FIELD OF DREAMS
Fields Of The Nephilim's latest album, 'Elizium', uncovers a multitude of influences from ancient civilisations to weird religions, musical tangents and literary out-takes. Vocalist Carl McCoy, like a true renaissance man, reveals where it all came from to the intellectually-profound Malcolm Dome.
The sun is beating a treadmill tattoo on the honeycut hedgerows of the Pig & Whistle pub in the recesses of suburban Stevenage. Inside the narrow wooden confines beer is pouring as the jukebox bleeds from the coprophiliac charts. The bubble of conversation murmurs on the misty horizons of a whiskey haze. It's a strange place to find Fields Of The Nephilim vocalist Carl McCoy. But here he sits, a half-smile on his satiated lips, with scarcely a trace of flour in his hair or dry-ice filtering through his glass of lager. Sighting McCoy during daylight hours is almost the equivalent of spotting ex-WASP man Chris Holmes at a MENSA meeting. But he seems affable, personable, erudite - hardly the monosyllabic misery I'd been led to expect!
But then McCoy doesn't belong to the superficial 'Rock Star' mindtrap fraternity. There is more to him than an ego - puffing somnambulantly on the blowpipe of Hedonism. He is a thinker, an introvert in many respects with an artistic creativity that goes beyond the norm. The problem is that most interviewers treat McCoy merely as another notch on the belt, someone to be dismissed with a wave of the digits and a cruel twist of vocabulary. But there's more, much more to him.
So it was decided to give Carl the chance to express himself on three pivotal subjects: Books, music and film. There are inter-relations between the trio, as McCoy himself is quick to realise, and without doubt all three have influenced Nephilim's sound and stance.
"I go through periods of reading. I don't read everyday; it comes in cycles. Usually I do a lot of reading in the Winter months. The Summer is for hibernation! I know that a lot of Rock performers these days spend their spare time going to the gym and keeping fit. Me? I prefer the company of a good book.
"The first book I ever read all the way through was an abridged version of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. The version I read was an easy-to-read one for young people. I'd just gone into junior school at the time.
"I'm never one for reading stories or novels. Most of my books are the sort which I can learn from. But I have never been able to follow one path or direction, or indeed read books by one particular author. However, I do have a few books from the 19th Century American Fantasist HP Lovecraft. I find him fun to read and he certainly did his research thoroughly. The most fictitious book that I've read is Hermitage by a woman called Storm Constantine. It's her sixth book and is coming out next January. I read it in manuscript form because I've been asked to do the cover artwork. She combines certain elements of Shamanism with post-apocalypse visions. I suppose some would call it sci-fi but it is influenced by magick which obviously interests me. Drawing is something that I've always done for my personal satisfaction, but someone suggested that it was a waste of time keeping the results to myself.
I used to sit down with a fat dictionary and look up every word that I didn't understand. That's not the case so much anymore. But I still consult a biblical dictionary. I was brought up religiously - that's how I became awe of religious teachings. I was a strict christian. I was forced to go to church against my will... It caused me a lot of problems when I was younger, but it's been a help to me professionally. Religion is something I keep away from these days. All my interest in religiously-associated topics for instance Shamanism, are on an individual level. I have a real interest in the Sumerian civilisation and their connection with the Nephilim. I discovered the Nephilim one day when perusing a biblical dictionary given to me by my mother. I asked her to explain these beings to me and she just shrugged it off and said I wasn't to concern myself with such things - of course, that aroused even greater interest from me at a very impressionable age!
"Studying the Sumerians and the Nephilim could take up my whole life. The civilisation - one that influenced the Babylonians and Egyptians, for instance - was only discovered again about 100 years ago, and the tablets of stone they left behind are still being deciphered. One book I've got on the Sumerians is by someone called Zechariah Sitchin. He discusses the Nephilim and although his view-point isn't mine, nonetheless it is interesting. He maintains that the Nephilim were scientists at the time of the Sumerian civilisation and they were marvels at genetic engineering; they cross-bred themselves with beings who came from the stars.
"Would I want to write my own book? I'd like to do that one day, but it would have to combine artwork and text. I'm never satisfied with using just one form of expression. That's why I write lyrics, perform onstage, draw and so forth. The problem is finding the time to fit all this in..."
