Daniel Löfquist of the Swedish webzine CriticalMass.se recently conducted an interview with vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway of British grindcore pioneers NAPALM DEATH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
CriticalMass.se: I gotta start with commending you on yet another monstrous album. The fourteen songs are some of the most harsh and aggressive music I've heard in a long time. Personally, I don't know how you keep topping yourselves again and again.
Greenway: Well, thank you very much. It's very nice of you to say so. You know mate, we just go into the studio with the songs that we believe are the best that we can do at that particular time and hopefully don't forget to add some spontaneity to it as we record and make sure to give it that genuine rawness. As long as we do that, things generally work out fine, you know."
CriticalMass.se: The previous album, "Smear Campaign", had a pretty clear theme — religion. Is there such a theme to the new album?
Greenway: Yes, there is, in a sense. The religious theme is still in there, it's less prevalent, but it's part of the overall theme. Talking about a general theme, the album really is quite a simple concept. Originally I tried to make it not conceptual at all, but I always seem to lean toward these — some would say — grand theories or ideas. You know, we, as humans, spend a lot of time working ourselves into the grave. For some of us it's because we've kind of been conditioned to think that that is the thing to do. For some others, it's because we believe we need to get as much money or other status symbols as we can. I think that maybe I personally fit into the first category. This is as much an observation of myself as it is of anyone else. And given that I think that we sometimes fail to acknowledge and appreciate the simple things around us, understand and experience what it is to take a day off and go and sit in the park on a bench or under a tree or whatever, and watch the world unfold around you know. Because we miss those things sometimes, because we're not looking, and I think in some ways unless we have that kind of understanding of the simpler things, we can't really understand the more complex things in life. So I think it's really important that we take a step back and acknowledge that and perhaps do something about it, you know. That's the concept of the album, basically. It's quite a basic concept that perhaps you and other people have thought about yourselves, but then there are a lot of other things that branch of from that, things like marriage, religion, personal faith, the perceived role of women today and things like that.
CriticalMass.se: Since you're the one belting out the acidic lyrics of NAPALM DEATH, how much of the lyrics are you yourself writing? In the case of lyrics that perhaps Mitch (Harris, guitar) or Shane (Embury, bass) wrote, do you ever feel that it's hard to convey the thoughts and feelings of some one else?
Greenway: For most albums I do about 95% of the lyrics. For this album Mitch did two and Shane did two. Shane usually does a couple, but Mitch not as often. It helps me out, you know. I gave them the general idea of what this album was supposed to be about and they wrote their interpretation of something that could fit in with that. And singing the lyrics they've written is not a problem at all. Even if it can be difficult to understand fully things and concepts completely formed by someone else, this is seldom the case. It helps me out a lot to have them do some of the lyrics so all contributions are accepted, you know.
CriticalMass.se: "Smear Campaign" was, to me at least, a bit more easily digested than "Time Waits For No Slave" is, mainly due to very direct choruses. There seems to be more focus on sheer aggression and gritty heaviness this time around.
Greenway: It's funny you should say so. As this is my twenty-fifth interview today I've obviously spoken to a lot of different people that have given me their respective perspective on this and it really goes to show that everyone's levels of perception are drastically different you know, which is interesting to me. You know, I do like psychology and I think there's a lot to be said for that kind of observation. Maybe it's just me being fucking pretentious, but that's something that occurs to me, you know. Any difference between the two albums, though, mate, was nothing deliberate. We don't have, like, a corporate meeting or anything like that where we sit down and decide what sort of sounding album to make. Literally, we just have some ideas — Mitch and Shane have music they've written, I've got my lyrics — and we build those into songs and go in and record them trying to do the best that we can. Like I said earlier, spontaneity is a big factor in NAPALM DEATH. The songs many times actually change while we're in the studio, even within the very limited timeframe that we have to record albums. Things change because we work at something and something just comes about and some of the time we're like "Fucking keep that! That's good!" you know?
Read the entire interview from CriticalMass.se.
NAPALM DEATH will release its new album, "Time Waits For No Slave", via Century Media Records on the following dates:
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux, Italy: January 23
Spain, Portugal: January 27
Sweden, Finland, Hungary: January 28
UK: February 2
France, Greece, Denmark, Norway, Rest of Europe: January 26
USA: February 10
NAPALM DEATH recorded "Time Waits For No Slave" with producer Russ Russell. Drums were tracked at Parlour Studios in Kettering and guitars, bass and vocals were done at Foel Studios in Wales. The band then returned to Parlour for the mixing sessions.
Check out the song "Diktat" on the band's MySpace page.
The cover artwork for "Time Waits For No Slave", which was created by artist Mick Kenney, can be viewed below.
Fan-filmed video footage of NAPALM DEATH performing two new songs — "Diktat" and "On The Brink Of Extinction" — at this year's Damnation Festival on November 22 in Leeds, UK can be viewed below (clip uploaded by Dave Ingham a.k.a. YouTube user "triptykon").