The Nephs have just finished the penultimate night of the 'Precious To The Lost' tour in Bath. We managed to corner Carl, Tony, Pete and Nod back in their hotel. I cracked open a beer and Jane settled for a cup of tea as we tried to find out if it's true that Carl doesn't like the crusts on his sandwiches and if Pete and Tony really do like Spacemen 3.
Shaun: How's the tour been going?
Tony: We had a few hiccups at the beginning with personnel, but it's turned out good.
Carl: We haven't played for ages, like 3 months, so it's nice to be able to get back into it. I looked forward to it so much before we played but it's taken me right 'til the end, like now, to feel comfortable with it, but it's been a good tour.
Jane: You've looked so much more comfortable on stage this tour.
Carl: Yeah! Well I haven't really noticed that but I've felt more confident, everything's working better.
Pete: Yes talking about the tour, we've deliberately gone to places that we haven't played before, Ispwich and places like that.
Shaun: Do you think you've made the transition from the club circuit to the larger venues successfully?
Carl: It's a big step, I didn't realise it was such a big step.
Pete: I think we're a better band for playing in big places, like the Royal Court and gigs like that, with bigger stages.
Tony: When you start off and you're really crushed on a small stage, it's like a really intimate atmosphere which is good in some ways but you can't do your best when you've got someone up your nostrils!
Carl: It becomes very aggressive in small, close hot gigs, you get aggressive cos the audience seems to be at your throats almost. Whereas at these gigs you've got so much room.
Tony: You've got room to get into what you're doing rather than worrying about people tripping over something.
Carl: I think we're more suited to bigger venues though.
Nod: You say that things have got better, it's because it's a lot bigger and more organised. It's like, I hate using the word, it's like a show. It feels a lot calmer.
Shaun: Have you as a band, and Carl especially, been working on giving a more entertaining show?
Carl: I think we consciously try to make more out of what we found was pretty good in the place, like lightning and smoke. We haven't be able to do the complete show we'd have liked to have done. We've had lots of ideas but it's been time that's stopped us doing them.
Tony: I think that even from the start when you first get your band you have lots of ideas that really want to do. But now we've got a chance to do the things we wanted to do.
Carl: And having our own space on stage, it's been a lot easier, but we did try to make a bit more of a show. It varies on different evenings. It's still not something we set about rehearsing, it's still totally natural.
Shaun: What do you thinks been the best night of the tour?
Carl: Well I enjoyed Liverpool.
Nod: Birmingham or Cardiff.
Carl: It depends on the venue and the stage.
Tony: That's another thing, you just can't switch yourself on and off it would be good to be able to do that, but you can't. Some nights everything's going right; the sounds good; the crowd are good but you feel a bit separate.
Carl: The music has to pass through you to affect you, the sound has to be full enough to feel it going through you make the perfect sort of gig. When you're hearing things from different corners it becomes all separate and you don't feel part of it, but when it's loud enough it's great.
Tony: Going back to the thing about small clubs, we were all so bunched up the feeling was there.
Carl: It's trying to create that feeling on a large scale which is quite hard, but we're getting there now.
Shaun: Don't you think that doing this UK tour and a month in Europe straight after will be too much?
Tony: I think this will be about our limit and the thing is we're itching to get writing again and do some new stuff.
Nod: I know the new album's only just come out but we've been listening to it for 4 months.
Carl: After you've done an album the first thing you want to do is to get out and play it, show off the new material. Then after a while when you're doing it every night and after changing the set around you get a perfect set and you keep playing it and playing it, and it becomes a bit routine. It starts feeling like an act and when it feels like that it's no good to us because we lose interest. We need tokeep ourselves interested.
Tony: This is the first time since we've been going that every song we've played is a recorded song. We need the new ones as well, we've always been working new songs into the set.
Shaun: Why was the US tour called off?Tony: We were going to go for a month but we're cutting it down now. We'll have the best of both worlds; we'll do a short tour and go back after Christmas and do a long tour.
Shaun: How pleased are you with the album?
Carl: With the content I'd give 10 out of 10, but I think the production could have been a bit more tidier.
Tony: Yeah, a bit more definition, but it's got the right feel to it.
Carl: Which is important.
Tony: But saying that it's got a really old feel to it.
Carl: Yes, but when we wrote the songs they felt new, like good catchy songs.
Shaun: Do you think it could have done better in the charts than it did?
Carl: I was pleased, it did well enough in my eyes. I think it shouldn't have gone in quite so high. Maybe it should have gone in the 20's and stayed there a couple of weeks rather than going in so high.
