Fields of the Nephilim
Interview with: Carl McCoy, vocalist of the legendary "Fields of the Nephilim".
McCoy left the band in 1991 but continued releasing albums.
The band reunited in 2000 and a new album is due to be released this November 28th.
Regarding this album, what does is sound like? What style is it going to be, the new "Mourning Sun" album?
I take it that you haven’t heard it yet…
No, not yet
I think it’s very different from anything I’ve achieved in the past.
So, you can imagine what it’s not going to be a lot more than what it’s going to be like.
There are a few reflections of the past, involved in this new project- I see it as a Nephilim project that’s kind of updated to 2005.
It’s a bit more upfront, there are quite a lot of layers involved in it so I find it quite atmospheric.
I think it’s very fresh as well, I mean…it’s not relying on anything I’ve done before.
The common denominator is that I was involved in it, so it’s obviously going to have a thread that runs through it – which is there in the past as well, but I see it as quite a fresh and new album.
It is different, like every album I’ve made- from the last one to the one before it, they were all quite different from each other.
Where was it recorded?
In many places, really, I’m able to sort of transport my own studio equipment anywhere I need to go…even in an outdoor environment using generators to record; even if it’s just for the sake of recording reflections or ambience.
So we recorded in many different places, without the restrictions of just one studio this time- It has become fun, we did it because we could *laughs*.
So it’s studio and live environments?
Yeah, studio based.
But sometimes we wanted to go outside to record. Especially some of the ambience sounds – I prefer recording everything myself rather than relying on any other source material.
What is the current lineup?
There is no current lineup, I kind of felt that it’s a bit unnecessary, for the project speaks for itself.
I’ve got people that I need to involve when I need to involve them.
I think it’s more important to get the true spirit of the vision of what I’m willing to achieve- so I think a set lineup is very restrictive and therefore unnecessary for me.
So it’s bringing musicians to record what you need?
Well, I record as well, I’m a musician as well; I can pretty much play anything.
Obviously, when it comes to the final recordings like drums and bass, I’ve got people there which assist me to put them down fluently and as they need to be; so it’s necessary sometimes.
Regarding your sound, did you use an outside producer or where you the producer of it?
I’ve actually produced it, though it wasn’t intentional, it’s not the way I was going to do it.
But it just kind of happened that way- I started working, writing and recording and one thing leads to the other and before you know it- you’ve ended up nearly completing the whole thing anyway.
If this is my vision so I’m ought to expect what I want to hear and how I want it to sound, then I suppose this puts me in a place where the obvious thing to do is produce it.
Are you also doing the recording?
Yeah, I was involved in that as well I’m afraid.
I don’t like doing that, it’s just how it turned out, I didn’t make any plans to do it that way.
It’s just that something it does, it happened on my last album so the final result was the “Zoon” project was pretty much all my recording and producing as well.
It’s not the way I always like to work, sometimes it gets hard to find someone with the right mind that can see it the same way.
The more I do it- it seems easy that if you want to do it and you’ve got an idea, you just
do it yourself.
Did you record on analog equipment in the past?
Yes, yes, we recorded on analog and digital as well… whatever it takes.
And today, digital?
Digital is convenient, but I still like a bit of analog touch so I still use it for certain things.
Generally digital allows you to compile your music easier.
Keep in mind that I come from the old school as far as recording goes.
So I’m able to use technology and old fashioned tape, except technology allows you to compile quicker, get instant feedback and use a larger amount of tracks so there is a sort of beauty in technology- as long as it doesn’t overtake and use you.
For me, the band has a lot of progressive influences. I hear a lot of musical differences in the layers
It depends on what you’re listening to, if you’re listening to things from the past or to what I’m doing now.
There were many personalities involved in the early days, different influences which probably show.
But with me, I’m not really influenced by them- I try to keep my blinkers on and shut
myself out from interferences.
In the past albums, there was a lot of interesting bass playing- will it be like that in the next album too?
“Morning Sun” has got some interesting bass, I’ve got a talented bass player so I think the bass will shine on certain tracks. Definitely.
This album is a bit more bass driven. I’ve kind of locked down the guitars and made them more atmospheric than in the last album.
So you have to listen to see what you think.
Did you record your vocals with effects or were they added in the mix?
No, I always record them generally.
But sometime I do my vocals live in front of the speakers as apposed to doing them in a booth with headphones on, I prefer to just do it in the control room.
I don’t spend too much time on my vocal because it makes me think about it too much and then I analyze it and tend to get critical- so I prefer to be able to just go strait at it and blast my vocals in at one time.
You use a lot of reverbs and delays on your vocals to enhance the richness of the dark voice- do you imagine them during the writing process or is it part of the production?
It’s a funny comment, because people say I’ve put my vocal much more up front in the new album.
I purposely done that, I’ve taken a lot of the effects off to make it purer and quieter.
No, I think it was just kinda blended with the production at the time.
I’m quite happy to hear my voice completely bone dry, I don’t need the effect. But sometimes they help.
But did you imagine them while writing the lyrics or was it something that just came with the recording?
Some of the extreme effects I definitely had in mind.
