» Mark Greenway - Napalm Death
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Interview conducted April 13 2009
Interview published April 22 2009

Everyone should know about - Mark "Barney" Greenway - the crazed growler from Napalm Death. If you have had the privilege to see him perform, you have been amused by his seizure like stage presence, while wearing shorts, looking like an uncommon British punk. I spoke with Barney about his being a true atheist, and advocate of secular humanism. We dialogued about the scum of religion. This was a very engaging conversation, where Barney was open, honest, and forthright. Lend your eyes, ears, and hearts to the wisdom of the enlightened, for time waits for no slave!

MettleAngel: Hey Brother, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me and answer my questions.

  • Barney: No problem mate!

MettleAngel: We were going to do this when we last saw you with Exodus, but you had to manage your own merch booth.

  • Barney: Yes, I remember, that was a few years ago in Columbus.

You have an excellent memory. I've read many enjoyable interviews with you over the years, but the press seems to skirt around the issue of you being a true atheist. They portray you as being political, and concerned for humanity, but they gloss over your individual beliefs.

  • Barney: I am definitely an atheist! I don't believe in anything spiritual, or ethereal. I have found no basis for what most accept as their reality.

MettleAngel: What about concepts of nature, I assume you believe in the processes of life, and evolution as a construct?

  • Barney: I see nature as being very mechanical, cold, and well, warm in its own way. Nature is like a machine, it follows a very mechanical process.

MettleAngel: So you are not really a nihilist, you see the beauty in life, and nature?

  • Barney: Oh yeah, definitely! Some political Darwinists, of a very heinous persuasion, take the "survival of the fittest" concept literally, and this becomes a very dangerous thing, indeed! Part of the process of evolution is that we possess the chemical and emotional ability to assist mankind, and thereby, complement evolution.

MettleAngel: So you would concede to a conscious evolution, that allows for human emotion. You would agree that humans prosper by serving each other with love and compassion?

  • Barney: Oh yeah, I hate to be painted in a box, but I would have to agree that I am truly a humanist, at heart. That being said, I have no theistic belief attached to that.

MettleAngel: How do you explain concepts of love, emotional, passion, sentiment, etc.?

  • Barney: Once again, this is a chemical process, which we can make proper use of to better develop our species, and all of humanity.

MettleAngel: I view mankind, as human beings noticing, not judging, condemning, or destroying one another. If we chose to focus on service, we will bring about our own healing.

  • Barney: When it comes to concepts of love, and compassion, many people miss what this emotion really entails. Love is about wild abandon, not necessarily deviance; but, to really feel the power of love, one has to experience it as an explosion of sentiment, which should remain unbridled. Once you are enraptured in the feeling of love, you should just roll with it.

MettleAngel: I have great respect for someone who truly embraces his beliefs, with no ambivalence. Belief has a tendency to become a limiting process of self expression, based on personal experience; attributed to one's own emotional reaction. Religion then steps in, and manipulates the beliefs until they are under some form of control. Once one has become a slave to the system, or institution of religion, he has relinquished his personal freedoms.

  • Barney: I agree, religion takes away our individuality, and has attempted to do so for centuries. Religion is sinister because it strives to remove peoples trust in themselves. They rely upon a third party to experience justification in their actions. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that any religious deity, god, or perceived religious experience has ever benefited humanity. In most cases it is the exact opposite.

MettleAngel: Religion is systematic instruction, based upon empirical knowledge, attributed to faith. The religious experience, which supposedly converts the individual, is always subjective. This life altering moment becomes justified by an experience of signs, miracles, wonders, etc. All these contribute to the ongoing delusional process.

  • Barney: What happens with these religious warhorses, is that once they get tested by questions, beyond their grasp, they get pushed too far, and they can't continue. Once this happens, they become violent, and uber-pissed off! The point I want to get across, is that I don't have a problem with one's personal beliefs, as long as they keep it to themselves! My girlfriend's parents are Catholic, and I don't condemn them for their choices.

MettleAngel: That is so cool!

  • Barney: I cannot rely on common logic to understand what it takes for someone to get through their day. If they feel the need for religion, I have no issue with that. They are free to believe in whatever they choose. My big beef with religion is twofold: A) When it dominates governments on all levels. B) When it dumbs down otherwise perceptive, intelligent folk. To me that is an utter travesty. I don't reconcile how one can confuse belief or faith with logic. I support science. I am an atheist, underlined in bold, because, this is my choice. I should not be persecuted for having such a stance.

