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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Karl Sanders Nile - Interview
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I first discovered Nile back in 1999 about a year after their first album "Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka" was released and it was essentially my introduction to the world of extreme metal. Sure bands like Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse made the rounds on my playlist from time to time but nothing was ever as brutal as what Nile were doing. Now into their 8th album, the band is about to release "What Should Not Be Unearthed", a back to basics album that circles around earlier albums like "In Their Darkened Shrines" and "Annihilation of the Wicked". We spoke to founding member and guitarist Karl Sanders about the album as well as the upcoming tour to Australia in November



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Karl: How are you doing?

Andrew: Doing very well! How are you?

Karl: Doing great, looking forward to talking!

Andrew: Yeah definitely! I guess the first thing we should talk about is the new album. I was just listening to a preview of it just now and I'm a bit biased anyway as I'm a huge fan since the first album but this new album is sounding really great! You must be happy with it.

Karl: Yeah I think this record is a fun record, it's got the metal spirit and we really had a great time making it.

Andrew: Tell me a little about how the album came together and the writing process. Was it a little different to some of the stuff before or did you just continue with what you have always done?

Karl: I think the basic elements in the timetable were very similar to the stuff we had done before in that, we write the songs and then we rehearse them, then we record them. That elemental order to things hasn't changed but what I think was different though, this time songs were coming from different places. We were very focused this time on writing heavy, memorable songs and concerns about being super technical or whatever was secondary. What we wanted to do was just write some heavy songs.

Andrew: There's a little quote here in your bio about how this album is somewhat reactionary to the last album. Can you explain a little about what that means?

Karl: What it means is on the last album we had a very super surgical kind of overly clean sound and I think the focus was on the musicianship and technique, probably more than was healthy. We kind of got to a place where we didn't want to do that again right now, we wanted to write some songs that were heavy, memorable, songs that the fans would appreciate. I think if you get too technical, you start losing the capacity to follow along and then all of a sudden you are not reaching people and then you start reading stuff like, 'Well it just didn't do anything for me'. Even though in "Sethu", man we put so much fucking work into that record, holy fucking shit! If you somehow translate the amount of work you put into something to directly translate to how much people appreciate it, well gosh, there you go. But that's not how it works.

Andrew: Yeah obviously you have to write music that sounds good to you and not just for the fans. I mean is that important for you to write music for yourself rather than trying to listen to what people want?

Karl: I would have said that when we began writing "At The Gate Of Sethu", I wouldn't say that this time. I think at some point in a band's evolution, the fans become more important than the band and all of a sudden it doesn't really matter what the band wants to do anymore. You got almost a duty and responsibility to your fans.

Andrew: Creatively speaking? In what sort of way?

Karl: Well in every possible way. If not for the fans, I think metal bands are pretty lost. If you don't have any fans then you're alone in the rehearsal room making music for yourself. Now while there is a purist element to that, it does not translate once you take it out of that little isolated box. Once you have a vast array of fans all over the world then you are kind of working for them, they're boss. Fans are the boss, not the record company, not the booking agent, not the press agent. The fans are what matters.


Andrew: Yeah I think you are right in some respect there. Especially in today's world with social media and all that kind of stuff, do you pay much attention to that kind of stuff? Where the fans give their own opinion on this and that?

Karl: Well I think the fans do matter but I also conversely think that if you listen too much, then you will lose your mind as well. And I think that has happened to me a few times over the years where listening to too much of the wrong bullshit leads you astray and I think that kind of happened with "Sethu". There were lunatics on the internet saying, ' Well I can't hear the fucking guitar, I can't tell what he's fucking playing. He must suck', or whatever. So as a guitarist, that is a deeply troubling thing to read but that kind of insanity is what drives fans to go, 'OK well we got even more technical than we were last time. And we have to be faster and cleaner and that's what we gotta do.' But you know what? That's a fucking false, empty pursuit. What matters is what kind of music are we making. Is this song enjoyable to fucking listen to? That's what fucking matters, not any of the rest of that fucking bullshit.

Andrew: That's right. Now obviously you are coming back to Australia a little later this year which is going to be absolutely awesome. We caught you guys in I think 2013, the last time you were here. How was that tour for you.

Karl: We had a really great time, the tour did really well and we had fun. Metal definitely took place so we are really excited to come back to Australia again. We are going to have a lot of fun this time too. I bet you money we will have a good time!

Andrew: How is the live aspect for you? How do you seperate the live thing from the creative thing? Is there a lot of difference, do you change the sound?

