Campaign for Obliteration
Interview with: Mark "Barney" Greenway

By Joe Who?

For over twenty years BirminghamEngland's godfathers of grindcore Napalm Death have; punked, thrashed, and blasted their way into the history books as one of the most influential bands of this genre. Their state of the art, cutting edge sound of combustible elements mixed with; intensity, attitude, and total chaos, as well as their pertinent subject matter with candid and insightful commentary, has been the blueprint for a long lasting career.

Continuing on with this patented procedure that has won them fans all around the world comes their eleventh studio effort, (minus all the demos, ep's, 7 inches, compilations, and tributes of course...) entitled - "The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code". The band's debut full length release for new label Century Media Records is a vast array of sounds and textures, culminated with all their great attributes and accomplishments that they've acquired over the years. With their trademark political views remaining intact, and no shortage of issues in sight, the band forges on fighting for the cause, and spreads awareness, for a world that keeps turning, yet seems to be spining out of control.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway in Milwaukee Wisconsin, before they opened up for Obituary on September 14th 2005. Our chat covered the likes of; The new album, "Harmony Corruption", 9-11, Terrorism, problems with the world in general and more...

Wormwood Chronicles: Well, first off, Barney it's great to see you again man. How's the tour going? When was the last time you guys toured with Obituary?

Barney Greenway: It's going well. The last time we toured with them was about eleven years ago, something like that, which is quite awhile...

WC: Wow, so we're talking around early ninties...

BG: Yeah, then they sort of went their separate ways in 97, you know?

WC: "The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code" is out now, and it's the first studio album Napalm Death has recorded as a four piece band since the "From Enslavement To Obliteration" days. How would you compare this one to previous recording experiences? Did you approach this album any differently?

BG: Um, no real differences as such, but it was recorded with a lot more live techniques. Certain techniques were actually more preferable, like using a hand held mic, which always feels a lot better. Most of the time you use the mic on the stand, and you get good results, but it's a lot better when you have the thing in your hand.

WC: Russ Russell is back on board as producer for "The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code". In a sense he's really become a part of the band. He does an excellent job of capturing your live sound. How did you first become aware of him? Did you know of his work already or did someone recomend him to you?

BG: I can't remember how we first got a hold of him. I think it was by association... you know? Probably because our old manager was kind of involved with him quite heavily. So that's how it sort of came around, of course we became friends, and got more familiar with each other, and eventually we used him.

That was it really, after a couple of albums, he came to realize that the best approach for us is as live as you can make it. With Napalm when you get processed sounds, it dosen't sound right... you know, there's something missing. It's really good to get the organic feel.

WC: Were there any songs left over from "The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code", that didn't make it onto the album?

BG: No, everything got used. We've always pretty much used everything that we got really. I mean, some bands can come up with forty songs, but it's kind of difficult for us to do that, because we like the spontaneity aspect, therefore we're not gonna sit around for twelve months and write forty songs. It isn't going to happen, because it would get quite boring to do that, and I think you lose the impetus of what you're trying to achieve.

WC: Through out the years, you guys have always had a knack for incorporating different styles into your sound, like; punk, hardcore, thrash, and death metal. I noticed "The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code" continues on in this tradition, but combines everything Napalm Death is known for, all onto one album. With all these elements, and inspiration coming into play, what was the creative process like for this album? Do you guys usually piece ideas together to make cohesive sounding songs?

BG: Everyone brings their ideas to the table, some of that might be complete song form, or it could be towards the end of the session, when all the main stuff is out of the way, then it might be bits and pieces. There are generally full songs, and we just work on it as that really. What you tend to find is at the start of a session, things tend to flow a lot more quicker, but then towards the end you get to the point where you got an idea in there, and you kind of put things together, and sometimes it might not be right the first time, and you look at it again, and try to rearrange it again, and stuff like that.

WC: Lyrically I've always enjoyed your words. I was wondering how you go about writing your lyrics? Do you usually
investigate or research a topic you'r e interested in? Or do you prefer to sit back and observe things, and just give your opinion?

BG: A combination of everything really. I mean, I'm always looking at stuff when I'm writing lyrics most of the time, because I'm interested in that stuff... you know? A lot of it comes from personal opinions, it's not just based on fact, there's opinion into the equation as well. So yeah, I'm totally interested in every aspect of what makes the world go around, even if it goes around in a shitty way, I'm still interested in all facets, and all aspects... you know? I'm kind of like an amateur sociolologist probably, but obviously there's a need to put that to good use, and actually try to do something positive with it is a different thing all together.

