Intervju med Shane Embury i Napalm Death/Lock Up!
I tisdags smet jag snabbt in till stan för ett kortare snack med Shane. Mötte honom vid Debaser Slussen och det visade sig att han planerat ta en öl med en svensk polare men bad mig följa med till Skeppsbronbar för ett snack. 5 minuter senare slog vi oss ner vid ett bord, fick varsin öl i näven och kunde börja snacka med oidentifierbar dansmusik i bakgrunden.
Shane var trevligheten själv, men med en något svår dialekt. Han var i stan med Lock Up så det blev främst snack om det, men även lite om hans huvudband Napalm Death och Birmingham.
You came in today?
Shane Embury: Yeah, around one o´clock and the others like an hour later on the train in. They left on New year´s Day and then to Belgium and stayed the night. Then they drove all the way to Copenhagen and stopped by our friend Frode(Sylthe), who did the new Napalm Death album cover.
Yeah, the guy that did…
SE: Yeah, he did The Haunted´s cover as well. So they stopped there and then they came over here.
You live in Birmingham now, right?
SE: Yeah, I live in Birmingham.
But you grew up in Broseley?
SE: Yes, it´s a real small village about 40 miles from Birmingham, near a place called Iron Bridge. Iron Bridge is basically where the first iron bridge was made and they fucked it up completely. (laughs) Thomas Telford, the revolution and this kinda shit! I didn´t care about that when I was growing up. Shrewsbury is where Charles Darwin was born, about 16 miles from where I lived. There´s quite a bit of heritage if you actually bothered to listen. (laughs) It´s a real countryside kinda place. Now it´s a little bit better. Obviously more people are into metal and stuff. When I was growing up it was about me and three people.
How long did you stay there?
SE: Well, I was born there, so I was there until I was about 19 actually and then I moved to Birmingham. We travelled to Birmingham back and forth when I met the Napalm guys, the original Napalm guys in 86, I used to stay over for weekends and after about two years of being in the band and going on the trains to practice with Napalm, I thought I might as well move, really. It´s gonna be cheaper and that was just about the time when Jesse and Mitch joined the band and we got a house together, so we were like the “Young ones” for a while.
What´s Birmingham like these days? Is it still a big industrial town?
SE: Yeah, in the respect that yeah, there´s still a lot of industry but not as much as it used to be. Nowhere near. I live right down the road from the Rover factory, but a lot of the companies have been bought out by Americans or whatever. It´s nothing compared to what it was like in the 60´s and the 70´s. They always use that industrial kind of tag on it and it is to some extent. It reminds me of Dortmund in Germany. Very grey and there´s that essence of factory about it still, but anywhere this time of year it´s grey and bleak so… it´s what you make of your culture, I guess.
A band like Lock Up, where did you get the name from? Is it from the Stallone movie?
SE: No, no, no… I think Nicholas (Barker) and Cradle of Filth and their road crew have a bizarre sense of humor. I think the guitar tech was on tour with us, when we met Anton originally in ´97. Our drummer (Napalm Death) was playing and the guitar tech was looking at him going “His arms are locking up, man!” and I´d never heard that expression, “What do you mean, lock up?”. He said “Well, you know, locking up.” (Shane shows how his arms were moving hitting the drums). Then we were pissed out of our heads one night and we went “Yeah, let’s call it Lock Up!”. Then we realized that the guitarist from Rage Against The Machine had a band called Lock Up, so in hindsight we perhaps should´ve chosen something else, but there you go! You do what you do.
A band like Lock Up and other projects you´ve got going, is that because Napalm Death is not enough of an outlet for your creativity?
SE: Well, I don´t think it´s some mad artistic statement or anything like that. Initially when we started Lock Up, it was at the tail end of Napalm´s experimental kind of edge or whatever you wanna call it. Three of four albums, the Rush period. (laughs). I´ve known Nick for years and that´s when we really became good friends. I started to really discover my love for blast beats again. I mean, it´s always there, but in the mid 90´s it drifted a little bit. It was me, Nick and Jesse and I think Jesse was missing the Terrorizer thing a little bit as well and he just wanted to stamp this thing down a little bit more and that´s how it really started. Also the fact to be working with other people. With Napalm, we´ve known each other for years, but we´re quite different people, as everyone is. I think, as serious as the music is, lyrically it´s a bit more tongue in cheek, cliché or whatever you wanna call it. We can be a little bit more easygoing. Napalm is my life and there´s an intensity about Napalm, but there´s a boundary to some extent. I´ve been around for a long time and I´ve met a lot of people and made a lot of friends, so I just enjoy working with people. That´s what it is! It´s fun to do.
How do you come up with a title like “Necropolis transparent”?
SE: Oh, that was Tomas! He came up with hat one. We were originally gonna call it “The embodiment of paradox and chaos”, but that was too much, so Tomas came up with that title. A general loose theme behind it. Friends you´ve known for years and what goes on behind the scenes. It´s the world in general, a world behind the world, you know. I don´t know where he got it. He probably read it in a book somewhere. It´s a bit shorter and better than the real cliché blah, blah, blah title.
