Interview with Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm DeathBefore Napalm Death, there was no grindcore. After Napalm Death, there was. It’s as simple as that. Since their inception in 1982, Birmingham’s most brutal band has unleashed 14 full-length albums—the latest of which is Time Waits For No Slave on Century Media—countless EPs and splits and has toured relentlessly, spreading a gospel of undaunted discontent and musical chaos. Their sound is like none other; you hear a Napalm Death album and know immediately it’s them, no matter what record it is, what decade it’s from, or what experiment the band was trying out at the time.

Launching a U.S. tour that will bring them to Gramercy Theatre in NYC on April 11 and Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on April 19, after nearly 30 years, these legends show absolutely no decrease in either hunger or intensity. Their music today is as ferocious as it’s ever been, with lyrics both timely and timeless, shouting out political and social flaws universally known but largely unspoken. They’re one of the most important metal bands of all time, and yet, as vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway correctly assesses in the interview below, they’re also so much more.

Is touring ho-hum for you at this point?

No, man. It could look that way to anyone that was familiar with our schedule, and maybe a lot of the places are the same, but that’s just the way it goes. If it was ‘ho-hum’ in terms of my approach to it, then I’d not be speaking to you now, because I’d rather not do something if I’m only half doing it. The only pressures that really come with it is on a personal level, especially when you’ve dedicated this much of your life to a band.

You sort of think at points, obviously everyone has a very, very, very rich and wide ranging life, and sometimes with the touring stuff, it does get to you a little bit, but we somehow get through it. Like I say, for me personally, if it became a chore like that, I just wouldn’t do it anymore. I have no interest in going out there and giving people that have paid money to come in and see, giving them 50 percent because I can’t be bothered. I have no interest in doing that.

What’s the difference in doing a tour like this one with Kataklysm, Trap Them and Abigail Williams —different kinds of bands—as opposed to all grinders?

I think it’s good that it’s a mixed palette. Let’s be honest, for a lot of people that go to gigs, they might not miss it, but do you really want to see almost in some ways a carbon copy of the same thing over and over, even though it might be—depending on your perspective—varying quality within a bill, do you really want to see the same thing over and over? Some people might say yes, but I think for the most part people don’t.

I like doing different stuff. I like differences. Coliseum are on there, and they are really quite different certainly from what we do in a lot of ways, but that’s a good thing. On a personal level, as a music fan, I appreciate differences. It’s nice to have that. I know what I want to do in Napalm, and what I do in Napalm hasn’t changed drastically down the years, what I enjoy doing with Napalm, but that doesn’t mean to say I don’t appreciate other things to complement a bill or whatever. As long as it’s exciting to people, it doesn’t really matter to me what bands are on the bill, really.