Interview: Napalm Death Discusses Maryland Deathfest & Capital Punishment

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Interview conducted primarily by Anthony Carioscia.  Video shot and edited by Birdman Dan of Roargh. Photo by Ignacio Galvez.

“We may have peaked early,” Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway told the scores of fans that braved the upstate New York snowstorm before NP launched into the iconic “Scum” only halfway through their set at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York in early February.

In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Barely two months into 2015 and hot off the heels of their critically acclaimed Apex Predator – Easy Meat, the legendary grindcore act have made headlines several times over, exposing themselves to new audiences and reminding their existing fans of why they fell in love in the first place.

“It’s something for everybody,” frontman Barney said of the band’s setlist for the tour in the lounge area of The Nuddy Bar & Grill next door to The Chance Theater.

“Everyone likes different things. Hey, some people like everything, which is the utopian, ideal world.”

Of course, the planet is a far cry from being an “ideal world”, and lately Napalm Death have taken up arms (or rather, pens) against one of the biggest institutional controversies: capital punishment, a practice endorsed by Indonesian president Joko Widowo, himself reported to be a huge Napalm Death fan. Greenway made headlines by attempting to engage in a conversation with Widowo, appealing to him to abolish the death penalty after Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were sentenced to death row after being convicted of smuggling heroin.

“It’s a very difficult situation with capital punishment in Indonesia,” Greenway explained. “It’s absolutely entrenched in the culture. So to challenge, what can you do? You can either try to do something or don’t do anything at all. I rather do something, so I’ll see where it goes. I hope the people we are appealing for get the result, the human result. This extends to anyone whose on death row anywhere in the world, it’s all you can hope for. Maybe after this, I will get more deeply involved in actions against capital punishment. I’ve always been against it. I just don’t think it’s the human thing to do.”

However, despite his interest in such bloody political affairs, Greenway assures us that he does not want to be viewed as a humanitarian.

“I’m a human being. [We live in] a revenge culture. [Capital punishment] is not justice; capital punishment is revenge. I don’t see how that can be constructive. I don’t see how it could be contributed to a society where violence is broken. It carries on and on, and there’s no end to it.”

For a band that already made their mark on metal music and politics in early 2015, the band also made headlines with a more gossip-y headline; a seemingly spontaneous engagement of two metalheads onstage at the band’s Miami show on  January 27th. However, it was not as spontaneous as some would like to believe.

“They were friends of somebody on the tour, and they contacted us and said they wanted to do it, and I said ‘why not? I don’t have a problem with it, it’s fun.”

Later this year, Napalm Death will play Maryland Deathfest in  June; however, Barney seems pretty sure his band’s usual guitarist, Mitch Harris, who took a leave of absence for personal reasons in late 2014, won’t return in time for the huge gig.

“No, probably not,” said Barney of Mitch’s possible return. “I shouldn’t say no, but it’s a good possibility he won’t. We gave him to fix his situation properly. It’s a pretty heavy situation he’s in. We will give him the time that he needs. That could change, but right now we will let him be and give him time. That’s what you do with someone who you have worked with so long.”

Check out our video interview below to hear Barney talk about the band’s latest single, his love of Motorhead, and more.