Despite working together for the best part of three decades, the members of Napalm Death admit that they still scratch their heads as to why their music has become so enduring.
The band originally formed in 1981 and has gone through several roster changes before reaching the current line-up: Shane Embury, Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway and Danny Herrera.
The trio, as well as a cavalcade of other artists have released no fewer than 12 studio albums together since Herrera joined in 1991, and their 13th, Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism, is scheduled for release later this year.
Speaking on their impressive endurance in the thrash and metal scene, Greenway admitted it was at times baffling: ‘’It’s a mystery. If I had to breakdown the answers, I couldn’t f*****g tell you. We just do instinctively what feels right. If it sticks it sticks, and if it doesn’t it doesn’t.’’
The man affectionately known as Barney also spoke about how the group are often defined when it comes to genre. Many would take a quick listen to Napalm Death and immediately label them as a death metal band, but that isn’t how Barney sees it: ‘’That’s one thing about us that’s misunderstood. We have influences of that, but we don’t fall under that category. I find it pretty bizarre that people will just say we’re a death metal band when really, that’s one small strand of what we do.’’
It really is quite remarkable how, despite the changes the music scene, and the group itself have gone through over the last four decades, they’re still making music that brings in new listeners, as well as appease their long-time followers. With an industry that’s as everchanging as music, it’s always vital to plan for the future, and Barney has one goal in mind when talking about what’s to come for Napalm Death: ‘’I want to be confrontational, the antithesis of being accessible and easily digestible.’’
With such a rich history and a wealth of knowledge, there may not be a better set of people to learn from when it comes to music and longevity than Napalm Death. They’ve seen it all: the rise of genres like grunge and alternative rock, to the emergence of hip-hop and trap, and Barney says his advice can apply to any and all musicians: ‘’My advice is pretty uniform, even if it’s a pop or a reggae artist. You should always do what you think is the right thing to do, because you can only live or die by your own creativity and decision making. There are people out there who will promise you the world and try to convince you that you’re doing things wrong.
‘’That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take feedback and advice from people, different voices can help to understand and reinforce what you’re doing. But if you listen to those voices and still decide that what you’re doing is right, then do it. If you don’t do what you really think is right, you’ll regret it somewhere down the line.’’
It probably wouldn’t go amiss to say that life in a band can be incredibly stressful. There’s a lot of touring, writing new music, sleepless nights and being in the public eye. But in situations such as those, what can be said about happiness. Is it possible to truly be happy with such a busy life, mostly spent away from home and loved ones? For Barney, happiness is actually rather simple: ‘’Happiness to me is being able to wake up in the morning and be able to smile. You can have everything in the world, you can have a band like this that’s as confrontational as it is. Yet you can still get people to come out and see and listen, despite how anticonventional it is. In our band and in many others, we’ve got the same pressures as everybody else, we don’t live in a bubble, and sometimes people don’t understand that.
‘’Being in a band is like a huge psychological experiment. You’re living with the same people who have different ways of living their lives, sometimes for months on end. Situations like that, people aren’t so happy. I’ve had my times where I’m not so happy, but I don’t plan on dying any time soon!’’
In the lead up to their next studio album, the band have released the EP ‘Logic Ravaged by Brute Force’. Be sure to give it a listen ahead of what’s set to be yet another loud, in your face project from one of thrash’s stalwarts.