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Interview with Carl McCoy | Fields of the Nephilim


fieldsofthenephilim2005Carl McCoy interviewed by Tom Stamates for Cathedral 13 Internet Radio, 13 April 2006.

Tom: On April 24th, ‘Mourning Sun’ is scheduled to be released in the U.S. on SPV USA; it’s been out for a few months already in Europe. I’m kinda curious if you think that the long delay between the U.S. release and the European release will affect its U.S. sales at all?

Carl: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean it’s kind of not down to me. It was originally scheduled quite a way back earlier – January or something, I think it originally was, so I don’t really know why that is; I mean it’s obviously, you know, a record company thing. I hope not. I mean, obviously if people know it’s available and it’s out there, then they’ll still buy the product, I mean, true fans will, I would’ve thought anyway. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Tom: From what I understand you recorded the new CD at various locations, both indoor as well as outdoors, with the help of a mobile studio you call ‘The Ice Cage’. Where did that name come from?

Carl: Well, ‘The Ice Cage’ is something I mentioned in some lyrics actually, and the equipment got its name after the lyrics, so the lyrics came first. ‘The Ice Cage’ is just a bunch of equipment that I’ve had and been using, which consists of a load of racked-up equipment – refrigerator kind of racks – and we’re able to sort of take them and transport them where we need to take ‘em really, and set up at a recording situation, and be versatile about it. So I think that’s the reason it’s called ‘The Ice Cage’, ‘cos we ended up going to some cold places as well, so… um… that’s mainly what it is.

Tom: It would stand to reason that it would be easier, probably more cost-effective, to record at one location, so I’m assuming that locations were chosen based upon, perhaps, inspiration or energy that can be drawn from them?

Carl: Some of the locations, definitely, yeah. I think it’s kind of restrictive when you work in one environment. I mean, even in the past we used to use a lot of residential studios, and we’d find that we hopped from one to the other, just through various reasons, y’know; maybe one of them had a good live room in one studio, and then another studio was great for recording vocals, or mixing and stuff. So I think it’s probably pretty much the same thing, it’s just kind of a bit more my decision, and it’s a bit more fun as well, this time around to do it like that. But there was no real plan on how we went about it, it just, y’know… yeah… Some of the stuff, some of the ambient stuff, and some of the incidental stuff, y’know, we recorded outside and we had a good laugh doing it, I think. Heh…

Tom: Are there any locations that specifically stuck out to you, or perhaps hold any special significance?

Carl: Most places we went were always interesting for a reason. But we went up, right up north, up in Norway, and it’s pretty cold, and that was pretty cool. I liked that; that was good fun. I mean, that was pretty inspiring. It kinda went with the feel of the record I was trying to make as well. Whether it shows on the record or not, I don’t know, but as a personal experience it’s satisfying.

Tom: There’s almost a certain sense of irony that The Nephilim seem to have woken after so many years of silence. I mean, it’s been like, fifteen years since ‘Elizium’; about ten since ‘Zoon’… Was this a self-imposed exile, or rather, something that was due to other outside circumstances?

Carl: Um, no, it’s a lot to do with other circumstances outside of that. Mainly to do with the business side or record company side, and being caught between contracts; y’know, one company won’t let you go, therefore you can’t contract to another company, and problems like that. It’s a bit of a cliche really, but I think everyone gets caught out at one time in their career, and I think that’s what happened to me, really, and it’s kind of a frustrating time. Very frustrating. I mean, even some of the projects I did try to get back on had a few flaws in them, which the bottom dropped out of, and it wasn’t worth continuing. So that’s just totally unlucky, really; it wasn’t meant to be. I always look forward though, and what I’ve done with ‘Mourning Sun’ is quite fresh, and it’s all brand new, so I’m quite happy about that.

Tom: What occupied your time when there was nothing coming out?

Carl: Well I’ve always been involved in music, and I’ve created stuff that people are probably not likely to hear, just for my personal tastes. I’ve kept myself alive by obviously doing other projects. I mean, I set up a production company; I was doing video stuff, and graphic stuff, which I’ve always done as well. But I have been doing music all the way along. It’s kinda slown up, it’s just that time has gone quick.

