We are feeling a little tight.
After bouncing from one room to another, and a little bit of tension, photo manager Jason Carlson and I find a seat across from Sanders and Kollias in a more spacious cabin for a conversation. A light conversation, that is, given that, after all, we are on a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean for 70,000 Tons of Metal.
With the Egyptian themes and all, do you ever get pissed that King Tut gets all the credit and Ramses II gets the shaft?
Sanders: He did so much more work and the kid gets all the glory!
With all of the years of the Nile “theme,” how do keep it fresh from album to album?
Sanders: For me, it’s a joyous thing because I’m not doing the same thing that everyone else is doing. So the subject matter itself, there’s 6,000 years of ancient Egyptian history, there’s a deep well.
You just went over to Egypt, didn’t you? How was that?
Sanders: It was amazing, because I had only known it and experienced it by televisions, books, the Internet – to actually be there in person is a realization of a lot of a years.
What got you turned on to the whole Egyptian history in the late ’80s early ’90s?
Sanders: The original drummer, Pete Hammoura, was Lebanese. He was my best friend. When I would be at his house, there was all this Lebanese food and music and culture, and you know, I found myself going, “Wait a minute, there are some cool musical things going on here,” and it kind of went from there. And years later, someone had suggested to us, “You guys like all that Middle Eastern music, why don’t you call yourselves Nile.” And I said, “OK.”
The last album, three-and-a-half years ago, is there new music in the works?
Sanders: Oh yeah! We have an album we are in the midst of. We have drums done already, George built a lovely, beautiful studio in his home, and we are able to work there without the pressure of the clock, you know, and deadlines or anything. We can just work to our heart’s content.
When are you thinking release-wise?
Sanders: This year.
Kollias: Late summer.
I would assume that in most cases, your most recent work is your favorite, but when you think about your catalog, the Nile catalog, what is your favorite album or the one that means the most to you?
Kollias: For me, it is Shrines, which is the album right before I joined the band, just because that was the real push of the band, you could hear the real Nile, the latest Nile. It was pretty amazing, pretty challenging for me to play, so I got into it as a fan, as a drummer, and, then I joined them. But I think the fans, most of the fans, love Annihilation of the Wicked, which was the one when we were together, and I am very proud for it. To me, the new one is the best, always. The most fresh one, you know, but I think the really new one, the one we have half-recorded so far, is a big step, a big fucking step.
How so? Without giving away the surprise, how is that new album, whether it is the recording or the writing or whatever, that is taking it to that next level that’s going to blow peoples minds?
Kollias: Well, it’s many things. First of all, Brian, our new guitar player, brought a really fresh vibe to the band, and he even wrote four songs, like amazing songs. And there was a lot of pre-production this time. For me personally, I recorded five or six times, each song. And it was the most complete pre-production because we had vocals and everything so you could hear the songs. Plus, we always like to push things, and I think that this time we just overreact a little bit. It’s crazy; it’s very musical, very catchy, but it’s really challenging – a big challenge to play. It’s a fucking tough album.
That makes it more fun, right, more challenging?
Kollias: Well, fuck yeah! Otherwise, for me, it will be really boring.
Being the death metal vets that you are, what is your take on death metal these days, how do you feel about the scene, how do you feel about the genre and where it is going?
Sanders: I think that it is all over the map. On the one hand, I see a fresh new generation of kids that grew up, not only with this music being established, but in the age of the Internet. If you are a guitar player starting out now, you can actually see how the best guys are doing that guitar thing that you want to see, so the level of musicianship from when we started to now, is like oh my god. So I see a lot of amazing, fresh new things going on in extreme metal. On the other hand, because there is so much more information, it’s such a bigger pool of people, there’s correspondingly more icky stuff getting in the way of the good stuff. There’s so much, and we live in a politically correct age, so you can’t voice your opinions like you want to.
Check out Jason’s full gallery of Nile from 70,000 Tons of Metal here.