Radio Metal recently conducted an interview with vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway of British/American grindcore pioneers NAPALM DEATH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Radio Metal: Before talking about the new record, I’d like to come back to the album “Smear Campaign” you made in which Anneke van Giersbergen [ex-THE GATHERING] sang on one of the tracks. What were the reactions of the fans about that song?
Greenway: Well, it was the usual stuff, to be honest. I had to laugh, because there was some things you could read on Internet, like, “NAPALM DEATH is turning into an operatic metal band,” and I was like, “Oh, come on, use your brains, please.” I respect people’s freedom to say stuff and so on but please, use your brain before you do! [laughs] It turned out very good. We were trying to achieve a certain effect. It was a certain CELTIC FROST song many years ago that had that effect that we were looking for. We thought about several different vocalist, and she [Anneke] seemed to be the best person to do that at the time that we know could do it. So that’s how it all went. The reaction in the end, after those initial comments, were fine. Once people heard it and understood what we were trying to do, the panic kind of dropped.
Radio Metal: At the beginning of your career, you were considered a grindcore band, then the band has evolved to something closer to death metal. Based on what we hear on the trailer for the new album, this new album has even some melodic — for NAPALM DEATH — moments. What can you tell us about this new record, musically speaking? How can you describe it?
Greenway: I don’t like general classifications, and that just relates to what I was saying. I’m bored of it, because people waste so much time arguing about musical genre… It’s so pointless. But the one thing I would say though is that NAPALM getting called a death metal band is not really accurate as an overview of the band. NAPALM DEATH is much more than that. If I had to pick a genre, it would be grindcore, because I think “grindcore” is a very wide definition. “Death metal,” not so much. I think grindcore is the first thing, so to speak. But there has been diversity in NAPALM‘s albums ever since the “Scum” album. Like I say, the main thing with this new record is that there are certain riffs that are kind of different, but more so, there are vocal things that has been done on other albums that are just used in a different context here. The more ambient, baritone, you could say cleaner vocals, were not much used in the faster parts before, but on this album they had, and that sort of gives it a different flavor. But at the end of the day, NAPALM is always gonna be NAPALM. We’ll do what we need to do. Like I say, we always do listen to people’s opinion, apart from when they’re ridiculous [laughs] and even if we do get some of those. We do listen to criticism; I think it’s important. You can’t be blind to what people say about that, because that can help you. It can help you to think in certain directions, as far as your band goes.
Radio Metal: You were talking in an interview about loss of hope, about these periods of real self-doubt where you wonder if you’re really making a difference… Is it something that you felt personally? Did you lose hope in your ability to change things with your ideas?
Greenway: Yeah, many times! I’ll be the first to admit that. You know, everybody does. I think that’s one thing every human shares, whatever it might be about. When you do something, it’s almost like you wanna see instant results, and of course you don’t always get that. If you try to make a difference in a society that’s been in this structure for hundreds upon thousands of years, there is no way you’re gonna change things over now. But still, even if now I know that, I also have those self-doubts at the same time. So yeah, it’s something I suffered with. But I always come to the conclusion that it’s better to be trying to do something and making very small steps that not doing anything at all.
Read the entire interview from Radio Metal.