Napalm Death – Time, What is Time?

Friday, 29th March 2013 I read somewhere you handle all of the band’s business affairs. I’m guessing this centered on your experiences in the industry, right?

Greenway: That’s what I do now because it was run by other people and it was not run well. I run it the way I see fit, but with always under the concern of the other members in mind. I always run it very fairly and this may sound clichéd – ethically. I’m trying to picture Barney Greenway doing business.

Greenway: [laughs] Essentially, I deal with the accountants and other stuff like making sure the records are to form and correct. When I have make decisions when I have to make an investment somewhere, I like to make the fair-trade or ethical one. I’m not ruthless, I only get on my high-horse when it comes to credit control, when companies won’t pay royalties. It’s the same scenario in the 90’s – we were counting the pennies, literally and the band members were wondering if they could pay the rent and in those situations, I will get quite… not nasty, but insistent [laughs]. I have used legal means that are available in terms of procuring royalties and if royalties haven’t paid for some time, I am quite well-versed in that as well.

I work for the Musician’s Union and I’m confronted with issues where poorly-paid musicians have been faced with liability claims. Although I haven’t dealt with those claims directly, I have knowledge of the certain tools that are available. I don’t want to be nasty to people; I’m very passive, I’m a peaceful person, but I don’t liked being fucked over when it’s not justified. How much does today’s economy ride on your mind when doing business for Napalm?

Greenway: [pauses] I take a long view of things, I never take a short view. I hate to generalize, but I think musicians are naïve. They make short-term decisions. We all have to pay rent, we all have to put money on the table, but if you make short-term decisions, they’re not going to help your band last beyond one year. You have to be mindful of that.

When we’re doing records, we have a management company that takes care of the record deals, I just handle the day-to-day running of the band, not necessarily the big decisions although I will have input. When it comes to record deals, if you put two companies side-by-side and one’s offering 20% more of an advance for the new album, that might seem like the obvious choice for a lot of people, but not for me. I look at the overview. I see, “What bands have been on this label?” “What can they tell me as to how they were handled?” “What can the company do for PR?” “What can the company do when we need advances for transport, need money for flights, for work permits, are they realistically going to do that?” Those are all things I consider and I would much rather go through a company that’s going to offer good service to the band rather than the one who is going to offer 20% more, but there’s question marks past the honeymoon period of six months. That’s why we went with Century Media. We knew they had a proven track record in dealing with bands.

I don’t expect miracles from people, I don’t expect Napalm to be on the cover of some high-row magazine – I don’t necessarily want that, but I do expect the record label to work with us and try their best like I do in Napalm. So will a long-term approach help get us out of the economic doldrums?

Greenway: Yes. With Napalm, we’re fairly stable in the sense we operate quite well. I hate to be so cold and calculated about this stuff, because we are very spontaneous, but on the other hand, not everyone has the choice of a long-term view outside of music. A lot of people have to take decisions day-to-day if it’s down to putting food on the table or not. I don’t have the answer to that and to be honest, I’m not going to sit on a pedestal and be arrogant about it. The only thing I will say is that with these financial institutions that have ruined the economies of some very poor countries that are having a hard enough time as it is, that’s the real travesty. The fact that people are debating on the news about bankers bonuses, I mean, it sounds so absurd with all that is going on.

My brother is in the car industry. My family was working class and [those people] don’t know if they’ll have a job in six months time. That process is accelerated in America, but my brother in six months, will know if he’s working or not. It’s such a weird time right now, but to think that some of these bankers are insistent on contractual bonuses – fuck them. Fuck those people. And I’m guessing the album title and your lyrics have some theme around what’s going on.

Greenway: I’m not reinventing the wheel with my lyrics, but they need to emphasize the fact that we work ourselves into the ground. It was prompted by myself. I felt so burned out with everything and I think it’s like, “Why am I doing this?” Yes, I’m doing it for Napalm, I love Napalm, and it’s a part of my life. That said, I started to feel quite ill at times, so I said, “You know what man, I’ve got beautiful trees outside my apartment and I see the squirrels and I’ve got a park down the street that I’ve never been to. I need to start doing stuff like that and not doing anything and watch the world go by.” I think we think about working ourselves into the ground because they want to acquire money or things or elevate to another level. It’s not my thing. To me, I’m conditioned to work, work, work, and work, and it’s important to me, that I don’t get to a certain point where I say, “Realistically, I’ve got this many years left to live, what I have done for myself?” If you don’t understand or appreciate the simplicities in the life, how will you ever understand the complexities?

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