THE NOD CORNER
Six months ago, TTT first created the Nod Corner. Now the Nephs' drummer has become a legend in his own lunchbox. Carol Clerk interviews the great man and now proudly presents the real Nod Corner.
The moment is breathtaking. One minute, he's Nod, drummer of Fields Of The Nephilim, chatting placidly of a pint of Flowers Best. Next minute, he's Nod, star of The Nod Corner, he most put-upon little person in the history of rock'n'roll, forever getting stitched up by Pete, Paul and Tony, the uvvers, the rotten bastards.
"It was when we first went to Europe," he recalls, gazing back in time through a cloud of Embassy smoke. "Paul (Nephs' guitarist) and I had bunks together on the ferry. I usually share with Paul. Paul's the booby prize.
"Of course the old first trip to Europe is quite an exciting event, really, what with not having been abroad before. Paul had a little bit too much of the duty-frees, and that's when he went into the shower with all his clothes on.
"He woke up in the corner of the shower soaking wet, and he thought I'd wee'd all over him cos I hated him. So that was it, really. He woke me up on the top bunk. He well and truly woke me up."
Oh no, so what happened?
"I hit him. I had to hit him. I hit him a couple of times and he didn't hit me back, so I must have scored a goal or two."
Well, at least you won that one.
"I'm a forgiving sort of person," says Nod, generously. "Paul does it and I forgive him. I don't ever do anything wrong to him. I just try and keep him on the straight and narrow, and it's getting thinner and thinner."
There are four of us at this one little table in the Sun pub in Drury Lane, London. There's myself, there's Steve (the Nephs' manager), there's Nod, and there's Nod's hat, right in the middle of the table, back with an eerie, ingrained white glow which comes from too many years of flour abuse.
As the evening progresses, Nod alternates erratically between his two personae. Nod of The Nephs is a remarkably good sport who takes the misadventures of his TTT alter ego firmly in his stride, refers affectionately to "The Corner", cracks jokes, about "being cornered", alludes from time to time to various of his factitious escapades, in particular his unfortunate experience as a goalkeeper in The Nephs' football team, and is earnestly, utterly preoccupied by the music and career of his band. Nod of The Nod Corner, on the other hand, is a wonderful underdog, his every well-meaning action wilfully misconstrued by the uvvers to their lord and master Carl McCoy, who invariably passes sentence of 10 press-ups. Nod has the sympathy of the nation.
"I feel sorry for him as well" says Nod. "I'm going to end up like Benny out of 'Crossroads', ain't I? I feel sorry for him having to do f***ing press-ups all the time. I'd like to think of something else for him to do. Why doesn't somebody give me 40 press-ups instead of 10?
"Everything in The Corner backfires and turns out wrong. The Nod's Revenge Corner wasn't revengeful enough. That f***ing backfired as well. I'd like one that I actually won. I feel pretty sorry for me as well sometimes. 'Who is this poor geezer shrouded in mist and smoke?' But I'd like to think that I can play well that I can pull it out of the bag live. 'Nod'll be OK'" As an hour in the pub turns into five and a half hours, the distinction between Nod of The Nephs and Nod of The Corner becomes increasingly blurred. Whichever one is speaking, the reader is welcome to decide.
We go back to the beginnings, about six months ago when a spoof story heralded the arrival in all of it's glory the following week of The Nod Corner. The original tale found the rotten bastards pushing Nod into the most intimate parts of Carl's anatomy with his head in a goldfish bowl.
"It takes your breath away a bit, the first time," says Nod of his initial reaction. "I went all embarrassed all of a quick sudden. The first one was the one that did my head in, the goldfish bowl sketch, and I was getting rammed up Carl's arse. I can imagine that. I can imagine them doing it. What with the goldfish bowl steaming up, that was a wind-up." "Once I got my own corner and got established with the picture and that, everything's been roses since."
Well, not quite roses.
"I did deliberately stop reading them the week Jeremy Beadle got into it. I don't like Jeremy Beadle or 'Beadles About'. What's he doing in my Corner, little sod?"
"A lot of people think I write it, people we bump into in pubs. When they find out I don't, they think there should be some sort of libel action. The fans have found it offensive. We were on tour when there was a few of 'em about (Nod Corners), and they thought I should be really angry about it.
"My girlfriend didn't like it at first, but she saw that it doesn't do you any harm. I'm not offended. Nothing really bothers me that much.
