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Interview with Carl McCoy and Tony Pettitt | Fields of the Nephilim

Between November and December 2013, Fields of the Nephilim played four dates in Germany as part of the ‘Earthbound’ tour; their first German shows since original bassist Tony Pettitt rejoined the group in March. Oskar Terramortis was with fans from all over Europe who rode the Dawnrazor bus to follow the German leg of the tour. Oskar caught up with Carl McCoy and Tony Pettitt on the last night of the tour at the Live Music Hall in Köln, on 1 December 2013, to conduct this, his second interview with the band.

Oskar’s first question for McCoy was to ask how he felt about returning to see the German crowd with ‘Mr. Beast’ back on the bass.

Carl: Well, I mean Germany has always been a good territory for us anyway, like, from back in the day; since we first started touring in the eighties, it’s always been positive territory for us. I mean, y’know, it kinda goes hand in hand with the music we play, I think, the audience.

Tony: They took to us straight away, really, didn’t they?

Carl: Yeah. So, coming back, I mean, myself and Tony, it doesn’t seem that long ago to be honest, to me. But all I can say is quite positive remarks really about the whole thing. I mean, y’know, there’s a freshness about what we’re doing again.

Oskar: Great. Because, you know the hardcore fanbase, especially the Dawnrazor crew, there’s people right now in the bus travelling from Sweden…

Carl: Fantastic.

Oskar: …from Greece…. They’re great guys.

Carl: Yeah, I know.

Oskar: They’re amazing. It’s really great to see and to follow the band. We appreciate this kind of tour. And the UK guys didn’t come, because you have the three gigs (in England, and one in Scotland) later.1412802_621625851228797_1728508780_o

Carl: Well they’re not as hardcore as you, are they? Y’see? (chuckles)

Tony: I think with a lot of the UK people, there’s probably a lot of people from way back in the day as well. They’re a bit older than you guys, probably, so it’s like…

Carl: I think it’s a real compliment to us, that; you following us like that. Cos that used to happen with us, way back, y’know, and it’s kinda like a big community between us and the fans, the hardcore fans, and you doing that is… y’know, it’s quite special for us.

Tony: It keeps that tradition alive, doesn’t it?

Carl: (Agreeing) We need that. We need that. Y’know, it makes it worthwhile.

Oskar: My second question is about Tony’s comeback. Will Tony officially be a part of the new album, or has he only joined the live band?

Carl: Nah, I’ve just used him! (laughter)

Tony: He’s using me like a biatch! (more laughter)

Carl: Nah… y’know, there’s a lot of water under the bridge. I mean, the thing is, me and Tony never fell out, back in the day; I think it was a fucking shit industry that fucking caused our problems, y’know, and that’s why we sp… y’know, we went our own separate ways for a while.

Tony: Timing’s right; that’s it.

Carl: Yeah. It feels good, it feels right, and y’know, wherever it takes us, y’know, we’re both quite happy about that.

Oskar: Yeah?

Carl: Yeah.

Oskar: People really want to know, are you recording a new album, and if so, will you just use session musicians in the studio, or will Tony be a part of that?

At this point, Carl intimates that Tony and guitarist Andy James (who made his first live appearance with FOTN in August 2012) are now both integral full-time members of the band.

Carl: I mean, y’know, I’ve been through some different shapes and faces within the band, and it’s taken a long time to get it right. I feel you have to get that right; you have to have the right people, the right heads, y’know, to be able to take it forward, the whole Nephilim concept. And that’s not easy in a band like this, considering, like, back in the day our band was a very solid band. It’s not like replacing people; it’s actually kinda taking the past, and people that can relate to that and be able to take the whole thing forward, the whole concept as well, and I think I’ve just about got that right. And obviously it makes sense to start all the new stuff we do, to actually produce it and record together. So that’s… yeah.

Oskar: In my opinion – in my humble opinion – watching the band with Tony, it sounds more compact.

Carl: Yeah.

Oskar: Because he wrote the basslines.

Carl: Of course. Well, exactly. Exactly.

Tony: But the other guys, the way they play the stuff, they’re really sympathetic to the way it was played, but they kind of add in a new energy to it, without a doubt, cos some of the stuff’s never sounded better.

Carl: But I mean, as far as bass goes, I mean, y’know, it’s a pleasure to have Tony back. I was glad to hear that. I mean, our other bassplayer, Snake: Good bassplayer. Y’know? He was fantastic. We’ve went our own ways, like, amicably and that, y’know, but the chance of having Tony on board obviously makes sense.

