Carl McCoy was born on January 18th, 1963, in Lambeth, London, England. He is the frontman for gothic rockers Fields Of The Nephilim. Clay McCoy’s most recent studio album, ‘Mourning Sun’, was released in 2005 through SPV GmbH. Although it was published under the name Fields Of The Nephilim, Clay McCoy has been secretive about the musicians who play on ‘Mourning Sun’, though John Carter is the only named contributor. Carl McCoy was interviewed by Cathedral 13 Internet Radio, on March 13th, 2006, and here is the transcript of the conversation that took place.
On April 24th, ‘Mourning Sun’ is scheduled to be released in the United States on SPV USA; it has been out for a few months already in Europe. I am kind of curious if you think that the long delay between the United States release and the European release will affect its United States sales at all?
Well, I do not know. I mean it is 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 do not really know why that is; I mean it is obviously, you know, a record company thing. I hope not. I mean, obviously if people know it is available and it is out there, then they will still buy the product, I mean, true fans will, I would have thought anyway. But we will have to wait and see.
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?
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 have had and been using, which consists of a load of racked-up equipment – refrigerator kind of racks – and we were able to sort of take them and transport them where we need to take them really, and set up at a recording situation, and be versatile about it. So I think that is the reason it is called The Ice Cage, because we ended up going to some cold places as well, so… um… that is mainly what it is.
It would stand to reason that it would be easier, probably more cost-effective, to record at one location, so I am assuming that locations were chosen based upon, perhaps, inspiration or energy that can be drawn from them?
Some of the locations, definitely, yeah. I think it is 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 did find that we hopped from one to the other, just through various reasons, you 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 is probably pretty much the same thing, it is just kind of a bit more my decision, and it is 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, you know… yeah… Some of the stuff, some of the ambient stuff, and some of the incidental stuff, you know, we recorded outside and we had a good laugh doing it, I think. Heh…
Are there any locations that specifically stuck out to you, or perhaps hold any special significance?
Most places we went were always interesting for a reason. But we went up, right up north, up in Norway, and it is 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 do not know, but as a personal experience it is satisfying.
There is almost a certain sense of irony that Fields Of The Nephilim seem to have woken after so many years of silence. I mean, it has 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?
Um, no, it has 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; you know, one company would not let you go, therefore you cannot contract to another company, and problems like that. It is a bit of a cliche really, but I think everyone gets caught out at one time in their career, and I think that is what happened to me, really, and it is 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 was not worth continuing. So that was just totally unlucky, really; it was not meant to be. I always look forward though, and what I have done with ‘Mourning Sun’ is quite fresh, and it is all brand new, so I am quite happy about that.
What occupied your time when there was nothing coming out?
Well, I have always been involved in music, and I have created stuff that people are probably not likely to hear, just for my personal tastes. I have 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 have always done as well. But I have been doing music all the way along. It is kinda slow up, it is just that time has gone quickly.
Sheer Faith, that is the name of your production company, correct?
And you seem to have an interest in a lot of different media types; music, art, graphics, design… If you were not involved in music, or perhaps some of these other arts, what do you think you would be doing with your life?
I do not know. I think the whole thing needs to be kind of brought together really, you know, and I think that is probably more for the future, really, of where the whole media thing is going anyway. I cannot do one without the other, to be honest. I have always… Every time I write music I have got a visual in my mind. You know, it conjures up something, and visa versa; I do creative images and then I think of soundtracks to go with them, so it is part and parcel of the same thing. I find it very hard to separate them anyway. It is the way it is.
- Shroud (Exordium)
- Straight to the Light
- New Gold Dawn
- Requiem (Le Veilleur Silencieux)
- Xiberia (Seasons in the Ice Cage)
- Mourning Sun
- In the Year 2525
Do you like to play live? And are there any intentions of touring, perhaps in the United States at some point again?
Yeah, we will be touring. We were just actually putting some schedules together now. It is kind of late in the day, but it is better to do it than not do it at all. I mean, you know, the idea of the Fields 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 is other ways of doing it. So, we will be doing some gigs, definitely, and hopefully it will take us to some places we have not been before. I have got an interest in that. I mean, you know, we did do a lot of the same countries, on and on and on, and I think this time around there is more options. I think the music scene is changed and people’s ears are quite different now, so we would probably be a bit more acceptable in a lot of other countries, so, that would be good. I am looking forward to that. It has been a long time.
I can imagine after so many years, it is probably almost a relief to finally be able to express that with other people on on a stage…
Exactly, and I mean that is obviously the majority of my personality and that; it is me, it is what I do, and when that is missing out of your life there is a slight… void.
I am not going to ask who they are, because everyone has already asked you, “who are the ghost musicians?”, so I am 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?
It is possible. Yeah. I mean, I did not forge together a whole band to create this album; it is done with, you know, a minimum amount of people. It was not necessary to have a whole band. But when I go live, obviously it will be necessary to have a full band, and I have got people in mind for that anyway. It will be quite interesting, but it will definitely be a strong Fields Of The Nephilim.
I think a lot of the album you pretty much played on, from what I understand, yourself; you are 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?
Well, I do not have a format for a creative process. I am not very stuck in the mud about that. I am not; I am really easy. It just so happens that I spend a lot of time in the studio on my own anyway, so you know, you cannot 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 did rather kind of leave it like that, really. I do not have any ambitions of being a great guitarist or anything like that; it is 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 is all I am interested in.
