ORKUS, November 2005
by Martin Kreischer
Transcribed by Ande Tucker
Translated by R. Navarro
Legends have their illusions. On one hand, the danger of disenchantment always looms - in a direct confrontation, the shine perceived in the distance can chequer and be lost. But one doesn't wish to find anything ordinary in a legend. This also makes communication difficult. How can one approach a legend, and above all: may one actually do this? Especially with Carl McCoy - erstwhile, the only shaping strength behind the epochal Fields of the Nephilim. One should dress warmly, we're warned. He acts like a diva, and he's arrogant ... however nothing like this is manifested. The well-known singer announces himself at the other end of the line - a little hesitant, but he sincerely welcomes the first reporter in years with whom he has this conversation - and so wants nothing at all to transmit this exalted appearance. Nevertheless he creates it, the Man with the deep, sonorous voice, to retain his status as a legend - even if some humanity in his person does show itself. However, it makes him only the more pleasant.
He couldn't be happier for the occassion to chat: to the point, still even shy about the disaster of the quasi-unofficial album 'Fallen', the Briton had completely disappeared from the center-stage, and then comes up suddenly with the announcement of a new album. He calls 'Mourning Sun' the next mystical entity that is a direct follow-up to the last studio release 'Elizium' by Fields of the Nephilim - in spite of the fact that it could be told it took 15 years to get here. Yet Carl McCoy presents himself on 'Mourning Sun' on his best side - it will enthuse old and new followers alike. "Oh yes, I am damned proud of the work", says the Man, whose trademark once created a characteristic icongraphy: the long dusty leather coat and the Western hat. "In the past, there was much about it that worked against me, but 'Mourning Sun' must come out now - now or never. All went very smoothly - I was astonished, it shows me how much of myself that was unnecessarily complicated in the past has expired. It already feels to me like a righteous album should," laughs Carl. "The songs are all very new, we have used no old material. For about 18 months, we prepared the demos, and all of that went very quickly - we didn't have the parts stuck together, but rather incorporated in a cascade/glissando. This way the album gets something flowing, homogeneous. I hope it comes across like this, because I am simply to close to the work: I cannot judge it." He provokes a confirmation, which one supplies to him only too gladly, particularly considering the situation after 'Fallen'. According to McCoy, his label in 2002 had published material without his approval and sold it as a new Fields of the Nephilim album. The artist called to boycott the disk, for on it are to be found merely unfinished ideas and fragmentary demos. "There is really nothing more to say", one hears the frustration in his voice. "I don't even know anymore what happened there. I am simply very disappointed with the behavior of the people with which I collaborated at that time. A couple of the tracks had definite chance to become good songs - but that is all the stuff of yesterday, I don't occupy myself with it anymore." Meanwhile there are rumors that Carl has remixed the 'Fallen' numbers - as he would gladly have had them. "Yes, that's true, but I also cannot ascribe my pieces to the already published tracks, because at that time, I hadn't given names to any of the material. Others gave them those names." Case closed, subject settled. Carl solves it like this to be able to dedicate himself finally to the new opus.
To be sure, the title 'Mourning Sun' sounds like a negation of itself - for the positive picture of a new beginning that comes with the rising of the morning sun. "One can read so many things into the title - I have my own entirely unique interpretation for it , however I don't wish to reveal it. I don't want to prescribe to anyone how they should understand the title. But it sounds fresh and simple. I very simply wanted to put a lot into this album." In addition, the distinction that had belonged between the Nefilim and Fields of the Nephilim has been cancelled - both are now fused into one entity. "It's all the same, anyway, how one writes Nephilim/Nefilim. There is only a difference in the way of writing one character - and it's correct either way that it can be written. Simply, it sums up what I make, what I express, what I hear and what I see. Therefore it is unimportant, which title it has: as long as somehow Nefilim/Nephilim is stated on it, it's fine with me. In 'Zoon' the name change was thoroughly warranted, as the album had simply another feeling, another atmosphere, by therefore the name change was okay. However 'Mourning Sun' has more to do again with the old albums, so it was therefore apropriate to come back again to this name, now. Where the 'AD' came from on 'One More Nightmare (Trees Come Down)'is still today a mystery to me, an idea that came from the record company. Perhaps I had mentioned it once incidentally, and it was taken literally and given wings. That's how it is nowadays: one must be careful with what one says - everything is printed immediately", Carl says laughing.
