Carl McCoy has taken his fucking time. Five years to be precise. Even lord of goth Andrew Eldritch takes shorter artistic retreats, but he's finally pulled himself round with a new album 'Zoon' more importantly a new hard edged sound. Infected took it upon themselves to bring out the recluse out of his post- radioactive shell to explain what he's actually been doing all this time.
Carl McCoy, he of steel claw hand and post-apocalypse cowboy image, has returned from the wasteland. Five long years spent searching for the people who can help him turn the tuner in his head into the apocalyptic war chants of the reborn and 'Zoon' is the result. A more different album from the former king of throaty goth you could not expect, drawing as it does from a darker, more vicious intensity that the Fileds of The Nephilim failed to engage. Think Ministry, think Slayer. Goodbye plodding, progressive rock epics - say 'Hi' to the new adrenaline hate of 'Venus decomposing'.
"There is a logical progression between 'Zoon' and 'Elyzium'", says a chirpy but cautious McCoy. "I think that there is only one album missing in-between and I know where that went because it wasn't in my head."
"I wanted to creat a real contrast in my music. I wanted to feel some real energy at the peak of an album or a song but at the same time be in control of the mood. The Nephilim were always very handy at the slower atmospherics but never quite managed to capture the power".
It seems surreal to be sat in a pub talking about The Watchmen and sumerland like they were old friends with the man who crafted the epics, but it's even more bizarre hearing he fucking hates them!
"'Elyzium' was far too controlled and safe. We were playing these ten minute songs that went nowhere and all the time I was getting more and more angry and I didn't have any fast song to take it out on."
Frustrated by the apparent lack of energy in The Nephilim camp McCoy put his ideas to the rest of the band soon after the 'Elizium' tour ended in 1991. The singer suggested a darker, more brutal approach was necessary if the band were to survive but they refused to compromise the endless twiddly solos and even suggested adding a drum solo to the live set (actually that's a lie, but if you've ever seen a Nephilim gig you'd know what I mean...)
"I really hate the idea that people can think that Fields Of The Nephilim coud be seen as progressive rock, but so many years on that's what it was turning into."
"I always wanted to move things forward but they never listened to my ideas for the music and they were never at all interested in the lyrics. we really just grew into two separate camps - me and the rest of the band!", he laughs. In the end a decision was required;
"I decided that I could play safe and reamin miserable but secure or I could go for the challenge of creating something new, and the first step of making anything new is destroying the old."
During the five years which it took to make 'Zoon' man musicians and 'name' producers saw the inside of the Nefilim studio but failed to hear what Carl McCoy desired. Half of the musos were intent upon proving how good they were at playing 'Psychonaut' instead of learning how to make something as brutally effectiva as the scathing 'Penetration'. According to McCoy the producers were even worse.
"I'd go for these well known producers because they had a reputationfor acheiving a standard and then watch them totally fail to understand what I was after. No-one knew how to achieve the integration between heavy guitars and moving atmospherics. In the end I just told everyone to leave me the fuck alone until I'd finished it myself."
In five years you can go through a lot of doubts, particularly when you carry the burden of a reputation as big as McCoy's.
"I've been to hell and back making this record", he nods, "I've never felt so low in my life than at certain pointsduring the last few years and I don't know why that was. I don't feel that it was the stress of making the record myself, but obviously so many things in my life seemed to end up revolving around it."
"I think it was so difficult to make 'Zoon' because I had to learn how to express feelings in a totally different context to what I'd been used to", he offers by way of explanation, "tracks like 'Venus Decomposing' or 'Pazuzu' can't nurture a fragile attitude. It has to be a threateningly aggressive posture and writing that sort of music effectively was a real learning process for me."
'Zoon', like it's three predecessors 'Dawnrazor', 'The Nephilim' and 'Elizium', comes packaged in a dark cloak of mystery and cartographic dyslexia. Hand-written scrawls from ancient texts drip from every page of the cover booklet recreating that 'lost world' experience that those original Nephilim albums held all those years ago. Lyrically 'Zoon' is as impenetrable as any of it's ancestors, but it qouldn't be the same without that world of mystery distancing listener from creator.
"I have to include the lyrical philosophies because they're part of me. As long as what percieve to be the appropriate and emotions are triggered in any particular soing then I don't care what anyone thinks about lyrics which are personal to me."
"I know I have these big ideas but these, er 'concepts', and I really hate that word, have been there from day one so I'm not going to lose them now.""I've got a huge problem in writing just singles or just one song, because I just can't do it", he says, a sly grin creeping across one side of his face, "I suppose that's the best excuse I ca think of writing what I do. As long as you can turn it up really loud and have it make you feel good at the end of the day I really don't see what the fuck difference my lyrics or concepts make."
From a fan's point of view I can't help feeling just how sad the situation has become with Carl disappearing for years in incommunicado while the rest of them disappeared up their own arseholes in Rubicon. Why can't people learn to compromise and communicate more? We really don't need anymore rampant egos on the loose. Carl nods in slow agreement.
"I was so disappointed at having to call it a day in Field of the Nephilim. I honestly usd to think of them all as friends, but there was so much resentment and jealousy going on towards me that it became too much. It seemded like whenever something was going well everyone was there to share the glory, but whenever it went wrong they were all somewhere else pointing at my and making it my fault."
However, with 'Zoon' attreacting major interest on the continent and a new band ready for a May tour of Europe there is a renewed sense of purpose aboute The Nefilim.
"I've got a lot of new options before me now", he remarks positively. "There's a new strength in my music that I want to explore, and although 'Zoon' is a very special album to me, it's not the be all end al of The Nefilim, it's just another beginning."