Interview with guitarist and vocalist Karl Sanders
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: May 4, 2023
The true torch bearers and cherishers of ancient Egyptian mythology, Nile, who were formed in 1993, have come a long way since their formative years, building a pyramid-solid fanbase with several successful tours all over the world and many well-received albums over three decades. Vile Nilotic Rites is the name of the band's nine studio album to date and they have slowly but steadily been working on their as-yet-untitled tenth album, which doesn't have a release date yet as there's still a lot of work to be done as far as finishing the album.
The Metal Crypt caught up with the band's Karl Sanders, who politely gave us a brief update on a few things regarding the band's current leg of their 2023 European tour, the state of the recording process for their forthcoming collection of musical brutalities, and so on.
Thanks to Alexi Keito (TM/FOH Sound Engineer) for setting up the interview.
OF TOURING MATTERS
You did your first leg of the "Nile Vilotic Rites" European tour in November-December last year, with Brazil's Krisiun with you. How would you sum up that tour?
Karl: We love touring with Krisiun. We go back many, many years with Krisiun. All the way back to a Cannibal Corpse tour we both did. That was 2000. Since then, they've been like brothers to us. It's like fucking family, a metal family. Sharing a bus with them, sharing the stage with them, they're fucking great guys. We had a blast!
Now you are doing the second leg of the European tour, which started on April 4, 2023. How has the tour been going so far?
Karl: The second leg of the tour is going great. Turnout is even better than we could have hoped for. We are having a great time and have been treated well everywhere we go. We're pretty fucking happy.
How would you say all this touring you have done for so long with Nile has changed your views about the importance of touring? Do you still find it a very important part of your life, or has it sort of become a necessary evil?
Karl: Live touring for metal bands is an important part of the entire experience, I think. Bands who don't play live and don't tour are missing out on a lot of things. The connection with the fans is the most important thing, and there's only one way to do that and that's to go and play. To play your music, to bring it to people, that's where it grows and takes on a new life.
The relationship with the fans is everything. When everybody comes together in the room, the band and the fans, you're making the metal, it's like a bonding experience. It's a shared experience that we all participate in. I also believe that touring deepens the music itself. When you play the songs with your bandmates over and over on tour, not only do they get tighter, but you start to understand the songs more than you would if you never played them live. The songs that we've played for 20 years we have an intimate relationship with, and we understand the musicality in a deeper way than we ever could have if we hadn't taken those songs and played them on tour for years.
Are there still some places in this world where you'd like to play with Nile, or would you say you have covered all of the places people can appreciate a band like Nile?
Karl: I think there are many countries yet to conquer. We've only scratched the surface. There's a lot left for us to do; a lot of places left to go that we've never been. So yes, it's not over yet, motherfuckers!
Nile has become one of the biggest institutions on the map of death metal over the years, which is hardly surprising as you have been working hard for the band's success by releasing many well-received albums and playing numerous shows all over the world in the last three decades. Do you feel that you formed Nile at the right time, when death metal was getting popular among metalheads with bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Entombed, Deicide, and others paving the way for bands to come?
Karl: When we started this band in '93, death metal had already crested and was kind of on the way out. That wasn't really a factor for us. As far as we were concerned, we were just playing the music that we liked. Success or failure be damned, we were going to play what made us happy. There's an underlying fundamental love for the music that has sustained us over the years and keeps us going. We're not doing this to be successful, we're doing it because we love this music.
What can you reveal about Nile's tenth studio album that you have been working on for quite some time? What stage are you at?
Karl: Well, we have finished recording all the drums, and have started on the guitars, so we're pretty far along. We spent a lot of time writing and doing pre-production for this record to get to the songs too that really finely honed point you don't get to overnight. If you really want the songs to be great, it takes time and maybe even some ruthless self-critiquing and working together to find what's the best for each of the songs. Yes, we're done with drums. We're working on guitars. After this tour, when we go back home, we'll work on some more guitars [*chuckles*].
UNPREPARED FOR THE LEVEL OF BRUTALITY
Of course, every Nile album has had its own special spices and there's not much point in repeating yourself. First and foremost, you need to keep things interesting and challenging for yourselves. Do you believe this forthcoming Nile album may surprise fans?
Karl: I think metal fans, Nile fans, are not prepared for the level of brutality that's forthcoming on this record. We even surprised ourselves. When we finished with the drums, we were aghast at the level of brutality. That's the only way to put it.
Lyrics play a big role in Nile, giving the band its character in many ways. Do you find it challenging to write lyrics for the band because they have more depth than your average death metal band?