MettleAngel: I totally agree! Why does everyone feel the need to save everyone. Why don't they just leave us the fuck alone! I mean with all these musicians giving up drugs, and finding Jesus, they have just substituted one fix, for another. Religion is another form of addiction.

  • Barney: I agree, and I have no need for third party justification. I'm happy with my life. I have good days, and bad. This is my life, I live it accordingly. I believe in two basic concerns: A) Freedom of Movement and B) Freedom of Expression.

MettleAngel: This is why religious beliefs violate those two freedoms. Religion stems from the Latin root meaning to "tie a knot", or form a relationship. The school of apologetics (where we get the term apology), means to defend one's religious beliefs. Too many religious fanatics are concerned with apologetics, and proving their point, thus making you out to be wrong. They are so damn righteous, they either pray that you find the truth someday, or else you will suffer eternally; what B$!

  • Barney: Religion is corporate too. When I visited the Vatican, I'd swear I could feel the eyes bore into me. I tried to kick around a soccer ball, and have a bit of fun, and I was promptly escorted off the property.

MettleAngel: Say what! How did that offend them, or impose upon their beliefs? Sounds like your rights were violated!

  • Barney: My point exactly! it surprises me how people embrace god so easily, simply because they are afraid to just have themselves. Humanity radiates between itself, and this should never be underestimated. I don't need the prayers of others. When I was just a lad, my grandfather took me to Catholic mass. I was really impressed by its theatrical process, but I did not find god there.

MettleAngel: I agree, as a former Catholic myself, I became enthralled in the essence of the whole Catholic mass experience. Sadly, all I experienced from the attendees was pride, vanity, and judgment.

  • Barney: I became disenchanted with Catholicism once I saw how they treated homosexuals, and how they opposed abortion. From an early age, I always felt it was up to the woman to decide for herself. Now I see how corporate the Catholic Church is, and I'm glad I just walked away.

MettleAngel: Me too, I just cannot be party to all that vile hypocrisy, and exclusivistic thinking. I have no need, or desire to participate in than chicanery. I understand you support animal rights, please elaborate on this.

  • Barney: Once again we are dealing with the chemical process of love. We actually have the power to protect the animal kingdom, should we choose to do so. I respect the animal world, and I won't fuck with nature. I would never interfere in the wild, and try to change the biology of life. This is the way nature works. Only trained scientists should introduce new environments to ecology, for the sake of preserving the animals.

MettleAngel: You mean like zoologists, or ecologists who are trying to preserve a dying species?

  • Barney: Yeah, but that is for them, not me, to do. I will do my part by treating animals with respect and kindness, just as I would my fellow man.

MettleAngel: So you respect the circle of life, and the way it works. You have a reverence for nature, and it's hidden mysteries. You are not a heathen, or pagan, or advocate of Wicca, because those groups are just another example of disorganized religious nonsense.

  • Barney: Yeah, they are still religions, just with a different agenda. Take the Church of Satan, they have just inverted the whole Christianity concept, but to their own detriment. They just make an excuse to become more decadent and indulgent. Honestly, I see it as another extension of Christianity, with all the rituals, and rules.

MettleAngel: I agree Satanists are also arrogant, and close-minded. Everything is about self-preservation, to the exclusion of others. This is diametrically opposed to the secular humanist philosophy. The followers of Lavey, with the exception of King Diamond, tend to be pricks.

  • Barney: Once again this is just not needed! Where is the will of self? We need to dispense with all this shit, and just think for ourselves! I don't know why people are so damn offended when you deny the existence of god. They are so quick to impose their messianic figures of power, and thrust them upon you. What about my personal freedoms?

MettleAngel: I agree, what about concepts of mythology, and how it leads to mysticism. Most religions begin with a good story, which is then heavily exaggerated, and then inculcated upon a community.

  • Barney: That is so true. The Bible is a fantastic work of pure fiction, and a great read, once you divorce yourself from the divine.

MettleAngel: I agree, I don't know how one accumulation of wisdom texts was ever used to verify historical facts. This was never the case in the past. I often quote the Bible, like I do Shakespeare, because there is wisdom to be found, which can help you in life. Take the saying, "Love your neighbour as yourself.", even though this was a common gnostic phrase way before the so-called life of Christ, it still serves a real truth, which if followed, works.

  • Barney: I've used the Bible to make points in my lyrics, even if I have to change the words around to fit the content.

MettleAngel: Where would metal be without the use of the Bible! As an atheist, I assume you have no fear of death.

  • Barney: No defintitely not. Death has too many taboos associated with it. Sure I'll mourn for someone who is ill, or violently murdered, as that is compassion. However, once they are dead, they are dead, that's it.