So far it hasn't leaked out who is involved besides McCoy in the new output, yet it seems no band-mates from the earlier Fields of the Nephilim are on board. Carl keeps that which concerns personnel on the album very secret. "I simply hired a couple of people to support me in the beginning. I have here enough persons that can give me help - moreover am I myself a musician and many people seem to forget that, when talking about the current line-up. Everyone thinks that I'm only the lead-singer, but that's not true - I also play a few instruments. Moreover, there were always line-up-changes in the Fields of the Nephilim. Okay, the hard core remained what it was, but the position behind the keyboard for example, was newly occupied on each tour. The line-up remained stable until 1991 - that is honestly much freer, all the better for working. I say simply to the people how I want things to be, and for them it's okay, then. That way I have no more restrictions, like there are in a band, where eventually someone has something against anything and the discussions break out. It is like in a film: one leads the direction and gets himself the people he considers well suited, as actors, for the realization of his personal vision. At least, this is how I see the situation of the moment." And he mentions by the way: "I still have a lot of songs lying around here, anyway - several of them already recorded. We have a lot of material that will also probably be published. Perhaps next year, we'll see. The music is just coming out of me because I can finally do what I want. I have just started composing - like I did years ago. That all came back again." Carl still uses the method of the "automatic writing" from the Occult. "Yes, I really do believe in that, and I also do it with the singing. I often simply let the music take me away. For example in Last Exit For The Lost: we put together the piece in one take, and it was finished. In fact, that's the way I'm recording most of the songs - I spend the least time on vocals. I just go there, sing the song, and it's done." Another important component in the creation process was Carl's mobile studio, baptized "The Ice Cage". "One must imagine that all together there are five portable mixers. The parts are really icy cold, therefore the name. We took it with us everywhere, and captured the sounds where we found them. Then we had the instruments brought in at different places, in order to give them a certain sound. In Zoon, it was very similar: we rented a large studio for a lot of money, then ended up taking out their equipment and installing our own - the purest waste of money. I wanted to record unconditionally with my things. Now we modified it a little and visited very interesting places in order to catch the sound there. We were even in different forests or at lakes in order to have a beautiful soundscape. I had to avoid the summer because I don't like the sun. As soon as the summer came, we traveled then into very cold areas, we went to Norway, even almost into the Arctic to take from there." Could one then call it a type of "sound sampling"? "That is my hobby, absolutely." This procedure is also reflected in Xiberia. "The track came out really very well, and in the making of the piece it was it extremely cold. We almost froze - therefore the title." The metaphysical "Watcher", that has already stamped the older releases with its presence, was for Carl once more essential. "More than in the other albums. In Mourning Sun its influence is especially strong. But those are only my personal feelings; I believe it is difficult to get that across. I certainly won't begin to preach about the Watcher, now. Everyone will perceive it in their own way."
Mourning Sun seems to summarize essentially the sound of the last two disks - for Carl the intensity of Zoon and the nice dreamy soundscapes of Elizium are connected together. "It's very good that they come together. I love Zoon, the album had brought me a lot further - and in many regions sold even better than any of my other albums. Zoon opened up a totally new listener base. Elizium was likewise a good work, but I think that it was missing a lot. Through some band members, too much Pink Floyd crept into it. It started off quite beautifully, but the highpoints were missing. To reproduce that on the stage was terrible - over an hour playing this slow music was just frustrating. I hope however that I was able to bind the good elements from it into Mourning Sun. Anyway, I can only write the pieces that I write...I have only my perspective. That restricts me, but I don't take it in a negative sense. These restrictions also have something going for them in that it gives a certain type of continuity - as long as one does not stand still or develop backwards, see I that as something positive." Zoon was classified in various genres - even as Death Metal. "Anyway, these pigeonholes are terrible - for me it is simply the music. We know what it isn't, but we also don't know what it is. Who is always inventing all these categories? Once the new album is heard, what will be said about it?" At least it can be established by listening to the whole thing in it's entirety. "That's how music should be. It should grow and become stronger with each listening. That's what I liked before with the music: if with each listening I became more enthused." Even today? "Very honestly: I didn't listen to any other music for years. I don't even know what is current these days. I don't want to be influenced by anyone else. So, I finally began to make music, because there was nothing that I could relate to; nothing that would have totally pleased me. Therefore I tried it myself. I still try", Carl says modestly and deviates: "Also the music industry doesn't interest me. I like to make the music, but not the industry. I simply make what I make - and so far I had the most fun making Mourning Sun. Like I've said - no restrictions, and that has given me a lot of strength. Naturally, the work not is perfect, but what is perfect?"
