After 7 years together, one EP and 4 albums (one live), Fields split because of some internal conflicts, and became a two-headed hydra with heads named Rubicon (Tony Pettitt) and Nefilim (Carl McCoy). Another 7 years is now over, and in August '98, Carl and Tony announced the reunification of Fields, and the coming of a new album, at the Zillo Festival in Germany.
Months were going by, and although the craziest rumors could be heard here and there, nothing was coming.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, the redaction of Elegy received a demo proving that Fields were indeed recording, and not only working hard to finish the details of that CD, but that it sounded really attractive.
Now it is done. We can really believe in their comeback, and dive once again in their initiatory path filled with esoteric symbols. McCoy and Pettitt, the famous foundations of the band, agreed to give their first interview to Elegy, but only disclosed a few bits of information, because for some reason, the next album has to stay as mysterious as possible regarding its content, while they tell that it's already a masterpiece.
Like two marketing specialists, both men answered our question around a beer in a Londonian Pub.
Q: You are coming back under the name Fields of the Nephilim AD. Why did you add this "AD" and what does it stand for?
CMC: I don't have any idea (laugh) Anyway, the main work is Nephilim. It's the only word that matters in this story.
Q: What is happening with Nefilim, which was supposed to continue as a side-project?
CMC: Nefilim or Nephilim, same thing after all. Tony Pettitt and I re-formed the original band we founded, and the rest doesn't matter much now.
Q: The next album seems to be more the sequel of Elizium than of Zoon.
CMC: Yes, totally. As I said, I'm working with Tony again. Therefore it is logically closer to Fields than to Nefilim. But a 'today' Fields because what be did before under that name seems a bit 'out of date'. Zoon was a more personal project, while still retaining some of the original Fields elements, like the dark side. We can not go backwards, time changes, technology evolves and we should all take those changes into account, and still go forward. We must accomplish new things.
Q: Is Tony still writing the music?
CMC: Yes, mainly. The bases of the songs come from him.
Q: Does that mean everything is written based on the bass?
CMC: Not always. It can be based on the singing, or on another instrument. There is no particular receipt. We just try to have fun. We don't care what people are expecting from us.
Q: Are you using samples?
CMC: What is sampling, exept recording? We can walk in the fields and record everything that happens there. We go in studio and record sounds, but that doesn't make us an electronic band.
Q: Do you plan to integrate samples from movies in your work again?
CMC: We create our own visuals, our own movies. We don't steal anything from anyone. It's always our own creations. Fields of the Nephilim is our movie.
Q: All your albums were somehow conceptuals. What about the next one?
CMC: We are still more or less the same people. Therefore we keep working as we did in the past. We are not under any external influence. All of our successive works were following each other, although very different from each other. The new album will simply follow that rule. What must be understood is that, if our fans have changed during those years, we didn't. That is why, although we havent worked together for a long time, there should be no big revolution. At least, we won't release that album in a hurry.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about the new album?
CMC: We are still pregnant, it isn't born yet. We are still creating right now. It is not possible right now to give you an idea of what it will look like once finished. Even if I try explaining you the content of the lyrics, we wouldn't be understood. Somewhere, we want it that way, because our goal is to be misunderstood by anyone but our real fan! Therefore I don't think it's a good thing for Fields to explain anything regarding its music or lyrics.
Q: Could you at least give us the title of the new CD?
CMC: It is impossible, because we havent found it yet. We will decide it once the album is finished, and we dont even have a small idea right now. One thing at a time.
Q: Do you have the same line-up as before? We heard that the Wright brothers are back.
CMC: The line up slightly changed, but we have the ideal line up for what we want to do now. We kept everything we needed from the past, including the Wright brothers, on the other hand we also have everything we need for the future. We think we put together what was best for Fields, because that band deserves the best.
Q: All this doesn't tell us what lies behind Fields of the Nephilim AD.
CMC: I don't think this really matters. Our personal quality matters, not who we are.
Q: Does that mean the line-up can be changed at will?
