Interview with Mitch Harris of Menace & Napalm Death

May 2nd, 2014
by J P

 INTERVIEW WITH MITCH HARRIS 

By Helias 

 

Napalm Death are credited with defining the grindcore genre by incorporating elements of hardcore punk and death metal, using a noise-filled sound. It’s very hard to be a defining act in metal music. Except for that, Napalm Death are the holders of a Guinness World Recordfor the shortest song ever recorded! Mitch Harris is here to talk about his new band Menace, Bjork, strip shows and more…

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Metal-Rules.com: Hello, Mitch! This is Helias Papadopoulos from Metal-Rules, I am very happy and glad for this interview and greetings from Greece! First of all, how are you doing? And where are you checking in from today? 

Thanks, me too, we’re in Malaga Spain.

Metal-Rules.com: Let’s kick off with questions about your new band, Menace. A band biography in the tiniest conceivable nutshell. 

Well, Season Of Mist signed Menace after hearing one song without vocals. They gave me complete artistic freedom based on a philosophy. Derek Roddy recorded the drums. He really did a phenomenal job of innovative beats that enhance the nature of the songs so much. Nicola Manzan played real strings, violin, viola and cello. It really added a new dimension to the existing epic approach to creating emotional soundscapes. Fred Lecerecq played bass, and added a progressive feel, Shane Embury also played on 4 songs, which he explored a different technique. We’ve always been close, and it’s really interesting to expand the boundaries further. The producer Russ Russsell added so much input and time to make this something special. Her really helped me develop a singing style, and become confident and also expand on vocal harmonies. It was the most uplifting experience of my life, and also one of the most memorable one for different reasons.

Metal-Rules.com: Menace is a whole different venture, focused on rock, with elements of psych, prog and an amalgam of different influences. So, Menace is not in the veins of 10,000MPH grindcore blasting of Napalm Death. What are the purposes of your new band?

I was only building on a concept linking at least 16 songs to the Menace approach of building on spontaneous performances, and thinking from an aspect without limitation to style or genre, combining many interests and prospects. My aim was to create a unique team, using music as a platform, a medium, a vehicle on which all levels of art forms can be combined in a way to help tell and re-inforce a story through audio installations. A.I.

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Metal-Rules.com: Menace collaborate with “Ukraine’s Got Talent” winner Kseniya Simonova for the video of ‘Painted Rust’ and I was completely amazed and blown away by the result. Also, I don’t know many bands that use Sand Animation in their videos! Please tell us about that collaboration.

Thank you! I was in the process of finding someone who might be able to tell the story of To The Marrow and Painted Rust. I came across Kseniya, after being inspired by her work, and goals, I noticed that she was helping a small group of Ukranian children cancer patients. There was instantly a common link, and I contacted her with my story about a tragedy that I witnessed as I was recording the guitars for To The Marrow. I was scarred by an incident where a 12 year old girl was hit by a car in front of my house. I assisted her, and kept her focused until she died being taken into the ambulance. They revived her in the ambulance, and she survived with life changing brain injuries. I relive this event frequently, and I decided that the song would be about my experience with her. Being helpless, and offering the only support that I could. My dream was to do something positive with the results, and that’s how Kseniya and I established a strong connection. The two videos are a bridge between her creative vision and description of the Menace material. She put so much energy, and love into what she produced. We are so blessed to be working with her. We’ve linked the videos to try to establish any kind of donations for Marina, the Sports Champion who has just been moved to the UK to continue treatment. I hope that our efforts can a least generate some positive energy for a family in desperate need.

Metal-Rules.com: What are the plans of Menace after the release of the debut album named ‘Impact Velocity’?

We have a series of 4 videos, and working on completion of a further 3 videos to be presented in April or so. We’re looking for creative management, and plan on doing a series of live performances. Kseniya has already agreed to perform live with us once for a special occasion once everything is up and running. Much thought has gone into the concept and theatrical presentation. This will take, time, money and coordination. When we finish the puzzle, it will be ready to make the best projection of thought projecting concepts that we can think of.

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Metal-Rules.com:  Now, let me focus on Napalm Death as it’s your main band. This legendary band has already released 15 studio albums and of equal number of EP’s. Let’s take a look on a possible upcoming album. How is it going on with that? What’s the new offering of Napalm Death by that release?

We enter the studio for phase 1 in early March. We are taking a different approach to recording. There is a lot of material that all seems very exciting and inspiring to me. Expect something extremely fresh and from the core of intensity.

Metal-Rules.com: You personally have been playing for the past 25 years in Napalm Death. I’m sure you had many difficulties throughout this time… What makes you always keep pushing forward? 

After 24 years, when I reflect on what we’ve done, I still see a logical and focused way forward. There is still much to achieve, and strengthen our philosophies and tactics, expanding strategies and learning from intakes. I’m happy with the way things have been, we have always been a close unit, basically, true friendship binds it all together. We’ve all been through hardships, and support each other in every possible way. It’s what helps us continue in a way where we operate as a family, and with all such a clear vision of what our objectives are this time around. We all essentially want the same thing, it’s meeting somewhere in the idle of where the magic takes place.

