BY STORM CONSTANTINE
Carl McCoy left Fields of The Nephilim last year and nothing has been heard of him since. In his first interview since that fateful decision he reflects on his past, his present, his future. Find out what goes on under his hat.
Carl McCoy's been cast in many roles: paranoid prima donna, magus and entertainer, down-to-earth man trying, like everybody else, to make a living in a cynical world. Now, in the aftermath of the Nephilim split and the brink of prospects new, which is the true persona of the man? Carl himself admits to an assortment.
"The character people see on stage is very much me, but at the same time, I have different personalities which I naturally adopt, like anyone else, for dealing with different situations."
It might appear he's adopted the persona of the hermit these last few months. Since the Nephilim broke up, McCoy has been hugely silent concerning the gory details.
"Have I? Well, I've been busy working and I didn't want anything to interfere with the flow of that."
Like every band split-up, there was obviously some acrimony involved, with the fans perhaps bearing some of the brunt of that, seeing as their letters haven't received responses for considerable time.
"Yeah, I'm very concerned about that. The fan club was run by my manager, and had been a mess for a long time. When I made the decision to split the band up, my manager disappeared with all the fan club software, including all the details of members. Luckily I've still got some of the application forms, and now the fan club is being rebuilt, so people should be hearing from us soon. Those whose addresses we've lost could write to us again at the Stevenage PO Box, not the Surrey address. I promise a response this time."
So what was the reason for the split - the usual of "musical differences?"
"The whole thing collapsed because I wasn't going to compromise any more. I felt we were wavering from our true path, and should've been delving into more diverse areas of the music. I felt we were just staying within a rigid boundary which we'd set for ourselves. I wanted to move on from that. The energy and power of the music wasn't as strong as I wanted. Those qualities were there when we stared the band, because you can hear it when you listen to our old material, but it got a little bit diluted."
Did it hurt you at all, coming to that decision?
"No, I'd been seeing Nod and co, for years, so of course losing that familiarity did take a bit of getting used to. But, to me, the work we were supposed to be doing was more important than the social side. I hadn't been happy since we did Psychonaut, so the split had to happen. Resentment has set in. Perhaps they thought I was too outspoken at times, but I was only being honest. If I didn't like something, I would tell them. Yet they wouldn't be honest with me. They'd say one thing and think another. When the split happened. I spoke to each band member individually, to find out what they wanted from the whole thing. They'd never tell me what they were really thinking though."
So you had a total non-communication problem. Perhaps they were wary of confronting you. Would you say you were a difficult person?
"I don't think so. I speak my mind, yes, because I believe in total honesty and I have to be able to trust people. I'm not paranoid, because there are a lot of people whom I trust, who've been my friends for a long time. If I can't trust someone or don't get along with them, then I can't pretend I do. My close friends aren't scared of confronting me. They slag me off it they want to. I stripped myself of everything last year, the band, the lot. I had to, because that was part of the ritual of working towards what I'm doing now, I needed a change, and the only way to do that was to rebuild my life how I wanted it to be. So far, everything's going really well. I'm really pleased with the new album: its exciting and fresh again, rather than just another recording to bring in the wages."
It is almost impossible to separate Carl from his beliefs, which permeate both his life and his work. He's not shy of talking about his magical path, although it seems bizarre that someone with his background should adopt it. He was brought up in a strict religious family, who espoused a spin-off Christian doctrine, which we consider it prudent not to name outright. So how did Carl escape their clutches? Was there a point when he actually rebelled against his environment?
"There were many points, or times, every week I think. I knew I was being forced to conform, but I wouldn't do it. I knew there was another, hidden side to life, as did the people connnected with that religion, but they repressed that knowledge in themselves, because they feared it. They knew I was interested in it because of the questions I asked. As a kid I experienced quite a few paranormal events. I can only describe it as having "visitors", something that was experienced by my whole family. Also, my grandfather, who wasn't connected with ther religion, was a very strong infulence on me, because he was a man who spoke his mind, a true individual, a survivor. What he had to say was a lot more realistic and interesting. He was a very strong person, who had a long and interesting life. What I learned from him was of great use in my life and still is: his outlook, his attitudes. The people around me who were into that religion were abnormal, very insecure, and the brainwashing that went on was bad news. But I just believed in what I wanted, did what I wanted, asked questions, learnt from myself. I had to. This is my experience."