Tom: Sheer Faith, that’s the name of your production company, correct?

Carl: Yeah. Yup.

Tom: And you seem to have an interest in a lot of different media types; music, art, graphics, design… If you weren’t involved in music, or perhaps some of these other arts, what do you think you’d be doing with your life?

Carl: I don’t know. I think the whole thing needs to be kind of brought together really, y’know, and I think that’s probably more for the future, really, of where the whole media thing’s going anyway. I can’t do one without the other, to be honest. I’ve always… Every time I write music I’ve got a visual in my mind. Y’know, it conjures up something, and visa versa; I do creative images and then I think of soundtracks to go with them, so it’s part and parcel of the same thing. I find it very hard to separate them anyway. It’s the way it is.

Tom: Do you like to play live? And are there any intentions of touring, perhaps in the U.S. at some point again?

Carl: Yeah, we will be touring. We’re just actually putting some schedules together now. It’s kinda late in the day, but it’s better to do it than not do it at all. I mean, you know, the idea of the Nephilim for me is always about doing events; we was never one for just doing typical routine touring. I mean, we did, years and years ago, but there’s other ways of doing it. So, we will be doing some gigs, definitely, and hopefully it’ll take us to some places we haven’t been before. I’ve got an interest in that. I mean, y’know, we did do a lot of the same countries, on and on and on, and I think this time around there’s more options. I think the music scene’s changed and people’s ears are quite different now, so we’d probably be a bit more acceptable in a lot of other countries, so, that’d be good. I’m looking forward to that. It’s been a long time.

Tom: I can imagine after so many years, it’s probably almost a relief to finally be able to express that with other people on on a stage…

Carl: Exactly. Exactly, and I mean that is obviously the majority of my personality and that; it’s me, it’s what I do, and when that’s missing out of your life there’s a slight… void.

Tom: I’m not gonna ask who they are, because everyone’s already asked you, ‘Who are the Ghost Musicians?’, so I’m not even gonna go there… but… is it possible that any of the Ghost Musicians may end up being part of your live line-up?

Carl: It’s possible. Yeah. I mean, I didn’t forge together a whole band to create this album; it’s done with, you know, a minimum amount of people. It wasn’t necessary to have a whole band. But when I go live, obviously it will be necessary to have a full band, and I’ve got people in mind for that anyway. It’ll be quite interesting, but it’ll definitely be a strong Nephilim.

Tom: I think a lot of the album you pretty much played on, from what I understand, yourself; you’re a talented musician, so you can play many different instruments, as well as recording and even producing the album… Do you find that a little bit less restrictive and a little bit easier to create that way?

Carl: Well, I don’t have a format for a creative process. I’m not very stuck in the mud about that. I’m not; I’m really easy. It just so happens that I spend a lot of time in the studio on my own anyway, so y’know, you can’t just sit there and wait for other people, or ring other people up and say, “Oh, do this, and do that”, so I try to put my ideas down, even if they become replaced in the final recordings. So I like to dabble; play and tinker around. I like sound. I’d rather kinda leave it like that, really. I don’t have any ambitions of being a great guitarist or anything like that; it’s not really what I wanna be. I just like the overall chemical reaction of all the instruments, and the lyrics and vocals, and the end result really; that’s all I’m interested in.

MOURNING SUNTom: Now, where ‘Elizium’ was a little bit more sedate, and ‘Zoon’ was definitely more driving and aggressive, ‘Mourning Sun’ seems to be kind of like the perfect mix of both of them, but at the same time, it maintains its own new identity. Do you think that this album bridges those gaps?

