Fields of the Nephilim

Thanks to Scott Slimm for the article.

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 in 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:

PUS: What do you think of the U.S. response to your band?

Nephilim: 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.

What's your reputation like in England?

We're doing really well there. It's taken us four years to build it up.

Who are your influences?

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.

Where did the spaghetti western image come from?

We're interested in spaghetti westerns. We like that sort of thing.
We discovered them quite late actually, as a band.

Do you dress like this normally?

We dress like this a lot. It just progresses slightly. We've always
been scruffy bastards. Our music inspires the way we dress.

What kind of subject matter do your lyrics deal with?


Are you happy with the way the lyrics turn out once they're
composed with the music?

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.

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?

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.

You don't think that's taking the public for a ride?

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.

Are you going to get more of a western feel because that's
where the image is?

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.

What kind of response do you get in England?

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.

It's funny how they change their minds. What can you do about that?

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.

When you talk to the press is there any sort of message you try to
portray to the fans?

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.

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?

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.

What does the name mean?

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.

So why Fields

As in green fields.

Were the Nephilim a rebellious breed?

Yeah, that's why it crosses over.

Since the nature of this magazine is skateboarding, what can
you say about that?

McCoy: I skated years and years ago.

How old were you then?

About thirteen or fourteen. It's different now, skaters today are really good.

Were you good at it?

I was good at it, really. I rode freestyle stuff in halfpipes. I was on the
Benji Board team.

How come you gave it up?

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 our skateboards
out there. What is the connection between skateboarding and music?

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?

When we get back from the States we're going straight into the studio.