Tony: We knew it was going to go in high. I thought it might level off for a week and then go down but I think so many people went out and bought it in the first week.
Jane: How did 'Celebrate' come about?
Pete: That was strange cos it sort of happened in the studio.
Tony: The thing is though the bass line is about 3 years old, we used to play it down the slammer. It was just a bass line I use to play walking around inbetween songs a t rehearsals.
Pete: Celebrate was part of another song and we just took this bit out.
Carl: Well the thing is, it wasn't planned to go on the album. We were going to do this separate 12" which was going to have a lot of ambient music on it. We had this rough idea, me and Tony, and we did it in the studio. It suited the album and it was odd and so daring that it had to go on there whether people liked it or not.
Tony: It was a bit shady when we recorded it, we thought that's one we ain't going to play live.
Jane: Yes, you didn't play it in Northampton at the start of the tour so we didn't think it would be on the tour set-list.
Carl: Yeah, well after a while we thought that maybe people would think we can't do it, so we thought we'd better do it to prove we can! And it's gone down pretty well. We've had a hell of lot of comments about it. Some people can't accept the fact we've done it.
Shaun: Why were the lyrics put on the sleeve because you've seemed to be very secretive about them
Carl: Those 2 lyrics, I think they summed up the whole album. I think everything the album's about comes from The Watchman and Last Exit.
Shaun: What about being secretive with the lyrics?
Carl: It's not a matter of being secretive, it's a matter of being wary. Unless you're speaking to people that understand them, it's really hard to put across my ideas. I mean I don't think a lot of people would understand it in the way that I do. It's a sort of unexplainable feeling the ideas in my music. I know exactly what they mean to me, they're really strong lyrics, really important to me.
Shaun: Do you worry about them being misinterpreted?
Carl: I don't mind, I like to write in a way so that people can reflect it to something in their own lives. The songs mean something completely different, but have the same sort of vibe, sad or depressing or whatever but lets them reflect on it so it means more to them. It's no good knowing what it means to me, it's got to mean something to the actual person.
Shaun: Where do the ideas to write come from?
Carl: It's a lot of goings on in my head and around me. I'm never short of things to write about, most of the subjects are sort of similar.
Shaun: How do you think Dawnrazor compares to the new album?
Carl: It's more complete and shows a lot of maturity. It's a lot more contrasting as Dawnrazor didn't actually go that deep.
Pete: I was just pleased that there was a really big difference between the new one and the last one. You get to a stage, and obviously we've got a long way to go, but bands just bang out albums and there's no difference between them.
Shaun: What plans do you have for a new single?
Carl: I think we'll do something completely different.
Shaun: There won't be one off the album then?
Tony: We don't want to go the way all those chart bands go.
Pete: All the songs were written for an album really except Moonchild.
Tony: We knew they were going to put that on the album, but I remember when that came out, we didn't really want to put it on.
Carl: The thing is when we decided to do Moonchild as a single, there was another song and we didn't know which one to do. We never put it on the album or played it live.
Tony: It was a real toss up between the two at the time. We still didn't know just before we went into the studio.
Carl: We went into the studio and started playing it and it sounded so odd, it would have been too much if it had gone on the album
Shaun: Why did you chose such an imaginative album title?
Tony: It was going to be called a new different names, it was basically going to be named after a song.
Carl: Yeah, like Last Exit but the Nephilim seemed to sum up all the songs.
Pete: It's going to stop people calling us the Fields, the next album is going to be called The Nephilim as well!!
Carl: The way I see it is like the Fields Of The Nephilim is our music and The Nephilim is us.
Shaun: Do you still listen to the old 12"'s?
Tony: From time to time.
Nod: We all listened to Burning The Fields about 3 months ago and that was the first time for about 2 years.
Carl: I think B.T.F. is really good, the arrangement isn't that brilliant but the actual feel of the sons and the way they come across is really good, it really worked. I think we recreated that feeling in the album, which Dawnrazor didn't, it was completely different.
Tony: I mean when we did it, down the studio, it was a new thing to everybody, it was like we didn't know what the fuck to believe. We didn't know if the engineer was bullshitting us or what. He'd say we need a bigger drum sound, so we said yeah ok and he'd turn the speakers up full and it sounds brilliant.
Carl: It doesn't sound that bad, maybe a bit wooden but it still draws you in. There's a couple of tracks on there , Trees and Dark Cell that still work.
Shaun: What about bringing the sax back?
Tony: After the sax left we started to rock out a bit with two guitars. I think some of the stuff we do now, there's room for, not necessarily sax but there's room for things like that, which is good so we don't have to restrict ourselves to guitars. We mess around with a keyboard every now and again.