Carl: Well the thing is, it’s all… I mean, obviously, it’s a lot to do with me, isn’t it? (laughter) So I can’t just change my personality, yeah? And there is a connection (between the albums), obviously. ‘Elizium’ when it came out was very different from ‘The Nephilim’ album, which was its predecessor, and obviously ‘Zoon’ was something I needed to achieve. It was part of the whole Nephilim jigsaw puzzle, I think. At the time, I re-spelt the band’s name (as The Nefilim), just due to the fact that I thought it might be confusing, because it was quite an extreme approach compared to what I’d done in the past. But I needed to do that; there’s obviously a lot of emotions to deal with in music, and, y’know… there’s a huge palette there, and so I didn’t wanna be restricted and just be known for this kinda slow, dreary band. And so ‘Zoon’ was kinda the answer to ‘Elizium’, for me, but looking back in retrospect now, I feel it could’ve come under the same name (Fields of the Nephilim). I mean, it’s all the same thing, really, to me. It’s what I do. And ‘Mourning Sun’ is obviously… it’s what it is. But yeah, there probably are elements that are kind of crossed-over and a few reflections of the past in there, which is good I think. And it’s got a freshness.

Tom: So I would assume that it’s probably safe to say that was kind of like the rebirth of Fields of the Nephilim, and that we won’t see another ten year gap between albums, or…

Carl: I hope not (laughter). No, I seriously hope not (more laughter). I need to keep doing this stuff.

Tom: Do you have any plans at this point to shoot a video for any of the songs?

Carl: Yeah, we are. We’re about to do that any day now, I think; we’re off to somewhere nice and cold hopefully, to do a video to one of the tracks, or two of the tracks… I can’t say which yet cos I’m not dead sure what we’re doing there; we’ve got another meeting tomorrow. But yeah, I’ve got a guy who I worked with quite a few years ago involved, collaborating with me on it – a guy called Richard Stanley, who a lot of people probably know from his movies and stuff. He’s working on it with me, and hopefully we’ll have something quite unique to be showing with that as well.

Tom: Now, you mentioned going somewhere cold; once again, kinda going back to that sort of a theme.

Carl: I like the cold. I just like the cold (laughs). It’s just a personal thing with me, more than anything, and obviously it’s quite fitting for the music, y’know. But for me, I’m a cold lover. Heh.

Tom: That’s interesting; it’s usually the opposite and most people like the warmer weather. I think you’re probably the first person that I’ve talked to that’s actually really enjoyed colder weather.

Carl: Yeah, I do. I find it easier to keep warm in the cold, you see, but what I don’t find very easy is to cool down when it’s warm.

Tom: That’s true. That’s a good point.

Carl: (chuckles)

Tom: It’s no secret that you have an interest in things that are a little bit esoteric, and a little bit more spiritual; that side of life. Is this something that you’ve sought out, or something that, in many ways perhaps has kinda found you? Perhaps it has been within you, or something that you just kinda find coming up within your life?

Carl: Ah, I think it’s something that’s always been with me, really, it’s not something, um… I mean, I’ve obviously taken an interest, and made my own curiosities and studies on certain subjects, but I think it’s something that already found me anyway, since I was a child. It’s just a big part of my whole universe, and any universe I suppose. Y’know, I have no explanations to give to anyone, as such, because it’s all still unfolding in front of me, and every day brings coincidence, and I kinda like going with that.

Tom: Do you often find that people read a little bit too much into that, and sometimes it’s better that there are things left unsaid and perhaps, if others need to ask about it, that maybe they’re not ready to know the answers, or hear the answers?

Carl: I think people that have ears for that, they know. And I think that’s enough, really; the knowing. It’s not something I try to promote, but it’s obviously a big part of my personality and what I do lyrically and musically, and y’know, if it helps me be creative, then that’s good enough for me, really.

Tom: Some bands, they make music, nothing more, y’know? Nothing less – they’re just bands; they just make music. I wouldn’t really describe Fields of the Nephilim as that type of band. How would you describe what you create?

Carl: I don’t know. It’s just, almost something that I have to do. It’s kind of in my blood. It’s kind of my path. Y’know, it feels like I’m here for this mission, doing this for reasons that I don’t always exactly know why. I mean, I never done it just for a career. I mean, if I done it just for a career, then uh… (laughter)… It would’ve fallen to bits years ago if I was more ambitious, as in the fame side, and things like that. It was more to do with the satisfaction of creating emotions and feelings, I think, more than anything, and being able to get a reaction, and plant ideas and visuals. It’s… it’s inspiring.

