REASONABLE DAY AT BLACK ROCK
Goths? Us?? Indeed. And proud of it. Fields Of The Nephilim bite the bullet with Barbara Ellen.
I have just arrived at an interview that is really a fancy fress party and my guts are spinning. Fields Of The Nephilim have come as cowboys. They always do. As the only other guest I've come as the NME and already my blue stocking-tops are showing.
Do you view yourselves as mysterious people?
Are you afraid of being too ordinary?
"Oh no... we just like the escapism. Getting away from the boredom of reality."
The speaker is Carl McCoy. Saturnine-faced vocalist with Fields Of The Nephilim. Wiry, black hair courses down his face and back. At full throttle his voice could crack knuckles. Tonight he and his band seem strangely subdued. Almost grim-visaged beneath their Palitoy stetsons.
Fields Of The Nephilim formed in 1983, and promptly introduced themselves to oblivion as post-punk riders of the apocalypse. Back at the ranch, they gassed all the horses and nurtured a sound that hitched Goth's clumsy dark blancmange to a sly, cinematic growl.
Now Fields Of The Nephilim have their photographs taken. It goes like a dream. Our lensman only has to signal and dry ice swallows the naked gloom. It makes them cry. It warps their stetson-brims. Yet still The Nephilim peer, frown and 'YEHAW!' into the camera's cold-fish gaze. Such studied professionalism is touching but hopelessly counterfeit.
"It's been a long wait and a tough struggle. We've had a really hard time. Things are only just beginning to happen for us now. At last it's looking like it's all been worth it. We want things to progress. It's good that it's all happened slowly. Some bands retain their genuine fans and still manage to get into the charts. We hope to do it like that. It's a really strong position to be in. We can only hope to get bigger and bigger..." (Etc, etc...)
The Nephilim are entitled to celebrate. They are men living their own alibi, having flicked all semblance of failure and struggle away from their patch with the debut album 'Dawnrazor'.
"Everything we've done, especially the album, has gone exactly how we wanted it to."
And what of possessions?
Tony Pettit (bass): "We haven't any. We just like the way music and films go together. Especially good westerns. All those wide open spaces and wonderful scenery. Our clothes help to reflect that theme in our music really well. But there's no real meaning to anything we do. I mean, the stuff we're doing now is coming along really well but that's different again. We can get away with new stuff now. We have a hardcore following at every gig. They understand us. It makes it all easier."
What exactly do they understand? Elaborate.
"We-e-ell... they just enjoy us live. They have a really good time at gigs."
Fields Of The Nephilim must be protective of their 'art'. When asked for a roll-call of influences they resort to telling - I suspect - great steaming lies: Magazine, Joy Division, Clock DVA, The Stranglers. They recite the list carefully, accenting each name with precision. One slip could reap terrible dividends. Who knows? Somebody might yell: "Take me from behind, Eldritch!"
Carl: "People say that my vocals are similar to Andrew Eldritch's but I can't really see it. I liked Sisters Of Mercy but only as much as any other band around at the time."
Trying to get an interesting answer out of the Nephilim is like trying to shove a brick into a test-tube. 'Do you light your own farts?' fares alright. Anything slightly more exotic has them downing tools, hats in hands; slack-jawed with incomprehension.
Nobody admits to being a Goth nowadays.
"I am not a goth' has replaced 'gissa job' as the catchphrase of the '80s. Everyone forgets that once it crackled with a certain indigo style. Pretentious - yes, vacuous - certainly, but often so pretty, so ruby, so crazily cute. A meantown mix of bad blood, lace psyches and eloquent hurt. As a band, Fields Of The Nephilim are suspect. As Goth's new royalty they flunk, exuding all the pomp and majesty of a drunk sprawling on a street corner. Smelly talk for the masses.
Do you feel that you've got this far by default?
Peter: "No... it's not everyone else being crap that makes us look good. It's us being good that makes everyone else look crap."
Oh very cute!
Tony: "Mind you, there are some really crap bands around... Getting loads of exposure. Bands like The Primitives. It's really cheapened them getting into the press such a lot. We've not had that much press. It's a good thing. It's made people want to hear about us more. We've not been over-exposed.
Have you actually turned down an interview?
The press have had more than a little to do with Fields Of The Nephilim retaining their enigma. It has also made them psychotically suspicious. I remember my arrival. And how they stared.
And had I been that snarling hack with the Volkswagen pendant?
Carl: "We'd have probably clammed up a lot more."
'The Cowboy Wore a Nightie' - 'The Party of Special Things To Do' -Cpt. Beefheart.