area. That's what it was. A game of fucking chess to suit those who were sitting in some comfortable office somewhere and pushing little pieces around the tactics board. If that's not a shit world, then what is? It's always been that way. I mean, everybody focuses on Donald Trump right now and understandably so, but he's only one kind of symptom of things right now. There's many other different things. What bothers me right now is the fucking lack of humanity. People are so…it seems a lot easier that people go 'Those people over there. They're just dirt.' That's how they treat people, that's how they perceive them. That's always been there. But it seems more prevalent now at the moment and it's just fucking disappointing to put it mildly."
Barney: "Here's the thing: It's only part of it, but I think, for me, it should be a worldwide thing that there should be rent controls. No landlord should be allowed to make moves in such a way that the properties are driven so ridiculously high, the rent prices. If the idea is to move to a more community-based living, which it seems to me like the modern way of thinking is, then you're not going to do that by allowing property speculators to come in and very cleverly sort of place things in different ways. It's not going to work. I believe in universal rent controls. Not like halfway rent controls. I mean serious fucking rent controls that make places affordable to everybody because you can't have community unless everybody can have an entry point."
On whether he has any goals he'd still like to achieve with NAPALM:
Barney: "No. Actually, no. You might think from a band that is very expressive about stuff we might have something, but it's really not. My only thing is to keep making the music that we do. I don't ever want to compromise on that. For my own personal feeling, I always want us to dictate what we do rather than outside entities pressurizing us to do certain things. That is my goal to keep the band independent and independently making its own decisions. That's for sure my thing. Above and beyond that, there are probably more places in the world to play that we haven't yet played despite the fact that we did gigs that no other bands had done. I will say that. I will blow our own trumpet we were quite pioneering in some respects in some gigs and stuff that we did. To continue to do that, really. Make good albums, play good gigs. If you can ever look inside yourself and say 'You know what? This is not what it is. I don't feel the same way about it significantly.' Then, for me, it's over. For me. Only speaking for myself."
NAPALM DEATH recently released a new seven-inch / digital EP via Century Media Records. The EP, titled, "Logic Ravaged By Brute Force" includes the brand-new title track, as well as a freshly recorded cover version of "White Kross", originally performed by SONIC YOUTH. This double-A-side EP is yet another NAPALM DEATH collectible item and is also meant as the first teaser for the band's upcoming studio album, expected for release later in 2020.
NAPALM DEATH's upcoming follow-up to 2015's "Apex Predator - Easy Meat" will feature an appearance by guitarist Mitch Harris, who has been taking a leave of absence from NAPALM DEATH since late 2014 to focus on his family life.