"There's more important things I've got to worry about. We will be playing next year, and that's when I've got to do my bit. We've gotta try and blow people's heads off. That's the only thing that counts. That's more important than what other people decide to write about me."
What do the rest of the Nephs think about The Corner?
"We all have quite a bit of a giggle about it. Obviously, it's "Oh, Nod's in the Corner all of a sudden." Carl thikns it's funny. Some of 'em are just a bit silly."
Are the uvvers ever jealous of your increasing legend?
"No. When it all boils down to it, I'm still Nod the drummer. They can still throw me back in that Nod The Drum Machine box. But I'll break out of it. No, they're pleased...of course. "Paul likes it cos he's constantly taking the piss out of me, and it's making me famous, and he's my brother as well."
Are the rotten bastards really rotten bastards?
"Yeah, yeah. A typical three-some as they are portrayed. If there's a good piss-take to be had out of me, they'll have it. When it's me against them then it's 'the uvvers' and they're the rotten bastards. Paul's a right little bastard, I'll tell you. He's the worst rotten bastard. But I've got the whole band at my fingertips now. They're well scared, shit scared of me at the moment. I've got The Corner, haven't I?"
What's the worst thing Carl's ever done?
"Drink a bottle of Southern Comfort on a ferry - same tour, different ferry - and try and punch Tony. That was the worst thing he ever tried to do."
Did it work?
"No, of course it didn't. He spun around and fell over in front of everybody."
And what's the most unexpected thing he'd ever done?
"He's said 'Goodnight' at a gig before."
Nod disappears to the toilet for the 100th time in an hour. It's impossible to tell whether he's doing this because he needs to or because his alter ego in TTT suffers from a famously weak bladder.
He returns, and we leave the Corner for a while to go back to an event in the dim and distant past: the naming of Nod. "It was when I was really young and before I had any say in the matter," says Nod, pushing long and shiny locks of hair back off his shoulder." It as something to do with my grandfather, and I don't even remember him very well. I was in a bloody pram, for crying out loud."
"Instead of being rocked, I used to nod. That's what it was. I remember the pram. It wasn't one of those buggy things. It was like a perambulator."
This must be one of your earliest memories.
"Well, that was pretty young. I could've been two then, I suppose. I don't remember being born. One of my brothers does. There you are, complete darkness, and suddenly you're out there and you got six geezers looking at you with lots of funny masks on..."
Nod's warming to his theme, cute face getting cuter by the second as the big brown eyes start looking mischievous. "I remember when my and my brother were heating up a cake we blew ourselves out of the kitchen. We ended up out in the yard.
"We turned the gas on, and then we went to look for some matches, and by the time we found some and got back...there I was, eyebrowless and nearly noseless. I think that's what happened to my nose. I remember shouting at my mum that I had a distinct lack of nose and eyebrows. I just remember sitting there and the pair of us waiting for the ambulance to come."
I regretfully have to tell nod that this very issue brings with it the last-ever corner. He takes it like a man.
"I'll feel quite relieved, I suppose, cos my picture's getting smaller and smaller. I'm wondering by the time it does stop, how small people will think I really am. So The Nod Corner is finishing at Christmas. Is that your way of saying to the band 'How about doing something, as from the New Year?' I'd think to think it's like that. I think it's what we need. Sort the New Year out with something really explosive."
At this point, we enter into a conversation about the next LP, and it transpires that, in contrast to the little-hp-at-the-back character of his corner reputation, Nod is completely immersed in the doings of The Nephs.
He's the only member of the band to go into the rehearsal studio to work on his own, recently. He pores over manuals, studying and exploring his electronic drum equipment, day and night.
He spends hours pondering ideas, arrangements, sounds and effects. And he worries. Constantly.
"There's no time for pleasure in this sort of environment," he declares and whatever people expect to see from you when you come back you have to be prepared to give them something more.
"We strive so hard and spend so much time on doing something different. You can platy normal music till it comes out of your f***ing arse. You really can. I like to feel that that's the Nephilim over there, instead of just another normal band. That's how important it is, The band means everything to me. "You can't have a day off no matter what you do. You're only going to spend the day worrying about what you should be doing tomorrow, thinking you should be doing it today so you can do other things tomorrow, I suppose. You can't cut yourself off. My life revolves around the band.
"When we're all on the road, we always tape the gig. I sit and worry, sit in the hotel room and analyse the night before, and make it better the next night."