Working with guys like Andy Sneap and Danny Biggin, what do they bring to Lock Up?
SE: Danny´s the bass player in Anton´s other band CRIMINAL and he started his studio pretty much right before we went in and Danny is easygoing. He primarily gave us the means to record it. With Lock Up there´s no label, we´re always out of a deal or between and it´s a case of “Well, Danny´s got a studio, let´s go there!”. He put a lot of hours into it and helped us with some of the stuff we had. We were running out of time really, to get it done and that´s when we called Andy. I´ve known Andy for a long time and it was early January and he said “Come up to my studio and we´ll finish it there!”. It´s quite nice to have Andy onboard, with the guitar sound and all that. A slight different angle. It´s great to self produce your own thing, but we wanted this record to sound better than the last one. We couldn´t quite work out which direction and Andy was there to help us. It was a fun thing. We´re all mates together. We ran out of time on the last album. He helped us out with a few arrangements and stuff, but mostly it was done by ourselves. Danny was there as a friend to help us out and put a lot of time and effort into it and Andy more so to polish it up a little bit.
I know you´re going out on tour with Goatwhore in the US in February and the new Napalm Death album is coming out in February too?
SE: Yeah, sometimes it works like that. It´s gonna be hard this year to really coordinate a lot of stuff because Napalm´s gonna take off, but where gonna squeeze it in where we can and Tomas is also a teacher, so we´re gonna work it around Tomas´schedule. These last four months I´ve been doing Napalm, Lock Up, Brujeira, so it´s been nonstop really. That´s the nature of being in different bands. (laughs)
With the new Napalm Death album, I guess you´re gonna be touring the rest of the year then?
SE: Yeah, I guess… some dates are being filled up and there are little pieces here and there and as time goes on they start getting bigger and bigger. What we did with the last album and what was beneficial for us… because Nick is a family man and his kids are young, instead of going out for this six or seven week European tour, we did stuff like France for one weekend and did four shows and then come back, so you just keep on going out. It´s actually very good in many ways. You keep the expenses down and it´s hard touring. You do six weeks and then what. With this last album… it came out in 2009 and we only really stopped touring for it a couple of weeks ago. We stretched it out for a long time. So that´s what we´re trying this time, to stretch it out. I see now like four French shows, a few German and then the festivals and then probably a bit of the States towards the end of the year.
You gotta be real fortunate, giving the music you play and the state of the industry today and still tour the world and see all these places?
SE: It´s kind of crazy to some extent. In July I´ve been in Napalm for 25 years. I joined when I was 19 and now I´m 44 and there´s been many ups and downs. When you were younger you got on a big tour bus and you really didn´t care what was going on and years later you go “Well, we kinda wasted a lot of fucking money doing that!”. These days it´s usually us and our sound guy basically. But the way the industry is today and so on, we seem to be busier. It´s kinda strange. Our core audience has always been there, but there are a lot of young kids out there. I´m old enough to be their dad so it´s crazy! It´s a weird way the industry has gone, but in a way it´s been beneficial for us. I just I was 10 years younger! (laughs)
SE: But you know, we do consider us very lucky to still be doing this and we found ourselves having more ideas now then we´ve ever had, which is insane in a strange way. We went through all the ups and downs and now we´re finally looking in the same direction and we´re a bit more open minded. The albums just seem to come. I think we feel that we´re very fortunate.
And you signed a new deal with Century Media. Is that multiple albums?
SE: Yeah it´s for three options. They´ve been really good to us and we´ve gotten a lot of good press for the band that we normally wouldn´t have got. Relation wise it´s been good. We´ve always been able to talk to them. I´ve known the guys for years! I can talk to anybody and I can go to the head guy and that´s good. You have to be old enough to know it works both ways, you know.
They´ve been pretty supportive to us and we´ve got no reason not to resign with them, really.
Do you still feel that you need a label?
SE: That´s debatable. I did approach the guys and say “Hey, we can do this ourselves!”, but it´s obviously harder work. But you can get people in there to do the press. But Barney said that from a press angle wise, you probably get more press being on Century Media and I see the point. Ultimately we put the record out, they distribute it and we go on tour. But doing labels, it´s very hard.
The forthcoming Napalm Death album, any surprises? Can fans expect the traditional napalm Death sound?
SE: I don´t know what that is? It depends on what we were looking for in Napalm. It carries on from the last record. We recorded more tracks then we intended to and drove the producer fucking nuts! (laughs) “I thought I was mixing 14 and you´ve got like 19 here?”. On one track we´ve got the sax player John Zorn on one of the songs. Insanely, mad, fast track and he comes on with the sax. I don´t know, I think it sounds pretty good really! He´s a big Napalm fan and we´ve always respected what he´s doing and I thought that this is probably the time to bring him on. There´s a lot of noisy shit going on and I think that if you liked the last couple of albums, you should like it! (laughs)
Cool! Thanks Shane!