Barney Greenway interviewed by PSL
What's the main idea behind releasing an album solely containing cover songs?
Well we did the EP back in '99 with the 6 songs on it which was always meant just to be an EP 'cause we just wanted to get something out at the time and it seemed like a good idea. We didn't anticipate when we were recording it how well it would work out in terms of us being happy with it and having fun doing it but also how people would react to it and it was a really, really good reaction. So we figured well we got to do this again because it worked so well and we had a lot of ideas left over from that session. Part of this came into this new session and of course we had to pick some more songs to fill it out 'cause the wasn't any sense in just making another EP we had to do an album this time. So yes we did it and it has worked really well even better than the last one I would say and we're really happy that we've covered metal, hardcore and punk and it's nice with that mixture.
How do you pick which songs to be covered?
I think the general idea; the general sorta unwritten rule was that they kinda had to be from Napalm Death's influential and formative years in the 80's. The underground bands from there, some demo bands, some album bands and so that was the general understanding so we each picked like 15 songs and we kinda condensed it down to 30 and then we just went into the studio to see how many we would record in the time that we had and that turned out to be like 19 songs so there were song even left over from this session but we do intend to a 3rd one at some point so of course we can then carry those over and again pick some more songs to go with those 'cause trust me there's potentially like a 1000 songs we could do.
I think you have a fine balance between the obscure bands and the more known band!
Of course, it was a part of the general idea.
Could you explain why you think we need another CD with cover songs?
Yeah, but this one is slightly different like I'm saying the bands that are one there are largely demo bands and it's fair to say that those songs haven't been heard by as many people that should hear them because they are classics, absolutely undisputed classics and I think people need to hear them. People aren't necessarily gonna hear them unless that we kinda cover them 'cause then they'll hear them. People would perhaps buy the Napalm Death album that wouldn't have taken the trouble to send a tape to someone and say "can you give me these demos from these bands?" I think it serves a purpose. It shows that you can record classics without having a recording-deal or recording budget necessarily. You can still come up with classic material without having all this money to it and that's the point and that's why I think one of the things that make these covers of ours pretty special. It not just another band doing a cover of "Raining Blood" by Slayer which you hear like 20.000 times.
Yeah and many of the records that you have covered may be out of print!
Exactly or just totally unable to get hold of anymore.
It sounds like you haven't tried to alter the songs but instead tried to stay close to the original!
Yeah, I mean obviously the mere fact that Napalm Death is recording and we're gonna record in our own way. We gonna have the guitar sound that Napalm Death has generally. We're gonna have the vocals. It's gonna be my vocals 'cause that's how I sing. But if you listen closely we have actually used a couple of production techniques that was kinda intriguing for the original songs. For an example if you listen to the Master track it the exact same setting on the harmonizer, the vocal harmonizer the Paul Speckmann used. If you listen to the Hellhammer track it's the same kinda drum sound on the sneer. The same vocal effect that Tom G. Warrior used on the original Hellhammer song which is very, very sorta swampy kinda vocals effect that is back in the mix. I mean it's all technical shit but is sounds authentic.
Also the sound it doesn't seem very modern or polished!
No it needs to be raw. That is one thing in the spirit of it that needed to be raw and I think we achieved that so…
How do you cover a song like for instance the old Death tune "Back From the Dead" or Massacre's "Clangor of War" 'cause as far as I know they've only been released on demos - Is it covered by only listening to the song?
Exactly, that's exactly how we did it. You have to sit there and listen to it and 'cause the sound is quite bad sometimes on those demos because some of them is like second generation demos and you have sit there and really listen, listen in like 10 seconds pieces. It must be like a nightmare for the guitarist I mean to work out how the riffs go. As far as the lyrics I must admit that some of it is frenetics. You can't ascertain what necessarily for example what Kam Lee was singing about so I had to make up like frenetic phrases that sounded like the originals without having the actual lyrics so it was the only way I could do it.
Yeah, it's impossible to figure out!
Yeah, it's impossible. I mean you look on the internet to try and find like Massacre lyrics or something and you just won't find them, anywhere.
You have Jim Whiteley featured on two songs. How did this come around?