The visitors sound interesting. Can you say something more about that?
"Well, the first time it happened is obviously the one that sticks in my mind, because it was the strongest. We didn't actually see anything, but the sense of an unseen presence around us was very strong. We could sense it particularly in the living room of the house, and there was always a hideous smell as you walked through the door of that room. My father tried to dig out the door frame to try and find out what was causing it. The house was always very cold. As a kid, I called them my spirit friends. They were the to me then, which was something I'd picked up out of the books I'd been made to read."
Why the Nephilim? What fascinated you about them so much?
"The Nephilim legend was referred to in church, but it was just skipped over. I remember I found two whole pages about them in a biblical dictionary, and found them fascinating, not just because of the time period they were supposed to have lived in, but because they were a race of superior beings that people had discarded. I became even more interested when people said, "Oh you don't want t know about that!" So of course I did. I wondered what they were afraid of and trying to hide."
Do you think there's any truth in those legends then?
"Well, I don't believe we just came out of the water as amphibians and evolved into what we are now without any help! I thin we were "created" by a race of higher beings. If it's acceptable for people to believe there's a god floating around up there, why can't I believe in this - and that we were part of genetic experiments back then? Its not what I believe, its what I know. I don't want to go into too many theories and details, but what I've learned is enough to convince me. Its just a feeling I get, and not something that can be explained",
Why "Fields of the Nephilim?" Where is that?
It is not a place, but refers to the web of the soul, a morphic field, something that is connected beyond the physical realm. It could interpreted as a kind of magnetic field, something that drew me in. Something was making me aware of the Nephilim when I was younger. They were just visitors as far as I was concerned, but I know that whatever the force of feeling was, it's still with me, which makes me feel confident in what I do. I can never feel lonely"
So you believe the Nephilim are still around?
"Yes, on this planet genetically, and with me as a life coincidence and a creative force. What other people would call God I suppose."
Didn't you get a lot of flack from your parent's church when it became obvious you were somewhat at odds with their dogmas?
"Yeah, The elders of the congregation came and lectured me a lot, trying to force their guilt and fear onto me in a threatening way, which is a terrible thing to do to a kid. But I wasn't intimidated, they were! They passed if off as the influence of evil spirits in my house, but it was more like the unconscious fears of my parents and their church elders."
Because Carl is so open about his beliefs, it's almost as if he sets himself up for ridicule. People do seem to have a need to "expose" him as a posing fraud, as if the fact he might actually be telling the truth, as he perceives it irritates them intensely. We venture onto the subject of the remarks made by Wayne Hussey in an earlier issue of Siren.
"I can only answer that by saying I live in a very real world and that I try to be as honest with myself as possible in everything I do. If people can't deal with that, thats their problem. I read that article because people were asking me what I'd done to upset that guy. I don't know Wayne Hussey. I've never met him and don't know anything about his work, other that what I've glimpsed on TV, and he didn't come across as a true artist to me. False nose and glasses and a beauty spot? Yuch! He's no different from all the other people who insult my beliefs. What you don't understand you resent. To me, its just being honest, but people always want to cover things up. What does he mean "some things are best left unsaid"? How repressive! The last slaggin I remember getting from someone I never met was from Roy Orbison. Now I know! Separated a birth: Roy Orbison and Wayne Hussey! I know Wayne Hussey's interpretation of a secret handshake - sneak into the toilet with a good book! People like him never want to delve into the dark areas of life, into sex or death. I think those people are afraid of life. This is a very dark planet and I think people should look within. I'm not pretentious, I'm just me. I can't put up with people trying to be something they're not."
Hussey mentioned something about the rest of the band never being on your wavelength, didn't he, and that you might be more successful if that hadn't happened?
"And he'd know, wouldn't he!"
Do you think this refers to the fact that you were always seen as a solitary kind of person and not very sociable?
"At gigs, I'm there to perform, and generally look further than the bar! I've never been able to get involved in all that pretend friendly friendly side of things. Its a fantasy world, a very narrow-minded. I can't deal with people who are into it, the pretenders, the liars. I can't switch into their mode and soak up all the bullshit after a few beers. All my close friends are very honest. Socialising might have helped me in a material way, but it wouldn't have helped me to achieve what I really wanted. I'm very happy with what I'm doing and its going in exactly the right direction, thank you."
