Interview date

17 Septembre 2013




Interview Karl Sanders (face to face)

Fimbultyr, thank you for according an interview for

Karl Sanders: Awesome, thank you. Glad to be here!

Your last album, "At the Gate of Sethu", was released last year. There are much less folkloric instruments than in your previous albums. Is it a conscious choice?

Probably it was the mood of the band at the time. Of late I noticed a lot of folk metal out there, some of it good, some of it not so good. We wanted to bring the metal. We wanted to bring to people the things that we do that no one else does quite like we do. That’s, you know, the guitar playing, the drumming, the different arrangements. That’s what we wanted to bring this time. We were really focused on musicianship and presenting that, you know, cleanly. Not another folk metal album. That wasn’t folk metal, no that was brutal death metal, with some other interesting things in it. That’s the way we see it.

You are touring with Todd Ellis (bass guitar). How did you hire him?

Well, when we had to fire our other bass player, we needed another one. And he had auditioned with a video. And out of the big pile of videotapes that we got, his was the best. And he also lived rather close-by, only two or three hours away. So we decided to give him a chance. And we like him, he is a nice guy.

Was he a Nile’s fan before joining you?

Yes, definitely. He is a metal guy.

You said in an interview that Egyptology was an honest topic instead of everything with Satan. Is it important for Nile to work on original concepts?

At the time we decided that, you know, the direction where we’re gonna go in, you know, back in the rolling nineties, it was a very original idea. In fact, at the time, it was a recipe for disaster because all the bands at that time, wanted to be like Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Possessed. Entombed, Obituary... they were very influenced by them. So the idea of doing something different than that was a recipe for failure. But we didn’t really care, because that was kind of what we were interested in, so we thought “you know what? Let’s find our own path”. If we had chosen chosen to do like everyone else, at the time, and write about Satan, or Gore… There was a lot of black metal back then... it wouldn’t have been true to us, because we didn’t really give a fuck about shit.

Nile is a reference regarding technic. Do you think that one day, technic will be more important for you than the sound itself?

Héhéhé… Hum, you know, sometimes I ask myself that too. The last album that we did was very focused on musicianship and technic, and right now, I’m in the kind of mood, or frame of mind to do antitechnic. You know, when matter and antimatter collapse, it makes the big bang, right? So I think what I want is some antitechnic.

How did you come to mix Egyptian concepts with lovecraftian concepts?

Well, it’s just the stuff that I like. It’s all up here in my head, in my skull. It’s kind of mixed up there already. So I’m just kind of cracking open my skull, and let people look inside.

You describe Nile’s music as Ithyphallic metal, which means “to have the penis erect”. Why?

Hahaha Well, how old are you?


Eighteen… Well, when we started this band twenty years ago, there was no internet. The underground consisted of lot of people who would write letters to each other, and sent tapes. And if you were a faithful member of the underground community, inside every letter that you traded with other metal fans from wherever, you would put little flyers in. And these flyers would advertise your demos, your CDs, or whatever you had, right? And you had a pile of these flyers from everybody, and you kind of mixed it up, and spread it around. That was how the underground spread. So everybody had flyers, and of course everybody would write about themselves, you know like “the most brutal satanic death ever!”, or “the most disgusting metal band BEUAH!”. Everybody had something, some kind of hype to say about themselves, so we were like “oh, what are we supposed to say about Nile? Euh, you remember the Egyptian statues with erect phalluses? We should call it: Ithyphallic metal!” You know, it was kind of a bit of humor to it. But it was a way of, you know, describing ourselves a little bit different and you know, “we don’t give a fuck what anybody thinks, this is what WE are doing. It’s ithyphallic, fuck you!”. So over the years, you know, like this meaning has kind of gotten a little bit blurred, because people don’t really remember those days... So this story, it’s become a legend, a myth.

You said that if Nile’s music changed too much, it would sound to you like a betrayal to your fans. If other bands do change their music, do you think it’s a bad thing?