WC: A few days ago was the anniversary of 9-11, (Interview was conducted on 9-14...) and it's still in everyone's memory. I also saw on the news, that there were some terrorist bombings in London. What's your view on this continued problem? What can we do to gain control of this issue?

BG: Obviously it's always a bad thing when people get killed, no one's lives that come from a particular place are more important than anyone elses... you know? The way to control the issue is to stop provoking people in the first place. I mean, invading suffering countries and stuff like that... you can't expect to do that, and not have people react, you know... it's the way human nature is.

I think that the major countries in the world need to look at their foreign policies, and know what they're doing, because they're pissing off a lot of people, and ultimately it's the people at the top that are bringing violence down on the people in their countries. When you have the situation with Iraq... obviously they don't have any army to react to what the U.S., the U.K., and everyone else kind of did, by going into that country. So they will use other methods.

You've also got to remember that whatever happened at 9-11 was not connected to Iraq at all, they had nothing to do with it, it was a completely seperate thing, (In other words, the terrorist group, not the whole country of Iraq...) but in doing what they did, they've actually provoked a ground swell of support for the sort of things that we've seen in London, New York, and all the rest of it. So quite simply if they don't stop fucking around with people, it's going to happen time and time again, and unfortunately, it's the innocent people on the streets that are the ones that are affected by this imperialistic fucking meddling in other people's countries.

WC: Barney, let me ask you this, if you ran for office, what would you call your campaign, and what issues would be your main focus?

BG: What would I call my campaign? I don't know. (Thinks for a moment...)

WC: That's a tough one...

BG: Yeah. It would be all about people really. One of the things that continues to be a problem I think for the world in general is that there's a lot of really powerful people in the world... to put it simplisticly without going on about it for hours... a lot of really powerful people in the world who have all the money, and people in the under class barely have a share of it, and when you've got that power balance, you're always going to have tension. So until that's redressed, there will continue to be problems.

One of the things I would do would be toput controls on corporations, onwhat they can actually do, because they operate with impunity in a lot of cases, they treat their work forces like shit, and they're allowed to do certain things in the world that effects the environment, without any sort of redress... you know?

I would make corporrations of the rich pay more tax, because I don't think they pay enough. A distribution of wealth allows for a healthy influx of tax into the wealth system, because with the kind of wages working people are on, they can't afford the proper health systems and everything else. So we need this influx of money from corporations of the rich. I think this needs to be radically rethought.

That would be a starting point... and actually genuine attempts to tackle poverty, because I don't see anyone really doing it, you know what I mean? Yes, of course everyone makes gestures, and there are some good things going on, but there needs to be a lot more help with that.

WC: I wanted to take you back in time with this next question. My first introduction to Napalm Death was your "Harmony Corruption" release, which coincidently was your debut with the band. I really enjoyed that album, it always brings back a lot of great memories for me, because that album made me a Napalm Death fan, and it got me into more extreme music. You guys recorded that album at Morrisound studios in Tampa, Florida with Scott Burns, and to this day, it's the one and only Napalm Death album to ever be recorded here in the U.S. I remember that album created a "buzz" here in the States, back in the ninties when it was released. Did you guys ever consider doing another album with Scott to capitalize on that?

BG: Well, the whole thing with "Harmony Corruption" is, it's a really good album, I think the songs are really good on it, but while that album stands out in people's minds, I don't think the sound on it is particularlly great, because when we did that album in Florida, the record company was really pushing for it, and we decided to go with it. I mean, it cost a lot of money overall in terms of getting us out here and stuff. To be fair, we wanted a Napalm sound, but from the Morrisound studios, obviously we didn't get that... you know? If you listen to it, it's quite a thin sounding album... it's clear, but it's too thin sounding, and it could sound a lot more powerful than what it does, I think.

So in one sense it was a really good album, in another sense it could've been a lot better. That's why we never came back to America, because after you've had a learning experience like that, you realize you don't need to spend all that cash. Why specifically come to America to record an album, when you can do something in England with far better results... you know? I mean Scott Burns... great producer, very nice guy, but just not the right producer for us, great for some of those early ninties Morrisound bands, but really didn't work for us at all. Scott had his own vision, did what he wanted to do, and it was good... it's not bad production, don't get me wrong, but it's just not for Napalm, I don't think.