CMC: Indeed the line-up is not fixed, and may change before the album is finished. But what I really want to say by this is that the mainly core of the band matters, and that core is Tony Pettitt and I. Then there is of course a difference between the studio and the concerts. When you play live, you need other people to reinforce the team. To perform a live show, we need to make sure that what we recorded has the best possible effect. The band depends on that necessity. All I mean is that we are a great band, and you won't be disappointed by the result.
Q: Do you write all the lyrics of Fields? Are you still obsessed by occultism and Sumerian civilisation like you used to be?
CMC: Yes, somehow. That is part of the Fields concept of the past that we are going to keep.
Q: How do you see the future of your band?
CMC: Future will be like before, I think (laugh)...
Q: Have you always been fascinated by literature?
CMC: Yes, it's true. I often become completly fascinated, blocked by a book. Then it goes away, like for many other people, I guess. I like that comparison between life and words, and that is what I try to write through the lyrics I'm writing since the beginning of my career. But, and that gets back to the previous question, you can not read the same things over and over again, that is why, although occultism and Sumerian civilisation still matter a lot to me, I can't keep writing about it from one album to the other.
Q: Are your lyrics sometimes directly inspired by William Blake or Austin Osman Spare?
CMC: You are right. They were a true source of inspiration for me, especially when I was young. Also they are from the same place as me: Brixton.
Q: What about Stevenage?
CMC: That doesn't mean anything (laugh)! Its just a place to visit - and only if you happen to pass by!
Q: I always thought that's where you came from...
CMC: Not at all, but it is still a special place for us, because that is where we met and where the band started.
Q: Many fans consider you like a true shaman. How do you live with this legend about you?
CMC: It's complicated. Basically, it's something that we wanted, and that we encouraged, but at the same time it is caused by some wrong interpretation from the public.
Q: Some people even used to think that you were able to control rain!
CMC: Everything is possible, isn't? Actually, I didn't like all this story, this mythology around my image. At the end it was just bullshit.
Q: Why did you remix Darkcell and Trees come down?
CMC: Tony and I had been working for Fields for so many years that we decided to celebrate our reunion by taking two of our oldest songs, among the best ones, as a souvenir of the beginning. Also it was a lot of fun to do that, like some party time in the middle of the work on the new album, that will only contain new songs. We found it much more fun to remix our own titles than somebody else's.
Q: Those two titles will be on your first single.
CMC: Yes. Trees Come Down AD/Darkcell AD will be our first single. Probably only targetted for clubs.
Q: Elegy had the chance to listen to once of the tracks of that mysterious new album. The title of the song was "Fallen."
CMC: Yes? But it is only a demo. The title may still change. What did you think about it?
Q: I liked it. It seemed to be a mix of Zoon and of FoTN sounds.
CMC: For me it is still Fields. And you can't have an idea of what the album will look like, because you only heard a part of it, which is not even finished.
Q: "Fallen" will then not be the real title?
CMC: We are using it right now as 'work title'. I don't know who gave you this demo, but he shouldn't have done that...
Q: Will the new album be like the demo, or more in a 'progressive gothic' style, with songs of 20 minutes. Also could it contain ballads?
CMC: I told you. Trying to find out what it will sound like is useless. When the CD will be over, you'll be able to judge. It will be full of contrasts with very light things, and other much crazier. And there will indeed be a 20 minute song... It will have everything that is needed to make an album...
Q: Could you tell us about your musical influences?
CMC: I was never influenced by anyone.
Q: Didn't you ever listen to music?
CMC: We have no time for that: recording our music is using the whole day. There are no band that could influence our creation, and our music is more visual anyway.
Q: Your image is effectively strongly influenced by movies...
CMC: Yes, we're like that. That is part of us. We always tried to be as visual as possible. Probably because we always kept in mind the potential this could have during concerts, and it was important for use to recreate a particular atmosphere during our shows. We still want to do that.
Q: What are your favorite movies?