What would you do if a miracle happened and you could have a worry free day off?
"I'd probably wash my car. It's a black one, a Triumph Dolomite. I got it sprayed a couple of months ago, and I haven't washed it since."
"I play a mean game of pool. And I'd like to spend a bit more time getting outside. Everything we do is indoors, cooped up in some sort of little room with lots of noise going on. I'd like to go out and breathe the fine air again first thing in the morning, or go running, get the feeling of the earth again."
Do you ever go wild and have fun?
"I haven't used 'fun' for a long time. You have 'fun' at Blackpool Pier, don't you?"
"I went camping. That was a 'fun' thing. Me and my girlfriend went on holiday two months ago to Poole in Dorset. It was the bollox, just to get away, clear the air for a couple of days, have a look at the good seaside, take another look at things." "When you're inside, you tend to get bogged down with all the work. Everything else is just like a big swirligig, over you head, really."
The swirligig that is Nod's burgeoning fame has returned to hover above us, and Nod is explaining what he would do if he ever met the creator of The Nod Corner.
"I'd say good evening and headbutt him. And then I'd headbutt him gain."
Is there any particular thing other than Jeremy Beadle, which has annoyed you about The Corner?
"I can't handle all this broad Cockney sketch they keep putting across as me, the 'Cor blimeys'. Since then I've being taking lots of elocution lessons, trying to get myself sorted out." This turns out to be nod's only major grumble about the inaccuracies surrounding his alter ego. On the other side of the coin, has The Nod Corner accidentally stumbled on any home truths?
"Some things did, I suppose. There are perceptions of the niggling thing going on. And the 'Ain't Half Hot Mum' corner had had an element of truth."
This was the one which found Nod copping the blame for substituting The Nephs' Wagnerian intro tape for a Don Estelle song.
"It seemed to be quite an inside sort of story. I've done things like that from time to time. And Lofty used to be a really favourite character of mine, so I suppose that's my favourite Corner."
Any other coincidences, Nod, apart from the fact that you're also have a dog (not, alas, an Alsatian called Sod, but a black Labrador called Fonz)?
"The geezer who writes the Corner knows that vocalists have a certain amount of dominance. We can't get bloody Equity cards. He (Carl) can.
"Carl usually does all the talking, so he seems to end up being the leader of the band, but there's the rotten bastards in the middle and me in the back. Carl can't just walk along and decide to sing over something. It's got to be arranged so everything is set for him to come in with it.
"Carl's quite an influential part of the band, keeping things in line with what we want to do, but there's no leader. We all contribute."
"Also, in The Corner, everything's done behind Carl's back, which is sort of true in a way. It's not that we do things behind his back, but some things are presented to Carl is quite funny." What, with faith and admiration?
"It's definitely there I suppose. Yeah, I reckon he's a little bit like that character in The Corner. Just don't go round there..."
Who would you say is the most handsome member in the band?
"I'd say it was Carl, really. I don't really fancy him that much, though. I reckon I'm coming a close second. I reckon we're all pretty handsome. There aren't any ugly members in our band." Does Nod or the Nephs ever feel put-upon, like Nod or The Nod Corner?
"Yeah, but only because you're that drumming person. You should be born with at least a couple more arms to do what everybody else wants you to do. It might make life a hell of a lot easier."
Life is hardly easy at the moment for any of The Nephs, who are intent on pursuing the directions and dramas of the epic "Psychonaut" on their next and most ambitious album and being able to reproduce it live.
"Carl's been in training for a while and I've been doing my press-ups, getting fit. If the shots keep slipping through my hands, it's no good having a goalkeeper at all. That's as good as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party.
The rest of the lads are working fine on mid-field, coming up with all the overdubs and things. I'm sure we'll have a strong team."
The bells of doom are ringing out last orders, and there's just one final thing. How does it feel to have become a legend in the last six months of The Nod Corner?
"I feel legendous. When I go back on tour and just generally get out of Stevenage for half an hour again, which is what I'm desperate to do. I'll be a little more famous that what I have been before. Everyone tells me that nothing changes, so it shouldn't be much different, except for more people asking more questions.
"I've heard that I'm going to be strapped to this big chair which is going up in te air and round and round. I've heard I'm getting fired out of a big cannon as well, strapped to my drumkit..."
Nod: don't forget that forwards, it almost spells god.