Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway on Plans for Next Album, Touring with Cannibal Corpse + More
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with booming Napalm Death vocalist Barney Greenway during his stint on the 2013 Decibel Magazine tour, one of the most sonically brutal touring bills ever put together. Along with detailing the most memorable aspects of the tour, we spoke with Barney about new Napalm Death material, the band performing much of the ‘Scum’ record + much more.
From this very interview, we’ve already shared Barney’s views on gay marriage, but now we’ve got the rest of our discussion with the vocalist right here. In the form of a true conversationalist, Barney had plenty more to say, so enjoy the rest of our exclusive interview with the Napalm Death frontman below!
You’re on an insanely brutal tour with Cannibal Corpse and Immolation right now. Has there been anything particularly unique about this tour compared to past ventures?
I think that the general flavor of the tour kind of keeps it unique because there are three very different bands. You could say that Cannibal Corpse and Immolation are death metal bands in their own right. They have their own characteristics, but Napalm is different to that. It has its death metal influences, that’s for sure, but there are also many kinds of strings to the bow. It’s all extreme stuff, but it’s got slightly different flavors and I think people like that.
On this tour you’ve been playing a ton of stuff from ‘Scum.’ What led Napalm Death to that decision?
Well, we’ve always done that, to be honest. It’s really no different. A lot of songs we’re doing from ‘Scum,’ we’ve kind of rotated over the years. We’ve basically crammed all the stuff we’ve done from ‘Scum’ in this setlist. We’re still effectively doing 23 or 24 songs in a 45-minute set. [Laughs] It’s just cramming it all in there, basically. Someday I’d like to deviate a little bit and do some other ‘Scum’ stuff. I’ve always got this thing in that back of my head; I’m always going, “Is this setlist interesting enough? Is it not close to what we did last time?” Napalm doesn’t stand still on a lot of things, I like to think. Hopefully, with the setlist as well, we don’t sort of stagnate and play it safe, if there is such a thing. [Laughs]
Napalm Death has a long history of releasing new albums fairly quickly after its latest effort. Has anything been written for a follow-up to ‘Utilitarian’ yet?
No. I mean, we’ve been talking about it and it’s definitely not been off the map. Basically what we’re going to do is try to record the next one in three or maybe even four sessions just to get a little bit of variation on the production side of things. We’ve consistently moved forward without losing our extremity, I think. We’d like a bit more variation as far as that stuff goes. We actually did it to a degree on ‘Time Waits for No Slave’ and it worked quite well. Some of the songs on that album sound distinctly different from others production-wise. We didn’t have any chance to do it on the last album though because to be honest, we’ve got such a bank of songs that we’ve got to record; we just literally ran out of time, so we couldn’t put any more attention to the intricacies of the production. We aim to do that on the next one. Hopefully we’ll get a natural difference in production by doing it three or four different times. We’ll see what happens, basically. We’re going to start towards the end of this year. We haven’t got a definite release date in mind yet, but we’re kind of, sort of, aiming for later on next year.
One aspect I’ve really loved about your more recent music is the use of harmonic and almost Gregorian-style chant…
Where that comes from, basically, is the no-wave influences on Napalm by Swans and some old post-punk stuff like Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine — all these bands that weren’t very metal at all but were extremely dense, extremely heavy. That’s where that stuff some in.
It works so well on tracks like ‘Fall on Their Swords’ or ‘The Wolf I Feed.’ Is that a technique you think Napalm Death will utilize in future music?
Well, we’ve used it a lot. You can go back to ‘Harmony Corruption’ and beyond that. We’ve always had those influences in our sound, but we just didn’t necessarily apply them in the traditional Napalm style. In the past, if we had a track like Swans or something like that we would go, “Well, it’s a Swans-style track, so it needs to be slow, ambient, depressing.” Now, on the last album, I was like, “You know what? Maybe I’ll try and see if it [chant] works,” because it might not work. When I did it and started to put those vocal parts into the faster stuff, it worked, so I was quite pleasantly surprised. I’d say, “Yeah, we’ll definitely explore that more in the future.” Maybe even a different take on that whole thing.”