So now McCoy has some fresh new faces around him, and he's building his own studio in which to record the album, free from the constraints of time and, as Carl puts it, the money machine. It will be produced by Carl and Andy Jackson who worked on Elyzium.
"Elyzium, was a spacious kind of album, and certain aspects could've been taken further. It left us in a kind of limbo, which is Elyzium, in a literal sense. The material I'm writing now comes out and grabs you! Its much more dynamic and energetic, whilst still retaining all the feeling I put into everything I do. I've always liked the idea of music taking you on a journey, but this album does that in a more aggressive way".
So you've no fears that the people who were into the Nephilim aren't going to like it?
"I have no fears! I feel its much more in tune with my original vision of the Nephilim. The whole set up of this album - the writing and recording - is exactly what I should be doing now. My record company are right behind my plans and ideas. I've been working hard on the writing and we now have an abundance of material in demo form. The organisation's taken quite a lot of time, but its coming together and we're starting to record for real this week. I felt the music needed more fire, so I've got more of that element around me. The new band members have lots of aggression and energy musically, plus they're very much in tune with me. That was one area I wasn't going to compromise on otherwise I'd have been back where I was before. I've still retained the elements and atmospheres, but the music's a lot more defined. I've tried to simplify things, whilst still retaining the depth and power"
None of the tracks have more than working titles for the songs yet, because Carl keeps updating them as he records them.
"I'll write something, record it, see what its like, change it and record it again. I think the songs deal with all the feelings that most people have and don't know the have - opposites. The album's been born out of the remnants of what I was doing before so the opening track is obviously reminiscent of that, but new elements are also introduced, taking yo into the new dimension that I've developed. You can hear the crossover point in the new material. I think the Nephilim always achieved a lot of strength and power in the slower tracks, but never really achieved it with any of the faster material, which became very thin and scrappy. Whereas now its got bollocks! I've moved away from standard 4/4 timing arrangement, which makes a lot of difference. The Nephilim guitar sound had become very predictable, so that's something which I've tried to minimalise on this album. There's a very upfront aggressive rhythm style to it, but the layers of atmospheric guitar are still retained where they're necessary."
There has been another Fields of the Nephilim release recently, the reappearance of early material on an album entitled "Laura" released by Contempo. This is something that neither Carl, nor the rest of the old Nephilim apparently, are happy about.
"The Italian company Contempo had license to sell "Burning the Fields" in Italy, but not outside that country. The recordings have not been re- mastered for CD and the material is basically a rip-off, a bootleg of crap quality. All I can say to the fans is don't buy it, don't waste your money. If there was any reason to re-release that material, it should have been done properly, but its not relevant anyway. Laura's dead."
The obvious step after finishing the album is taking the new band on the road. Will there be a new name for the band?
"We'll probably be called just The Nefilim - using the phonetic spelling. I can't throw that name away, even though I've been threatened with legalities, because its such a part of me and my work. I will play some of the old songs, but they'll be revamped to suit the style of the new band. There's no way I want to mimic what I did before. The shows should be a lot more visual, because the people I'm working with now are more interested in that side of things. I don't know what my touring plans will be yet, but I do want to gig in the UK this year. There should be more news on that front in the next couple of months. We'll be going into rehearsal as soon as the album's finished. I want to get back out there. I'm really looking forward to it."
You were getting pretty jaded with performing live last year, weren't you?
"Yeah, that was just because of the situation I was in. Bad management and organisation didn't help. I'm still trying to live with the damage that was caused. It was just so predictable, so pretend, so untogether. There was such a lack of inspiration towards the end. Generally I enjoy touring, even thought it's stressful and tiring. Indeed that physical outlet now and again, that physical reaction, a bit of anger. This is not a case of Carl McCoy and his Backing Band. This is a fresh new Nefilim."
And how would Carl feel about previous members of the Fields of the Nephilim playing the old songs?
"I don't mind if they do! They can do what they want. I don't want to put them down, or stop them from doing anything. I hope that, from this experience, they'll realise what it is they want to do with their music, and how important it is, and should be to them. I wish them the best of luck. Here's to the next cycle!"
Finally, Carl has a personal message to his fans:
"I always felt more in tune with my the bad, so I'm looking forward to continuing on the Nefilim journey with you. Let the great metamorphosis begin!"