INTERVIEW BY PUSHEAD
A deep fog rolls out and over the stage. Thick, billowing clouds of white exhalation engulf the atmosphere, creating an eerie mood as the intro tape starts up. The guitars creak slowly, building momentum as the intro fades out. Five dark, shadowy figures move slowly through the vapor like renegade cowboys coming in from the plains. They stroll into position with dusty, desperado-style hats on their heads as guitars echo a distorted, eerie sound. With a true 19th century western feel, the members of Fields of the Nephilim scowl like outlaws, yet their sound is not the stereotypical western twang. It is deep, rich and earthy and brings forth the image of a haunting twilight. At the forefront is vocalist Cal McCoy with this low husky croons, grasping notes with powerful tonsil thrusts. Lime green contact lenses give his eyes a cat-like glare that adds to this creepy mystery even more. The Nephilim stand motionless as the mist swallows them up and the mind absorbs the music. The Nephilim, hailing from London, England, are (surnames only, please) Wright and Yates on guitars, Pettitt on bass, Wright on drums and vocalist McCoy. They were recently voted best new band in England by a music tabloid reader's poll and their success is hot on the heels of such bands as the Sisters of Mercy and The Mission. Their first release, Burning the Fields featured a saxophonist. They added a second guitar and dropped the sax for the following releases, The Power, Preacherman, Dawnrazor, Returning to Gehenna and the recent Blue Water. Playing to a still unknown market, the Nephilim came for a short tour of the U.S.A., where this meeting came about.
Pushead: What do you think of the U.S. response to your band?
Carl McCoy: Surprisingly good. San Francisco was good. We haven't been expecting much because people aren't that familiar with us. We'd like to get a reputation like we have in England.
Pushead: What's your reputation like in England?
Carl McCoy: We're doing really well there. It's taken us four years to build it up.
Pushead: Who are your influences?
Carl McCoy: I don't think we're particularly influenced by bands. We've all got different backgrounds and completely different tastes in music, so I think we influence each other as musicians. It's taken us four years to develop. In the last two years we've really developed. We know exactly what we want out of it now.
Pushead: Where did the spaghetti western image come from?
Carl McCoy: We're interested in spaghetti westerns. We like that sort of thing. We discovered them quite late actually, as a band.
Pushead: Do you dress like this normally?
Carl McCoy: We dress like this a lot. It just progresses slightly. We've always been scruffy bastards. Our music inspires the way we dress.
Pushead: What kind of subject matter do your lyrics deal with?
Carl McCoy: Personal.
Pushead: Are you happy with the way the lyrics turn out once they're composed with the music?
Carl McCoy: Yeah, totally. That's why we get on so well, because everyone's happy with what everyone does. We write a lot of stuff that we reject as well.
Pushead: Like The Mission, you guys put out more that one version of the same song on different releases. What do you think about that type of marketing?
Carl McCoy: Different versions? A lot of bands bring out different versions. The only difference is a different studio does different mixes of the same stuff. We do different versions, though. We actually play the song each time.
Pushead: You don't think that's taking the public for a ride?
Carl McCoy: No, becasue we do give them something more, something extra anyway. We can argue with part of it. That's how record companies work, different versions of different things, y'know. We've got quite a lot of say. we actually play the different version.
Pushead: Are you going to get more of a western feel because that's where the image is?
Carl McCoy: We don't see ourselves as a western band anyway. I mean in some of the old photographs we went through a spaghetti western phase. We're going to turn into what we're going to turn into. We're just gonna develop what we've already got.
Pushead: What kind of response do you get in England?
Carl McCoy: We've got one of the biggest followings in England. The critics slag us off a bit becasue we have been an un-hip sort of band with the cowboy hats and that. Which is totally uncool to them. It doesn't fit into a fashion. The press will try and change and conform a lot of bands into a fashion. We surprised a lot of people in England, because we got a big following. The journalists didn't like us and then all of a sudden the polls came out at the end of the year and then the journalists started to like us.
Pushead: It's funny how they change their minds. What can you do about that?
Carl McCoy: Well, it's their loss. It doesn't make any difference. We never really follow the press. The only time we follow it is if they write something in there about us and we pick it up and laugh at it and throw it in the corner. It doesn't make much of an impact. I think the best press we get in England is from smaller magazine, people who are really enthusiastic. We're more interested in doing interviews with these people anyway. I mean, the big papers aren't interested in anyone but themselves.
Pushead: When you talk to the press is there any sort of message you try to portray to the fans?
Carl McCoy: It's not an explicit message as such. We're not trying to put anything across to them. People can't always make out my lyrics, they can't understand what I'm saying half the time, but that doesn't stop them from coming. So it's an atmosphere we create that attracts the people. Enjoyment.
Pushead: How far do you want to go with the band? Are you planning on hitting the top forty market, or do you think that it's not possible with your sound?
Carl McCoy: Well, it becomes possible because you just appeal to a larger audience, and that audience becomes so thick they buy enough records to make you come up.
Pushead: What does the name mean?
Carl McCoy: We've essentially taken it out of the First Testament of the Bible. The Nephilim were a unique race of giants. They were supernatural, because these angels came down from the heavens and mixed with the women on the earth and they bred these giants and they were the Nephilim. They were supposedly wiped out in the flood. They hardly existed; it was a small amount of people. So we just took the name on.
Pushead: So why Fields?
Carl McCoy: As in green fields.
Pushead: Were the Nephilim a rebellious breed?
Carl McCoy: Yeah, that's why it crosses over.
Pushead: Since the nature of this magazine is skateboarding, what can you say about that?
Carl McCoy: I skated years and years ago.
Pushead: How old were you then?
Carl McCoy: About thirteen or fourteen. It's different now, skaters today are really good.
Pushead: Were you good at it?
Carl McCoy: I was good at it, really. I rode freestyle stuff in halfpipes. I was on the Benji Board team.
Pushead: How come you gave it up?
Carl McCoy: I don't know. It was just a phase I went through. I was never a sporty person at school. i just picked it up and got pretty good at it. Kids don't associate it with us. That was when I was a kid. There's a park and no one uses it, so a couple of summers ago we took he connection between skateboarding and music?
Pushead: Skateboarding is rebellious agression. Skaters listen to music that relates to that same kind of energy. It's a whole lifestyle. When will the next release be out?
Carl McCoy: When we get back from the States we're going straight into the studio.