FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM INTERVIEW
BY GREG KARJIANNIS
Greg: Well, there's no question that Carl McCoy is the Nephilim, but what's going on with the lineup? Are they only on for the live gigs, or will they be in the studio as well?
Carl McCoy: They were only -- we kind of picked them up for the live gigs really. Some of the songs we wanted to play, such as some of the Zoon material, could only be performed by people who had been involved in that album. Some of the old members of the band are a bit out of touch with what we were doing, and also the material we were writing didn't seem totally suitable for the future so, you know, we felt that the band had to be kind of scrimped, so by choice we kind of scrimped the band the way we felt suitable, just to put across what we do as best we can. No other reason, really. It's up to us, really. We do what we want to do. Me and Tony were the original founders and builders of the Nephilim, so we kind of felt... we did do some work with the original members of Fields of the Nephilim, and it was kind of a bit... it was okay. This is a bit long-winded. It was okay for doing some of the older material, but looking toward the future, it's definitely not radical enough for getting the profile back out there nowadays, really. So we found us some extra strength.
Greg: So the brothers are out now?
Carl: Yes. I mean, also, I think they're working on something of their own.
Greg: But there's no problem between Tony and you? He will be always with you?
Carl: Me and Tony? Oh, we're fine with it. (laughs) Who knows.
Greg: The single. It's written that it was originally recorded for a Nephilim film project. What's that about?
Carl: Um, it was just some project that I'm still sort of working on. It's a bit of a personal thing, really. It's nothing to be sort of talked about. Obviously I've always had an interest in visual stuff, and a few years back I put a video production company together and stuff like that, and decided we'd start incorporating more visuals into the music. Kind of mix the pair up. Give people a better picture of what we see. But it's something that's being developed and something that's not being pushed at the moment. It's still there, but me and Tony got back together and for a bit of fun we messed around with those old songs. And before we knew it we'd basically rewritten them for the hell of it. No reason, it wasn't a radical move, it wasn't like the future of Fields of the Nephilim, nothing like that, it was just we'd like to use this as the soundtrack for something, and it went from there. It's something that was incomplete. We never finished it, really. The record company pushed us to release these two tracks, because they weren't totally suitable for the album we're making. They don't totally belong there, so they decided to release them and we said, 'Okay, whatever.' There was no radical move, no big statement, it's not like a big fresh new record or nothing, it's like something, you know.
Greg: So there's no movie going to be released or something from Fields of the Nephilim?
Carl: Well, there will be, at some point,...
Greg: But not now? Some shitheads were telling on the Internet that there would be something very soon.
Carl: You never know.
Greg: That's very good.
Carl: Yeah, I mean, that's my favorite subject, so you never know. But my concentration is on finishing our album, and, you know, anything else that might come out around or after that or before that -- we'll see. It's not what we're pushing at the moment.
Greg: You have done a very intense artwork here, on the single. It creates a nightmare.
Carl: It was a bit quick, that one. Done in a day, I think.
Greg: It's very good. The thing in the smoke. You know, a simulacra, purples, some skulls, shit like that in the smoke.
Carl: You like that?
Carl: Yeah, I mean, I find that quite easy compared to the music. We always manage to get a piece of artwork out.
Greg: The remixes have this extreme dark and metal edge of 'Zoon.' I say it's brilliant.
Carl: Yeah, cool.
Greg: But I have a complaint. Not from you. All of the interviews I have read in the past, after '96, everybody is asking if you are going to repeat 'Elizium,' showing a kind of disgust towards 'Zoon.' I love all your albums including 'Zoon.'
Carl: Thank you very much.
Greg: It was the darkest and most intense thing I have ever heard. So I will ask you the opposite the others did: will the new album have the double-bass drums and thick...
Carl: Ooer. Yeah, why not. The thing is, 'Zoon' was a very personal project, and just me sort of experimenting. I'm proud of 'Zoon,' I thought it released a lot of feelings and emotions that weren't touched on before with Fields of the Nephilim, which wouldn't have been right because obviously everyone's heads have got to be in that direction. It's a bit of an attitude album, so you can't turn people into something they're not. 'Zoon' was a personal project, certainly my idea, and I fulfilled that and I was pleased with that. It released a lot of aggression, but at the same time I think you need to find balance. You need the extreme. I mean, after putting out an 'Elizium' album, which is very laid-back, and almost got to the point, especially in live performances, where you're onstage and become very frustrated when there's a big buildup and big buildup, I think the automatic reaction after the split and all that stuff was to go and do something which is really in people's face. Now I think -- Tony's always been like-minded anyway. He didn't have to be involved in that. It's a shame. But now I think we can appreciate both extremes and I think we're able to cover both territories. We can still do exactly what we did with 'Elizium,' only better, and I think I can do what I achieved with 'Zoon' better as well, so...
Greg: So there will be the metal elements.
