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Interviewing George Kollias of NILE

George Kollias, the superfast drummer from Nile had a lovely chat with us at Bloodstock festival. Nile have just released their seventh album, At the Gates of Sethu and it's well worth checking out if you haven't already. I got to speak to George recently about his drumming style, the new Nile record and his Greek background.

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Can you describe Nile for us?

Kollias: Nile is an American extreme death metal band with a Greek drummer. We’ve been around since 1999 officially with the first album. We’ve got seven albums in total, I joined the band in 2004 and it’s all about extreme, fast and technical death metal.

There’s a lot of pushing in this band, every year it just goes out of control!

You’re famed for your speed!

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Kollias: Well you know, we don’t like to repeat ourselves and we like to raise the bar for ourselves. Imagine how boring life would be if you had to play the same stuff. Sometimes fans are not that happy if you change your direction a little bit, but our fans are really happy because they want the band to progress, otherwise I would quit music – it would be very boring for me I’m sorry!

You guys have a very specific subject area: Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia…

Kollias: Yeah that’s all Karl [Sanders]'s work, he writes all the lyrics.

But as a Greek drummer are you ever influenced by Greek bands like Rotting Christ and Septic Flesh?

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Kollias: Yeah of course, I’m a big Rotting Christ fan. Influence drumwise I wouldn’t say so many Greek bands, some Greek drummers maybe. I’m a big fan of Septic Flesh, I used to play in Nightfall and was in that band for many years. We got some killer bands [smiles].

What’s your favourite Nile album and why?

Kollias: My favourite Nile album would be the new one. This is a very typical answer but it makes sense when I say this because this is the latest album, it’s more fresh in my ears. I’m a big fan of Ithyphallic also but we’ve played that album so many times so the best one would be the latest one.

Are you already thinking about the next album?

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Kollias: Nope. We had a discussion with Karl, yesterday I think, and we were like “man, next album let's push it!”. I don’t know how much more we can push it! But we decided to go supernuts with the next album. We wanna do some really interesting stuff and mix things up a little bit.

Do you have an idea of how long it’s going to take?

Kollias: Well At the Gates of Sethu was released in June so we have around a year and a half. Actually lets say one year until we start writing stuff then maybe another six months or eight months until we release a new album.

Can you tell me about the recording process? How do you do it?

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Kollias: Well obviously because I live in Athens, Greece we work a lot by sending back and forth emails with songs and stuff. So the guys will send me a song with guitars and click tracks. I’ve got my own studio with mikes and everything so I’m gonna record some demos, send them back, talk on Skype. Every member of the band has their own input for every song. I don’t have anything to do with lyrics but when it comes to the music I have one third of the music in terms of the construction of the song and of course I do all the drums. Then we meet in the states and we start rehearsing as a band. Even if you know the song well it’s a different vibe, you know, playing the song with everybody in real time; live. So it takes us another month to get to know the songs better and then we hit the studio and that’s it.

Last time we booked the studio for one week and it took us only three days to get the drums on songs and record. That’s superfast. For some reason I was in a great mood! On the previous album, Those Whom The Gods Detest I had an injury behind my left knee so I had to ice the leg every day while I was in the studio. Obiously we did it and I was in a lot of pain and when you’re not in a good mood, y’know, it sucks.

You tour the world a lot, is there a place you prefer above others?

Kollias: The best place to tour is a new place!  There is something about a place that you’ve never visited before that makes it the best. So for example, the first time I was in Australia I was like “man this place rules!”, first time I was in the UK I said “holy shit!”, first time in the states: the same. This time with this tour, for a week we went to Russia and Ukraine. The Ukraine show was so fast, we just flew in from the states and before you know we’re just travelling to Russia again! So I didn’t have a lot of time to see Ukraine but it was really nice, then we flew to Russia and spent four days there it was absolutely amazing.

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Can you tell me about the good times and the bad times?

Kollias: Oh my God, well some of them are a bit personal. I’m going to be very honest and say a group of people, four or five people, they’re not always going to get along. So sometimes you have some troubles and sometimes you wake up on the bus and you’re like “I don’t wanna see anybody. Fuck you all! I just want some privacy!” [laughs]. It’s like with your brothers and sister, y’know? You get the same thing. That’s how I feel with Nile, especially with Karl and Dallas; we’ve been together for eight years. We had a few bad times, not arguing so much but…some difficult times. A bad review or hard times on the road, it brings everyone closer together. But through the good times we keep going, that’s the greatest thing, this is what I really like.

What can we expect from Nile in the future?

Kollias: More music and hopefully better music. This is what Nile is all about, we’re all about playing and very serious about what we do. We spend a lot of time practising and writing, trying to add new elements to the music. So hopefully we’re gonna keep doing that.

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