Interviews : Nile – “Our purpose is to destroy” (An interview with Karl Sanders)
Nile – Karl Sanders
Yet another crushing album from Nile is on the rise, however this time fans of the South Carolina death metal stalwarts can expect something a little different. According to founding member – guitarist/vocalist Karl Sanders – it was time to make a change. Sanders has opened his mind to other canvasses of sound for the band’s seventh release – At the Gate of Sethu.
Metal Obsession’s, James Brady, sits down with Karl Sanders, to talk one on one about Nile’s latest middle eastern inspired death metal masterpiece.
Metal Obsession: The new album has been blasting in the car, I notice it’s fairly different from the previous records?
Karl Sanders: Well, good. We definitely did not want to make version 2 of other records. It would have been very easy to stick to the form but we had a lot of different ideas this time – for better or for worse.
MO: You guys had a couple of contributing vocalists on it as well and the vocal style itself has changed in parts as well, is this something that’s evolving with you guys?
KS: Again, you know, I think often times bands and fans kinda stay within a pre-conceived box, everyone thinks death metal vocals are our thing. While I love doing those kinda vocals there were some other things that I wanted to try as well, you know, different expressions that might have been possible to expand upon – things like the tone colours of the vocals. We wanted to try that, we wanted to break out of the box somewhat.
MO: Has that been inspired by other bands that you’re into, or a concept?
KS: No, mostly just jackass reviewers saying our vocals all sound the same, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. After a while I get tired of reading that and I thought to myself ‘you know what, there are a lot of fuckin’ possibilities within the metal idiom and maybe its time to try a few things.
MO: That’s awesome man, you guys have obviously been around for quite some time now – it’s surprising that you’re not set in your ways.
KS: Well, a lot of people get set in their ways but not me, I’m always learning new things, I’m a very avid guitar student – I still take lessons, I’m always learning new things on guitar, so I try to keep an open mind about music.
So why not? Why not look at our music with a fresh mind and a new perspective?
MO: On the new perspective, is there a goal you’re aiming or something else you’re trying to achieve that we might see come through on the next record?
KS: I’m not sure I understand the question, but it’s too early to work on new material – we just finished this new record, it’s got to live its life first before we’re ready to put our minds on what’s in the next chapter three years from now.
MO: What songs have you been playing live?
KS: We’ve been playing on tour a track – Supreme Humanism of Megalomania – we did that with the Black Dahlia Murder tour that we recently did in America.
MO: Nice, what was the reaction?
KS: Mostly people just standing there with their mouths hanging open and a little drool coming out the side of their mouth like, they stared at us dumbfounded, it was quite amazing. All of a sudden all of the headbanging stops, all of the moshing stopped, people just standing there listening with this dumbfounded awestruck look on their face – it was kind of disconcerting, like ‘uh, oh, what the fuck’s going on here?’.
MO: [laughs] You turned your audience into drummers man!
MO: So what’s the go when you play live, do you ever sit back and bask in the audience?
KS: When we’re playing a show we’re just focused on sticking together as a principal unit on stage trying to stay tight playing the song and hope to god that none of the equipment fuckin’ breaks. Man, George is always breaking something on his drum kit or, you know, often times when metal bands are playing the equipment isn’t necessarily the best – sometimes the people working the show aren’t necessarily the best either. There’s a bit of risk stepping on stage in a death metal show, maybe it will work, maybe it won’t – I’m pretty confident in us as a band, I’m not worried about that, it’s other stuff that can go wrong which tends to fill my life.
MO: When you guys started out did you picture yourselves getting to where you are?
KS: Absolutely not, when I started this band I was already 30 years old and had been playing in cover bands for a dozen years already so I’d kinda given up on any childish dreams of stardom or anything like that. I was content just, you know, to write our songs and to play our music and hopefully answer to no one artistically. The idea that we would write songs and at least leave a small part at the end of them for people to appreciate - that was not for us. Nile’s grown much more than early expectations. Would I have envisioned a career that’s now in its second decade? Fuck no. I figured I’d still be driving a forklift in a warehouse and playing our music on the weekend.
MO: When was the time that you realised, ‘hey, we can make a living out of this?
KS: It was about the time of (In Their) Darkened Shrines. We were touring so much that I was having trouble keeping my day job, because every time I would walk into my boss’s office and ask for time off so I could go tour, he’d roll his eyes and I could see on his face he was thinking ‘why don’t I just get someone else?. Eventually it just got impossible to find a job for a month while we were home and leave the job to go back out on tour, it was impractical. At that point we were like, you know, it’s all or nothing.
MO: Through touring as much as you do, you must see a lot of bands, are there any that have come up that have impressed you?
KS: Yeah, there’s a few. There’s an Italian band called Fleshgod Apocalypse that’s really motherfuckin’ incredible. I’m really in high regard of the band Krisiun. They’re the Brazilian trio, they’re not new or anything but those motherfuckers are the most brutal band on the planet, they are the real fuckin’ thing. Also Immolation, they’ve been around forever but they’re the real motherfuckin’ deal, you know, that’s still impressive even though I’ve seen Immolation probably more than 200 times.
MO: All of those bands are like a whirlwind of destruction, they’re really intense. Obviously bands like yourselves and Hate Eternal are very high up there too, are you guys bent on being completely crushing?
KS: Yeah, we are, I think when you blur it all down it’s a primal need to savagely destroy everything, absolutely. We’re sure not all about Starbucks and drinking soy lattes, that is not a purpose of the band. Our purpose is to destroy.
MO: This is the third album you’re releasing through Nuclear Blast, how are you going working with those guys?
KS: Well, so far, so good. They’ve been absolutely true to their word, for better or for worse. All record companies are businesses, they’re a very shark-infested kind businesses, they are what they are. What I can say about Nuclear Blast is that they’re very driven guys, they say what they fuckin’ mean and they live up to what they fuckin’ say.
MO: Did you find that with Relapse?
KS: Well, I would say Relapse has a talent for achieving business ends through a fighting moral centre – that’s not bad, that’s not good – I would say they’re very effective business guys in a very tough business. I also will say that Relapse helped build this band into what it is today, I have no ill-will against those guys but I would not try to compare them to Nuclear Blast, you know, they’re totally different animals.
MO: Do you have a favourite song for this album?
KS: I’m really fond of track one (Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame), track two (The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased), the last track (The Chaining of the Iniquitous) also – it’s got some really classic elements going on there.
MO: Well, to leave it off – when are you coming to Australia next?
KS: It will probably be Spring next year before we get there, this year we’re very busy the rest of this year with European festivals, a big European tour in November/December with Kreator, Morbid Angel and Nile, then you guys, a February/March tour in America where we’re playing our own tour – so it will probably be Spring time before we get to Australia.
Nile’s latest release, ‘At the Gate of Sethu’, will be available in Australia via Riot! Entertainment and Nuclear Blast Records from June 29th 2012. For more information, check out Nile’s official website.