WC: Mick Harris left the band not too long after that album was released. Why did he quit? What's he been doing these days?

BG: Mick left because... Well, I think he just felt in himself that he had taken the band too far... as far as he could, rather, and he also wanted to do some different stuff. That was OK in principal, but just would've been too far removed from Napalm Death... you know? So that was it really, I think he had enough at that point when he left. What he's done since then? He's done kind of a techno / ambient sort of thing...(Believe he is referring to Scorn...Dr. Mality) some of it is pretty good ,actually, but he does his own thing. So good luck to him, people need to move on, and do other things... there you go, that's life.

WC: Are you guys going to play "Unfit Earth" with John Tardy tonight?

BG: No, we've never played that song live.

WC: Really, I thought for sure you guys would play that one on this tour...

BG: No, we never play it, and the reason why... for me and I think for the other guys as takes a long time to get going on that song, and it dosen't really fit into the context of what we do live, because what we do live is very furious and to the point, and it just wouldn't flow right... you know?

WC: How did you develop your ferocious vocal style? When I see you live, you're just so intense.

BG: I just did it, and it comes out like it does. Obviously I had a lot of influences, you know? From the early death metal to the early hardcore, and stuff like that.

WC: Punk Rock...

BG: Yeah, punk rock was in there, but I just do what I do, and it comes out. I just like to do my thing and throw myself around a little bit, you know... go with the adrenaline, and it works. It works for me anyway.

WC: Now on the flip side of that, singing so harshly and aggressive all the time on tour, how do you keep your voice in shape?

BG: I don't really do anything, it tends to regulate itself, you know? When I'm in the studio, and there's more of a need for a lot more definition in the vocal, I drink a lot of honey tea, that really helps, but no, I don't really make any specific, out of the way efforts to maintain it out on the road, it dosen't really need it.

WC: I heard you injured your knee on the last U.S. tour. What happened?

BG: Yeah, I hurt my knee, it actually happened before we came over here. It's still a bit of a mystery as to what actually happened to it. Basically there's nerve damage in the back of my leg, which I've still kind of got. I don't have any sensation in the back of my foot basically. It might get better, and it might not, but, there you go. (laughs)

WC: Do you have any Spinal Tap moments from any tours you've done past or present?

BG: Oh, man, there's been all kinds of stuff. I mean vans and buses breaking down like crazy, not so much a Spinal Tap moment, it's more like a really fucking irritating moment! That can be pretty bad for us, especially at the end of a tour, when we've got to catch a plane or something. It can be really problematic, and we get pretty stressed with that stuff.

WC: Was there ever any stories that stuck out in your mind at all? When you throw yourself around on stage, did you ever have an awkward moment and slip for example?

BG: Oh, I'm always fucking falling over, and stuff like that, yeah. We don't use smoke on stage or anything like that, because we're not that sort of band, but I remember the days of the stage being filled with smoke, and you just think to yourself, this is fucking crazy!

WC: What are your plans for the months ahead? Will there be another U.S. tour? Any plans for a dvd?

BG: We've got some more touring to do in Europe... some festivals throughout Europe, which is gonna be pretty good, along with some other shows as well. Then we do an American tour in february next year. As for the dvd, I'm not sure. I mean we talked about doing another one, and there's plenty of footage, but I think if we do another one at this point, it would have to be different from the last one, you know?

WC: When you guys come back in february, is it going to be a headlining tour?

BG: With Kreator.

WC: Opening or headlining?

BG: Double split headliner.

WC: That's gonna be sweet! Barney, it's always a pleasure to talk with you, thank you so much for your time. Do you have any final words for your fans out there?

BG: Thanks for your support, man. I say it all the time, and I guess maybe it sounds like a bit of a cliche, but you know... there you have it. People keep turning out to come and see us, we always try to spread the word, you know... say things to provoke thought, and all the rest of it...

WC: You guys are good people, I'm with you all the way, and I've been a fan for over fifteen years now. You just gotta fight the good fight, and do what you believe in...

BG: We're trying, man, we get resistance along the way, but you gotta keep saying common sense things, and make people realize, we're all human beings. Peace, equality, tolerance, and all that sort of stuff is on our agenda.

WC: Alright, Barney, thanks again man.

BG: No problem.

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