Carl: We always used to have a keyboard on stage on an ironing board.
Shaun: We heard a rumour that it may be coming back?
Carl: We got one, we bought one about eight months ago, we always use it at rehearsals but we never bring it out, we just like playing about with the lights on it making noises that go EEE. It's one of those that you play inbetween songs, just fiddling about.
Tony: But it's been used on the album on Celebrate and Moonchild and Shiva as well.
Shaun: Are you pleased with how the videos finished?
Tony: Yeah, well pleased.
Carl: I think considering that it was done in one night with no chance if the songs didn't work or sounded shit to put another nights version on, it was a good gig. I'm well pleased with it.
Shaun: Do you think it brings across what you're like live?
Carl: I think it captures it in a lot of the songs.
Tony: It's as good an interpretation as you're gonna get.
Carl: Like if I put it on I can't turn it off.
Nod: It's a pain in the arse cos if you put it on to watch a couple of songs you end up watching it for an hour and a half.
Tony: I think it's got the rawness as well, it's not slick. And a lot of slow motion stuff which is alright, like the six million dollar man.
Shaun: Why did you cut a lot of the crowd bit out?
Nod: You ought to have seen the state of them, I tell you.
Pete: We had to censor them.
Tony: We didn't get any of you lot in, we got this really fat bird, singing all the wrong words, she looked just like a jug so we cut that out. The crowd outside looks pretty good. I think you can get a bit self indulgent with loads and loads of people really enjoying themselves at your gig. It's like when people overdub the crowd noises, like when we recorded that live thing at The Marquee, the actual noise was one of the quietest gigs we've ever done. There was hardly any noise and we were thinking maybe we should overdub some crowd noises but we didn't I the end.
Carl: We ended up turning it down.
Tony: It's a bit indulgent lots of crowd like in the heavy metal videos.
Shaun: When you first started out did you think you'd get this far?
Tony: I think the whole point of getting in a band is to be successful, we want to get as far as we can. You have visions of getting there but it's not like it when you get there.
Carl: When you get there you don't think that you've got there anyway.
Shaun: Did you feel you had the talent to get there?Carl: We felt we had something. We've always felt that. I think that's what gave us the drive. I mean we'd all been working and then we chucked our jobs in but we felt that it was right, we thought this is good.
Tony: Right from the first rehearsal when Carl turned up, we had the basic nucleus of the band. We needed a vocalist and Carl was there. And that first rehearsal like, the first song we played was Vet. We had this tune and Carl sang it and it was the business.
Carl: It was a right good feeling wasn't it.
Tony: We used to rehearse round the back of this pub, we all went in the pub had a load of drinks and it was excellent.
Carl: Yeah, we talked about our big ideas and they were big ideas.
Shaun: How much further can you see yourself going?
Tony: The thing is like people said that bands like us can't get that big but I think that we've got bigger than a lot of peoples expectations. So I think it can go anywhere from here.
Shaun: Yeah, you've reached the cross-over stage.
Tony: I don't think that we could ever be totally mainstream. I don't want to sound bigheaded but I think we could be one of the biggest cult bands around.
Shaun: Aren't you that already?
Tony: Yeah (laughs)
Nod: Yeah, doing quite nicely, sitting here in a right plush chair.
Tony: You can still be massive, but still be a cult band.
Carl: I like the idea, you're not fooling yourself, you're at the top of your bit. Whereas to be at the top of the mainstream you'd have to really conform.
Tony: I always admired bands a few years ago, like the Bunnymen, like the size they got to, cos I really liked then from early on. A lot of bands go really dodgy when they see pound notes.
Shaun: Whose idea were the wristbands?
Pete: They didn't turn out as we'd expected.
Shaun: I bet they didn't.
Carl: We though we'd try anything once.
Nod: People haven't got to buy them though.
Carl: They make good patches though.
Shaun: Who designs the merchandise?
Carl: All the original ideas come from us and we get someone to lay it out.
Tony: It all comes from Burning The Fields, like we did everything, so we've always been involved.
Shaun: Why did you use the Preacher Man handout design on the Europe t-shirts, when it's over two years old?
Tony: We thought it was good.
Carl: I thought it was a good drawing.
Tony: We've been meaning to do it for a while.
Carl: We only did it for a handout originally but I mean it made a change from the obvious logo, a bit of art.
Shaun: How did Reading compare to last years?
Tony: It was better for us.
Carl: I didn't like it as much.
Tony: I liked this year myself cos the sound was just brilliant on stage this year.
Carl: I felt more comfortable up there last year.
