Nile - Their Wrath is Not Yet Done Part I
By: Mike Sloan
Blistering.com: When listening to Nile albums, one thing that always stands out to me is the drumming. Other than In Their Darkened Shrines, the drumming is never made into a focal point, though. While you can clearly hear the drumming on At the Gate of Sethu, the kick drums are a little bit quiet. Is that an intentional decision to keep the guitars more prominent or is it because you and Dallas are the main songwriters, as guitarists you maybe subconsciously want the drums to kind of take a back seat?
Sanders: Thatís a good question. Well, there is definitely some of that element [of keeping the drums in the background a little] because, like you said, Dallas and I are the main songwriters and we are both guitarists. For us as guitarists and as the main songwriters, for us the heart and soul of a song is the guitars, and then the drums. Thatís our hierarchy. It goes: guitars, drums, vocals, and then bass somewhere down the list [laughs]. It also depends on what youíre listening to on this album. The kick drums donít have as much high frequency stuff going on because we wanted to put the kick drum back in its natural range.
We wanted the kick drum sound like a kick drum instead of all that over-produced, over-hyped kick drumming you hear on so many other records where the kick drum steals the whole fucking show. The kick drum should do the job of a kick drum where it doesnít grab your attention as the foremost role of the music; itís a support role. So many metal bands get carried away with the kick drums and it winds up being the only thing you hear. The more kick drum you hear, the less other musical stuff you hear. Itís a balancing act. If you want all the musical elements to be heard and appreciated, and we wanted to have a natural balance, we decided to have the kick drum play the role of the kick drum.
Blistering.com: Nile 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 canít reproduce the song live in concert because of the complexities?
Sanders: There have been a few songs over the years where weíve 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 audienceís perspective? Thatís kind of how we decide which songs we are going to play: which ones are the audience going to grasp? Certainly something like ďInvocation to Seditious HeresyĒ which has incredible technical guitar and drumming on it and is incredibly fun to play in the band room Ė we have fun listening to and playing it Ė but thereís so much technicality going on where you tend to lose people. In the live setting, youíve 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 ďThe Burning Pits of the DuatĒ and thatís 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. Youíve 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 youíre playing to a few hundred people and then all of a sudden youíre playing to, like, 50 people [laughs]. You can tell; itís immediately apparent. You can also tell with the energy level from the amount of humanity thatís focused on you. Itís 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. Itís a collective thing. You can feel it; itís real. So, you can tell when youíre losing your audience; you can fucking feel it. Itís an emotional, electrical sort of connection.
Part II of Sloan's chat with Nile will run on Tuesday, July 24.