Barney Greenway – A Napalm Death Christmas

One of his biggest peeves, as you may have guessed from the first question, is organised religion. “Religion to me is one of the biggest causes of flocks on this planet. Like, people always talk about freedom of religion being written into constitutions and that, but freedom from religion is how I’d word it. I have no problem with people believing in god or whatever it is themselves, I don’t, but if other people want to that’s fine with me. But when it gets organised and it’s used to shape people’s lives, I don’t think that’s right. I think that’s a big, big problem for the human race. It’s going to continue to be that way until people sit up and say, that’s fine if you want to do it in your spare time but don’t bring it into positions of influence over people, governmental influence. I think it’s been proven how disastrous that is. That rule of governance, that method, is fucking backwards. It is. Look at Africa and how many people have died because contraception methods were withheld because of this bullshit Judea-Christian morality fucking nonsense.”

The aggressive nature of grind-core and death metal has often lead to accusations of incitement to violence from worried parents and people who aren’t really prepared to listen to a band like Napalm Death. Pay attention though and the message is to work anger into a positive creative energy. That remains a core ethos for Greenway. “I don’t condone violence,” he says. “I think violence between human beings is as pointless as many other things. The elite though, they make token gestures to people. They never really listen or they listen and don’t do anything. Nothing happens. It has to be understood that, sooner or later, people will get pissed off and it will come out in forms where they’ve been stretched to the limit and they reach breaking point. Underneath it all, I’ll always maintain that violence between people and ultra-violence is not the solution. Taking it out on someone who is in the same boat as you is not the solution.”

The topic at hand is the riots across Britain during the summer. As a former 80’s Birmingham teenager, Greenway understands the plight of those doing the rioting. “I understand that people just get driven into a frenzy because they get so fucked off with being left in the corner to rot in this society that we have. It’s not right. A lot of people will try to pass it off as it just being some kids nicking trainers from a shop,” he says. “There’s a bit more a wider scope to it than that. If people do put it like that, they have their own hidden agendas because they know they can scapegoat people. It was more than that. You’ve got to remember that the initial thing started when a guy got shot by the police for seemingly no reason whatsoever. It spread from there. The people who have the power don’t understand that, don’t understand that eventually people will fight back. But they have to start listening, it’s been shown in the past few months that there has been a certain level of resistance and hopefully the momentum continues. How else are things going to change unless the people who are prepared to stand up and do something, do? It ain’t. The current state of play will just continue ad infinitum. It might just be a sound-bite but everybody knows, that the inequality across the world is huge and it is ever-widening and something has to happen. It has to. Everything has a breaking point.”

With any socio-politically minded art, the question remains of what it’s actually possible to do to positively influence the world at large. Greenway is practical in regards to his own career’s ability to make a difference on a social level. “We can only do what we do,” he says. “I’m not naïve enough to think that this band can change the world, but at least we’re trying. At least we’re one more voice to the other voices. If there are less voices, quantitatively, there will be less impact. We are that one extra voice, that’s all we can do. We do certain things, artistically, that can help towards that, certain action. Then we just have to take it from there.”

Napalm Death continue to do what they’ve always done; challenging complacency, resignation and nihilism everywhere they go. The form of their protest is ever-developing, but the message is the same. In the end, Greenway is sure the machine will keep trundling on and their voice will continue to scream into a void that might slowly be filling up. “I can’t tell you there’s going to be a complete transformation,” he says. “But at least we’re giving it a go.”

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