Tom: Do you have a favorite track off the new album? Or is there one that really stands out? And if so, why?

Carl: It varies. It varies. It depends on the mood I’m in. I kind of find it very hard to just pick on one track, cos I find that one track takes me into the next track, and the next track (laughter), which… I purposely do that, but it even does that to me, so I kind of like to listen to the whole. But I do have moments in there, y’know. I mean, I’m somewhere lost between ‘Xiberia’ and ‘Requiem’, I think.

Tom: I’ve read somewhere that your lyrics are the one thing that you probably spend almost even the least amount of time on; they almost kind of come to you. Is it kind of like an automatic writing, or a…

Carl: Um, some of it can be, yeah. Some of it can be, but not all of it. I like to feel that I’ve simplified my lyrics, in a way, over the years. I mean, when we first started, we were quite young, and I mean, I felt like some of the lyrics were a bit jumbled up and a bit pompous in places (laughter). But I feel that I’ve kind of simplified them, but the message is kind of stronger because of that. And obviously I like to write with parallels running through my words, y’know, and I think it’s also about key words at moments of, y’know, a chord and that within the music; it works as a whole, really. I find it very hard to separate the lyrics from the music as well. But sometimes it’s quite spontaneous, yeah, and I like it to be that way because then I know it’s true.

Tom: So it all kind of goes together; you really can’t have one without the other? It’s not like you sit down and you write a bunch of lyrics, or…

Carl: No… It’s a bit of both, really and it’s… Like I say, I don’t really work to a format.

Tom: Have you spoken to any of the previous members of the different incarnations of the Fields, or is this pretty much the new beginning, at this point; a new chapter?

Carl: It’s definitely a new beginning and new chapter. I mean, y’know, I did speak to some of the members a few years back, but some of the other members I haven’t seen since 1991, and not had not one word between us, so I don’t really like looking back. I mean, I respect what we did together, back in ‘em days, it was great, y’know, but I wouldn’t’ve been making this record now if we’d still been the same band, and I just felt like I’ve just been led down this path and I’ll just follow me nose with the Nephilim and the concepts that’ve always been close to me. So there’s no real reason to be turning back.

Tom: Is there anything that I haven’t touched on, or anything that you would like to convey about the release of the new album, what’s coming up or what the future holds?

Carl: I think there may be another product available in the short term, but I can’t state definitely on that. But hopefully that’ll come around when we start touring, which probably won’t be till the Fall, I shouldn’t think. You know, watch this space I think.

Tom: Now, you mentioned touring – you didn’t really necessarily allude to the U.S. Is that a place where you’d like to hopefully hit?

Carl: (After a long pause) um… places I’d like to play, I mean… it’s… there’s… There’s a few countries in Europe we’ve never actually played, which have got amazing music scenes, apparently; places like Poland and that. We’ve never actually played Poland. But I’d like to do some quite special events in some far out places, y’know, just set up and put our own event on, which would be quite unusual, and maybe worth filming as well, if it was a bit uncomfortable for most people to make their way to. I think I’d like to achieve that; do something quite radical. It’s quite different.

Tom: Thank you so much once again. I appreciate your time, and I wish you the best of luck with the release here in the United States. I hope that not everyone who enjoys the band has purchased it yet (laughter)… and if they have, they’re gonna want the U.S. edition. Are there gonna be any differences on that?

Carl: I’m not sure, you know. I mean there was intended to be, but I’ve not been told that, so I’ll try to find that information out. I’m normally the last person that finds out, y’know. They get everything from me; they get the artwork from me, and all the tracks and stuff, and then, y’know… they suggest a few things and then before I know it, it’s changed again, so… (laughter). Y’know… I don’t know why that is; it’s just the way they seem to be.

Tom: Hopefully we’ll see you here in the States at some point.

Carl: Definitely. Thank you.

Tom: Take care. Bye.

Carl: Thank you. Goodbye.

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