FIVE HAPPY HOMBRES
From 'Emmerdale Farm' to top 10, Fields Of The Nephilim are 'over the moon' about their new-found chart success. Andy Strickland ploughs through the facts.
They seemed to come from no-where, these five dusty hombres with stubbled chins, swirling, brooding guitars, a singer with an uncanny vocal resemblance to the Pinhead monster in the horror flick 'Hell Raiser', an apparently uncommercial sound and now, with 'Moonchild' - a hit single.
Many scoffed when your New Year's copy of RM gave up one quarter of its cherished cover to proclaim these musical tinkers as likely chart fodder for 1988. Flour power, we told you, was about to take on the big boys at their own game.
On the sun scorched face of things it may have seemed unlikely that Fields Of The Nephilim could be up there among Bros and the dross but here was a band - yes a band - that'd been slogging their guts out around the crumbling live scene and built up such a following, such a reputation, that the Nephilim hordes now invade their local record shops - Glasgow, London, Manchester, Liverpool and even Stevenage - whenever a new Nephs record comes to town. Hence - one hit single and five happy hombres.
The band's much publicised love of films has led to many Spaghetti Western puns, but it was television that first spotted the potential lurking behind the greatcoats. When Amos Brearly was required to get peeved at one of 'Emmerdale Farm's' younger residents, it was a Nephilim song that boomed down through the floorboards. Even designer violence show 'Miami Vice' used one of the band's songs as an introduction recently.
But who exactly are the Fields Of The Nephilim?
Read on and find out...
Carl McCoy: Vocals
"It was only recently that we were doing interviews and people were telling me 'well, you're not a commercial band, your voice isn't right for Radio 1', and I thought, 'why not?'. We've proved a real point now because we haven't had to conform; we haven't gone and written a toe tapper. I'm sure some of our followers will make a few stabbing comments about us copping out, but there is no danger of that. I think we're more of an albums band really.
"I've always been inspired by music that gives me some feeling and pictures in my head. I used to like a lot of dub reggae when I was young but the first single I bought was 'Teenage Lament' by Alice Cooper. I wouldn't have understood Fields Of The Nephilim musically then 'cause it takes quite a mature ear to understand our music.
"I'm not a real rock music fan to be honest, so I don't like the whole image of rock bands. I don't like to be associated with them and I don't like to see my face in all the usual rock quotations. I don't know if I even want to be known for being in a band, I got into it 'cause it's a way of getting yourself across, of getting a name that'll allow me to do something else in the future; something in films probably.
"I used to be a mechanic but I hate cars. I passed all the exams. I've settled down to a lot of reading this year. I read a lot of occult books because I've got a good understanding of that sort of thing, but it takes a lot of learning. Sometimes, people try to delve too deeply into my private thoughts, my lyrics, and I think that does me more harm than good, to expose myself that much."
Tony Pettit: Bass guitar
"I hope none of our following think we've sold out to get a hit single. Talking to some of the ones who used to follow The Mission, that's one of the reasons they gave up on them because they like bands to be just their bands. We'll treat people exactly the same; we won't be getting on our high horse as such because we need those people. So hopefully they won't desert us now.
"My earliest musical memory is the stuff my mum used to play. She had a very varied taste and she was into a lot of old rock 'n' roll stuff. I used to listen to those 'Top Of The Pops' LPs - 20 unoriginal artists - and the first record I ever bought was Benny Hill's 'Ernie.' The first band that made a real impression on me was Slade. When I was 11, they were my main band.
"If I'd heard Fields Of the Nephilim at that age, I think the music would have been too much of an acquired taste for me. I always remember really liking Roxy Music because of the way they looked during the Glam Rock thing so I would probably have liked the idea of Fields Of The Nephilim and pretended I was into the music.
"The best thing about being in this band is the people that are in it. There's no big ego thing going on. Everyone's on a level where we don't have to bullshit or pull our punches. The worst thing is not having an awful amount of money.
Nod Wright: Drums
"I don't think you ought to knock our crowd too much 'cause it makes them sound simple to suggest they'll turn their backs on us just 'cause we've had a hit single. They're as much a part of all this as we are and they understand the way we work, they deserve a lot of the credit for us having a hit.
"I think people nationwide have had enough of your Samantha Fox, your Kylie Minogue And your Stock Aitken Waterman. They've had their monopoly these untalented people coming along with their dirges. I think music has come full circle and in a year or so people will realise that they want to hear songs again. We're doing our part and we'll help change things.
"I'm a lot younger than the rest of the band and I was dragged up on a lot of - dare I say it - funk. I've never said this before, but I would buy Sonny Liston Smith records. But that music wasn't enough, I needed something more serious to get into and appreciate. What I grew up with is totally irrelevant to what I'm doing now. I like timeless bands like The Doors and the Floyd. That's what I strive for - to make us timeless.
Peter Yates: Guitar
"I have to travel incognito now 'cause I came to rehearsal once as a Nephilim and loads of people recognised me, which I didn't like very much, to be honest. All of a sudden people take notice because you're in the top 40, but we're not even going to follow up this single; we'll wait until the new albums ready. I think we're more of an albums band to be honest, so there's no way we'll try to write a catchy follow-up to 'Moonchild'.
"I used to work in this house that took ex-cons who'd just been released from prison and had nowhere else to go. We had about 30 people there and we just ran the house for them. Since then, I've done loads of things - worked in factories, been to college to get the rant, anything other than work. I just don't like working basically, and though being in a band is very hard work, it's the only thing I've ever wanted to do.
"The worst thing about being in a band is the periphery of the music biz. It came home to me when we played in New York and there were 100 people who wanted to shake our hands and get autographs, and they were record company people. We're no different from anybody else, it's just that I can play guitar. It's all bullshit. I hate it! I think if you want to be a party person you can do all that and appear in all the gossip columns but I can't stand the Limelight and all those places. They're the pits!"
Paul Wright: Guitar
"I've noticed over the past few months that people haven't exactly changed their views on the band, but they don't seem quite so ready to have a go at us. Maybe we've got a bit more respect because of our following and the poll results at the end of last year which speak for themselves. People tended to pass us over in the past because we're not possible to pigeonhole. The best thing about being in this band is the unity. I can't see us ever splitting up for musical differences and all those things. Everyone has room for their ideas.
"I couldn't figure out why we were chosen to be played on 'Emmerdale Farm' I was chuffed but when we finally saw it, it only lasted 10 seconds. I was much more pleased with the 'Miami Vice' thing because it was a much more serious song. We'd really like to write something specifically for a film. On the tour bus the band watches a lot of horror films but I don't like them because I hate feeling on edge all the time. I don't like it at all, I'd rather look at the beautiful countryside out the window.
"Before the band I was carpet fitting, plumbing ... loads of things. Work was very important because it takes a bit of money to finance a band in the early days, especially if you want to put out your own record. We'd turn up for rehearsals covered in grease and one day you'd be up there on stage on a real high and the next you'd be back on your knees fitting someone's carpet!"