The legendary Napalm Death will be releasing “Utilitarian” on February 27th in Europe and February 28th in North America via Century Media Records. Last week I had the honor of speaking to vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway about the new record, the band, touring and much more! It was truly a great experience finally getting to speak with one of my idols and he did not disappoint! What a legend!
Read my interview with Mark “Barney” Greenway of Napalm Death below!
How’s everything in the world of Barney?
Everything is good in my world, just finishing up another day of interviews about the upcoming record which brings me to you sir.
Exactly! The new record, “Utilitarian” is coming out on February 28th here in North America and there isn’t a metal fan alive that isn’t excited for the new album. Did you guys try anything new on the record that may surprise fans or did you stick with the classic Napalm Death sound?
Well it is arranged slightly differently, but all of the traditional influences that we’ve used in the past few releases are all still there. It does bring out the other side of Napalm, which isn’t always associated with metal, punk or hardcore. Bands like Slums, My Bloody Valentine, Birthday Party, ya know, the more ambient side of the group that is always there, just not as obvious to the listener. At the end of the day, it is a Napalm Death record though. It’s nothing that we wouldn’t ordinarily do. It’s fast, it’s heavy and we are really proud of it.
With each Napalm Death record, you have a strong message behind the lyrics, and this one focuses on the theory of Utilitarianism. You’ve talked about it a couple of times in interviews about how it’s to achieve total happiness and I was wondering what would be total happiness for you as a person?
Nice question man. Just to point out first, with the album, I am not saying that everyone should follow Utilitarianism. Yes there are people who share the same ethics as me; animal rights and humanitarians for example, but when it comes to the whole happiness thing, it’s different for everyone. For me it’s basically reaching pure happiness by any means necessary. Some people believe in achieving happiness even if other people suffer, and I don’t fully believe in that. I believe that everyone should be happy, even though it’s a pretty impossible thing to imagine.
To answer your question directly, what would be total happiness for me would be if I could look back at the end of my life and tell that I was happy with the simple fundamentals in life. If you look back at your life and you can’t say that, than you’ve wasted your life. There are some people who value happiness with wealth and materialistic things and that’s just wrong. Most people who have everything they want and more money than I could imagine, nine times out of ten they are fucking miserable. So I would rather be happy with the simple things in life, because that is truly what matters to me.
It seems with the metal scene today that less importance is being put on lyrics and the message of an album from the vocalist’s point of view. You have always put the time and thought into each record, which I fully respect, and I was wondering your thoughts on the lyrical approach today in most metal bands?
Well to be honest I don’t really like to critique other bands or the scene in general, because I think they live and die by their own decisions. Writing music shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on in a record or things would be pretty fucking boring. So yea, there are some things that are more to my taste and that’s fine with me. It’s not to say that Napalm has any superiority to any other band. I would hope that people who get into this scene understand that just because you are part of a subculture that you can’t open your eyes and think for themselves. I think metal has those tendencies sometimes to be ignorant to other things, and I think that may push some people away. Just because you have long hair or patches on your jacket doesn’t mean you can’t think as much as anyone else that is out there. I look at the world as the world and people as people ya know, and I wish more people could do that in our scene.
The first track you released to the fans was entitled “Leper Colony” and I was wondering why you chose that song as the first taste of new music for everyone?
Honestly it was just to give people an flavor of what we are doing and the direction of the record. I think that song has different elements involved that span the whole album, but that’s not to say the whole record sounds like “Leper Colony.” We just thought it was a good representation of “Utilitarian” for everyone to hear. We talked about several tracks to release before choosing that one. It wasn’t like “Oh, that’s the one, that’s it, end of story”, it took a while to choose which one we would release and “Leper Colony” was the winner.
Are there any other tracks on the record that you are super proud of or really excited for the fans to hear?
I don’t have a particular favorite, but the one with John Zorn on Saxophone definitely stands out to me. That song is fucking wacko to me! It’s frantic, but it’s got a real nasty, ambient edge to it at the same time. Plus, John’s solo on the song really ties everything together in an insane way. Honestly, I’m really proud of every track on this record, but for some reason that track with John really has something to it for me.
“Utilitarian” will be the 14th studio album for Napalm Death and I was wondering if you ever see an end to the band or if you are one of those who “wants to die on stage?”
I’m a realist man. Nothing lasts forever. I know that everything has to end at some point, even a band that’s been around for thiry years or whatever. It could realistically be over tomorrow, due to circumstances that happen with the people in the band. Things could drastically change for one reason or another, and that’s something that us as Napalm Death can’t control. As for today, things are going great. We got a great record coming out, we got great shows coming up, so I’ll take that for now and go with it. I know, as a person, that I am not one dimensional. There are also other things that I would like to do with my life ya know. Right now I still feel that I can give 100% to the band and there may come a time that I can’t honestly say that. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, as long as you recognize it before it becomes a problem. Everyone falls in and out of love with things, that’s a natural human process. So there may come a time when I sit back and realize that I can’t give 100% to the band and I’ll have to face that when it happens. As for now, I can see us going on for a while if nothing drastic happens. We are all committed and in a good place, so we’ll see what the future holds for us.
Napalm Death will be heading out on several festival dates in Europe and everyone in the States wants to know when we can expect a tour over here?
As of now, the only thing we have confirmed in the States is the Maryland Deathfest in May. There is nothing else planned right now though. The problem with the States is that it’s really expensive to tour there for a band over here. We’ve never been a band to tour just because we have to tour. We need to have a good lineup of bands
, need to feel it will be successful and then we can think about making the trip over there for a long tour. I’ve seen a lot of tours over there cripple some bands financially and mentally, so we really need to get several things in order to make it happen. We are doing the Maryland Deathfest and it should be an amazing show, so if people want to catch us live than that would be the day to do it for now.
As you know, the news is fully concentrated on the Presidential candidate race here in the States. For the last question, If there was some way that we could have Barney as President of the United States, what would be the first thing that you could change and why?
The first thing that I would change would be the Healthcare situation. I agree with what Obama proposed and I can’t understand why people didn’t like that. I didn’t read everything on the bill obviously, but I think Obama’s general intention was TO equalize the health care and move towards a free health care system. I thought it was fucking nuts that people were so opposed to that! I know a ton of people who have health care over there and I see the way the companies behave and it’s fucking scandalous. To have Obama try to fix the healthcare system and then have people against it blew my mind quite honestly. They are fucking with people’s lives and to not want it fixed is insane to me. We have one in the U.K. and it has its problems of course, but I wouldn’t trade it for fucking anything. Everyone deserves to be treated for their health no matter what social status they fall into. I mean I still can’t fathom why people were so against it, but what do I know, I’m just the vocalist for Napalm Death (Laughter).
Well thank you for taking the time out of your day to speak with me Barney. Do you have anything else you would like to say to the fans out there?
Thank you to everyone who has ever supported Napalm Death. It means the absolute world to us. For you people in the States, we will be back sometime soon for sure, but we need to make it a good tour for you guys! Thanks to you all!
Purchase The Napalm Death Catalog Below!