Karl: I think lyrics deserve as much attention and hard work as any other part of the songs. Maybe even more so because we write the words first, and the music is done in such a way as to bring those words to life. I think it's doubly important to come up with something good before you even put in anything else with it. It's really important.
Are you still doing a lot of research regarding Egyptian mythology and all that jazz, to get the facts straight through Nile's lyrics?
Karl: Of course, every single song that gets written has quite a bit of time spent finding the ideas then taking those ideas to new places. It's not enough to research it. I think it's important to also have something to say. If you look back at many Nile records, it's evident that we're not just spouting history. We have our own viewpoints and ideas that we're communicating through the medium of historical fiction.
COVID TIMES SPENT WISELY
As absurd as it may sound, do you actually thank those COVID years, partly at least, because when you couldn't play any shows, you had a chance to focus on the new Nile material full-time?
Karl: The only sane way to survive the COVID time, when we couldn't go play live as a band, was to just focus on our musicianship and work on new Nile things. In a way it was a gift from the metal gods, because there is no other way, once you're an adult, to find that kind of time to work at your craft, to practice your instrument, to learn new things.
Once you start touring, it consumes the time you're actually on tour, and a lot of the time when you're not on tour is spent preparing for or recovering from tours, or in one way or another working on stuff that relates to touring. Be it rehearsals or working out the new material we're going to play, it takes time if you want to do it right.
We used our COVID time wisely, as best we could, because what else were we going to do? I don't think it's productive to think in negative terms. Even if there's a negative terrible circumstance happening to us all, we need to make something good come out of it.
When are you hoping to get this new Nile opus finished? Or, would you rather like to say it's finished when it's finished and there's no point in rushing it?
Karl: [*laughs*] Well, that's what the record company says: "When is this new awesome new Nile record going to be finished?" Soon, I fucking hope. Really [*chuckles*].
LOVE OF BRUTAL MUSIC
What keeps you motivated and inspired these days in terms of creating new music for Nile? Have your personal sources of inspiration changed over the years?
Karl: Well, I think every person that plays music for a long time develops new interests and thinks of things in new ways, gets maybe even a new perspective on music and the world and life. Having said all that, I still love the same music that I've loved for years. Give me Immolation. Give me Krisiun. Give me Cannibal Corpse. Give me early Morbid Angel, fucking Altars of Madness. Come on...!
I just realized 2023 is the 30th anniversary of Nile. Do you have any special shows planned for this year to celebrate the band's 30-year existence perhaps?
Karl: We haven't planned anything special other than that we will continue forging on fearlessly. We're going strong right now. We're the happiest we've ever been. Things are good in our world. We're really excited about the new material and the new places we've been able to take what we're doing. Fuck yes!
"FAST FOOD MUSIC CULTURE"? UH, NO THANKS...
What's your opinion about today's, let's say "fast-food music culture" when people go to the Internet and listen to one song from here and there and do not really focus on listening to full albums that much anymore, thanks to all these digital platforms?
Karl: Well, I don't even know what I think about that, because my musical experience is probably not the same as everyone else's. I spend a lot of my time playing music. When I'm listening to music usually, it's to relax or think about something else and clear my head, so I'll put on the record, whatever it is I'm listening to, and go clean house or work in the yard or whatever needs to be done around the house. Doing that, I just let it play. I'm not listening to 10 seconds of this and then click on something else. I don't like listening to music like that. It's not really rewarding.
Do you sometimes feel like you are an analog man in a digital world? When you formed Nile way back in 1993, there was no Internet and bands recorded their albums using analog methods before all this modern digital technology took over. We have iPhones, Spotify, fancy all-digital recording studios, etc.
Karl: Yes, I am an analog man in a digital world, and that could be a Police song right there. It's just a song lyric. Yes.
What does the latter half of 2023 look like for Nile?
Karl: I don't know. I haven't planned that far ahead. Right now, my focus is on finishing the tour, staying healthy and working on the new Nile record. Hopefully, the latter half means that I'll be talking to you about the new Nile songs.
|Other information about Nile on this site|
|Review: Black Seeds Of Vengeance|
|Review: In Their Darkened Shrines|
|Review: Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka|
|Review: Annihilation of the Wicked|
|Review: Annihilation of the Wicked|
|Review: Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka|
|Review: Those Whom the Gods Detest|
|Review: Worship the Animal - 1994: The Lost Recordings|
|Review: At the Gate of Sethu|
|Review: What Should Not Be Unearthed|
|Review: Vile Nilotic Rites|
|Interview with Dallas Toler-Wade (Guitars, vocals) on October 17, 2009 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)|
|Interview with guitarist and vocalist Dallas Toler-Wade on April 27, 2016 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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