Dan Marsicano of About.com Heavy Metal recently conducted an interview with Karl Sanders of South Carolina-based extreme technical death metallers NILE. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
About.com Heavy Metal: Where do you see [the new NILE album] “At The Gate Of Sethu” fitting into the band’s catalog?
Karl Sanders: That’s probably a pretty good question. I’ve noticed a lot of people ask similar things. In other words, everybody needs a frame of reference. I see so many reviews where people try to put in the context of, “This NILE album is like this other NILE album.” I get that people need a frame of reference, because that’s how we talk about things. Trying to compare it to past NILE records is an avenue that doesn’t bear a lot of fruit. In other words, this album is really different from other NILE records. I think it needs to be judged on its own merits. If you try and say, “Where’s ‘Unas Slayer Of The Gods’?” or “Where’s ‘Cast Down The Heretic’?”, and you think in those sort of terms, it leads one to not hear the record as its own vital identity. I think this record has a life of its own. We did a lot of different things. There’s a lot of musical progression that we wanted to cleanly capture on this record. A lot of different ideas; a lot of different places we’re going with things. I think trying too hard to compare it to past NILE records does it a disservice to listeners’ enjoyment.
About.com Heavy Metal: When you guys sit down to write a new record, do you start with a clean slate? Do you not think about things the band has done in previous years?
Karl Sanders: We try not to. The temptation is always there to, “Oh, let’s do something like this,” or “Let’s not do something like that,” from both sides of the yin-yang equation. With this one, I did not want to do a record that was exactly like any of the previous records, other than the fact that if you were ever a NILE fan at any point in the band’s history, there’s something you probably like on this record, and probably some stuff you will hate. There’s a lot of stuff that goes all the way back to the early days of the band. Listening to this record, it’s best to approach it with a clean slate. As a listener, if you pile too many expectations on it, you’re going to walk away going, “I don’t understand what they’re doing.” The truth of the matter is, we’re sticking to our own identity, but trying to reach outward creatively within the context of the death metal idiom.
About.com Heavy Metal: After all these years of writing material, have you found a comfortable mindset when it comes to sitting down and writing songs? Do you approach songwriting the same way every album? Do you try to mix things up?
Karl Sanders: I really believe in letting the song happen and unfold, however it may take shape. If you try to stick too many preconceived strict rules on how it is done, then you are immediately limiting the creativity. Whichever way the metal gods want to hand inspiration to me, that’s fine with me. I don’t put any rules on it.
About.com Heavy Metal: With the extensive catalog the band has, it’s surprising that you have never released a live album. Is there any reason behind that?
Karl Sanders: Not any sort of legitimate reason. None of our record labels allowed us the luxury of entertaining that option. People have been bugging us about a live DVD now for 10 years. We had it built into our Nuclear Blast contract when we signed with them, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon, unless for some reason, the metal gods intervene and people at the label come to their senses and realize they could make money on it.
Read the entire interview from About.com Heavy Metal.