INTERVIEW: Karl Sanders of Nile

Photo Credit: Hannah Verbeuren
Photo Credit: Hannah Verbeuren

With NILE ready to release their upcoming record What Should Not Be Unearthed, Distorted Sound’s Jessica sat and spoke with frontman Karl Sanders about the record and how their ongoing themes affect the band.

Note: If you’re wondering about the odd beginning, this was a Skype interview and Karl Sanders thought my photo looked a little shocked, the previous bathroom joke was also making sure we were both ready to crack on!

Karl Sanders – (Referring to Skype photo) You’re looking a little surprised in that photo!

Jessica – I think that was taken through my kiddy days haha!

Karl – Yeah, given light to the previous bathroom joke you just made, it maybe looks like you should have gone to the bathroom before you took this picture! You look very surprised like ‘OH MY GOD! I can’t believe what just happened!’

Jessica – Well, I do usually need to go to the toilet as soon as an interview starts haha!
Anyway, I’ll be interviewing you today for Distorted Sound Magazine, if at any point during the interview you want me to repeat my question, because sometimes it’s hard for people to understand my accent…

Karl – Wait where are you from?

Jessica – I’m a Brummy, so Birmingham!

Karl – It is a Birmingham accent, yeah!

Jessica – A lot of people can’t understand me in interviews, so like I said if you need me to repeat anything just tell me to stop waffling on and skip back a little!

Karl – Brilliant!

Jessica – So, firstly how are you today?

Karl – Oh, I’m doing great! Yeah, life is good lately. How about you?

Jessica – Life’s brilliant right now, thank you!

Karl – That’s awesome!

Jessica – So, let’s talk about What Should Not Be Unearthed, upon the announcement for its release, you seemed very excited for a number of reasons but what is making the album so special in particular for you?

Karl – Well, I think this is a fun record to listen to because we built it that way, it was meant you know. Although it’s a tech death record, we strove to make the songs memorable and catchy so it’s actually a fun record to listen to. I’ve been spinning it every day for like the past month and it’s actually a fun record! I’m really excited for fans to hear it. That’s another thing, when we were writing it, we had our fans in mind.

Jessica – Do you think it will continue to make yourself just as happy as the fans, taking that step back from being so technical?

Karl – I wouldn’t say necessarily we are taking a step back from being less technical, it’s more like the technique is properly harnessed with the focus on the songs. In that aspect the technique is kind of invisible.

Jessica – The record was recorded in your own facilities, what made you decide to do that?

Karl – There’s just a certain thing about when you’re working in your own facility, you have all the time that you want and you don’t have to watch the clock. If you go to somebody else’s studio, you’re paying by the hour, so that little thing right there is enough to colour every moment of why you’re trying to work on your music. You have also got in the back of your brain ‘Woah, I have to sort of nail this in a certain amount of time’ because you have only got enough money for X amount of time, so therefore blah blah blah blah and you know, it’s just a little bit extra stress and pressure. When you remove that out of the equation, it’s taking an incredible amount of stress off of your brain.

Jessica – Do you think it helped you as a band to come together even closer, doing something out of your comfort zone?

Karl – On this record, that actually did happen. I thought there was a lot of team work on this record, certainly that is a challenge for bands and often making a record can bring out the best and worst in people. This time around it worked in our favour and I was real happy about that, there was a point when me and Dallas were tracking guitars that this was the most fun we had ever had making a record.

Jessica – Do you think that’s going to show on the record because I know you have spoken out about this being a ‘new NILE’?

Karl – Well, I can hear it! You know when I listen to these tracks it actually sounds like we were having fun, I think that is an incredible thing for the kind of music that we play. I know there have been times in the past where I have listened to a record and I have gone ‘we don’t sound like we are having very much fun at all!’

Jessica – Do you think it’ll help influence the way you play this record live too?

Karl – Well, hopefully the amount of fun will translate to live on stage! I’m sure from the element of the band and the fans interacting, if the songs are fun then probably it will be fun.

Jessica – Well, as always your new record is based around ancient Egypt, are there any hints as to what the theme will be on or do we have to dig out our books of hieroglyphics and work it out from the album artwork?

Karl – (Laughing hysterically for a few moments) Well, there are you know lyrics in the booklet and some notes which will delve more deeply into the meanings of the songs. So no, you don’t have to guess from the artwork, haha, there’s lots of help, I haven’t left anybody in the dark.

Jessica – I guess that saves everybody a load of time! What about ever writing about something completely different, have there ever been times that has occurred?

Karl – I think if we did something different, we would call it something different. Dallas has a side project called Narcotic Wasteland that are actually a very different topic to what we write about and I think that’s awesome!

Jessica – Obviously, you’re very dedicated to writing about ancient Egypt, what about in terms of education, do you feel like you’re helping people?

Karl – I think that is a happy by-product, if people learn something from what we’re doing then okay that’s great, that’s cool but this isn’t school hour, it’s metal hour, it’s time to bang your head.

Jessica – I think there’s a huge aspect where people enjoy learning through metal.

Karl – You know something, I get lots of letters from college students and some from college professors, usually the letters from the college professors are saying ‘Will you please stop helping my students, they are just stealing all their ideas from NILE albums and they’re not actually doing their studies!’ and of course the students are saying ‘Dude, I used this fucking NILE thing on my fucking paper and I got an A! Thanks dude!’

Jessica – I guess that is kind of rewarding though, especially how the students put it to you!

Karl – Well, it is and it isn’t, I mean I’m glad that some people are getting some stuff from NILE but on the other hand I don’t want to undermine anybody’s education by providing them with shortcuts, that’s not my purpose.

Jessica – I used to do it a lot with Iron Maiden records in my History classes!
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to do this interview with me.

Karl – Oh, thank you and you have a wonderful evening Jessica, cheers so much!