Nile – Identity is EverythingSunday, 2nd August 2015
Dead Rhetoric: So do you feel that you are still learning as much on a daily basis now as when you started?
Sanders: Absolutely. I think there’s a parallel – I also do martial arts. Before I got my black belt in the current one I’m doing, one of my instructors had said to me, “you don’t start really learning until after you get your black belt. You don’t know how much it is that you don’t know. The more you learn, the more you will learn that there is yet more to learn.” And that’s really true, not only in martial arts but in music. The more you learn the more you discover there is still more to learn. Especially with guitar playing, it’s like never-ending.
Dead Rhetoric: Between metal and martial arts, do you feel there are similarities in terms of release or catharsis?
Sanders: I absolutely believe that. I noticed that after we made At the Gate of Sethu, I wasn’t mentally healthy. I dove heavily into martial arts after that and it was absolutely a cathartic way of working out the angst in my soul and things I needed to work out. There’s nothing like beating the crap out of someone, or getting the crap beaten out of you, to put everything into a fresh perspective.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been at this now for over 20 years. How do you feel that death metal as a genre has changed?
Sanders: It has evolved, and has been evolving at a frightening pace. I think the good news for the death metal scene in 2015 is that there are more bands playing death metal today than there have ever been. I think the bad news in 2015 is that there are more bands playing death metal today than there have ever been! On the one hand, the evolution – the standards have been raised in certain ways, especially on a technical aspect. Musicianship has elevated, but I think people’s capacity to write songs that are interesting has greatly suffered. I also think that because there are so many bands playing such similar styles that it is overwhelming for the listener. You can’t possibly listen to every single metal band – there’s not enough hours in the goddamned day. It’s got its good things and its bad things, you know?
Dead Rhetoric: I read an interview you had done where you had mentioned that ‘death metal isn’t dangerous anymore.’ Do you feel it needs to have that ‘dangerous’ edge in order to stay relevant?
Sanders: That’s another great question. We live in a very PC and correct age, where even people who listen to and play death metal are compelled to act politically correct. Which certainly was not the case in the early days of death metal. Now everything is so much more safe, and people expect it to be safe. You don’t dare offend anyone these days. If you were to call a spade a spade, someone would be offended. I don’t think that’s an artistically healthy environment. I think that mindset/world view breeds mediocrity and homogeneousness. Everything starts looking/sounding/tasting the same, and that’s what we have. We have a pile of metal bands that are difficult to distinguish from one another, except for a few bands that were able to establish an identity and unique sound. We are living in an artistically stifling age, and an artistically liberating age for those who are able to shed concerns of what it is supposed to be and just do something that is unique to them.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s like you said, it’s a double-edged sword. There’s so much stuff that comes through that sounds like one variation over another. Is it harder to even establish an identity of your own? You mentioned Immolation, and Nile obviously has their own sound. Most of the bands that have their own identity have been around for a long time.
Sanders: Well, there you go. I had a sort of realization a few years ago when we were in Denver, and our name was on the marquee. I looked at it and thought – that’s why we are getting paid. We are actually getting paid for this gig, because you stick our name on there and people will go, “hey, that’s Nile, let’s go to the Nile show!” I’ll put this in other terms – when you see that poster for Cannibal Corpse, you go, “oh fuck yeah, Cannibal Corpse is coming to town. Let’s go to the Cannibal Corpse show.” That name means something. Your identity is everything! It’s everything. This idea that people have now that ‘identity isn’t important’ – it fucking is. Don’t let anyone lead you down a foolish path. Your identity is all you have in this world. It’s the only meaningful thing that you are contributing to this fucking planet. When you read in a history book about Alexander the Great, you think, okay it’s that dude Alexander. It’s not his schoolboy friend Herbert. No one gives a shit about Herbert, because he was just along for the ride. Alexander was doing pretty good, so he just kind of tagged along. So we remember Alexander, and no one gives a shit about Herbert.
Now, no offense to anyone named Herbert – I’d like to clarify. The name Herbert was only used as a hypothetical generic term that would be slightly humorous. My apologies to anyone reading this article who might be offended by the name of Herbert.
Dead Rhetoric: [Laughs] God forbid anyone gets offended by that. So as someone who admittedly, lives/eats/breathes death metal – what’s so great about it?
Sanders: Really well done death metal is such an empowering thing. You put on something by Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, or Entombed – you just get this feeling of power and it’s an overwhelming shot of adrenaline. It gives you power to feel like destroying shit. It’s an awesome feeling – I love that. It’s like a shot in the arm – once you’ve had it and tasted it, nothing else will have that kind of impact.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there anything that you’d like to see Nile accomplish that you haven’t gotten to yet?
Sanders: There’s so much to do and places to go that we haven’t played yet. Places that have been on a bucket list for a long time. There are a lot of fans that we’d like to bring our music to, in all corners of the world. Surely, there’s a lot left for this band to do.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you have planned for Nile as we move towards fall and winter 2015?
Sanders: Starting August and September, we are doing a European tour with Suffocation. Then we have Australia and Thailand and China. I think we are doing a US tour, starting in January of 2016.
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