Jane: Is that because you weren't a major band, a lot of people had come to see you this year?
Carl: I don't think that was it. I just think we had a bit more room, cos we were pretty unknown and there was no pressure from other bands worrying about us blowing them off or anything like that. We had a bigger stage last year and this year we had all Iggy Pop's stuff on stage and I felt restricted. I felt our sound was really restricted as well.
Tony: I mean for me and Pete over on our side of the stage it was great.
Pete: Musically it was better.
Shaun: Do you choose your support bands, is it because you like the music or is it purely financial?
Carl: It's not the music, we haven't found a support band yet that we really like.
Pete: Basically it costs a fuck of a lot to put on a tour and it's one way to recoup some money.
Tony: The way we look at it, if people are willing to put X amount of pounds for this band they must know they're sort of compatible to us. We wouldn't have a jazz funk band cos they can afford to pay more.
Carl: It would be nice to be able to listen to some bands and just choose the one you like. If we had an ideal support band I don't think it would be a rock band as such. I think it would be something a bit more ambient, a bit more orchestral.
Pete: I quite liked Spacemen 3 cos they were quite different.
Tony: Yeah, me and Pete were Spacemen 3 fans for quite a while. I can appreciate someone banging away on one chord, I've done it myself.
Pete: I liked Spaceman 3 cos they were doing something they really wanted to do.
Carl: I don't think there was that much talent there Pete. I liked the sound when I first heard it but looking into it, it was totally hollow, nothing there.
Shaun: Do you think that as you're becoming bigger, you're becoming separated from your fans?
Carl: With you people it will always be the same, but with the main audience I don't think it's a good idea to get too far away from them cos you need the audience. I really need an audience for the energy that comes from them. The feeling you get reflects on what we do on stage.
Shaun: Do you ever feel on a big tour, that when it's time to go on stage you just can't be bothered?
Tony: Only if I feel rough.
Carl: I don't think you realise what it's going to be like until you've done 2 songs.
Tony: I've gone on feeling really excellent and come off feeling really gutted.
Carl: Some nights I completely change on stage. I go on really happy and have been really fucking hateful by the time I get off and the complete opposite as well.
Shaun: Do you get nervous before going on?
Tony: I might get nervous before tomorrow night (Brixton)
Carl: Nervous has changed to just excitement. When it comes to a big gig it's not being nervous cos that's like being worried. We are more confident now, so it becomes excitement.
Shaun: Do you think you'll play seated venues?
Tony: No that's why we're doing the Academy. We didn't want to do 2 nights in a row again. If there was a place that held 3000 people we'd do that cos it's a bit of a jump from the Astoria or whatever.
Shaun: Aren't you worried that such an extensive two month tour will really piss you off with the whole tour business?
Nod: Frustrated cos I want to get on with some new stuff.
Carl: I like to do all the main gigs, I don't really like the inbetween gigs which we still have to do cos we aren't a household name.
Tony: It's weird when you go to places like Folkstone and you get people that don't normally go to gigs and all they want to do is cause a load of aggro.
Carl: It would be really nice to do less gigs but each one to be a main event, like eight Brixtons.
Tony: I think a ten date tour here would be really good cos some nights you get really stale, you can't help it. It would be really fresh.
Shaun: Where do all these 100mph songs like Phobia and Power come from?
Tony: A lot of the time at rehearsals like we get into it just messing around after about four hours of doing something slow, like everyone comes up with something really fast.
Carl: We really need the balance in our music otherwise everyone would just die with all the slow ones. We have to make people feel good about coming to see us.
Shaun: So what are your personal favourites on the album?
Tony: The Will
Nod: Yeah, The Will and Chord Of Souls
Carl: It's got to be Last Exit cos it means so much that song
Tony: When we first did it Phobia was my favourite cos I didn't think we'd get it to sound so good.
Nod: I find it quite hard to get the vibes out of celebrate, it's really hard to listen to on the album.
Tony: Do you think so? It's cos you're not on it.
Nod: I like playing it and live even though it's simple the thing I'm doing. I just take a back seat and get into it.
Tony: Me and Carl weren't on Harmonica Man so we had to have our own bit on this album, so we are all even now.
Now the most important question of the interview.
Shaun: Is it true that Carl has the crusts cut off his sandwiches?
Carl: I like the crusts, it's the other bits I take out, I just eat the crusts.
Pete: Is that the tour scandal?
Well that's another story. The Nephilim have finished their most csuccessful tour to date. They're out in Europe now but they will be touring Britain again next March/April, so if you want to see a good rocking band who like their crusts you know who to go and see.