Barney Greenway: Napalm Death Reference in HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Wasn’t a Big Deal
Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The singer discussed the band's recently-released compilation album, Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs, as well as the next studio album from the grindcore legends. Greenway also downplayed Napalm Death's "You Suffer" being featured heavily on the HBO program Silicon Valley. Check out the chat below.
We're here to talk about the latest Napalm Death release, Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs. It's a special compilation that includes a ton of songs, rare and exclusive tracks, covers and Japanese bonus tracks. It pulls together a lot of harder to find tracks. What makes it a good starting point for someone just now discovering Napalm Death?
Well, I think stylistically, it covers all bases of the band really and obviously the band being an amalgamation of metal, punk and many other things, so there's a bit of something for everyone. The idea of making a compilation album is something that's got to be right because we're not the sort of band — we don't like repackaging and reselling stuff to people. We try to give them stuff that's going to be, although it tracks spanning a 10 year period, we still want to make those tracks hard to find. So, it has to be something that's going to be new to most people that are going to buy. So, that was the reason really for doing it, otherwise, we don't really put those things out. It just seemed that it was a good time to do it, we could find the tracks and yeah, so everything kicked into place really.
Now the follow up to Apex Predator – Easy Meat is expected sometime next year. In what ways will it be different from what's typically expected from Napalm Death?
To be perfectly honest with you, it's kind of hard to make a condensed explanation of that. Napalm have always been a very spontaneous band musically and the next [album] will be no exception. I couldn't give you kind of a black and white, very specific sort of guide to it really at this point. It will be progressive in the loosest sense in the word, but it will still have that backbone of fast and furious kind of version on white noise sort of thing. Hopefully it will be unique to people's ears, you know as much as you can make things that way. So yeah, hopefully, people just get enjoyment out of it and it doesn't betray the chaotic, sort of musical notes of the band.
You've been working on new music for the next album. What's the process of making an album like now, compared to other times in the band's history?
To be honest, technology for us, although we use it, it doesn't dictate the way we write so it's still a case of, band members that write, will write. So, the four tracks or whatever machines or whatever they use — they'll bring it to me in a certain format and then I go, "I'll take that away" and write lyrics. That's never changed for us. It's just that nowadays you don't have to do it on some small, dictaphone in a rehearsal room [laughs], and hopefully be able to hear what's going on when you come to write lyrics - so maybe the tools have changed slightly but the mechanics of writing are really no different.
Barney, although Mitch Harris has been on hiatus for the last several years, he's recorded for the new album. Why was it important to him and you that he be involved?
Well, as you pointed out, it's correct, there's been a hiatus. A lot of people like to run with those ideas and say, "Oh well he can't be in the band anymore, he must not be involved at any point." And I'm like, "No, as we've already tried to explain, he's on hiatus." That means he's away for various reasons and he will come back at some point as we've always been quite upfront about. We've not shared in what aspect, but as it turns out, he came and played on the whole album.
For us, Mitch is as much as any current member or past member is part of the Napalm Death's family. We've always wanted him involved. It's just that sometimes life gets in the way of things and things get tricky. So he's come and played on the album. What he will do beyond that, in terms of the other aspects of the band - I don’t know yet. None of us really know, but he has played on the album for now. It was important for us for a feel-good factor, if you like. Mitch's playing style is very distinctively Mitch and important to him as well, just to be able to come back into the fold and enjoy himself with us again — everything worked out.
Can we please talk about Silicon Valley on HBO? I need to tell you I was watching the first episode that "You Suffer" was on and was like, "Did they just play Napalm Death on HBO?" [laughs] I was in disbelief. How awesome was that for you guys?
Here's the thing. I'm really kind of sort of - that's just never really bothered me. From time to time we get referenced in stuff or something will be used or something, and it tends to be people outside of the band that really get sort of freaked out about it. I don't think anything of it. I mean, I hate to sound like really negative but the kind of band I'm involved in, that stuff was never really a big thing for us. It's like - to talk about something similar, it's like the Jim Carrey thing many years ago where he talked about us on the Arsenio Hall Show. That clip, people talk about that a lot. In a sort of respect you look at it and go, "Wow, [laughs] how did that happen?" But it's like - outside of that initial thing, it's like - it doesn't really matter. These sort of outside elements are not what drives Napalm Death. It doesn't make our world any different because of it.
It's never been what you guys are about, obviously, but having "You Suffer" be in a huge show on HBO — that's gotta be a bit surreal for Napalm Death.
It is surreal. That's a good word to use. The thing is, we have never deliberately sort of constructed anything to make it fit into those kinds of cheeky pop cultural references. Never. I guess sometimes by doing that actually is when you get noticed and that's sort of probably for those reasons. So, yeah - I remember when the Silicon Valley thing happened. I can't remember - somebody just sent me a Whatsapp message and I was like, "Oh okay." I didn't even know about the show. Well, whatever, [laughs]. Then I noticed a lot of quite a few people were making - this is a big deal! I was like, "Is it? Is it really?" That was it, really. [laughs]
You're very modest. It's a very big deal. It's really cool.
I don't think it's about modesty. I don’t know, I don’t know how to put it really. I guess it is what your values are, I guess is the right word? But it's what you're - I don’t know how to put it. It's hard to explain but it's - yeah, it's kind of. I don’t know, a pinch of salt really.
Thanks to Barney Greenway for the interview. Grab your copy of 'Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs' at iTunes or Amazon and follow Napalm Death on Facebook to stay up to date with everything they're doing. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
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