Nile: Beyond The Gates of Sethu

You can’t all of a sudden decide you want to do a Glam band...

For twenty years, Nile has set the benchmark for quality and superior musicianship; their excellence, their experimentation and their creativity has been the inspiration for many bands spilling out on the scene over the past two decades. With an overwhelming and intimidating catalogue, Dallas Toler-Wade tells Metal As Fuck, that there is still plenty of ingenuity to come.  So sit up, pay attention and discover...

At The Gates of Sethu; the album has been out for roughly twelve months now; a cheesy line – what is beyond the gates of Sethu? Where has the album taken you so far touring wise? “Well so far, we have done two European tours, two American tours, we went to Singapore and Indonesia, went to Thailand, Japan, South America and very soon Australia”. So not very busy at all then? [Laughs] “Yeah”.

Well Todd Ellis should be a Nile veteran by now, how is his placement going with the band? “He has been with us through all the Sethu touring so far, I guess it’s about two years now. It’s absolutely going really well, he is a very solid reliable dude and can play all the stuff really well, we’re very happy”.

I have to mention it, and I’m sure it’s been mentioned quite a lot this year; twenty years of Nile! There is nothing quite like making someone’s day by informing them twenty years has passed. What are your thoughts on twenty years of Nile? [Laughs] “Well, um, it went by really fast and it doesn’t seem to be slowing up any, it’s hard to believe all that time has passed, it sure doesn’t feel like it. But at the same time, we have been doing it so long, it just kind of feels like what we’re supposed to be doing you know; we’re still enjoying it, still having fun, there is still a lot of creativity in the band, and wow, yeah twenty years”.

Any thoughts of making a live DVD for Nile to commemorate the past twenty years? I know the band have been hounded about it by fans for a long time. “You know it’s just something we haven’t gotten around to yet, we’ve talked about it but usually when we finally actually sit down and make plans to do anything it usually involves making a new album [Laughs] so, I’m sure it will happen eventually, it’s nothing we’ve put in any thought for right now, but we have talked about it. It would have to be the right place, the right time and the right venue. The next thing we will probably do in 2014 is a new record”.

The bands catalogue is jaw dropping, I’ve been a massive fan of Nile for as long as I can remember, does anything immediately jump out at you in terms of how far the band have come, when listening to the earlier work of Nile? “Some of the stuff feels like a natural progression, we always want to make a different album but not lose our identity in the process. I think we have achieved that. We’re not afraid to experiment with things, but at the end of the day we do the Nile thing, we will continue to do that and stay true to our colours but we also want to try different stuff along the way, and sometimes it can be a case of the way we want the record to sound or maybe just a different type of guitar technique, whatever it is, we’ll try it” [Laughs].

Its always been a fascinating thing to listen to any Nile record; for me, because there is always that massive emphasis on the music and you can tell there is a lot of experimentation with it; it’s also is saturated with Egyptian mythology – has this eased the writing process, lyrically? “Oh yeah definitely, there is thousands of years of stuff to write about, but we don’t always necessarily talk just about Egypt; on Those Whom The Gods Detest there was a couple of departures from that, because usually its Egypt or Lovecraft or something in between, but more and more we’re writing about different things. On the last record, there was kind of a departure as well, actually landing at Tibetan philosophy, although most of it is definitely Egyptian history. The name of the band is Nile, but Karl [Sanders] in particular doesn’t feel it necessary to write about its history all of the time, he can pretty much write whatever he wants and it’s always fun and exciting to work with once we get the time to put the music together”.

I think that’s why I love Nile so much, it’s a combination of all my favourite things you know; death metal, ancient history and Middle Eastern music. Where do you feel was the defining moment for the band? Either album wise or an avenue you found with the music. “I think it just kind of happened, along the lines even before I was in the band, and I’ve been in the band for over fifteen years now, so, I think basically what happened was when the band name was formed, someone said Nile, hey that’s a great idea [Laughs] it kind of just progressed from there. None of us were ever thinking we were able to do the band at this level, to tour, to have a record label and put out all these albums, we were pretty content just to play for fun, get whatever shows we could get back in the day, we feel really lucky that we’re able to devote this much time to the band and get the crowds into so many shows. That at the end of the day is the success”.

Thanks to Nile, death metal has been in very good hands for over twenty years now, and I know that speaking to Karl last year, he emphasized how important death metal is and even more important it is to get it right; in your opinion, how do you maintain the integrity of death metal, or preserve its honour I guess you could say? “You have to be heavy, that would be one [Laughs] I guess what it ultimately is about is, staying true to your guns, writing and playing the stuff that you want to write and play regardless of what somebody might make you do, ‘if you slow this song down a little bit you might make some money’ or something stupid like that. I think the integrity is there, and as long you…. I mean death metal, as soon as you start using those vocals styles and those particular drum beats and that kind of guitar playing you really can’t go back, you can’t all of a sudden decide you want to do a Glam band and if you do switch horses mid race, people are going to be pissed [Laughs] so choose your paths wisely, I’ve always been into, of course, classic rock stuff, thrash and punk music so for me it was a natural progression, looking for that next heavy thing and death metal was where I found it” [Laughs] I fully agree, I can listen to some very obscure music but I mean would you agree that as you growing older from a teenager just getting into it, you do find yourself over the years searching for heavier and heavier music, until you do stumble upon your death metal? “Yeah, yeah, it kinda happens that way yeah, you know, as you get older your ears mature and your ideas mature, some of the even older music that you listen to again almost takes on a whole new meaning; you are more capable to understand what it’s all about. Death metal is one of those things too – every now and then you pop in an old record and it’s just as good or even better because the more you listen to music the more you understand it”.

The Australian tour is fast approaching, now you’re bringing The Faceless, had the pleasure before? “Yeah we toured with The Faceless in the States back in 2008 I think, it will be good to see those guys again, they are a great band and just a good bunch of guys to hang out with, it should be a hell of a time”.