Barney Greenway – Ready to Napalm Australia to Death this September

After 6 years away and a pandemic in between, Grindcore pioneers Napalm Death are finally coming back to Australia. They’ve been flat out in those 6 years having released the two albums Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism (2020) and Resentment Is Always Seismic – a final throw of Throes (2022). Additionally, they’ve been flat out touring in the wake of Covid restrictions and we’re finally getting the opportunity to see them in person across Australia and New Zealand this September.

Wall of Sound resident metal bogan Duane James got zooming from Higher Ground Tattoos and Records in Kurrajong NSW with legendary vocalist Barney Greenway for a chat. Along for the ride is Higher Ground owner, tattoo artist and huge Napalm Death fan Paulie Surridge to chime in on the conversation. Let’s hook in.

DJ: After 6 years and a pandemic you guys are finally coming back to Australia. We’re looking forward to it.

Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see if things have moved up, if at all in Australia. I’m kind of intrigued, because obviously there’s not so much time difference between the places we go. Not to this degree. I’m genuinely interested to see how things are.

DJ:  Well you haven’t spent any time in COVID stuffing around, having released the two Throes albums. How much of the new material are we going to hear on this tour?

But yeah it’s just a process of events. The thing is, is that we were lucky in the sense that all the material was there. So during COVID, it wasn’t like we had to figure out a way to somehow get together without being together. The material was already there. So it was just a matter of getting the artwork together, sorting out the tracklisting. All the usual stuff. We were lucky in that respect, if you can call it luck. It’s just the way the chips fell.

DJ: We’re going to hear a lot of the new stuff on the tour, I imagine.

Yeah, I mean obviously, new is probably not the right term at this point. I mean this stuff’s old now. The Throes stuff is like five years old now. So I guess it’s current would be a better way of saying it. But yeah, so there’s going to be a raft of that stuff. In fact we’re probably going to do something resembling the same setlist as what we’ve been doing throughout Europe and the US. I’ve probably given the game away there, but I’m sure nobody really gives a shit ay ha ha.

DJ: We were actually watching the film clip for the song ‘Contagion’. I was noting in the snippets of live footage that you’ve got a lot of young blokes in the crowd alongside all the old blokes. Like I think I’m one of the old blokes.

Speak for yourself mate, ha ha.

DJ: Ha, I’ve noticed with bands that have been around for 30-40 years that you get parents bringing their kids along to shows. What’s that like for you to see that happening?

I mean, I gotta be honest. This kind of stuff sometimes leads towards demographic conversations, which are, you know, terribly trite. So I don’t really think about that. But it has to be said that, I try not to separate out what’s younger, what’s old, base things upon age range. I think that’s a bit problematic sometimes. But we do see a lot of younger kids come, but surely music is ageless and timeless, whatever it is across the board. So I think if you’ve got something that has substance, then I think it doesn’t matter what your age is.

This is a question I get asked quite a lot, and I used to kind of try and directly answer that question, but I don’t think you can. Because to me, it’s kind of the wrong question to ask. If music is ageless and timeless as we think it is to be, then it doesn’t matter. Napalm, as old as the band is now, what matters to us is that we feel that we can still offer something that is creatively challenging, that has a substance to it hopefully, that’s not just a template of other things. Hopefully people will like it. If they don’t, they don’t. I’ve got very loose attitude towards those things.

DJ: Yeah, I just sort of laugh because I was playing Napalm Death to my two and a half year old and I just looked across to him nodding his head and to see that being passed down father to son is, I thought that was cool.

This is just gonna sound terribly nerdy, but sound as a thing is transmissible to every human being, no matter what age they are, no matter what sort of grounding they didn’t have in anything they’re listening to. Sound will always translate to any ear of whatever age. If you gave him John Fogerty, he’d probably do the same thing.

DJ: Napalm Death have been touring solid for a couple years. I know here in Australia, on the back of covid, a huge underground scene has developed and I understand the same is happening in England. So I’m just wondering, since you’ve been on the road for two and a half years, is there any sort of new music that has really tickled your fancy?

If you’d have asked me an hour ago, I could have reeled off a list of stuff. Now I’m on the spot. I can’t think of anything. Yeah definitely there’s a few interesting things around. I try not to be cynical about music, I just try and let it wash over me. I mean there’s a few things that don’t interest me so much anymore. Just because I’ve been kind of overexposed, probably like a lot of people. I think death metal is one of them things. There’s not much at least, that I hear myself, that really grabs me at the moment. I mean, no doubt there’s bands out there that I haven’t heard that probably doing something interesting. But I kind of naturally listen to that stuff. I struggle with it sometimes.

DJ: I know you did work with Jello Biafra, and in like the last 10 years especially there’s a lot of punk sound in in Napalm Death.

There always was, that’s where it comes from. That’s the roots of the band. I mean, what is punk really at the end of the day? What’s the definition of it? It’s a million things to a million different people. For me personally, what my sort of perspective on punk is, Napalm has always had that. In fact it’s the dominant force oil Napalm Death. And long it continue, because that makes it interesting to me.

PS: When we were in lockdown, I had Apex Predator that I’d owned for a little while, but I had plenty of time being at home, to listen to it. And I found it surprisingly refreshing and amazing. I consider it to be one of the best albums. 

Thanks man.

PS: We ran a parallel from sort of late 80s, with the conservative governments around the world to what we have now, you had Boris, Trump, those sort of people, we had a Conservative government in this country

Yeah, hell yeah, he was the one, that bloke, fuckin…(clearly not a fan)

PS: Having those parallels run from the 80s with Reagan and Thatcher to now, had that influenced you? Because we we personally feel heavy music has had a big resurgence in this country. Do you think that that is a reaction to conservative government in terms of punk and metal?

While it does give fertile ground for people that are interested in sort of addressing that side of things, lyrically, I suppose. But I mean, it’s always going to be there, even if there isn’t that particular government in a certain country where a band is based. Because you gotta remember this, and this is certainly for Napalm Death. I’ve always believed that what Napalm Death does, I can only speak for Napalm Death, on a lyrical side of things transcends politics. Because if you can’t address things as purely on a human level as human issues, then you haven’t got anything really, and that transcends politics. Because politics, a lot of times, it’s tokenism.

In fact you could say most political decisions are tokenistic. Tokenism doesn’t mean anything to human beings really. Doesn’t put food on the table. It doesn’t stop people from being oppressed, necessarily. So whatever shade of government there is, I think, if you’re referring to music like Napalm Death, the kind of ideas that we chew over,  then it’s going to be there whatever the case, because there are always human issues to find whatever the political sort of environment is.

DJ: Well it’s been a genuine honour talking to you mate but we’re out of time. We’ll be seeing you soon enough though.

See you at the gig maybe

PS: Yeah we will.

DJ: Bloody oath you will

Interview  by Duane James @duanejames666

Tickets available via Soundworks Direct Presents

Napalm Death – Campaign For Musical Destruction Australia and New Zealand 2023

Sept 5th – Magnet House, Perth
Sept 7th – Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide
Sept 8th – The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Sept 9th – The Croxton, Melbourne
Sept 12th – The Triffid, Brisbane
Sept 15th – Meow, Wellington
Sept 16th – 12 Bar, Christchurch
Sept 17th – Galatos, Auckland

Tickets Here

About duanejames (78 Articles)
Wall of Sound's resident Heavy Metal Bogan. Father. Husband. Professional Tattooer. Untrained Artist. Part time writer. Full time fanboy.