Carl: Why not? If it works for the purpose for triggering some emotions and feelings, then people should rise to that. Everything that we was ever about was like fresh and new territory that we hadn't explored. And until you explore that territory, you know... someone's got to put their neck out and do it in the first place. You can't keep harking back to old records. When we put 'Elizium' out, people were sh-----. They thought, '"Elizium..."' they thought, 'Ohhh, this is strange.' But now everyone says, '"Elizium's" the one! It's great.' But at the time people didn't say that. They thought it was weird as fuck. So you know, now they say that 'Zoon' is hard and dark, and good -- don't be afraid of the dark, you know?
Greg: Yeah. I considered 'Zoon' as the sequel of 'Elizium.'
Carl: Yes! Definitely. Definitely.
Greg: They are the two best albums of the '90s, 'Elizium' and 'Zoon.'
Carl: I think 'Zoon' and 'Elizium' go together in an interesting way. I think they're very --
Greg: Only true fans can understand this.
Carl: There's a lot of people that praised 'Zoon,' and I'm very pleased with that. And also, that allowed us to cut across to other people out there who didn't realize we was capable of cutting into their extreme. So for me it was like, very satisfying, very hard work, very satisfying.
Greg: You've always liked extreme metal, you told me.
Carl: Yeah. But the thing is, the more extreme everything is...
Greg: The better.
Carl: Great! Yeah. I don't like stuff that's straight down the middle. I don't like anything 'safe.'
Carl: And I like that are real. I like real attitude wherever it's like kind of suicidal or totally demented, you know? I don't like this kind of --
Greg: Cliche stuff.
Carl: Cliche. No. I hate it. And so many people kind of give themselves boundaries. I mean, a lot of these so-called darkwave bands and goth bands, they've got big fences up and boundaries before they even go out there. They don't allow themselves to do this, because that won't fit into this category, they won't do that. Whereas we just do what we want, and if people sort of say 'That's not goth,' or 'That's not metal,' so fucking what? It's music, and if it feels good, it feels good.
Greg: Your drummer, Simon, told me about one more single and probably a small tour that will be soon.
Carl: Yeah. The next single, or anything we release next, will be something of the forthcoming material, so it will be fresh, new and be much more of a good example of what Fields of the Nephilim will be like. But again, that's going to be pretty extreme. We've got strong music, some of 'em are fast-paced, some of 'em are energetic, some of 'em are laid-back. Some of 'em are completely soundtrack. So, who knows?
Greg: So I suppose that the main album will be held back a little while more.
Carl: Everything's being held back a little while more, to be honest. You know, we haven't been around in a long time and we don't ever feel there's a rush. I mean, everyone else --
Greg: So you what have your job and stuff like that you don't live by music only.
Carl: No. I mean, it's all generally creative and artistic kind of evolvement, but at the end of the day anything like that, you can't rush it. You've got to craft it. The only pressure comes from the business, and we hate business.
Greg: Noticed that.
Carl: We started the band in the first place just to be able to do what we wanted to do. We were outcasts. So when people say, 'Why don't you do this? You're supposed to do this and that,' then, well, that's not what we're about. We're the real thing.
Greg: Will there be any small tour after your single?
Carl: Yeah. I mean, we are talking about some gigs at the moment, but we're also trying to finish up in the studio. We can't confirm anything at the moment. That's the problem. People were -- rumors go round and people say, 'Oh, they might be doing this and doing that,' and then that lets us down, because we hear this and sort of think, 'Well, hang on a minute.' I mean, obviously everyone's eager. Same as us. But when we're ready, we're ready, and it will be right.
Greg: Yeah. Why do you always use Aleister Crowley's 'At the Sea' as a sample? You've done it in three songs.
Carl: Why have I used it? Um.
Greg: You used in 'Psychonaut.'
Carl: Eh, why not. It's kind of reminiscent. We've been reminiscing, so Aleister Crowley was dug up for that reason. (laughs) A very misunderstood man.
Greg: Yeah, right.
Carl: He's an interesting man. A great comedian.
Greg: Have you ever done theurgy practice on audience?
Carl: Have we ever done what?
Greg: Theurgy practice. You know, achieving energy for other purposes.
Carl: Well, that's a personal side, and you can't say that, really.
Greg: Because I know about stuff like that.
Carl: Good. So do we.
Greg: I noticed.
Carl: It's very close to my heart.
Greg: Have you ever seen a Nephilim marble icon here in Greece?
Carl: No. I've heard about them. I've been told about them.
Greg: I sent you the photograph.
Carl: That's right. That's right, you did. I don't always need to see things like that. It's nice of you to mention it.
Greg: How is it being back in the Fields again?
Tony Pettitt: Yeah, it's good. It feels a lot like -- I never went away, really. It's sort of lying dormant for a little while.
Greg: Fields have turned to a more extreme sound, a little bit. Are you into extreme music?
