Napalm Death interview – 2001

Originally published in ‘zine issue #25, 2001

It’s been said that Napalm has its second wind now, that they’ve returned to the aggression and attitude of the earlier days of the band when they made a name for themselves playing totally intense grindcore, spawn from the hardcore and punk scenes of their youth. Actually, the music they are showcasing now with their new album, Enemy of the Music Business, sounds more to me like a mix of the best elements of music they’ve been playing over the last 10 years. The lyrics likewise are the strongest since Fear, Emptiness, Despair, four albums ago.

Some of the albums they recorded over that decade of recording and touring stylistically sound very different from one another. What specifically happened with Enemy of the Music Business was the band created a totally grinding, extreme album, something they haven’t gotten close to since Utopia Banished in 1992 and to a lesser extent the follow-up, Fear, Emptiness, Despair.

Napalm Death performing live

The amalgamation on this one album of the different influences the band had brought into the mix since 1990, from which time they recorded six albums, “wasn’t a conscious decision. It just happened,” says Barney,* the band’s singer and co-lyricist. What was specifically done, however, was an agreement with all five members to make a totally extreme album, an idea put forth by Barney, that ended up being Enemy of the Music Business. Napalm splits everything five ways and they all contribute to the music, even Barney, tossing out suggestions about song arrangements and humming ideas for guitar riffs in the rehearsal room.

One of the intriguing elements of the new album is the succesful marriage of what we, in our last conversation with Napalm (issue 19), called “indie rock/Sonic Youth” influences and blast parts, the former sound featured on Diatribes and more prominently on the following Inside the Torn Apart. They had tried unsucessfully to merge the two styles while writing for those two records and so didn’t feature the mix on those albums, but started to bring it out on the next album, Words From the Exit Wound, with limited success. But with Enemy of the Music Business they definitely got it right.

Napalm Death at Red Square, Moscow

With new management, a new label, and a new album, the band is as strong as ever, but things haven’t been as rosy as they are now for the band. They actually considered breaking up around the time of Words From the Exit Wound because they were broke, unhappy with their management and longtime record label Earache, and had a hard time getting any support from European booking agencies. The band is used to controversy, however, as they’d been accused of selling out for years, especially the period following their debuting of material for their album Harmony Corrpution in 1990, the accusations continuing two albums later with Fear, Emptiness, Despair. The band wondered who their detractors thought they had sold out to. Barney recalls, “We do what’s in our heads and in our hearts.” Napalm sounds to have more conviction now than they ever have. To hear that, all you have to do is listen. ■

Napalm Death band lineup

*in our interview before one of the band’s gigs in Maryland, circa 2001

Photos: Napalm Death (performing, courtesy Twisting the Knife, top; at Red Square, Moscow, courtesy Ed Sirris, center; the lineup, courtesy Spitfire, bottom)


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