You can use effects when you’re actually performing. So sometimes I though about it when I was writing and sometimes some things are just like standard issues.
What are the main subjects you write about?
Most of it is influenced by the whole concept of the Nephilim entity, my own interpretation of philosophy due to my own experience.
I don’t think it’s about what we see and face in the physical plain- It’s more about feeling and outlets.
I write in way where me lyrics can be interpreted in different layers.
It’s hard to explain, I have to put it in to music to be able to write; I don’t just sit down with a pen and sing this or that, it’s all kind of hand in hand with the music.
I suppose it is intuition, it’s kind of natural- not anything that I’ve read about and make a conscious effort, thing just come to me
Are you a spiritual person?
I probably am, yeah.
And are you considered religious?
No. I’m not religious. I’m very independent and religion involves lots of people.
I don’t believe in the whole concept of it but I suppose you don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. Do you?
What astrological sign are you?
What do you think I am?
You sound like a Cancer
No, I’ll leave it like that for you to guess it
That could take half an hour *both laugh*
I can say that you sound very unique and developing from album to album.
If I’d have to many an analogy- I’d say it’s like Pink Floyd, only darker and gothic.
Is that a good comparison for you?
Maybe…Pink Floyd was obviously quite and inspirational band for many people and they were quite experimental as well- so on that aspect I like it.
But we don’t have the hippy “touch”, we’re a bit stronger and a bit more serious.
So how would you describe your music?
I can’t categorize it. I’ve never been able to categorize it.
I’ve always seen myself as a composer as opposed to a musician.
And as a band, it’s an overall concept; each album is like a song to me, I like to use the space so there is a lot of flow in the music- lots of ups and downs which are probably close to the structure of classical music than just pure verse-chorus.
I don’t really write in that structure, or try not to- so the music becomes itself, unfolds in front of me when I start playing around with sounds.
So it’s hard to describe, something has to be listened to rather than explained.
What comes first- lyrics or music?
They don’t come in a particular order. I haven’t got a format for how it works- I’m always writing, but it doesn’t always end up as lyrics.
I’m always walking around with a pen and paper in my pocket, writing stuff down.
Have you done any cover versions? Live or on studio
We’ve done some in the past, a couple of strange ones.
We did “once upon a time in the west”, we also did a Roxy music cover “In every dream home a heartache” and on this album we actually did “In the year 2525” by Zager & Evans.
Have you ever had other artists doing remixes of you?
Not very often, I had remixes done by someone a few years ago- but it didn’t really workout.
It probably would happen in the future.
Why did you choose to do a Metal project- “Nefilim”?
It was a natural progression after “Elizium”, it inspired me to do something on the other side.
“Elizium” is so laid back and unenergetic, and so airy that I felt like I needed to do something which is a bit more intense.
Everyone has got a side to them that need to be expressed, so “Zoon” was the outcome of
that, something that’s been building up for a long time so It needed to happen.
Another thing I have to ask you is what is your favorite song and favorite album out of your releases?
“Dawnrazor”- the song itself and the “Dawnrazor” album.
And what is your most successful release?
I’m not really sure… I felt that the Nefilim album was quite successful when it came out- it was a very positive and good era, but I don’t know how successful it was in sales.
Is there any special show you remember more than any other?
No, not really, *laughs* we did a lot of shows.
Do you have other projects except “Nephilim”?
I create all my artwork and I’ve done some audio visual projects but Nepilim is the main way I conduct myself, the music is more important at the moment- so all my efforts are on it.
So you do artwork, like for covers?
I do, I made all my albums, and I’m doing audio imagery and the artwork for this album.
I’ve always been responsible for that because it goes hand in hand with what I do.
Where did your image come from? The hat, the clothing… was it based on character you liked when you were young?
Probably a bit of that, but a lot of me. The dark-man image, I always found it fascinating when I was young.
There’s also kind of a practical approach, it didn’t seem wrong-It’s something I’ve adapted and adopted over the years.
It just fits my character and personality, it wasn’t like “we need an image”, it was already there.
Are you influenced by country music?
Are you influenced by the “country” image?
Not really, no *laughs*
You’re referring to the clothes we wear and the hats, but it’s more Victorian or European.
There is a hint of a kind of a Nomad, a rebel or a loner which comes through with songs like “once upon a time in the west” and spaghetti westerns- I think there’s darkness there within those characters and it’s probably what we picked up somewhere along the road.
It fits, but no country music. *laughs*
The first time I heard you, when I was much younger, I noticed it had a Texan vibe- I always felt like it a Goth-cowboy
I’ve never really though about it like that, but looking back I can see that.
I heard your music before I saw the image so I didn’t know about the hats and all.
So that’s why I always told people it sounds southern, like southern-goth
That’s quite an interesting point; it’s never been pointed out to me before.
I remember we used to call ourselves spaghetti-metal.
Tell me about the comics you appear in.
*hehe* what do you wanna know?
How did you get into it? Do you see it as a reflection of your personality? Do you like comics?
If you’re talking about the Marvel comics, I think that really came about because the artists were quite inspired by my music and what I was doing at the time as well as the image- so they took that and caricatured me into their comics; I think it’s a nice gesture and is quite amusing as well, it was done in a fun way- so why not?