Napalm Death Session 30.06.2006

Metal-Rules.com: Could you tell us some words about the writing sessions of ‘Scum’ album? Could you imagine that album would be a milestone of a metal genre? 

From a fan point of view, I loved the combination of influences, pushing the speed boundaries, and also remaining heavy. Cryptic Slaughter, Hellhammer, Repulsion, Slaughter, Discharge, inspired things was a determined approach to relating their message. The music was cutting edge, and the social awareness aspects shed the band in a different light.

Metal-Rules.com: How do you feel about the aspect that Napalm Death are credited with laying the groundwork for the grindcore style?

That’s cool and all, but expression should not be bound to people’s limited understanding of what a classification is, or therefore should be, where does it lead? That’s the point, refining, and redefining, without fear of ridicule I guess.

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Metal-Rules.com: Did you consciously decide it should be extreme so that it had its own niche and ‘stamp’ in the market?

All we do comes from the heart, it has nothing to do with markets, or niche’s or cliché’s. It’s always been completely natural, and will continue to do so. As long as it flows, than there is no telling which way the river will travel until it eventually meets the see. Some find it extreme, some find it comforting, sedating, and a way of realising we are not alone in collective thought.

Metal-Rules.com: How you compare writing sessions in Napalm Death and to, say, your current new band Menace?

It was all written at the same time as various Napalm albums, especially Utilitarian. Menace was just a different way on expanding on ideas that I felt required a different vocal approach, whatever that took to compliment the music in a way where I hadn’t approached before. any individual goes through so many moods and experiences in a day, in a lifetime. Menace and Napalm are both different angles and results of experience on a road where I still wonder where it leads, lol

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Metal-Rules.com: Some people believe that NAPALM DEATH should have changed their name because there’s only one original band member, Shane, left. Have you ever considered changing your name? (Personally speaking, I believe that all of you are original bandmembers as you love this band and force for it over 20+ years!) 

It’s not something I think about, we don’t let what others think to influence what feels like the right thing to do.

Metal-Rules.com: NAPALM DEATH holds the Guiness Record for shortest song ever recorded with the one-second “You Suffer” (1987). How do you feel about that? How did that Record come?

I don’t think that the song was ever intended for such a coincidental novelty factor to take place.

Metal-Rules.com: Guiness stated that it will no longer be listing said “shortest…” World Records. Do you know why? 

It’s not something that concerns me.

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Metal-Rules.com: What’s your opinion on other kinds of music?

I think a good song is a good song, no matter what genre or style it is. I love all kinds of music, and I like to be exposed to new things.

Metal-Rules.com:  Do you know any Greek heavy metal acts? Are there any Greek metal bands that you really like or want to share the stage? Rotting Christ, Firewind, Suicidal Angels to name a few.

Yes, we have played with most of them. There is a loyal music scene in Greece!

Metal-Rules.com: And now I would like to discuss about some deplorable events. We are in the beginning of 2014 and three big metal personas have passed away… Ronnie James Dio, Peter Steele and Paul Grey (SLIPKNOT) and finaly Jeff Hanneman (SLAYER). Are the last 5 years the most depressing years of heavy metal?

We’re all getting older, and touring is a difficult way of life. Health becomes an obstacle in some cases. Losing Jesse Pintado was the closest person I’ve lost in recent years. We must have a long term vision, and take care of ourselves and loved ones.

Metal-Rules.com: What do you think of today’s music industry in general? 

I like how different styles of extreme music that have been incorporated into what I hear on the radio when I’m driving. It shows a different angle on things. It takes a lot to get my attention these days, it’s usually centred around vocal melodies, that’s my main interest, understanding how things work…

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Metal-Rules.com: Is technology part of your life or are you still a “romantic”?

I’m a hopeless romantic, but I utilise the tools I need to operate while I’m away, and also on a creative front. We are all bound to technology, it’s nice to use it for something good, instead of weapons, or cures for the elite. Science is a big interest of mine, and I think it holds the key to our future. Unfortunately, it’s in the wrong hands… Until now… lol

Metal-Rules.com: I have beholden that heavy metal changes through the decades. Heavy and Thrash metal dominated over in 80’s, Death, Black and Power metal in 90’s and Metalcore and Nu Metal in the 00’s in general. 2010 was the beginning sign of the new decade. What do you see for the future?  

Hopefully something more heartfelt and artistic, my only concerns are for which way I will proceed. I’m not concerned of what’s the next big thing. We operate on a different frequency, and hopefully those with the skills can find direction in our message.

 Metal-Rules.com: If you could pick only one musician to work with, who would that be and why? 

Bjork, because she’s Bjork:)

Metal-Rules.com: You convinced me! You are of the few death/grindcore metal musicians that can say what elements make a good death/grind metal song and album.

Innovation

Metal-Rules.com:  Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:

Punk (as a music genre): 

The word has been watered down, and linked with many other things

Record Labels: 

Season Of Mist

Politics: 

Personal

Prison Break (TV series): 

Thrilling

Strip show: 

Intimidating

Michael Jackson: 

Probably the most inspirational one man crusade in history

Metal-Rules.com: Mitch, thank you for this interview. I wish to you and the rest guys of MENACE and NAPALM DEATH all the best!!!

Thanks so much for the support!

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