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NAPALM DEATH Frontman Discusses New Album, Touring, And His Mum

Napalm Death (2011) The Gauntlet spoke briefly to the grindfather himself, Barney Greenway of Napalm Death. Over the course of the interview we discussed happiness, the media, his affection for Century Media Records, and of course, his mum.

The Gauntlet: How is everything going?

Barney: Going good. I have been busy with promoting the album but it will be coming out at the end of February. It is pretty fucking problematic for me today as I am juggling U.S. times and European times. Fun Fun Fun.

The Gauntlet: Wasn’t this album supposed to be a late 2011 release?

Barney: It was, but we had some offers to go to some places on tour when we should have been working on the album. I don’t know if you are aware of this Jason, but Napalm [Death] is one of the most requested bands in terms of offers to play various countries. We get asked to go places that bands just don’t go to. Our reputation is very spread around. We aren’t going to stay home because the media tells us that a place is too dangerous to go. We have always wanted to find things out for ourselves and that has worked out very well for us and kept things fresh and fucking incredible. We have had so many great and almost historical experiences and are quite thankful for that. Given that, we decided to go and play some of these and delay the album. Who are we kidding, no one is going to lose any sleep over us delaying the album a couple months. I mean who cares, it isn’t life or death.

The Gauntlet: Has the media been right on some places that you were warned not to play but did so anyways?

Barney: No, not really. Some people might say we are a little naive but I have always just sort of stepped back from things and looked at them openly. You have to see things for yourself. Of course there are certain risks out there and we are aware of them but there are just so many risks that are overstated and over played. It is part of the process that keeps people scared. I remember it wasn’t the first, but the second time we went to Bogata. We were told not to walk down the street. We were like ‘what are you fucking talking about?’ They said we’d get harassed by people and perhaps more than just verbal. Me and Danny the drummer scoped it out and we walked down the street. We talked to a lot of people and it was just like an afternoon out. I think people are just used to westerners staying away because they were intimidated and they were happy to see us there. It is just a little thing in the grand scheme of things.

The Gauntlet: It is just like your mom telling you to stay away from standing in front of the window or you’ll be kidnapped.

Barney: My mum still says fucking stuff like that to me. I’m like mom, shut up. She worries about me, but she also knows I have logic. If something is a bit tricky, that logic tells you to back up a bit.

The Gauntlet: The new album is titled "Utilitarian," is this representing happy times for the band?

Barney: Happier times, well if you are talking about the pursuit of happiness, I don’t know if we are or not as a group. As a band, we use a sort of word association. For me when I write creatively, my influences are the Dead Kennedy’s or Crass. I like to use certain symbolism and imagery to make very serious points. The album title isn’t a direct homage or a direct reference. I might be utilitarian but I might not be. There are certain aspects in everyone that make us utilitarian. The pursuit of total happiness can be anything really. For some it can be the pursuit of total power and wealth at the expense of others where the other people may be hurt along the way. Therefore it is still permissible as you don’t care who may get in your way. For me though, all the things I have done in Napalm Death make me happy. We were the first band to independently go and play in the Soviet Union. I mean fuck me, we played Russia when it was part of the Soviet Union. That is incredible. That makes me happy. Life is a finite thing. If I knew I was going to die and had to look back on how I lived my life, then I fell I have lived my life happy and to the best I could. If all I had was wealth and was miserable, then my life would have been wasted. Happiness for me is the simple things.

The Gauntlet: Napalm Death has released some amazing albums since you took a short break before “The Code Is Red.” Was that break important in the bands development?

Barney: Yeah, we sort of got a boost from our record label too. We came back on Century Media and they gave us the support we needed to put out some great albums. They helped us a great deal. It isn’t often you hear a band giving compliments to their record label, but Century Media really gave us the confidence to see things on the horizon for the band. We have always been in control of the band and would never let a label dictate to us what to write. They knew from the start that we knew what we were doing here. When you have that confidence behind you, it sort of gives you that lift you might need to make better albums on a productive level. I think we already have a certain level of spontaneity in the band but the break gave a real boost there at that point.

The Gauntlet: Will we see some Napalm Death tour dates soon in the U.S.?

Barney: It is always something out there. U.S. has been difficult at times for us. We are doing Maryland Deathfest in March. The states have always been good to us, but I think a lot of tours are struggling right now. The cost of work permits right now is ridiculous. That is one thing that Bush did before he left office to fuck entertainers. He raised the cost by 500% which is a lot for a small to medium band like us. We need to be smart about it and that might mean waiting for a certain lineup of bands to become available. Secondly we need to have a good package in place. And then there is also keeping ticket prices at an affordable level. It may take us some time but we will definitely get there.

Napalm Death's new album "Utilitarian" is available now via Century Media Records.

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Tags:  Napalm DeathBarney GreenwayCentury Media Records  

    February 28, 2012

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