NAPALM DEATH Frontman On Satanic Lyrics, Longevity And Politics

10:20 AM / Posted by metallic sucker and moslem militan /

Christopher Porter of Washington Post Express recently conducted an interview with vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway of British grindcore pioneers NAPALM DEATH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below

Washington Post Express: Do you wish more extreme metal bands sang about real-world politics rather than, say, dragons and Satan?

Greenway: I'm not gonna sit here and play bat and ball with other bands for doing what they do because it's entirely up them. There is always a danger within the general genre of heavy music for people to sometimes look down on other bands because they do this or that, but, frankly, I have no opinion on them at all. Let them do what they do — more power to their elbow. For me, I have to do what I need to do. I think the lyrics in many ways are an extension of me. The only thing I can say is that, obviously, someone writing about fantasy — dragons and stuff like that — it's not an extension of them; it's more obviously them picking up on certain themes that have a lot of times been quite stereotypical. Again, it's entirely up to them; I don't want to cast a judgment on them. But I just feel the need to do things in a certain way and be very involved with what I do. I don't wish to sound pretentious, but I would like to be connected to my art.

Washington Post Express: Are you ever surprised that NAPALM has lasted this long and remained so relevant and passionate?

Greenway: I think it's important to say, from my perspective, I don't associate age with things. I hate to resort to -isms, but ageism is the great travesty, really, that is not often addressed. We always tackle — rightly so — sexism and racism and stuff like that, but ageism is something that gets pushed to the background a little bit. I think it's really unfair in a lot of ways. We all do it; we all sort of resort to the kind of train of thought because you're a bit older that this might be different, or that might be different. And, yes, it is in a sense that you may be of more refined views because you have been in a lot more situations, but I don't think we should necessarily connect creativity — or lack thereof — to age. I don't think there's any kind of distinction to be made there; I really don't. People might disagree with that, but to be honest, the sorts of things I'm doing now within the band and playing live, I could have quite easily done when I was 21. My approach is no different; my influences aren't really any different from when I was 19 when I joined NAPALM. I've always had difficulties understanding why people tie age to creativity or personal achievement within a band scenario. ... If [critics] see the band before they hear the band ... and they don't know much about the band, I think they're more inclined to make a negative judgment. If they see the band and go, "Bloody hell, they're in their mid-40s, mid-50s or whatever, what are they gonna have to offer?"

Washington Post Express: But do you see a time when NAPALM might stop?

Greenway: I couldn't put a time limit on it, really, partly because of what we've been talking about. This is a question that comes up quite regularly. It's gonna be circumstances that dictate. All of us in the band would like to think that if it does stop it's because we decided to do it, that it's not exterior forces or physical / people forces that force us to do it. That it's not any direct pressure from any music industry thing. For me, it will be if I just run dry creatively and the gigs started to feel like a chore — just in terms of, well, you can't really be bothered — it's a natural thing, it does happen. Once it gets to that point, I'll just quit; I can't half do stuff. It would just be not really pleasurable to me to go through the motions. Of course, there's personal circumstances. [Guitarist Mitch Harris'] family is growing; he's just had another baby with his wife. I'm not leading people down any paths, but when the family starts to widen like that, who knows how long Mitch is going to want to do it for? For me, personally, I got really no circumstances right now that would prevent me from doing it. I do have a long-distance relationship, which can be quite difficult, but for the most part this one is working out.

Washington Post Express: But if NAPALM did stop, would you ever consider running for office?

Greenway: I don't know about that. ... Mainstream politics stinks, man, it really does. The power structures really bug me. I won't go into this too deeply because we'll be at this forever, but I think the structures that are in place at the moment give the people in power more rights than you and me have, and how can that be right? Systems evolve and systems change, and maybe there's an argument that the whole worldwide system really needs to change so the people at the bottom of the scale right now really get more input, because it's just not happening and it needs to at some point if we want to maintain a peaceful, tolerant world — it's just got to. So, in that sense, NAPALM's not really — I'm probably playing cat among the pigeons right here — but is it really a political band at the end of the day? I don't know. I see it as an extension of the things I believe in, and the band does: humanitarianism and peace and tolerance. Is that politics? Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, I don't know. But would I still be involved [in social issues] if the band were to go on pause? Well, yeah, because I was of that nature before I joined the band. It wasn't like I flipped a coin overnight and decided this was how I was gonna direct myself; I was that way, to be honest, since I was 6 or 7 years old. My dad was involved with trade unions, and I understand what I believe to be injustice. So, I will always be involved with something, because I can't really see me working for someone in a suit, making money for them, and getting really bored. [laughs]

Read the entire interview from Washington Post Express.

HardTimes.ca conducted an interview with Mark "Barney" Greenway when NAPALM DEATH played Montreal, Quebec, Canada on May 17, 2009. Watch the 14-minute chat below.

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