You've seen the name, heard the buzz, but who the hell are... Rubicon.
Clue: They were once associated with hats, flour and gloomy songs. They've cast all that aside and are now fighting for a place in the Rock Market. Dave Ling reports...
On paper, at least there are certain parallels between Rubicon, who feature the former nucleus of Fields Of The Nephilim, and those most unfashionable, yet enduring Proggie gits, Marillion. Both are bands who were apparently robbed of an individual who personified their group's public face, and who apparently contributed the most significantly to their sound. Marillion have gone on to prove that life without Fish is not only possible but preferable, and now Rubicon are attempting the same with singer Andy Delaney taking the place of Carl McCoy. Delaney is horrified but amused by the analogy.
"Marillion? If I thought we were like them I think I'd go home and get a job with the council." Chortles the singer, whose big break came when he met guitarist Paul Wright and drummer Nod's brother working behind a bar in a local pub and was tipped off about Carl McCoy's departure. "People are gonna have to come to terms with the fact that Carl wasn't The Nephilim and that he wasn't the prolific writer he tried to convince people he was. The band wrote the music, not him and now he's left."
"It had to be a complete break with the past," agrees guitarist Peter Yates. "There are numerous bands who've lost their singers and I always think it's a bit cheap when they carry on doing their back catalogue, that stinks. We decided that as it was a different sound - even though one or two elements remain - we'd look to the future, not the past. Although I don't see any reason why people who were into the Nephilim shouldn't like Rubicon. In all the gigs we've had just two people walk out, I'd like to give credit to an audience to appreciate that we're moving on.
"With Carl it had got to the stage where we were writing music that he didn't like. He didn't do a German Festival that we'd been booked for, we'd have been headlining in front of 35,000 people and it would have been the biggest gig we'd ever done. After that he gave us a ring and said, "I'm off." But if he hadn't made that call to us I'm pretty certain he'd have been on the end of one from us.
September saw the release of Rubicon's debut LP "What Starts, End", a less gloomy and indulgent collection of tunes than anything attached to the Nephilim name, and the quintet recently completed a 14 date UK tour. With a brand new set and Rockier sound they've run into less problems than many would have anticipated.
"Things have been going well. Glasgow was the only difficult gig so far", says the new boy. "There was a large Goth element there and they didn't get exactly what they expected so there was a muted response, but we got 'em in the end. We've had very few people shouting for old Neph numbers, they have settled into the idea that it's a completely new band and they should like it or hate it. It's been a mixture of fans of the old band and new people, which is what we wanted, and the reaction has been generally warm. It's just that there hasn't been much publicity so far." Indeed, with the tabloid music press adopting a typically snooty attitude to Rubicon, it's been down to the Metal rags to herald their arrival.
"The NME have totally blanked us and Melody Maker might as well've done, so we know we're gonna have to go it alone," sigh Andy. "What we're doing now isn't really comparable to what was going on before, it's not in the same vein, I don't think it'll attract the same narrow niche." The epic length of the material remains - eight of the LP's ten songs clock in at around the six-minutes mark - but Rubicon feel less out of place in the Rock marketplace than Fields Of The Nephilim ever did. Peter: "Very much so, although it's not deliberate. Andy's certainly got a more accessible vocal style, it's a Rock voice and it works well with our style of music. It's less pretentious and far more honest." Rubicon certainly go some way to dismissing the Neph image of trainspotters armed with bags of Homepride!
"Ha! Yeah, possibly some people do think of us like that but it's not true. Nephilim were a very misunderstood band," observes Yates.
"The flour's gone, which is a relief because it used to get in the pick-ups of the guitar. We got the Goth tag due to Carl's so-called deep and mysterious persona, but it's brilliant that RAW is covering us because I always feel Hard Rock fans would have like Nephilim if they'd given themselves a chance to listen. Now we've got our fingers in several pies. It's that word honesty again. We've lost the hats, the flour and the sunglasses and we feel a whole lot better for it.