Podcast Interview

Podcast Interview: Napalm Death Producer Russ Russell on New Album’s Trashcan Drumkit, Sonic Youth & Converge Side Project

This week’s guest on The Void with Christina podcast is record producer Russ Russell. Russ has been working with the endlessly innovative Napalm Death for more than two decades. He and the band are on the finish line of the first Napalm Death album in five years, which features percussion made of discarded scrap metal, a slew of covers, wild ideas and what singer Barney Greenway is known best for: speaking truth to power. Think for yourself, question authority are eternal values for the grindcore band – lyrically and musically. Listen to the Russ Russell podcast interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts and all beloved podcast platforms.

Russ Russell joined the darkside early. He discovered punk rock and early music technology as an enthusiastic eight year old. He started producing bands as a teenager. Since then, he’s made music with countless heavy bands, from At the Gates to Dimmu Borgir to Machine Head. His deep relationship with Napalm Death progressed on the new album even further alongside longtime friend and frequent collaborator, the mighty Shane Embury. In this epic conversation, we delve deep into the mystical, musical life that would be most metalheads’ burning fever dream.

Listen to the podcast on:


What the forthcoming Napalm Death record feels like

Russ Russell: Even though some of it is deathly dark, [in fact] some of it is quite upsetting … at the same time, there is very much a feeling of positivity. A feeling that even though things are shit, we can do something about it.   

There’s so many songs that we’ve recorded because we kept saying that’s enough songs now and then Shane would be like, “I just got this one more song I really want to do! And I want to do some cover versions! And just one other riff that I really want to try.” He’s so creative it is ridiculous. He can just pull it out of the air.

Christina: I don’t know if Shane gets enough credit for being one of the most interesting metal musicians of our time.

Russ Russell: I think he’s starting to. More and more people are waking up to the genius of Embo.

Why they used scrap metal & trashcans for drums on the new Napalm Death album

Russ Russell: The best new instrument [on the new Napalm Death album] was our new industrial drum kit that we built. That was trash cans, we had an old milk churn, we had just old broken bits of metal. Next door to the studio, there’s an iron forge – they make weapons for battle re-enactments. They make swords and armour and axes, all that kind of stuff. And there’s always loads of broken bits of scrap metal just laying around.

So I asked if I could borrow some and we dragged them into the studio. And we just smashed the hell out of all these pieces of metal with like hammers, screwdrivers, baseball bats. Yeah, it was brilliant. A lot of people would do that kind of thing with samples these days but we wanted to actually do it for real. It is the imperfections that make it exciting.

When Thurston Moore learned Napalm is covering Sonic Youth’s “White Cross” 

Russ Russell: One of the things that really drew me and Shane together was our massive love of Sonic Youth. Luckily, I was working at Glastonbury Festival and Thurston was playing and I got to meet him. I told him Napalm were doing a cover for the new album and it just blew his mind. He freaked. He was shouting to the rest of the band “Oh my fucking God, Napalm Death are doing a Sonic Youth cover!”

Shane’s Blood for the Soul with Converge’s Jacob Bannon + Megadeth’s Dirk Verbeuren

Russ Russell: A long time ago, Shane did a project called Blood from The Soul. He’s resurrected that and breathed new life into it. Dirk Verbeuren (ex-Soilwork, Megadeth) is playing drums on it, because we love him and he’s an awesome drummer. And Jacob Bannon from Converge is adding some stuff to it. He’s done a blinding job. I can’t say too much about it but its just awesome.

Tronos, the supergroup with Shane that brought tears

Christina: Do you have an emotional thing [when you write], do you ever think it should feel a certain way or is it not that conscious?

Russ Russell: Most of the time I do. Not always. Some things don’t quite touch your heart or mind or nerve in the same way. Tronos was the big one for me. That was a proper meeting of minds. We had tears quite often. Some real heavy moments. That was a real supergroup. We had Troy from Mastodon, he did some bass and keyboards. Billy Gould from Faith No More did some bass on it. Danny Lilker was on there. We got Snake from Voivod doing some vocals and Erica from The Wonder Stuff, she played strings and did her vocal parts which were absolutely amazing. That was the thing, we wanted the contrast of real hellish end of the world sounds but then with uplifting moments of angelic joy. The contrast was absolutely perfect.

When Napalm Death became the first extreme band to play Glastonbury Festival

Russ Russell: Napalm Death were one of the first extreme bands to play Glastonbury and it was utterly groundbreaking. It was a true historical moment … the barriers were buckling, everyone was trying to get in! It was the happiest circle pit I’ve ever seen. People all face painted up with daffodils and waving these flowers around, skipping around in circles. I was like wow, that’s so cool.

When you see thousands of people shouting “Nazi punks, fuck off!” [when Napalm Death played their classic cover of the Dead Kennedys tune] I mean, they didn’t write that but that’s a really good feeling.

I stood on the side of the stage when they were playing and the lovely woman who runs the whole area of the festival said she’d been trying for years to get Napalm on Glastonbury. When they were playing, she had tears flooding down her face and she said this has opened the door, this has changed history … from now on. I was bawling like a little kid. It was amazing, absolutely amazing.




You Might Also Like