Did it reflect your personality?
I don’t know, I haven’t really read it.
Oh. You haven’t really seen it
I’ve seen it, I’ve been seeing glimpses of stuff, but I haven’t really sat down.
It’s probably ok; it’s pure escapism, which is never wrong without.
It’s called Hellstorm, right? And who’s the guy who did it?
Umm… God, I can’t remember his name at the moment.
What about the movie you appeared on?
Which one? “Hardware”?
Yeah, you played there…I read about it, never had the chance to see it
That was a long time ago, the director actually wrote me into the script so I couldn’t really refuse because it was me playing me.
It was ok, a good bit of fun, I’m the “angel of death” so I got to perform on the intro of and the end of the film; it was a good experience.
What is your connection to the Hebrew language?
There is probably no connection really, it’s something semantically translated- if you’re talking about the whole idea of “Nephilim” than that’s probably my connection and as close as it gets.
So you haven’t read any Jewish theology?
I read all sorts of things in the past, you have to…
Most of the stuff I read is translated.
So you just used the language for the words?
Many things are translated through different cultures and languages and I’ve always had a big interest in that.
It’s always a common denominator of what I’m looking for in language and has more to do with history and visions, the writing is the poetry itself and it is good to explore.
The Hebrew language is very expressive, but I have an interest
What do you think about the Internet and the file sharing?
My record is available out there, as far as I know now, though it’s not even out yet.
It’s sad in a way of there’s no surprise when the record actually comes out because people have heard bits of it.
It’s nice to have a build up for journalists and people like yourselves which can talk about the album to get people excited.
But people download it so all of the sudden it’s being talked about and reviewed before it’s time but hopefully it won’t effect sales, it happens to everyone now.
I’m not too keen on that side of the Internet.
Do you see yourself releasing albums for the Internet? I know a lot of artists are going to release albums for Internet use in the future
It’s not a bad idea, but to be honest I’m kind of old-fashioned.
I like to have the package, to have a hard copy, I like the artwork- I think it’s something that you kind of collect.
I think that if you just download a song, it strange, it feels like something is missing.
It’s ok for individual songs, such as singles, but I prefer to see it in its package- which you can do quite a lot with packaging which you couldn’t obviously download.
It’s probably got its place, but I don’t think it’s going to take over.
Do you like Metal music?
I like all sorts, really, though I don’t spend a lot of time listening to it and I haven’t bought a record for years.
I have a pretty wide taste in music: I prefer soundtracking kind of music and classical music nowadays rather than rock music.
I prefer listening to it but I don’t have a lot of time for it…I’m too busy trying to create my own.
What bands do you like?
I don’t really know. I’m not influenced by any; haven’t got any “heroes”.
I like bits of music by different bands, just not one band I can say they’re a good band.
I like songs and whoever plays them, but I can’t really nominate anyone- there isn’t anyone fantastic that I think everything they do is brilliant.
Who do you think is the most interesting vocalist you’ve ever heard?
It’s hard to say…I can’t think of a particular one really…can’t nominate one person
There are some interesting vocals out there that I’ve come across, but I don’t know their
What do you think about the whole Gothic Metal style?
Again, it’s just a name or a label- I think music is music, so good music is good music.
I don’t like to categorize music- I don’t think it is right and there are too many subtitles now.
I don’t think you should limit yourself to just one particulate area.
Are you considered a rock or a gothic band by the attitude?
I think we refer to both, but I don’t know where we sit in either; I’m not sure about that, I’ve never really understood that.
I think it’s more to do with the attitude of the people we attract, with similar looks and lifestyle or similar thoughts.
What band was the first band you’ve heard?
Probably bands like T-rex and Alice Cooper were part of my life when I was growing up- that was when I was very young
After that- came the new wave movement, the punk movement,
What artists gave you the urge to be a musician?
Me, I think, because I started making music to fill a hole in me and the music I had in mind wasn’t there.
I kind of had to invent my own and I think that’s what we did.
It’s what guided me into music in the first place, to fill a gap- if there’s no music there that you want to hear, just do it yourself.
Using the lack of what’s not there rather than inspiration from what already existed.
What is the most influential thing you experienced before you were a musician and while being a musician?
It’s quite hard to think about that, just covering what I’ve received as lessons on the Nephilim has been the biggest influence on my life. Experiences I’ve had when I was young, too young to understand or explain lent me to do what I’m doing- I suppose the music has been inspired by that as well
The whole thing is still unfolded in front of me… I’m still inspired all the time, and I keep moving forward until one day, maybe if I’ll run out of inspiration I won’t be able to do it anymore- but I can’t see that happening.
It’s not one thing- it’s kind of the whole thing.
Another question that interests me: I saw your reunion in EuroRock 2000- journalists weren’t allowed to interview you or take pictures- why was that?
I don’t know…maybe we just had enough of it for that day, something it’s not convenient.
I don’t particularly like interviews, if I can avoid them- I will avoid them, the same with pictures.
It’s just a personal thing… but why that was there? I don’t know… maybe the press had a limited time to be there.
Thank you for your time, patience and interesting answers