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?
Well the thing is, it has all… I mean, obviously, it has a lot to do with me, isn’t it? (laughter) So I cannot 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 Field Of The 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 have done in the past. But I needed to do that; there is obviously a lot of emotions to deal with in music, and, you know… there is a huge palette there, and so I did not want to be restricted and just be known for this kind of slow, dreary band. And so ‘Zoon’ was kinda the answer to ‘Elizium’, for me, but looking back in retrospect now, I feel it could have come under the same name (Fields Of The Nephilim). I mean, it is all the same thing, really, to me. It is what I do. And ‘Mourning Sun’ is obviously… it is 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 has got a freshness.
So I would assume that it is probably safe to say that was kind of like the rebirth of Fields Of The Nephilim, and that we will not see another ten year gap between albums, or…
I hope not (laughter). No, I seriously hope not (more laughter). I need to keep doing this stuff.
Do you have any plans at this point to shoot a video for any of the songs?
Yeah, we are. We are about to do that any day now, I think; we were off to somewhere nice and cold hopefully, to do a video to one of the tracks, or two of the tracks… I cannot say which yet because I am not dead sure what we are doing there; we have got another meeting tomorrow. But yeah, I have 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 is working on it with me, and hopefully, we will have something quite unique to be showing with that as well.
Now, you mentioned going somewhere cold; once again, kinda going back to that sort of a theme.
I like the cold. I just like the cold (laughs). It is just a personal thing with me, more than anything, and obviously it is quite fitting for the music, you know. But for me, I am a cold lover. Heh.
That is interesting; it is usually the opposite and most people like the warmer weather. I think you are probably the first person that I have talked to that is actually really enjoyed colder weather.
Yeah, I do. I find it easier to keep warm in the cold, you see, but what I do not find very easy is to cool down when it is warm.
It is 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 have 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?
Ah, I think it is something that has always been with me, really, it is not something, um… I mean, I have obviously taken an interest, and made my own curiosities and studies on certain subjects, but I think it is something that already found me anyway, since I was a child. It is just a big part of my whole universe, and any universe I suppose. You know, I have no explanations to give to anyone, as such, because it is all still unfolding in front of me, and every day brings coincidence, and I kind of like going with that.
I think people that have ears for that, they know. And I think that is enough, really; the knowing. It is not something I try to promote, but it is obviously a big part of my personality and what I do lyrically and musically, and you know, if it helps me be creative, then that is good enough for me, really.
Some bands, they make music, nothing more, you know? Nothing less – they are just bands; they just make music. I would not really describe Fields Of The Nephilim as that type of band. How would you describe what you create?
I do not know. It is just, almost something that I have to do. It is kind of in my blood. It is kind of my path. You know, it feels like I am here for this mission, doing this for reasons that I do not 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 have 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 is… it is inspiring.
Do you have a favorite track off the new album? Or is there one that really stands out? And if so, why?
It varies. It depends on the mood I am in. I kind of find it very hard to just pick on one track, because 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, you know. I mean, I am somewhere lost between ‘Xiberia’ and ‘Requiem’, I think.
I have 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…
Um, some of it can be, yeah. Some of it can be, but not all of it. I like to feel that I have 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 have 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, you know, and I think it is also about keywords at moments of, you 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 is quite spontaneous, yeah, and I like it to be that way because then I know it is true.
So it all kind of goes together; you really cannot have one without the other? It is not like you sit down and you write a bunch of lyrics, or…
No… It is a bit of both, really and it is… Like I say, I do not really work to a format.
Have you spoken to any of the previous members of the different incarnations of the Fields Of The Nephilim, or is this pretty much the new beginning, at this point; a new chapter?
It is definitely a new beginning and new chapter. I mean, you know, I did speak to some of the members a few years back, but some of the other members I have not seen since 1991, and not had not one word between us, so I do not really like looking back. I mean, I respect what we did together, back in the days, it was great, you know, but I would not have been making this record now if we did still been the same band, and I just felt like I have just been led down this path and I will just follow me nose with the Fields Of The Nephilim and the concepts that have always been close to me. So there is no real reason to be turning back.
Is there anything that I have not touched on, or anything that you would like to convey about the release of the new album, what is coming up or what the future holds?
I think there may be another product available in the short term, but I cannot state definitely on that. But hopefully, that will come around when we start touring, which probably will not be till the fall, I should not think. You know, watch this space I think.
Now, you mentioned touring – you did not really necessarily allude to the United States. Is that a place where you would like to hopefully hit?
(After a long pause) um… places I would like to play, I mean… it is… there is… There is a few countries in Europe we have never actually played, which have got amazing music scenes, apparently; places like Poland and that. We have never actually played Poland. But I would like to do some quite special events in some far out places, you 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 would like to achieve that; do something quite radical. It is quite different.
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 are going to want the United States edition. Are there going to be any differences on that?
I am not sure, you know. I mean there was intended to be, but I have not been told that, so I will try to find that information out. I am normally the last person that finds out, you know. They get everything from me; they get the artwork from me, and all the tracks and stuff, and then, you know… they suggest a few things and then before I know it, it is changed again, so… (laughter). You know… I do not know why that is; it is just the way they seem to be.
Hopefully, we will see you here in the United States at some point.
Definitely. Thank you.