recently conducted an interview with Karl Sanders
of South Carolina-based extreme technical death metallers NILE
. A few excerpts from the chat follow below: Blistering.com
: First of all, congrats on "At The Gate Of Sethu"
. It's a great album in typical NILE
fashion. How proud are you of the final product and are you totally satisfied with how it turned out? Karl Sanders
: Right now, the album is still real fresh to us and we're just really excited about it. We love it and we're all gung-ho about it. It's going to take a while until I start hearing things where I'll go, "Oh I could've done this a little different, or that a little better…" Eventually that'll happen because it always does, but right now we're just loving the fucking record. There's some really good stuff on there and there were a lot of challenges with it. It's hard, it's technical; it's still a NILE
: Can you explain to the layman out there who has never been in the studio the challenges you face in recording an album? How do you capture the sheer brutality and bite of your music, keep the music sounding raw and savage, yet produce it so clean that everything is heard clearly? That has to be quite a task. Sanders
: Oh yeah, I understand your question and that is a huge fucking challenge while in the studio. There's an inverse equation to it all. If you play slower music, a band like AC/DC
, for example, it's actually very easy to record a band like AC/DC
and retain the natural vibe and make it all sound good. They play music that, by metal standards, is very slow. It's a lot of mid-tempo and slow tempo, so it's very easy. You can easily take that style of music, retain the energy, and make everything nice and clear so you can hear the individual fire of each member of the band. Each time you get a little faster, that equation gets more and more inverted. The faster you go, the harder it is to make it sound clean. The more you try to get it right, the more you suck the life out of it. It's a non-ending battle to try and capture super fast music and make it hearable yet keeping its life and conviction to it. It's a super fucking challenge and that's one of the reasons why it took so long to create this record. We wanted to hear everything we were playing and also have that life and fire and personality to it. That was a lot of fucking hard work. Holy shit! Blistering.com
is known for inhumanly technical death metal that is both brutal and full of hooks. Your complexities in the song structures have gotten so crazy over the years, but has there ever a time when a song is finished, you worried that you can't reproduce the song live in concert because of the complexities? Sanders
: There have been a few songs over the years where we've made the judgment call that as fun as they are to play, are they interesting enough or fun for the audience? Is it enjoyable to watch and listen to from and audience's perspective? That's kind of how we decide which songs we are going to play: which ones are the audience going to grasp? Certainly something like "Invocation To Seditious Heresy"
, which has incredible technical guitar and drumming on it and is incredibly fun to play in the band room — we have fun listening to and playing it — but there's so much technicality going on where you tend to lose people. In the live setting, you've got to be able to balance those factors. You want to present some kickass stuff and you want people to enjoy it and you want to have something that is fun and challenging to play. The songs that are picked for the live setting all have to meet those criteria. They have to be fun for us, fun for the audience, and they have to be the songs that people want to hear. I remember on one tour we did "The Burning Pits Of The Duat"
and that's a very technical song off of "Annihilation Of The Wicked"
. We could tell this was an audience separator. The musicians in the audience would be riveted and watching exactly what we were doing but the non-musician types would wander off to the bathroom or go get a drink or go outside to get a smoke. You've got to factor in that sort of stuff when creating the setlist. Blistering.com
: With most if not all metal concerts, there tends to be a breaking point where the crowd has to eventually slow down to catch their collective breath. Can you tell while onstage whether someone is just catching their breath or just not interested? Sanders
: Oh yeah. You can tell the difference. When the audience simply disappears, like you're playing to a few hundred people and then all of a sudden you're playing to, like, 50 people. [laughs
] You can tell; it's immediately apparent. You can also tell with the energy level from the amount of humanity that's focused on you. It's a hard concept to explain and I never really appreciated it until I played the Dynamo
festival out in Holland somewhere. We played to a crowd of about 8,000-9,000 people. It was the biggest crowd I had ever played to at that point. Playing on stage, I immediately felt that kinetic presence of all that energy focused onto the band. It was a tangible thing; I could feel the weight of it on my chest. A couple years later we played at Wacken
in front of about 40,000 people and I experienced the same thing again. The more people you have in front of you and the more energy from that audience is focused on the band, the more the kinetic energy builds with everyone. It's a collective thing. You can feel it; it's real. So, you can tell when you're losing your audience; you can fucking feel it. It's an emotional, electrical sort of connection.
Read the entire interview from Blistering.com