ZT INTERROGATION: NAPALM DEATH “HORRIBLE WITH ATTRIBUTES”

Band Photo - Napalm Death (10) Catching up with Napalm Death’s Shane Embury and Barney Greenway in Houston, TX on their recent US tour with the Melvins had to take place after the show rather than before.  Due to a venue change, this particular show had to be completed and loaded up by 9:45 so the venue could cater towards a goth/techno crowd.  Regardless of the circumstances both men are true English gentlemen and quite talkative, exhibiting no lack of energy later in the evening.  From the third-party perspective, it almost appears that they view it more part of the day’s exercise routine that takes place in the evening.  “We don’t want to play too long,” Shane Embury says with a grin.  “An hour is about enough!”

By now, Napalm’s latest effort, “Apex Predator-Easy Meat,” is about 18 months old and they’ve toured plenty for the material while having a good chance to digest it and review it after the fact.  Embury clarifies that for him personally, analyzing his work is a consistent process.  “For me, once I’ve done a record, I like to listen to it, not just put it away and forget about it,” he explains.  “I enjoy listening to what we’ve done and get a kick out of it.”

At this point, the band has worked with Russ Russell for eight albums, and Embury sees absolutely no need to change that.  “We’ve been friends a long time and I’ve work with him on other stuff as well.  Some of the people in the past have been great, but we just feel comfortable with him.  He knows where we come from.  Nothing’s ever too strange for him, he totally gets it.”  In terms of their next album, Napalm Death hasn’t quite thought that far ahead, but Embury reveals that to him, it’s a process of just picking up things you left out previously.  He goes on to describe that “on the ‘Utilitarian’ album there’s a track called ‘Fall on their swords’ and the first two riffs were written when we did ‘Utopia Banished.’  For some reason in my head I couldn’t move forward with them, but kept them.   And then one day, it just suddenly clicked.”

Band Photo - Napalm Death (11)After some time, Napalm Death vocalist Barney Greenway arrives on the bus, fresh from a post-show shower and talking to fans.  As far as his band’s musical future is concerned “it’ll get weirder!  And noisier!” he says with a huge grin.  “Horrible with attributes let’s say!  I have no desire at this point, or at any point, to make things easy for people.  You can write catchy albums without having to resort to easy outs.”  As far as the ‘weird elements’ he speaks of, bands like Throbbing Gristle and Joy Division are name-dropped.  For an example, Greenway centers on “the fringe elements, that weird stuff, will become more prevalent.  The crazy approach, the fast and furious will always be there, just integrated more closely.”   Seeing as his longtime band mate Shane Embury is always hard at work with various other music projects, I felt it necessary to ask if there was anything in particular he’d like to accomplish that he has yet to.  “There was a 12 inch called ‘Copulating Wolves’ or something.  I can’t remember who did it,” Greenway says while trying to refresh his memory.  The name never pops up in his mind, but he further describes that “All it was?  Two wolves fucking in the forest.  That’s it!”  The point being made is not that he is ready to venture in nature voyeurism, but rather that he would “like to do stuff that’s so out there.  People may say pretentious, but I like weirdness!”

If you’re a fan of Napalm Death, then you are no doubt aware of their vocalist’s outspoken opinions on various political matters.  He simply states that “I’m quite a fucking nerd, studying sociology and trends and stuff.  I have a basic view, but I’m also academically interested.”  With all of this being the case, the final point of discussion that I would like to make with Mr. Greenway is the current political situation in America.  With each election cycle, it would appear that American politics is continuously gravitating towards a three-ring circus.  Greenway understands the point but replies with “It’s no less messy than what it ever was.  The commentary has been ramped up to certain levels though.”  Our discussion includes such topics as women’s rights, labor organization, and faith in politics and is scathing at times, but with bits of humor sprinkled in.  I rather enjoy hearing his sarcastic stage banter aimed at politics, but in the end Greenway sums up that “On stage I don’t go on and on, because we are there to play music.  I try not to be aggressive about things.  You have to be forthright, but not riled up.”

Band Photo - Napalm Death (12)Currently in their thirty fifth year as a band, and 25 years with the current line-up, Barney Greenway is happy to point out that the popularity of the band in America seems to be growing through what he describes as “nothing we’ve done to pander to any commercial interests.  It’s just happened.”  Both Greenway and Shane Embury are happy to be what Napalm Death will always be.  Greenway’s only question is “How are you not sick of us?”

 

Group Photos Taken By Kevin Estrada

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