Karl: The live sound is the live sound, 4 guys playing their instruments and doing their thing. I would say the live sound doesn't change all that much, it's the albums that change. I particularly notice this with the last record because when we took those same songs out of their clean, sterile, naked kind of form and put them back into the live setting with the big, heavy metal sound, fans really responded to it. So I think there is quite a difference between the live element and the recorded, creative element.

Andrew: Is it getting more difficult as the years go on to actually pick out a setlist because of the size of your catalogue now?

Karl: Absolutely! It's an agonising, torturous thing to have to write a Nile setlist because to fit everything in for an hour, there's a whole bunch of songs you can't play and that will be somebody's favorite song. Whatever song it is you pick that you are going to leave out, it's going to be somebody's favorite song.

Andrew: So how do you go about picking a setlist? Do you focus on newer material or do you like to have a balance of everything? How does it all work out?

Karl: What we try to do is we definitely promote the new record but play a selection of songs that we are pretty sure that people want to fucking hear from us.

Andrew: And what about the new material? How many songs do you think you will be playing on this tour?

Karl: We'll probably play 4 songs from the new record on this tour. Probably by the end of the tour cycle we'll have done 6 songs from the new record.

Andrew: And you haven't played any of these songs live yet?

Karl: Yeah live, noone has gotten to hear these songs live yet. We will be going out on tour in end of August and September with Suffocation all across Europe. So those will be the first people who will get to hear this stuff.

Andrew: How do you think they will play out live?

Karl: Haha I'm very confident about these songs! These songs are meant to be memorable, catchy and fun, perfect for a live audience. I think the songs will do real well.

Andrew: One of the things that I always wanted to ask you was about the whole Egyptian history and all that which is a big part of your music, what is it about that whole thing that interests you?

Karl: I don't know, it's just something that I've always had a fascination for. It's been a casual interest and hobby for years. When I first started writing songs for Nile and I had to start researching to try and write lyrics for this band, I discovered that doing that research was a lot of fun and I was learning all kinds of interesting things and the interest only deepened at that point.

Andrew: The album title "What Should Not Be Unearthed" I guess is some kind of reference to digging something up. What does that represent as far as the album is concerned?

Karl: It's like something that you shouldn't dig up because if you dig it up, terrible things are going to fucking happen. So you would be better off if you just never dug it up, what should not be unearthed! Don't dig that shit up because it's bad!

Andrew: Haha! Maybe I'm reading too much into it but do you think that is something that people could relate to as far as digging up the past and leaving all the negative stuff behind? Can you relate to that in any way?

Karl: I never thought of it in that angle but certaintly! That could apply, why not? I certaintly live that way, what's in the past is already gone because some shit you should just leave behind and not go back there again. Let's move forward, let's get on with life.

Andrew: Yeah that's right. Well ironically going back into your past, what got you into music? How did you get into heavy music and was there someone in particular that influenced you immensely?

Karl: I've always been into heavy music since I was a fucking teenager listening to Van Halen and Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden. That was the shit I loved, then years later a friend of mine introduced me to some even heavier stuff. I remember I never even heard of death metal until David Vincent played me some stuff and I was like, 'Holy fucking shit! I never heard of this but this music is incredible!' and after that the world was never the same for me, it demanded to go harder, faster and louder.

Andrew: How far do you think that death metal, or extreme metal can go? How much more heavier can it possibly get at this stage?

Karl: Who knows? People have been saying that for quite a while. I mean when Blue Cheer came out, people went, 'Well can it get any heavier and louder?' And obviously it did. There was a time when Elvis Presley was considered extreme so how heavy [or] how extreme can it get? I don't know, we'll just have to wait and see.

Andrew: Yeah it will be interesting. I certaintly consider Nile to be one of the heaviest bands in the world and I can't imagine it getting much more extreme than that!

Karl: Well there you go!

Andrew: Well it's been a pleasure talking to you and we are looking forward to seeing you on tour so thanks again for your time.

Karl: Well thank you Andrew, it's been a great pleasure talking to you tonight.

NILE Australian tour (with Unearth)

Nov 19 - Max Watts, Brisbane 18+
Nov 20 - Manning Bar, Sydney 18+
Nov 21 - The Corner, Melbourne Under 18's - UNEARTH, FHTTS & Whoretopsy *Nile not performing
Nov 21 - The Corner Hotel, Melbourne 18+
Nov 22 - Capitol, Perth 18+ *FHTTS not performing

Tickets and info at

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on July 25th 2015