When you get an ex-member of the band people just think "Oh they've must have broken being friends and they are not talking anymore" but that was not the case with Jim he's an really old friend certainly of mine and Shane's and he comes over to Birmingham 'cause he's from Birmingham but lives elsewhere now. He comes down to Birmingham quite a few weekends for a drink and a good time. Shane sorta started mentioning to him "Jim would you like to play bass" and Jim is like "Yeah, cool" and he came in and did it and there you go.
Oh, that sounds cool!
Yeah, Jim is a really nice guy.
It seems like Napalm Death is constantly touring how are you able to keep doing so?
Well we didn't tour as much as I would have liked to last year but this year we are gonna do quite a bit of stuff. I went through a period…well we all go through periods of doubting what we're gonna do. I'm really up for it at the moment. I just wanna get out there and play. We got some stuff coming up towards Christmas and in the new year and it's looking good. I can't wait to actually get out 'cause I love playing…I mean when Napalm Death is plays live we go for it like 110 percent always and I'm really looking forward to doing that again. It keeps me fit as well [laughs] and that's a good thing [laughs].
It also seems like most of the members have tons of side-projects going. What about yourself are you currently doing anything besides Napalm Death?
I don't have anything because to be honest at the moment the guy who manages the band had a heart attack so he hasn't been very well. He's still alive but he's recovering so I have kinda helped to manage the band and man, that's some fucking work [laughs]. So I have been busy with that plus the fact that Shane he's very, very good coming up with music and ideas for music. Even in his sleep he comes up with stuff. I'm not so good at stuff like that. I believe without trying to sound arrogant I'm very good at writing lyrics for Napalm Death and stuff. And it's a lot of work but I've not really sorta to big on coming up with fresh ideas for another band or something. So Napalm Death is enough for me and I'm quite happy with Napalm Death so…
I guess it's almost a fulltime job then?
Yeah, for me certainly yes. I do other things at home to pay the rent and stuff like that when we're not on the road with the band so Napalm Death is my main thing.
Your new album is the first on Century Media. How did you hook up with them?
Well, Century Media has actually been trying to sign us for quite at few years. We couldn't do it before because we were committed to Dream Catcher at the time when they were trying to get a hold of us. But now we've done it and what was really important for me when we signed with Century Media was that they said that "Look we're really gonna promote you. We're gonna get you lots and lots of interviews" and we haven't had that in the last probably 10 years. We had a really bad sell in terms of getting interviews. It's really refreshing that Century Media is working really, really had for us. I actually know some of the guys here at Century Media personally they been friends of mine for quite some years and that actually makes you even more confident when you have friends working for you and stuff. And it just a really good time at the moment I'm really confident and Century Media I gotta say this they are doing a really, really fantastic job.
Yeah, you've really come into the spotlight again!
Yeah, it's great. It takes a lot from me to be complimentary about record labels and stuff 'cause I've had so many shitty experiences . But Century Media has been really, really good.
Have you begun writing material to the follow up to Order of the Leech?
Yes, we're working on that at the moment so the new album should hopefully be out in February next year. We got some songs, some material and I think people gonna like it. It's even more crazy than the last 2 albums so I really think people are gonna like it a lot .
So it's more back to the basics?
It's just more intense. It's Napalm Death it got basic stuff, it also got progressive stuff to keep moving the band forward so it's a mixture of everything and it's really intense and really fast.
Where it comes from? Do you remember a band called Doom? a punk band from England, a hardcore band?.
You've never heard of them? Okay it was the drummer Stick from that band 'cause when I was younger, a lot younger I had a bit of a drinking problem, a pretty bad one. When I used to get drunk I was a pretty destructive guy, not violent but destructive like I would for an example fall through a door or something like that [laughs] and break the door completely not on purpose but because I was completely clumsy and kinda because of that the guy nicknamed me that because Barney Rubble you know from the Flintstones and Rubble, like me turning things into rubble like breaking things and that's were it comes from. That's exactly were it comes from it just stuck over the years.
I guess that's about it so do you have any closing comments?
It really hard coming up with anything kinda different I know it sounds cliché but it's true I mean I just really appreciate the general level of support from people like yourself, radio stations and magazines. But obviously also from the kids who comes to the gigs we certainly not take it for granted and it is really appreciated and of course it's a big reason why we are able to continue because people come out and support us and stuff. We really appreciate it I can't say it enough. Hopefully we'll see you pretty soon.