Vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway of British grindcore pioneers NAPALM DEATH has slammed Earache Records head honcho Digby Pearson for characterizing their past working relationship as "unpleasant" and describing the frontman as someone who was ungrateful for the "eye-wateringly huge sums of money" that the label spent promoting his band.
In a recent installment of his "Ask Earache" blog, Pearson was asked by a web site visitor who were the best and worst personalities he has worked with over the years. Digby listed several musicians in the "nicest" category (among them, AT THE GATES' Tomas Lindberg, MORBID ANGEL's Trey Azagthoth and EVILE's Ol Drake) before detailing some of the difficulties he has had dealing with Greenway and THE HAUNTED's Peter Dolving.
"I've never had a pleasant time dealing with NAPALM DEATH's Mark 'Barney' Greenway," Digby wrote. "We supported him and his band for over a decade, investing eye-wateringly huge sums of money into his career. It's quite possible he was never even aware of this fact, as his bumbling manager Mark Walmesley dealt with everything for him — including all his financial affairs, I suspect — on a daily basis.
"The basic problem stems from the fact Barney was not involved with the explosive first two albums by NAPALM DEATH so he completely missed out on the feel-good factor which came from a brand new band and label both blasting off from obscurity. He had no reason for any goodwill towards me or Earache because he walked into an already successful band. Likewise, I never actively chose to sign the dude; he was the band's roadie, he was the BENEDICTION singer, suddenly drafted into the role of singer of a successful band, and was obligated to sign into an existing contract, not one of his choosing.
"Barney did willingly ink deals with Earache twice more in the '90s, though. The band's slow gradual loss of fanbase during their groove-grind phase could have proved fatal, but Earache worked tirelessly behind the scenes to prevent NAPALM DEATH splitting, quiting or becoming a totally spent force — for very little gratitude, I might add. Even Barney himself jumped ship from NAPALM to join EXTREME NOISE TERROR at one point. It was not a happy camp during those latter Earache years. His enmity to Earache is legendary and grudges are held, for the most trivial of reasons, for an inordinate length of time."
On October 28, Loudwire's Graham "Gruhamed" Hartmann caught up with Greenway prior to NAPALM DEATH's concert in Connecticut and asked the singer to respond to Pearson's remarks (see video below).
"People were telling me, 'You should respond.' 'Cause a lot of people know it’s not true, the stuff that [Digby is] saying," Greenway began.
He continued: "Let me address a couple of points. He makes out in the article that I had a manager — I personally had a manager — who was putting pressure on him. Not true. That was a band manager, who was hired to protect the band. It wasn't somebody that came in that was trying to get all this money and blah blah blah. The band had been reamed several times over, and he was there to protect the band.
"And all the his stuff that Digby says about Earache pumping money into NAPALM — 'eyewatering' amounts — not true. All that was him fulfilling his contractual obligations. See, Digby seems to have this fantasy viewpoint that if you sign a contract with somebody and you have monetary conditions that are not excessive, that are needed for the band to operate, he thinks that once you sign that contract, he doesn't necessarily have to fulfill those obligations. And that's where his warped kind of thinking comes around.
"I mean, I could go on righting wrongs about the whole thing, but we could be here all day. But let me tell you this. All of this has come about, and it's directed at me — not NAPALM — for three things. One, we refused to do the 25th-anniversary thing that he's got going on in the U.K. right now, for exactly the reason that we felt that because of our past with Earache, and because of the way we perceive that other bands have been treated, we thought it would be entirely hypocritical to get involved with that. So we said, 'No.' So that's my opinion. I suspect that he knows that he's out of joint because of that. Two: because I took my trade union to his doorstep. When he was not doing what he needed to do for NAPALM, I said, 'Enough is enough.' I took my union — it's like a regular union — to Earache's doorstep, and he didn't like that either.
"See, Digby doesn't like people to stand up to him; he expects everybody to be subservient to however he decides he should treat people, and I wasn't prepared to happen. That's why he doesn't like me — because I stood up to him. And a lot of people that he actually is positive about in that interview, the reason why he is positive about them is most likely because they never stood up to him; they always accepted what he said and whatever he tried to them as perfectly acceptable, and I'm saying that's not. So that’s' two things right there. Third thing: he talks about my so-called enmity to Earache. Well, if you research, if you look over however many years it is, and you look for interviews where Earache comes up, I've said consistently that it's not worth me badmouthing Earache anymore; it serves no purpose. What's done is done and it's in the past. But he's the one that keeps digging all this stuff up, not me. So where's the enmity coming from — me or him? People can work that out for themselves."