CMC: Hum... There are so many of them, it is not easy... I'd say Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But like albums, it's hard to make a list. Apocalypse Now is a great movie. Eraserhead too. Those are movies that come to mind today, but two month ago it may have been different names. Tony loves 'C'est Arrive Pres de Chez Vous' and a movie from Michael Mann telling the story of men stuck in a castle!
Q: You also played in a movie, Hardware (from Richard Stanley).
CMC: Right, that is another good movie (laugh)!
Q: Did you get any proposals since?
CMC: Yes, I received some, a few years ago, but the roles weren't really adapted to me. But doing movies is something that I like, so who knows...? Also, I constantly make my own movie (laugh)!
Q: Speaking about movies, did you plan to make some videos for the next album.
CMC: Yes (Carl is interrupted by his mobile, Tony takes over)
TP: We are indeed going to shoot some videos, but not for Darkcell and Trees Come Down remixes. There will be some for the next singles. We are getting really interested in the technical part of it, and we will certainly be very involved in the conception of the videos.
Q: Who is going to direct the video?
TP: We have different options right now, but we didn't contact anybody yet. We hope to have a movie director. Speaking about movies, Carl forgot to mention Jacob's Ladder.
Q: Since you write the music for Fields, can you tell us a bit more about the way you create songs?
TP: Every song is created differently. That is what makes the band interesting. It's more about chemical reactions than formulas. Some title come alive quite quickly, some other take a whole month.
Q: Do lyrics come before or after music?
TP: It depends. The way we proceed is not the traditionnal one. Some times we can't finish a song, so we forget about it and get back to it after a few months, and finish it one way or another.
Q: That is why it takes so long to release the album (laugh)!
TP: Yes. The way we do it is certainly more frustrating for our fans than for us.
Q: Working in studio seems very important for you.
TP: Indeed, but at the same time being stuck in the same place for some time can become difficult. We solve that problem by moving to another studio.
(McCoy is back with us)
Q: You will headline some festivals during the coming summer, right?
CMC: Yes, it's a great way to announce we're back. We already started, and have an idea of how we will arrange the concert. We'll try to play as many old songs as new new ones.
Q: Often you share the headline with the Sisters of Mercy, what do you think about it?
CMC: Absolutly nothing is inspiring us regarding the SoM. We just find it a bit sad to share the headline with them, that's all we have to say about it.
CMC: Well, our musics are totally different, and we are two totally different bands. We don't really see why people always put us together.
Q: You are aware that many of your fans also listen to the Sisters?
CMC: Maybe yes, but this doesn't matter to us. Nothing interests us, except Fields of the Nephilim.
Q: Any new major change scheduled for your concerts?
CMC: Major changes? That is impossible. We are still what we always were, and we are not changing. We're doing what we can do, that's all.
Q: I heard that the flour you are using to whiten your clothes caused some problems, especially with the police who thought it was cocaine!
CMC: Yes, it is the kind of burlesque adventure that really happened to us in the past. But we will still use flour, whatever happens, because it is also one of the things of the past that is part of the Fields concept, and nothing will make us change our image.
Q: Do you plan to come to France?
CMC: Not yet, but we will play in Belgium near the French border.
Q: So we won't see you, even in Paris?
CMC: Well, we had some problems in the past. It brings back some unfortunate souvenirs.
Q: It will not happen again!
CMC: Can you garantee that? Ok, we may come to Paris after the festivals.
Q: A final word?
CMC: Maybe I'll repeat myself, but the new album is, without a doubt, the best thing we've done, even if we spent a lot of time writing it. Or maybe that is the reason why... Finally, I think that anyone who liked us before can only love the new album, and be happy we're back, like we are. The rest doesn't matter.
Some personnal comments:
Neerpelt is not near the French border (but Belgium is so big that this doesn't make a lot of difference).
'C'est arrive pres de chez vous' is the best Belgian movie ever, I'm glad to see it mentioned in the interview.
(translated from French by Maxime Debrander)