Moreover, he is strongly interested in making videos. "I believe Straight Into The Light should have a video." Usually one song is enough. "Is that the one? I don't know. To me, I hear the whole album as a single. It's hard for me to chose only one song and concentrate on that. All of the tracks were cut down in their length - Straight Into The Light was an incredible 14 minutes long in the beginning - is that laughable or what? I hope, I can release the complete piece sometime, the long version has a crazy middle part, that was unfortunately cut out on the album. I would have filled nearly the half album with this song - the other tracks were originally just as long. We put the whole thing together nicely. Back to the videos: "We will probably make two." But not with Richard Stanley, who produced the earlier videos of Fields Of The Nephilim and made the film "Hardware" with Carl McCoy. "That would be a step backward that I don't want. Richard is a crazy director and a good friend of mine. I don't know yet, who will make the videos and what exactly they will be." He has sufficient candidates for such tasks at hand to be sure, operating under the banner of SheerFaith, a media production firm. "Yes, I will work with a few people I've worked with in the past, who will probably help design the videos. Also some other things for the website, whose basic design is mine. But very honestly: I hate the internet. Everything on the internet is terrible. Okay, it may be every now and then practical, in order to transport information, but it steals time from people. Most hide themselves behind the screens and behind its virtual identity, then they quickly become impudent smart-asses. They should rather read a good book." Especially since Mourning Sun has already landed in the file-sharing networks. "That is a shame, but it seems to happen unavoidably to everyone these days. Naturally, that's not what I desired. I worked hard on that album. But one can probably not do anything about it. I hope people will buy the disk nevertheless, as we put a lot of effort into the layout - I think that will convince many to buy the album itself and not only as a cheap CD-R. My biggest disappointment in the whole thing is that for sure the surprise is given away now. We were so long away, and it would have been more beautiful, if there would have been a little tension built up with it."
On Mourning Sun, the Limited Edition there is an additional stimulus to buy it - with a Fields Of The Nephilim interpretation of the oldie "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans. "That is simply a crazy song, and we've extended it still more. It's now over ten minutes long. The first half of the piece is faithful to the original, but in the second half we let loose. I also changed the words a little so that it fits better to us. The people who have listened to our version were enthused." Apropos "Remake" : a big fan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is Carl McCoy - and does not seem disappointed in it's remake. "It was okay. If I didn't know the original, I would have found it probably rather good, but I naturally prefer the original. A crazy film! One would never forget that in his whole life. On Land Of The Dead by Romero, I'm happy with it. The remake of Dawn Of The Dead pleased me also quite well - it reminded me of the daily view out the window: Zombies everywhere, wherever one looks." George A. Romero wouldn't be a favored choice in the meantime for a Fields Of The Nephilim video. "Not today. Earlier, that certainly would have been very funny - our first videos were also quite remarkable. They were very entertaining at the time, but one could probably never take them seriously. But right now, nobody occurs to me which I would gladly have as a director."
He wants to get involved in the DVD medium, nevertheless. "There is, however still nothing ready to put on. We're concentrating for the moment on Mourning Sun, and then we'll look beyond that. I do already have a lot of visual ideas, which I would gladly put to use. The modern media are okay, also the new graphic arts programs relieve me of a lot of work, even if I actually prefer doing it 'by hand'.Usually, I make a couple of sculptures or models first and then photograph them then, so what I get isn't entirely on the computer. That is very conventional, but I soon depart from that. To be sure, I do use the new technology that simplifies things. But it's very noticeable, if a photographer or a commercial artist relies only on the digital. When you're still photographing with analog cameras, one has to create an entirely unique feeling in the image. I do a lot with Photoshop, but had had never used a filter. I developed many of our covers in the darkroom, and that can take a real eternity to come up with something really clever - with graphic arts programs it's a lot quicker. But good ideas don't just come from the computer - rather from the head. The software helps solely in the conversion. Unfortunately many forget that." Interestingly enough McCoy would even be open to working on video-games. "I have been addressed often on that, naturally concerning soundtracks for them - whether I wouldn't contribute a piece for one or something similar. The total game doesn't interest me however, except the sound-design. Video-games have become quite grown up lately - not a toy anymore. It's a fun way of escapism - especially in the tour bus if one has nothing to do for hours. With a video-game, one can certainly wile away the time, however I try to pay attention and stop so that it doesn't become a habit. I have already gone to the land of Resident Evil and figured out the strategies of Conflict - Desert Storm. The record company had to find an adapter so I was able to take my Playstation along wherever I went. For the next tour, I'll get myself a couple more good games to play." The idea of a Fields Of The Nephilim game would please him very much. Yet meanwhile one is mostly happy that Fields Of The Nephilim has become reanimated - and Carl McCoy has for it a penetrating and abounding energy. And he has a damned strong album in the bag with Mourning Sun. That sounds like an exciting future.