MettleAngel: Like with Jesse Pintado, I'm sure you miss him as a friend, but you don't grieve for him, or act like the victim to his loss.

  • Barney: I feel empathy, and suffering, just as you or anyone, but I see death as permanent. There's no need to pursue it any further. The memory or experience of someone lingers and lasts, and that is sufficient.

MettleAngel: I assume you have no fear of a final judgment, life review, or the karmic wheel and the possibility of reincarnation.

  • Barney: Of course not, why do people really feel there is life after death, anyhow? I address this on the new album. I see life as a circle, and those who experience it fully cross the radius, or perhaps the whole diameter. Those who chose a righteous life, limit themselves, and bearly make a dent in the circle. They are living for a false promised future, after death. What rubbish! They have completely missed the meaning of life, denying themselves everything about being human. They are truly doing themselves and others a great disservice.

MettleAngel: I agree, fear of sex, or just living life to the fullest has become anathema, especially with some fanatic Jewish and Muslim tribes. Women are so held back from everything.

  • Barney: Morality is a fuckin' sham! I don't believe in it.

MettleAngel: Nor do I, especially when it comes to parenting. Many so-called non religious moms and dad's impose strict morality on their children at such a young age. They shame and punish their children for trying to express themselves individually.

  • Barney: All evil is subjective, and morality becomes adopted in some form, by everyone across the board. There are so many degrees to right and wrong, based on tolerance. Morality becomes hammered into people's heads, and they feel they have to act in a certain fashion, or face the consequences.

MettleAngel: This is social convention, dictated by the media, and the powers that be. We all follow like lab rats. Everyone is judging everyone else based on bullshit criteria. We are all swimming in the same ocean, but most prefer to let the other drown, rather than throw him a life preserver. It is like you mentioned with Darwin, and "survival of the fittest". Why does everyone feel they are in a competition?

  • Barney: Because they are taught that from such an early age. I'm not threatened by any of this, because I have a generally good footing on life. I honestly feel no need to be respected.

MettleAngel: In other words, you really just don't need anything. Need is the ultimate illusion which divides the human race.

  • Barney: Yes it is! In referring to an earlier point, people underestimate the free thinking ability of children at a very young age.

MettleAngel: I agree. Now to actually get off our soap box, and focus on your work with Napalm Death, you have been with the band most of your career. You are now celebrating 20 years with a very influential band. Do you find that being in Napalm Death has allowed you an appropriate avenue for expressing you humanism, and atheist beliefs?

  • Barney: Napalm is often referred to as being a political band, which I guess is a fair attribute.

MettleAngel: You are really more of a free thinking band, than political.

  • Barney: Yeah, because I'm not really hung up on politics either. That is just more of the same crap. Mainstream politics are tedious for me. I ascertain that Napalm has taken a stance on political issues, but they are more about human rights, and freedoms, which governments limit. I am all about human rights, and my lyrics address this.

MettleAngel: I agree, which is why I enjoy reading your lyrics, even if I have difficulty understanding your vocals. I have always respected what Napalm Death has accomplished over all these years. I've actually been listening to them since Scum, when Lee Dorian and Bill Steer were in the band. I guess Shane Embury is the only original member still in the band.

  • Barney: Yes, we have had our share of line-up rotations.

MettleAngel: Well, Barney, you are the main reason the band has prevailed. Thank you for being so personal, and upfront with me.

  • Barney: No problem mate. I respect that you wanted to hear what I have to say, without attacking me, or trying to turn the conversation around, to justify your points. You have been very fair with me, and I appreciate that.

MettleAngel: Honestly, Brother, you have given me plenty of food for thought. You have allowed me to rethink my own beliefs. I am not an atheist, and I do attribute a great deal to the spiritual world. I recommend the Conversation With God books, as you advocate the writing of Stephen Dawkings. We agree to not always agree, without making one another wrong. It is like with Napalm Death, the music is heavy and thrashing, and I appreciate your lyrics, but it is not as memorable as say Nuclear Assault, who would uphold similar world views. I appreciate the extreme, I'm just not always in the mood for it.

  • Barney: Well put. Thank you again, and enjoy the show. We'll play Suffer The Children, and you can thrash to that.

MettleAngel: That is my favourite Napalm song, so I will. That song epitomizes all we have discussed about the sham of morality, and how we are deceiving our own children! Thank You again for everything! I truly appreciate this conversation.

  • Barney: Thank you too, it has been quite a thrill to speak in this fashion, for a metal interview.

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