Guitarist Mitch Harris took a leave of absence from Napalm Death six years ago in order to spend more time with his family. During that time Harris has continued to be cited as a member of the band and contributed to the new studio album, Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism. Harris opened up to Heavy Culture about his absence and his time taking care of his elderly parents.
“I finished the ‘Apex Predator’ recording, and my father was very sick in Las Vegas. I lived in England 26 years. Time goes very fast when your parents are aging. So I came home to see how he was. He needed surgery on both knees. But then [after] many tests, [the doctors] said, ‘Oh, you have cancer.’ So I went home, I got my family and I came back. And I said, I will finish all the shows for the rest of the ‘Utilitarian’ [cycle]. They do 200 shows a year, and I was the full-time carer for my father, and also my mother was here alone with him, and she couldn’t help him so much.
“When I moved [back to Las Vegas], he died the day I arrived, actually, when I came back. He had his surgery. And it was shocking. Then my mother was alone, and we couldn’t leave her. We were happy. We settled in. [It was a] crazy culture change for the family and my kids. Yeah, it was very shocking. But I was very happy to be home. So then, three years later, my mother died. Again, she was sick for a while.”
Harris mentions that has no intention of leaving his family for long periods of time and will stick to playing on the studio albums.
“I can’t travel, and I don’t want to travel. I don’t feel like it’s that important — ‘Oh, I need to be there for the fans, the band, traveling on a plane every day when my family needs me.’ Sometimes there comes a point in your life where you have to just do the right thing, and I would never feel happy if I was not there when they needed me.
“Some people choose their career or their lifestyle over family. It depends on the relationship. We were always very close. And I was recording music and making music from home. And they [Napalm Death] continued without me for a long period of time. I mentioned doing some shows to them, but they said if I came back full-time, and I can’t commit. I’m actually happy.
“I’m sorry for people that they miss me, or whatever, but if you really miss me, there’s a Napalm record, which I played on, which is very intense, and Brave the Cold. Please support it and give it a chance, because this is part of my future.
“I’m not saying that I’m not coming back ever, but right now, time has passed. COVID — we don’t know when anyone’s coming back. So it’s a very strange time. I’m just glad to be active again. I never made a public statement. I’m a very private person, for the most part. The band, it was difficult for them to explain every night, the same story. ‘Where’s Mitch?’ ‘Oh, family problems.’ Other people speculated: ‘Oh, is he sick?’ or something. Nobody knows. It’s kind of private. Right now, it’s more public. That’s another reason I wanted to play on the Napalm — for the community that’s followed us all these years, that they have something new to get them through some dark times maybe. I remember the good old days, and look towards the future for everything.”
You can watch the entire interview below: