Godflesh interview with G. Christian Green and Paul Neville: From the Vault

D.U. ran the following piece in archive ‘zine issue #36 in 2006, and we thought, since we love Godflesh so much, why not put it on the blog here. The archive piece was itself a reprint from Deathcheese ‘zine #1. To make it extra old school, we’ll go back to that original version below. Enjoy.

The Grindcrusher tour of the U.S. featured Nocturnus, Godflesh, and Napalm Death, and this tour came to the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. [on March 28, 1991.] Before the actual gig started, Judd Harper and I hooked up with G. Christian Green and Paul Neville in one of the hallways backstage to do an interview. It was rather difficult to understand what the guys were saying, what with the U.K. accents.

Deathcheese: Why did you have a different lineup on either side of the Streetcleaner album?

Green: Well, we all used to play in the band together before, like 1986, ’85, and what we did was to play some of the old songs that we used to do. It was the three of us together, so it was just natural to let Paul play some of the guitar, y’know, the stuff that we played before.

Why did you do a thing like Scum, like each side was recorded at a different studio, and one side just had Justin [Broadrick of Godflesh, who played on Scum], and all that?

Neville: Side one of Scum was, like, originally a very good Napalm Death demo. It was gonna be the last proper recorded demo. And, like, Justin left shortly before the rest of the album was recorded, and it was a bit break about what they were doing. And then like, they got him back together again, but obviously Justin had left that time too, instead of waitin’ to record the whole album and put both sides together, ‘cause it was a very popular cassette. And it was pretty good quality. So that’s why they combined it. It took longer to record whole.

The four extra tracks on the CD of Streetcleaner, which studio did you record those at?

Green: Shortly after we recorded that [first mini album], we did those four tracks. The end of ’88 we did those, and that was supposed to be a 12” EP comin’ out on the same label [Swordfish] that did the mini album. But because we signed with Earache, the little label didn’t want to put it out. It wanted to start off with an album. So it just ended up stuck on the end of Streetcleaner. Plus, Earache was really into bonus tracks on CDs. Every band has to have, like, “plus bonus album” on it or something.

Where did you get the name Godflesh?

Green: Name? Just wrote a list of names down one night. We decided we had to come up with a name. Um, for some reason we wanted to work “God” in, to try to use a variation on those words. So we just picked that one, sort of like.

Why didn’t you have a lyric sheet on the Streetcleaner album so people could follow along, instead of that paragraph?

Green: Justin writes the lyrics anyway. His lyrics aren’t really that, um, you know, sort of followable. They’re not any sort of story or anything. I mean, the way he does lyrics, he just cuts lyrics in bits and just sticks them all together. There’s not really any sort of message. It’s just whatever he wants to sing, really.

What’s the song “Christbait Rising” about?

Green: What’s it about? That’s just a play on words. I mean, it does have sort of connotations of, you know, whichever you want to look at it.

Neville: Yeah, it’s like, you can take the lyrics like stimulus for you, whatever you care to make in yourself. But you have to figure them out, rather than them being a straight narrative type.

So there’s no straight meaning?

Green: No. That’s not to say it doesn’t mean anything to us, or we’re being really vague, but there’s no direct, specific message. You just interpret as you want to, you know, that’s fine. That’s what it means to us. You don’t have to look at any particular song a particular way.

Did you get the cover for Streetcleaner from that movie Altered States?

Green: Yeah. [laughs]

With that song “Streetcleaner,” where did you get that part, “It was a conscious decision on my part, I didn’t hear voices” from?

Neville: That was off English TV. We get Donahue really late at night, and they had one on serial killers. We taped the whole thing. We took the one guy who seemed more sane than insane, even though he was actually well gone. He’s actually completely insane, but the way he talked on Donahue was more sane than the other.

Do you find that the press tries to interpret you the wrong way, and pigeonholes you into some music category?

Green: Um, that’s an interesting thing with the press. To pigeonhole a band, “Oh, yes, this is grindcore, death metal, hardcore, speed metal, thrash metal, whatever.” We don’t try to cross over, you know. We just try to write stuff that isn’t of any specific [category].

When I read interviews with Carcass or Napalm, they always get asked, “Are you guys really vegans?” and stuff like that. Do you get that a lot?

Green: No. People are surprised. That’s about as far as it goes. It seems sometimes it’s more a hassle to get vegetarians all together, you know, groups and stuff.

Neville: In England, like, because of where all the bands started up, it’s not uncommon to be vegetarians. Gigs are booked, it’s no problems. It’s part of the thing.

So you don’t mind it being brought up all the time?

Neville: Yeah, we basically don’t, really. We just get into arguments about food. [laughs]

Do people that hear the album say to you, “Look, man, why don’t you get a drummer?”

Green: Oh, initially, a lot. Now, never. The usual question we got is, um, “Do you ever think of got a drummer?” That’s what people ask now, or, “Will you always have a machine?” We never will, a live drummer. But that’s the way we started. We wanted to get together really quick, and the only way to do it was a drum machine, which we bought. And it took us, like, two years to pay it off, so, like, we had to use it, basically. [laughs] We were in debt for the bloody thing.

Are you going to get another one that’s better?

Green: We got two. We bought another one and we brought our old one with us for this tour. But the old one we’ve had that we did Streetcleaner on and the mini album on, it fuckin’ exploded at some gig in New York! Oh, it didn’t literally explode; some of the internal circuits just frizzled out.

How do you decide on what kind of drum machine you want to get? Do you have a lot of expertise in electronics?

Green: In a way, yeah, we’ve always sort of messed around with technology and drum machines, so they’ve always been around. Like, years ago we just used the basic ones, just messin’ around in the house. I mean, Justin’s pretty hot on studio engineering and stuff like that, so it’s not that much problems.

What’s the best compliment that a kid can say to you about your music?

Neville: If somebody comes up and says, “You fucked our heads up.” That’s pretty much all.

Do you have anything to say to the fans in America that’ll read the interview?

Green: Just the usual: enjoy the show.

Neville: We’re not really good at last comments.

So thanks to these two of Godflesh. We would have done it in one of the rooms backstage, but Nocturnus was in one and Napalm was in another one. Also, thanks to Judd for the assist. Godflesh put on a good show that night.

Find more Godflesh coverage here at the blog.

Band photo: Earache. Live photo: D.U., from the gig that night.


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