I think, if you are a musician or an artist, and if you’re working hard, you will naturally grow and evolve. If you evolve, and grow, or change faster than your audience can follow, then you kinda lose your audience. Like, I don’t like to talk about Morbid Angel, they’re my friends. I like "Altar of Madness", "Blessed are the Sick", "Covenant". When I think of Morbid Angel, these are the records I think about, the ones that are close to my heart. When someone says “There’s going to be a new Morbid Angel album, that’s what I’m hoping for. Yeah, so I’m a little bit sad that they did something other than what I wanted, but, they are Morbid Angel, I am not. It’s for them to do whatever they choose, we don’t necessarily have to like it; we can be as bad as we want. They are Morbid Angel, we are not. I’m sentimental.

Metal Hammer said that “Nile is death metal’s Iron Maiden”. What do you think about that?

I think, metal writers have to have something to write about. Sometimes they want to describe things, and maybe the way they think of things is not the way we think of things. And then they use words and ideas that THEY make sound cool, but I don’t necessarily agree with. Particularly metal journalism in Britain. Sometimes, I’m not sure what the fuck they’re talking about. Are we death metal’s Iron Maiden? We’re some guys from South Carolina who love metal. We’d give our lives to make metal. And that’s who we are and what we believe and that’s what we do.

"At the Gate of Sethu" has been produced by Neil Kernon. It’s the fourth time in a row. What makes him the best to produce Nile’s albums?

Well, that’s another question to say that Neil’s the best. I don’t know. But we like working with Neil. There has been a lot of learning process in making our records. Because our records are not easy records to make, or to mix. We thought that we did a lot of work with Neil, to learn how to record death metal, that fast and brutal and still be able to hear it. A lot of metal records are just a blur, a big brutal blur. But we wanted to really hear musicianship, so that’s why, you know, we kinda remained stuck on Neil. What we'll do in the future, I don’t know. We still love working with Neil, but who knows what will happen in the future?

Nile is touring a lot, is routing just a good time or are there any big downsides?

Well, I’ll tell you that yesterday was a downside. We played in this fucking shithole in Cardiff; it was really a shitty place to play in. Sometimes touring is like that. Not every day is Carnegie Hall. Hum, Carnegie Hall… The great amazing venue built by the famous Andrew Carnegie. It was considered at the time to be the greatest sounding venue ever built in America. And it was thought of, in those days, to be the pinnacle of achievement. If you were playing Carnegie Hall, you were someone. When you want to inspire young musicians, you’d say “keep practicing and one day, you may get to play Carnegie Hall”. So we say, not every day is Carnegie Hall, sometimes you have to play in a shithole in fucking Kansas.

You started to work on your third solo album, how is it going?

It’s actually not going so well right now. Mike, the singer has been very sick all summer, so we put off the record and we won’t start working on it before October.

In Nile, are you the only one who is very interested in Egypt?

Well I’d say that the other members have, you know, an interest. I’m the one who does all the hard work, doing all the research for the lyrics.

You practice Sen-I-Jutsu; can you tell me more about this martial art?

Sen-I-Jutsu… Well’ it’s descended from Ishin-ryu karate but there are other elements too, some Kung Fu elements, some Wing Tsun, some American style boxing and some half-circle Ju-Jitsu. It’s best described as situational street combat, where we don’t do katas, we don’t practice forms. We’re working on individual technics, that’s what we’re focused on. Every fighting situation is a little bit different so we have the philosophy that, much like Bruce Lee, the best technic is no set technic. You have to be free to adapt to the situation. It’s a very brutal style of fighting, very brutal. I love it, I fucking love it. The bass player from Svart Crown does savate, French boxing. He showed me some of it, it’s really cool. I’ve got a very different style of fighting. But there’s really cool stuff in savate.

Congratulation for your brown belt!

Thanks! So I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a brown belt in Sen-I-Jutsu.

Thank you for your time!


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