Tony: The way it occurred as well, Snake had actually kind of decided to move on to other stuff, before I came along. It wasn’t like, I come along and they got rid of Snake; Snake had decided to move on, and it was just…

Carl: So we’ve never, y’know, I’ve never really had a set bassplayer until Tony’s come along, so that’s good now to have someone that can actually… put their money where their mouth is. (laughter)

Oskar (to Tony): The next question is for you.

Tony: Mm-hmm?

Oskar: While you focus right now on The Nephs and The Eden House, will you also be part of NFD’s new studio recordings, or will you just…

Tony: I’ve kind of, um…

Oskar: You had a relationship, musically speaking, with them…

Tony: Well, with NFD, yeah that’s sort of… it was kind of, um, I’ve kind of moved on from it a long time ago. I did agree to do some playing on their album. Basically Bob wrote all the stuff, and then I did some (playing on it), and then I kind of, I’ve really moved on, y’know? As far as The Eden House goes, that’s just an ongoing collaboration with lots of different people, y’know? It’s not like a band in the sort of normal sort of concept of a band, y’know, it’s just kind of very loose, so that’s a very open-ended sort of project really. But obviously, Nephilim’s a solid sort of band thing, y’know. So I’ll still be involved doing Eden House stuff, but it’s very loose, y’know?

Oskar: I heard that John “Cappuccino” Carter will be your replacement.

Tony: In where?

Oskar: In NFD.

Tony: Fair play to him! Do you know what? I think that’s a great job for him. I think he’ll love that, y’know.

Oskar: Since ‘Mourning Sun’, one of the questions people always ask is why it takes so long between new material; is it because of some legal stuff behind it? Or is it just because you are just waiting for the right time to make it? Or is it because the record industry has not convinced you to just go straight into it?

Carl: Well, all of them have been reasons in the past. Y’know, I’ve had industry problems and also, I’ve never been in a rush to just put something out just because other people want me to. Y’know, the more people want me to do things sometimes, the less I’ll do. But, y’know, it’s gotta evolve in my time, innit, really. And I mean, ‘Mourning Sun’, that’s a project-based album, and there’s a lot of work, my input, y’know, when I didn’t have a band. Y’know, so… I enjoyed the process, I mean that’s what I do; I like the creative process, but the technical side, you’ve gotta remember there’s all that involved as well.

Oskar: How long did it take you to compose the album and record it? Because, I remember when one of the tracks appeared on the old Napster download platform, there was one of the ‘Fallen’ demo stuff…

Carl: ‘Fallen’?

Oskar: Yeah, yeah. And um, people were asking, ‘Why is it taking so long to just buy the album?’

Carl: What album are we talking about? ‘Mourning Sun’ or ‘Fallen’?

Oskar: No, no. ‘Mourning Sun’.

Carl: Well, ‘Mourning Sun’, um… Well I don’t know really; I didn’t think it took that long.

Tony: (chortles)

Carl: Not in my eyes. I mean, ‘Zoon’ took quite a while, but that was to do with the band having departed, y’know, we all went our separate ways. So I tried to come back into it gracefully, really, rather than just rushing: “Right I should get an album out”. I mean, that’s never been the idea for me anyway; “Oh I must do this”. But there’s nothing I love more than creating – the creative process – but the way the Nephilim is and what it’s about, y’know, I’ve got to follow that path; you can’t force that. I can’t say, “Oh let’s make an album because we have to make an album because that’s what other bands do”. Fuck them. We don’t do that. I don’t need to do that. I’m not dead yet. I’ve got fucking loads – loads – of time. So, y’know… It’s happening. But it’ll happen when it’s ready. But yeah, we are creating. I mean, I’m always creating. So there’s gonna be definitely some new music.

Oskar: So that means that you have more than one bullet just…

Carl: I have a lot of material. We intend to get some stuff out, all of us, next year. I mean, y’know, it was an intention to play… we’d love to be able to play and try new tracks at live concerts, like we used to. But we can’t. Because everyone puts it on YouTube that night, and it’s judged. So y’know, our audience asks us to do that, and they’re the ones that are recording us and that, and we think, “Well we can’t possibly even try new material”. Y’know, so…

Oskar: Especially because we are recording all your shows (laughs)

Carl: I know. And the thing is, it’s unfair to us; it takes the surprise factor away, and it never used to be like that years ago. Years ago, y’know…

Tony: We used to try out stuff all the time.

