BARNEY GREENWAY (Napalm Death) – I could growl like a bear
Jason Netherton fra Misery Index valgte ut Barney Greenway fra Napalm Death som sin etterfølger i vår Deepthroat serie som omhandler extreme vokalister og vokalteknikker. Barney viste seg å være en enkel herre å få i tale og nedenfor kan du lese hans ganske så utfyllende bidrag til The Deepthroat Series.
ET – When did you start doing extreme vocals (What year and at what age)?
BARNEY – I think it was when I was eighteen-years-old in 1987 that I started to realise I could growl like a bear. It just seemed like a good thing to do at the time.
ET – What made you start to do extreme vocals?
BARNEY – The wave of truly great extreme hardcore and metal that was flooding the underground in the mid-eighties. It couldn't be anything else but inspirational, and in all fairness, it hasn't had quite the same level of quality since.
ET – Can you describe the technique or the techniques you are using?
BARNEY – In terms of accepted vocal technique, I always try and sing from the diaphragm. This is because I need as much lung capacity as I can muster. Some extreme vocalists, you see, save themselves a little by only partly projecting their voice, then letting the amplification and sound techniques do the rest. However, it's all about the creating the whole feel for me, so I cannot approach it any other way than at maximum power. Aside from that, it would be actually really hard to describe what I'm doing – it just kind of comes out, really.
ET – Has your technique changed during your career?
BARNEY – Perhaps, but again, nothing I would be aware of that in terms of marking the differences. If anything, I've perhaps learned how to use phrasing and accenting of lyrics more creatively.
ET – Have you ever hurt yourself by using a "wrong technique"?
BARNEY – Personally, no. The only time it really gets a little difficult is when you contract colds or flu or worse on tour (pretty common in that environment). Shit, I had to deal with pneumonia and playing gigs a couple of times back in the day. You could say that I had to concentrate on my breathing somewhat.
ET – Is there something you do on a regular basis to keep your voice in shape? Any routines?
BARNEY – I can only tell you what works for me, as each vocalist and the way in which his / her body reacts is different. So…don't drink alcohol on tour or in the studio, don't smoke at all and generally try and stay healthy. Fruit tea and honey is a lifesaver – I get through three or four flasks during one days vocal session in the studio. I piss like a racehorse after that.
Routines? Nah, nothing at all. I just hit the ‘go' button…
ET – Do you think it can be dangerous to do extreme vocals?
BARNEY – Yes, I can see some people really agitating their vocal chords quite seriously, and what that could lead to is anybody's guess. But my voice always feels quite robust and healthy. I was definitely born lucky with that – not to mention having quite a distinctive sound. Or so people tell me.
ET – What is most important for you – to make cool sounds and interesting rhythms, or to have a clear diction/pronunciation?
BARNEY – Clear diction sometimes is good – but not at the expense of losing intensity or creativity. I have some stuff sometimes that is unintelligible on purpose. That's why we have a lyric sheet. Hey, I like noisy!
ET – Do you think that extreme vocals can be made into a science, like "this is how it works for everyone, to make this sound you have to do this etc"? Or is it more intuitive and individual how to do it?
BARNEY – No, it's an individual thing, as I mentioned earlier. I would find it quite difficult, for example, to replicate the standard ‘semi-gruff' style that a lot of the more mainstream acts use.
I think you just kind of fall into your vocal style – subconsciously, of course, you know what influences you in the back of your mind, so you just build on that. The only real science to it is learning how to breathe effectively whilst you're belting it out.
ET – Do you have any advice to people who wants to start doing extreme vocals?
BARNEY – Very simple. If you have the urge, just go for it. Oh, and again, try and sing from more places than just your throat, if you can – it'll give you more power.
ET – Mention three extreme vocalists whose style you admire, and explain your choice. What specifically do you like about the styles of those three? Also mention three vocalists (not necessarily extreme vocalists) which you have been influence by, and explain in which way you have been influenced by each of them.
BARNEY – To be honest, both these sets of vocalists are kind of interchangeable in terms of whether I admire them or whether they are influences…
I admire: Somewhat unintentionally, I think Lemmy Kilminster from Motörhead was one of the first extreme vocalists. You don't get more natural than this guy, and I try very much to go with the natural elements. I guess he's a great big exception to the rule about keeping yourself healthy – what a growl.
Michael Gira from Swans was a very powerful extreme vocalist, albeit from a different angle. He had some seriously fucked up head-trip lyrics, and that moaning style he used to use was just supremely fucking depressing. You can totally hear this influence in some of the more ‘left-field' Napalm Death songs.
Calv from Discharge was probably the ultimate in minimal vocalists. Very often, I think he just used the same vocal patterns and approach over different songs, but the overall power of Discharge totally blazed the way for the punk / metal crossover.
Influences: Tom G. Warrior from Celtic Frost was great because he actually had a very loose style that didn't actually need to be full power because he used his phrasing and accenting to great effect.
Kevin Mahoney from the original power violence band Siege was great because he was exactly the opposite – always sounding as he was going off-the-rails and losing his mind.
Kam Lee from Massacre is one guy who just had this unearthly depth to his voice. Some people say I copied him, but I had a lot of other influences at the same time also.
ET – Who do you want to challenge in this series? (Who should be the next extreme vocalist to answer these questions?) Give a brief explanation for your choice.
BARNEY – I think Calv from Discharge. It would be good to get a little more of his perspective becasue there's a general opinion that he started shouting just to piss off a lot of the 'chart-punk' bands and fans at the time.
Cal er ex-vokalist i det britiske punkbandet Discharge og viste seg å være en ytterst vanskelig person å oppdrive. Det siste sporet etter mannen ender i London der han etter å ha jobbet som postbud en stund, startet han opp ett par band uten at det ble noe mer av det. Vi skal fortsette å prøve å spore opp Cal, men har ikke de helt store forhåpningen på å finne ham.