Joe Moor has a word with legendary metal Brummies Napalm Death
I find the choice of album title (Utilitarian) quite interesting, can you explain the story behind that?
Well, what it definitely isn’t is a direct homage to Utilitarianism as a whole concept. I have a certain interest in it, because I’m kind of an info junkie and it interests me, and the thing that I thought was interesting about it was it’s used as a philosophical theory by people of different ideological persuasions, human rights or animal rights people for example, but it can also be used by people on the other end of the scale whose main purpose is power acquisition at any cost. The basic premise of it is happiness by any means, which is course entirely subjective, so what I kind of wanted to do was draw a parallel to myself and other people. I try to always with consideration, kind of an ethical kind of lifestyle, and through that there’s just certain things you won’t do if you have an ideological problem with them and to me that’s kind of a low level form of resistance really. But you have self-doubt even with that, like ‘what difference am I making?’ ‘whats the point?’ and you do go through that, but I think a certain number of people have to persist, because if you take that low level of resistance away then there is a large vacuum that can be exploited by the people who do have the power in this world.
Continuing on from that, Napalm Death have always been a very socially conscious band and you’ve also made reference to the Occupy movement for Utilitarians promotion. Are there any specific songs on the new album on about the movement, or last summers riots as well?
Well for me what we are fundamentally is a humanitarian band, in the truest sense of the word. One of the first things, on my list at least, is the promotion of human rights before anything else. But specifically in terms of the Occupy Movement, to be honest it was purely coincidental that that whole process was going on whilst we were doing the album. When it did come along when we were doing the album, my main thing was just to show solidarity and I realised with the new album we could do that, and it was purely on a principle level. Is there any songs on songs about the Occupy Movement on the album? No there isn’t, but I think there’s things on there that probably fall into the general arena of what they would be concerned with.
It’s a bit of a personal thing, but the cover art sort of reminds me of the band’s earlier 80’s work like Scum, is this a reflection of the music at all?
Well it goes beyond that to be honest. A lot of the bands that were influential in Napalm’s formative years, bands like Discharge, Dirt, Crass, all kinds of bands from the European mainland, they all had that very stark kind of artwork, and so that’s where the reference points are really. So yes, you could make a certain connection with those early Napalm albums, but those albums also had very definite reference points, so it’s all part of the general community. I think the black and white thing really hits home because of the starkness of it, ya know it’s quite grim in some ways, it’s dealing with grim subjects. But I think that hopefully what comes out the end of is something positive, because you need that positivity, it’s not just about highlighting the shittiness of things ya know?
I know no-one likes to argue about labels, but if you had to would you say Napalm Death are primarily a punk or metal band?
I gotta be honest mate, at this point I don’t really care, no disrespect to yourself. Having been in band for twenty-something years I remember the times when I used to worry what people actually thought the band… to which genre it applied. I mean I used to worry about it but now I look back on it…it’s fucking ridiculous. All music is subjective…even when the bloody scene police are arguing about which band is what (laughs). People tie themselves in knots thinking about it. If anything the easiest term is the grindcore thing, because definitely we’re not exclusively a metal band, I think that’s far too narrow a definition, and we’re definitely not exclusively a punk because we’ve got the metal influences and some alternative influences as well.
I was really bummed to see all your latest albums pulled from Spotify by Century Media (Records) recently, and I was wondering what you thought of these semi free streaming services and non-physical distribution methods that are coming up now?
I think it works for the band. It’s harder than not for a band like Napalm that is bordering on white noise a lot of times(laughs), to get their stuff out there. To that specific thing your referring to, they haven’t done it with every website it’s just Spotify, because they had an actual disagreement with Spotify. Certainly Napalm had nothing to do with it and it’s nothing we would have a debate about. So it’s purely an arrangement between Spotify and (Century Media), it’s something that frankly I don’t concern myself with, but they obviously have their reasons. I do think it’s unfortunate that people don’t have that streaming service, that avenue to hear the new album, but shit happens sometimes.