Tony: I've always been extreme in music. It's always been one of my things, really. I like to put both extremes in music. From something that's like where you can hear a pin drop to something where you can't hear anything (laughs).
Greg: And remember the Rubicon project? Is that done and will do nothing else?
Tony: That's been put to bed a long time ago. I mean, that was kind of -- five people pulling in five different directions. It never really had a core to it. I mean, that just sort of imploded, really. There was nothing that could be done with that.
Greg: Did all this, you know, the album being pushed back all the time again...
Tony: That's other people's perception of what we do, things being pushed backwards.
Greg: The Wright Brothers left because of that, maybe.
Tony: Um, no, they didn't leave. They were more pushed, really. Not to sort of get too bitchy about it. The thing is, people might tell you that it's pushed back, but I mean, they should know us by now. It'll just take as long as it takes. When you've been there, there's sort of a long period like we have been -- really, what's the rush? We want to do something that's the definitive album each time rather than just banging it out to everyone else in the business's pleasure. So they can get on with doing what they want to do. It'll be there when the time is right. I mean, at the end of the day it's not really -- a million miles away, you know.
Greg: In the past, when Fields of the Nephilim performed live, there were two guitar players and a synth player too. Are you thinking of doing something like that for the live shows? Have session musicians for example. Or will you work with technology?
Tony: I mean, the way we've got the band for these last shows, with the four of us, is a really nice way of working, actually. I think with Paul, the guitarist, playing with us live, he can do the job of two men.
Greg: Yeah, but many times you have double guitars.
Tony: Oh right, when we played live? We sort of use a bit of technology for that, really.
Greg: Is there any possibility in the future to use other members only for live shows?
Tony: Stuff like that's always a possibility. The thing is, if that sort of occasion arose, I think, rather than just go and get expanded session musicians, we'd sort of get someone a bit special, you know? Someone who fit with what we were doing, rather than someone who just comes along and plays because he can. It's always got to be someone with the attitude. And you go a long way to find that.
Greg: Your bass playing is very unusual for a rock band or a metal band. What do you call it? You play a little bit jazzy. What are your musical roots? You are an excellent bassist. Can you talk about your technique on the bass? You are very unusual -- very artistic.
Tony: When I was younger, I was probably inspired by a lot of bass-heavy things. From Kraftwerk and stuff like that, and later on punk and Joy Division and things. I think I've sort of developed me own style, that sort of stemmed sort of early, sort of inspirations like that.
Greg: Yeah, but your technique is not so simple. You can play even jazz. For example, you have very difficult -- remember in the past, songs like 'Sumerland' or 'Psychonaut,' the bass playing there.
Tony: Yeah, I mean, it's just sort of always looking for a different angle, really. Especially in a lot of rock stuff. People tend to sort of plod along and follow the root. And I think I always trying to find something a little of a different approach.
Greg: Ten years have passed since 'Elizium.' No, nine years. '91. And the years have passed. Do you have the same flame inside you to do touring and stuff like that? Life on the road.
Tony: Absolutely. It's just for the whole sort of - thing of it really. It's never really gone away. No, I've still got the same passion for music as what I had 20 years ago, really.
Greg: Suppose maybe you have your day job and stuff like that.
Tony: No, no. I have no sort of day job. This is what I do.
Greg: It's full-time.
Tony: Oh, yeah. I mean, it has been since we re-started this. We sort of work on various sort of different projects which is not so much music-related and such. No, this is it, really.
transcription by Beth Winegarner
"I take transcriptions like these pretty seriously. Translating spoken words into written ones is something of a challenge. You lose the tones of voice that can sometimes change the meaning of a word, and you must often add punctuation or other emphasis to recreate those meanings. In other cases, people will start to say one thing, then turn around and say something else. When it seemed to add to the meaning of what was said, I left it; otherwise, I removed it. I've done the best I could.
I had a hard time with this transcription, in part because Carl was on a bad cell phone connection that cut out a couple of times (for example, I think he probably said "shitting" but it was just "sh----" so that's how I left it), and in part because both Carl and Tony (and the interviewer) both mumble a lot, and use a lot of fillers like "sort of" and "kind of" and "um" and "you know." I left some of those in, but not all the ones that were garbled. I also left out plenty of times where they were still getting their legs in starting a sentence, where one would go, "Mmm... sortakindmhrrmwell..." I also took out *some* of the grammatical mistakes but not all. Carl has an endearing way of saying "nuffing" to mean "nothing," for example; he also uses wordings commonly associated with the working-class, which he is; I left them in where possible to enhance the emphasis on what was said, but took them out where they detracted.
I would recommend that those who are able to listen to the files go and do so, though, because it's nice to be able to hear these two speak conversationally, for once. I like hearing people's voices, the way they talk, their accents, their ways of saying things.
The mp3 files of these interviews are available at this site.