"Actually, I know a lot of people who are involved with the movie industry. One of these, of course, is Richard Stanley, the man who directed the new film Hardware, in which I make my acting debut, playing the Nomad. He directed the Fields Of The Nephilim videos for both 'Preacher Man' and 'Blue Water'.
"The part I play in the film is very much myself. In fact, it was written with me in mind. A lot of the acting involves wandering through a desert, digging up a strange robotic experiment from the sand dunes. The movie world is completely different to Rock music. The discipline is more organised than anything else I've been connected with. If something was supposed to happen then it did, on time!
"Originally the band were gonna be involved with the soundtrack - in fact, we were going to write some material especially for it. But Palace Pictures financed Hardware and they're tied in with Virgin. So for political reasons Virgin supplied the soundtrack. Personally I'd like to do some soundtrack work. I've got lots of soundtrack albums at home. I enjoy soundtracks that have texture to the music, rather that coming across as just another example of someone picking up a synthesiser in the John Carpenter-mould and ripping off the soundtrack for Halloween. That's why I enjoy stuff like the music for Apocalypse Now.
"Ennio Morricone? I wouldn't say he particularly influenced us as a band musically, but we were certainly heavily influenced by the film Once Upon A Time In The West, for which the veteran Italian composer provided the music. I don't like any of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns for which he did the music (all directed by Sergio Leone, as was Once Upon...) That was a great movie. We certainly didn't base our whole career on that, but at the time we were recording our debut album, 'Dawnrazor', I'd re-discovered it and it was a source of inspiration.
"When I was younger I was really into films; I'd go to the cinema as regularly as possible. I used to stay up really late and watch all the black and white Horror movies. They seem such crap now, but there was a romantic feel to them back then - an you could always have a laugh by spotting the continuity errors! I made a point of watching all of them because I was told that I shouldn't be watching them. I wanted to see how far they'd go.
"I like a lot of modern films, although I can't stand the trend in Horror movies towards tacky gore and all this American college stuff. One film that I saw recently on video and would recommend to anyone is Dead Calm. It's a thriller with only three in the cast and very gripping. Very influenced by Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock himself? I'm not a big fan. I like his sense of perversity, but I admire it more in other people. David Lynch for example.
I've got a big video collection, but many of them I only watch once. As a rule I don't follow one director of film maker. I like particular films and if I like one movie from a director I'll check out his other stuff , but I don't feel an obsession to see everything he's every made. One person whose entire movie collection I have got on video is Ken Russell. I even like films such as The Lair Of The White Worm, which have been panned elsewhere. I like his sense of humour.
"The first record I ever bought was Alice Cooper's 'Teenage Lament' in 1974. I've listened to it since. And it sounds crap! But then that applies to a lot of the stuff you grow up with, later it seems like shit. When I was younger I was really into Reggae. I had a year or so of listening to Dub and Roots Reggae, people like Sly and Robbie and Joe Gibbs. I used to hang around Reggae store a lot. I'd always walk out with an armful of records.
"At the end of the '70s I became interested in New Wave. But by the early '80s the Jamaican scene had run dry - most of the Reggae musicians had been shot!
"As for Rock music, well I love Motorhead musically, although their lyrics are crap. And I respect AC/DC for being the best at what they do, but I don't get enough out of listening to inbetween bands like Iron Maiden, Whitesnake and Magnum. All those high-pitched vocals don't appeal to me. My interest lies mainly with bands who perform more challenging types of Rock music. I'm impressed with bands who are trying to cross styles.
"Classical music? I like it, and I can appreciate the arrangements and the way that it envelopes you, rather like good rock music. But although I have tapes of Classical stuff I can never remember the titles on individual pieces.
"As for my record-playing equipment, all I have is a DAT machine. No CD player, no record player and no cassette player. So I get DAT tapes of records from CDs. I did have a record player, but it broke down and I haven't bothered to have it replaced because I'm away from home so often. I like to play records really loud, turn up the volume very high and then go and sit in another room to listen to it! Most music nowadays is made for CD reproduction, but you don't seem to be getting more for your money by purchasing CDs. The packaging is appalling. And a lot of old records still sound better on vinyl."