NEPHILIM: FIELDS FOREVER
After four years of sheer persistence the Fields of The Nephilim finally broke through the pop chart barricade with their new album 'The Nephilim'. Their unique sound saw them selling out tours both at home and abroad. Lead singer Carl McCoy just mangaged to find time in between tours to explain how Stevenage took to Bonanza and how giant men once ruled the world.
How do you rate your new album compared to your first one 'Dawnrazor'?
'Dawnrazor' wasn't taken quite as far. It definitely captured some atmosphere but this album is a lot more complete sounding because it was written as a whole new project whereas 'Dawnrazor' was like a collection of a lot of songs that we had been playing around with for many years. But it has done very well for us. I am pleased with the new album. I think it's very honest.
You used the same producer, Bill Buchanan who is virtually unknown.
Yeah he is really. A lot of bands use producers because they want help to arrange the songs and things like that, but we basically always use our producer for interpreting sounds and bouncing off ideas because we do most of the production ourselves anyway. Later on we might end up producing ourselves completely, we won't specifically like to stick to one person. We are still gaining experience in the studio.
You get involved in everything you do from co-producing your albums to co-directing videos, is that because you won't rely on anyone else to do the job 100%?
Well it has fallen out of our hands in the past, we have only just got it right on this album, I think. We always put across our ideas because we know more about our music than anyone else so we have specific ideas for album cover designs, videos and things like that. I think a lot of people have misinterpreted us in the past. They have taken our ideas and done their own version. Whereas now a lot more people end up listening to us, so in the future hopefully we'll end up getting everything just right.
Have all these ideas stemmed from while you were in the band or did you have any previous experience, say in films or in another form of art?
Well I always had very strong ideas, read lots of books and there is a certain art I like but I think that's something that I wad born with so it's not something that's come when we formed the band. When you join a band you can express all these ideas, it's waiting for the right opportunity to put them across that really matters.
Judging from the album your songs sound quite complex and intricate in parts - they're not "1, 2, 3, 4, GO!" So how difficult are rehearsals for you to get to the point you want to get to?
We like writing and we have always spent a hell of a lot of time locked away on our own cut off from people and just played our music. We've always had a knack of putting it together whereas in previous bands everyone had been frustrated. So when we got this band together we all suddenly realised that we were all in pursuit of the same goal. Consequently, we were all comfortable playing together. We didn't turn up at rehearsals and plan to write certain songs, we just let it take it's own natural course and it just developed. Out of about ten hours playing we'd get the kernel for three songs.
So although the band isn't carefully planned the material is?
Certainly! We are pretty serious about our music and I think that's what it all comes down to. After you take everything else away all you are left with is songs.
You did say that the Nephilim evolved from other bands you played in. What sort of music were you into then?
When I left school I was into a lot of this roots, heavy dub reggae and I had a lot of inspiration from that for the Nephilim because of the feel of the music. You couldn't describe why you liked it but looking back on it you just absorb that music. It just goes through you and it sort of triggers off certain emotions. That's what I was like at that age, I didn't like songs for songs sake, I liked songs because of the way they used to make you feel inside and I think later on because of the punk scene I got interested in that. There was a bit of a cross-section then and it just developed into a sort of rockier type of music. I like quality in music. I don't like songs written just for dance sake. You tend to get saturated with this Radio One daytime music which is not what music means to me.
But you're out there in Radio One land
Yeah, yeah, I know but that's with no hype. That's a real achievement in my eyes because it's sheerly playing live and building up a good following. That's the honest old fashioned way of doing it.
Are you a prolific writer?
When the opportunity comes, yeah. We can't write on tour mainly because of the distractions and plus you have got your mind on one part of the job. What we like to do as far as writing goes is when we finish touring we go home, rest and have a couple of weeks doing nothing just building back up to it. Then we get into a real big block of writing. Once we start we can't stop.
It's not only the music you have got together, your whole presentation is different, for example, calling your fans 'Bonanzas'
They call themselves that.
How important is image to the Nephilim?
It's important to us. I think the image just developed, because when we first got together we just used to cover ourselves in flour and in that way we all looked like we were in the same band. That was our identity. That was Fields of The Nephilim.
Are you a fan of the Westerns?
There's a couple of Westerns I really admire, a couple of Spaghetti Westerns, the innovative Westerns, with people like Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson. Some people have made too much of this Western link with the Nephilim. I think we probably look something more like something out of Dickens. We are British after all.
I heard that the Nephilim means giants who once used to rule the world. Is that correct?
Well the Nephilim were a race of giant men from around Biblical times and they were born from women who had been with spirits. They weren't around for long I think. Then they disappeared.
Why name yourself after an extinct species. Surely not a good omen.
We don't know that they are extinct! I've known about them since I was really young. I knew it would come in useful one day.