Carl: But it stops us doing that now. So part of the responsibility for that is from, y’know… the audience have kinda done that to us. So it does hold us up.

Tony: I mean back then, if you’d come to a gig, you would’ve heard some real hybrid sort of versions of the stuff, which people got to hear on that night, and that was the end of it, y’know, and we’d like to test the stuff out. But yeah, like Carl says, y’know, people judge you on it, and generally on YouTube you get a crappy quality version of something, and then all of a sudden, everyone’s talking about it, so…

Carl: I think the surprise factor (now) would be, when we’re ready to release something, we just announce it, and that’s it. No big subtle warm-up to it; it’s happening. I’ll tell you it’s happening, alright? That’s all you need to know.

Oskar: Okay.

Carl: It’s happening.

Oskar: That’s um… really great news.

Carl: Yup.

Oskar: Will the ‘Sleepers’ EP finally see the light of day?

Carl: (laughs) There’s many, many older tracks that are hanging around that I’ve produced, I’ve finished, and I’ve re-recorded, but to me, it’s kind of been done, so probably the best way to release that would be bonus material, I think. What I want first, is brand new – fresh; and then that other stuff. But to me, that is like releasing… buffing up old stuff. I mean, even some of the tracks that haven’t even been heard, they still feel old to me, so I’d rather just kind of keep it fresh as we are now, and then, y’know, there are chances of that other stuff appearing; of course there are.

Oskar: When I interviewed you over the phone back in 2005, (read here) during ‘Mourning Sun’ promotion, I asked you about the short video clip intro that you had on the old website, and I asked you, will this be a Fields of the Nephilim brand new video? My question now is, when you record a new album, will there also be a chance to see new audio-visual promotional material?

Carl: Yeah. Yeah, well, why not? I mean, you know it makes sense. I kind of love that, but I think the music’s gotta come first this time. I mean, y’know, I love my art and that side of it, and visual stuff, but I think, “Let’s concentrate”. This band is ready now; I think we’re ready to release some new material and everything else will follow that.

Oskar: What kind of line, musically speaking, will the next material be?

Carl: You’re asking a lot there in’t ya? (laughter)

Oskar: Because your sound on every album is definitely different, and some people are expecting more ‘Mourning Sun’ style, other people are expecting ‘Zoon Part Two’ (Carl chuckles mischieviously), or maybe a combination, or just a mix of ‘Elizium’ with the brand new style…

Carl: Well it’s all part of our character. It’s part of what the Nephilim concept’s about. To me it all fits together. It’s all the same thing. They’re just different albums. You’re not gonna go back and make the same album and think, “Oh well, ‘The Watchman’ worked, that was a great song – let’s make another Watchman”. What a load of… What’s the point of that?

Tony: Yeah, it’s not that type of band. It’s not Status Quo, man, y’know what I mean?

Carl: You’ve gotta go forward. And, y’know, we’ve gotta take the past with us, and keep creative with it. I love crafting a sound, y’know, and I think that’s the exciting thing about it. And I think it always… It will show itself to us; what it’s to become.

Tony: There’s always been an open-mindedness to trying stuff and breaking new ground, really, as well, y’know?

Carl: I think we know what it won’t sound like. (laughter)

Oskar: The last question… Because this is the third interview; an update for the interview I did with you six years ago…

Carl: Well, that’s a long time ago. I might’ve changed my mind by now! (laughter)

Tony: Yeah, you’re allowed to do that.

Carl: We’ll have to do a revise on that.

Oskar: The last question, it could be really silly, from a certain point of view… but people want to know if Scarlett will be part of the new album.

Carl: My daughter?

Oskar: Yeah.

Carl: Well she’s my flesh and blood. I mean, my whole life is my music. So that’s all I can say. My life is dedicated to Nephilim, and she’s part of everything I do. Both of my daughters are; I’ve got two daughters (Scarlett and Eden).

Oskar: Okay. Well, I hope to interview you when the promo of the new album comes, maybe we can have a phone…

Carl: Definitely.

Oskar: So, thank you for your time. It’s really important to me, because I have to release my book ….

Carl: Well hopefully we’ll have some material out before then.

Oskar: Okay…

Carl: I promise we will, actually – let’s do that.

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