Legendary grindcore bassist Shane Embury may be turning 50 this year, but that’s not stopping the man from attempting a feat even those half his age might balk at: playing sets with grind/death band Lock Up, groove-grind-Satanic-druglords Brujeria, and grindcore trailblazers Napalm Death every night on the upcoming European Campaign for Musical Destruction tour.
“I think on a grind level, this tour lives up to its name,” says Embury. “I’m looking forward to this tour for many reasons, but having the chance to have a crack at three of the bands I play in every night for 25 shows is the kind of challenge that doesn’t happen very often, so, let’s go!”
We caught up with Embury to get the lowdown on the tour, how he’s getting ready for it, and just how he plans to survive to see his 50th birthday.
How did this tour come about? And did you consider saying “no” at any point?
Well, this particular round of the CMD—Campaign for Musical Destruction—tour was going to have a slightly different line-up; this will be something we will revisit again maybe next year or when the time is right for another CMD tour. But with the time frame already locked in place for late April and early May, and since Napalm Death hadn’t really done a headlining tour to support the Apex Predator album, we wanted to press ahead and do something that would befit the title of the tour. Brujeria were suggested at first, and sometimes I’m not always present in the band due to my commitments to Napalm, but obviously this wasn’t going to be the case this time, so, hey, presto! The band were added and I guess I had to say I wondered about options right then. Iron Reagan were originally going to to be part of the tour but that, unfortunately, fell though and Power Trip came in at light speed, so that was cool; Napalm had just done a tour with those guys in the US Last November which had gone really well. Three members of Lock Up were already going to be on the tour bus so why, we all thought, should we not bring Kevin Sharp over and add Lock Up? The timing couldn’t be better for the new Lock Up album, and rarely does this chance happen. I had done this kind of thing on festivals before but never a whole tour, but I thought, fuck it, you only live once; let’s have a go at trying to make it all work.
Are the sets all back to back or are there other bands breaking it up?
There’s a local opener, then Lock Up, then we have Power Trip, then Brujeria, and then Napalm Death.
How exactly do you plan to pull this off?
There were concerns from some of the team that this will be tough on me, and, yes, I guess when you look at it maybe it seems that way, but in reality, Lock Up’s set will be a swift 30 minutes and then I get a breather when Power Trip are on for a spell before jumping in for Brujeria. I do, believe it or not, go to the gym once in a while, although it may not show. But to me, it’s like one big general warm up and I feel that by the time I get to grind with Napalm I should be suitably in a very warmed-up state of insane grindophoria, so all will be well. Then after that, it will be straight to bed for rest with a late-night movie, as I don’t drink anymore.
Are you preparing yourself either mentally or physically now, pre-tour?
Not right now, but prior to the CMD tour I am with Brujeria on a 12-date back-to-back Central American tour that starts in the middle of March. When that finishes in Argentina, four days later Napalm will start a 10-day-in-a-row tour of Russia, culminating in our first visit to Armenia, after which the CMD tour starts four days after that, on April 25, so I should be in fighting shape. I ended up playing 160 shows last year, which is not bad going. It’s a frame of mind I feel comfortable in; believe me, running around after my three-year-old daughter is much more demanding [laughs]!
How does the concert experience differ for you being in Brujeria compared to Lock Up compared to Napalm Death?
Brujeria is more laid-back and groove-oriented, I suppose, although with the masks you have to breathe though your mouth a lot more, so that can become difficult, and with the mask in some ways it’s more restricting, movement-wise. Lock Up is just a blast attack trying to keep up with [drummer Nicholas] Barker’s breakneck torpedo rhythms, but at the same time he kind of coasts you along, as he always knows the songs better then any of us! He gets pissed off when I say that, but it’s the truth, really. The first couple of shows will be nerve-wracking while we find our feet, but I like that in a way; it reminds me of the days where I never played that often; lots of nervous butterflies before stage time. Napalm Death is a well-oiled machine, as some of the songs I have been playing for 30 years. I tend to lose myself in the familiar noise of it all, as grindcore is a part of my subconscious 24 hours a day.
Any chance of this coming to North America? We’d really appreciate the chance to see you knocking yourself out doing this ridiculous onstage marathon in the name of grind over here.
You never know, really! At times, you see The Melvins and Fantomas do those family kind of tours and to me it makes sense but it can be viewed differently, I believe. This tour, I guess you could say, that stars just sort of aligned this way. I’m not too sure we would be making a habit of it, or would want to really, but I’ll let you know after this tour!
Now, these aren’t the only bands you’re in… any chance of getting Venomous Concept on there as well, make it a nice even four Embury appearances?
Well, there are the four of us already there; we only have to fly in [bassist Danny] Lilker, wouldn’t we? [laughs] Not this time, unfortunately.