Interview with Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Well, you’ve been doing it for so long. It makes sense that you wouldn’t want it limited.

I don’t think anyone necessarily does, but in particular, I’m not a very heavy metal person. I’m not a metal person at all. I’m just me. One big thing for me on a personal level is I try—though again it’s not something I’d stand and spend hours and hours calculating—but I try on a personal level to avoid clichés and stereotypes. I so don’t need to have long hair anymore or, on the other side of things, have a leather jacket with studs on the back and have a Discharge patch on the bottom of it. I just don’t need to do that anymore, and I think that also carries over into what my input—and I’m sure the other guys as well— is with Napalm.

I certainly don’t want to limit the band. I don’t want the band to be generic or to tread water or anything like that. Of course, we’ll always have the core of the band, which is fast, furious, chaotic, off the rails, etc., etc., but on top of that, I don’t want to stay the same. People still say to us, ‘Why don’t you just make another From Enslavement To Obliteration?’—the second Napalm Death album with 20-some odd songs in 20 minutes. That’s the easy thing to do. Why do that? Why just do it and throw it out there without any thought? That’s conforming more than anything. That’s the easy way, and it’s bereft of any kind of insight or, to an extent, creativity. You’ve got to move on, move forward. For me, I don’t want to limit the band, like I say. I just want to let it be, really. Yeah, it’s got to be chaotic, like I say, and whatever other descriptive you want to attach to it, but it’s got to be Napalm, really, at the end of the day.

How has that attitude changed over the years? It seems to me, when you’re younger, you’re kind of gung ho, brutal as possible, fast as possible, and as time goes on, your perspective changes and becomes more nuanced.

I would just put it like this: It’s like riding a bike. You just don’t forget. I don’t forget what my influences are. This is the paradox. We’re saying all this, but if you were task me what my influences were in the last 20 years, I’d struggle really to come up with any bands. My influences are still the same: Discharge, Anti-Cimex, Celtic Frost, Death, Swans, My Bloody Valentine, the list goes on and on and on. Minor Threat. They’re still the same, so in that sense it really hasn’t changed.

The way to become nuanced is purely through songwriting. As you go on, your whole way of arranging songs and writing them, you naturally get a wider palette. The influences always stay there, you just build upon them—although of course I’m not going to feverishly plug away deliberately trying, ‘Well, this beat’s gotta be 3,000 beats per minute or it’s not anything.’ Although I’m not like that anymore, I certainly would be a bit distressed if I did a recording and it just sounded like the edges had been shaved off it and it wasn’t as manic as I originally thought it would be before I did it. I would certainly be unhappy then. But then it’s not just that calculated. Things always seem to turn out okay somehow (laughs).

Time Waits For No Slave is available now. Catch Napalm Death live at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC April 11 and at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville April 19. For more info, check out