Samsara Blues Experiment has been performing for the better half of the last decade and they have the back catalog to prove it. Prolific and memorable, Samsara Blues Experiement has been quickly earning their place among the resurging international psychedelic revival. Riding that wave long and high Samsara Blues Experiment is one of the few bands out there with fifteen and twenty-minute songs that has a discernable song structure to their music, relying more on their songwriting abilities than improvised chaos and screaming feedback. High flying solos and a rhythm section of berrating drum and bass have combined to form a unique fixture of the psychedelic stoner and space rock scene. The release of their newest album, Live At Rockpalast was teamed with an announcement that they were working on a new studio project due for release later this year! It’s hard to keep up with Samsara Blues Experiment sometimes so I took sometime and talked with lead guitarist and vocalist Christian Peters about the bands past, the new live album, the upcoming studio album, what the future has in store for them and what it’s like working a day job after 2AM festival appearances!
What is the band’s lineup? Is this your original lineup?
For five years now the band has been built on Thomas Vedder’s drumming, Richard Behren’s bumping Bass, Hans Eiselt’s Rhythm Guitar and my own vocals and lead guitar, plus I play the occasional Sitar or Synthesizers on our records. I’d say the four of us are the classic Samsara Blues Experiement lineup. I played with several other guys before now but most of them disappeared or left for various reasons. Most noteworthy would be my former Terraplane bandmates who all played a significant role in Samsara Blues Experiment’s very early beginnings; Andreas Herbst, Florian Furtner and Robin Niehoff, a very young but seriously talented musician.
Are any of you in other active bands? Have you released anything with other bands?
Richard is also in a band called Heat whose first album Old Sparky was released on my label Electric Magic Records. Hans is in a band Rodeo Drive, but they haven’t released anything yet; although they do have some pretty cool songs. Thomas and I, while we might do some jamming with friends from time to time, are in Samsara Blues Experiement exclusively. Nothing else very serious these days. I, of course had several other projects and bands before, Terraplane and my former soloproject Soulitude which I think are interesting if nothing else. I’m going to release some of that stuff in the future on my label Electric Magic Records.
Where is the band located?
In Berlin-Weissensee. Only Hans was born in Berlin, the rest of us is are originally from other areas.
What is the local scene like there? Are you very involved with it?
There’s some interesting bands, of course most of them are pretty much unknown because they hardly play and almost never play out of Berlin. I lately discovered a band called Suns Of Thyme whose first album will also be released on my label Electric Magic Records. Obviously there´s a huge variety of groups in Germanies biggest city but I don´t go to concerts that often and actually I‘ve become rather lazy when it comes to discovering young groups while there´s so much good stuff from the past and those bands whole vibe is often much more appealing to me anyways. These days it seems that too many young groups try to relive “the glorious 70’s“ and shit, which often doesn´t work for me and makes them boring to me because they lack individuality if you know what I mean?
How and when did you all meet?
I met Thomas through a common buddy, while Richard and I met in the German forum of Stonerrock.com back in the day. Hans is a long-time buddy of Richard. We all came together first time in October 2008.
What led to the formation of the Samsara Blues Experiment?
A wish to express myself, lyrically and as a musician but the end of my former band Terraplane in 2007 also led to the formation of Samsara Blues Experiment.
Can you talk a little bit about the meaning behind the name Samsara Blues Experiment?
The term Samsara is derived from "to flow together," to go or pass through states, to wander. Mostly a great revolving door between life and death and a new life reincarnated cycle of life. The Blues was always an import part of my life as a musician and music listener and is regarded as the basis for any kind of Rock music. Experiment could stand for the long-term aim for some kind of "fulfillment" and more than that the will to constantly improve and work on things without asking or thinking about it too much. Most of what I do in my life as a musician is from intuition you know? I don´t write down any tabs or notes or shit. I don´t care about the rhythm when it feels right.
Tell us a little about Electric Magic Records? When was the label started? How did it get started who started it?
I started with the re-release of Samsara Blues Experiment’s USA Demo in January 2012. I started Electric Magic Records because I always wanted to have my own label and I had the contacts, the money and the will to work it out a this point.
Are you planning on releasing Samsara Blues Experiment material in the future exclusively through Electric Magic?
Probably yes. I gave some thought to searching for a bigger label, something that would reach more people than we ever could, but I‘m not so sure if I’d really want to do that because I enjoy the freedom, which we probably wouldn’t have any other way. I like being free to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. Thankfully people have given our band a massive amount of support over the last few years which brought us to this point and position. We wouldn’t be here without the thousands of fans who buy our albums so thank you all very much! I hope I can give something back with the label by releasing some, in my opinion, good stuff for reasonable prices. I think it’s my destiny to do this and I’m highly looking forward to more enjoyable records in the future, music that means something to me and hopefully to others as well.
While a great majority of artists have made the push to extremely limited edition releases as Samsara Blues Experiment you have made a pretty big point of trying to keep your back catalog in print and readily available worldwide. Can you talk a little bit about why you have avoided limited edition releases? What’s your opinion on limited music?
Good question! To me it sucks big time when a similarly big and widely well respected band, Colour Haze for instance won’t release their back catalogue. Some of their greatest records remain undiscovered and unheard. I’d love to have a LP of Ewige Blumenkraft, I’ve even bothered Stefan Koglek about re-release it. He has the power but he doesn’t think it´s worth the effort. I don’t undertand this kind of thinking. They’d sell 500 copies in less than a week for sure. As much as I can I will always make sure our albums are in print as long as our band exists. On the other hand there’s a massive load of albums especially in the psychedelic scene that I’d never release and it’s okay when they remain fan issues of 500 copies. I don´t mean to be brag but only very few are real classics, like Nebula’s To The Center, Gas Giant’s Mana, Colour Haze’s self-titled album as well as Kyuss and Fu Manchu rather obviously. I mean not every band even sells 500 copies you know? I’m happy we got along very well with World In Sound, not every label can also afford to always have their own back catalogue in print all the time. In the end it very much depends on the demand. When you’re in a band that sells, why not sell as much as possible!?! There’s still a lot of people that buy records and are happy when they return home with a new LP instead of a Mp3 they got after hours of research on the interwebs.
Where is the best place for our readers to get music and merchandise from Samsara Blues Experiment?
From us directly I’d say, because still we handle our own sales. Which is cool but most people don’t know anything about what happens when the band leaves the stage. We all still have jobs. I’d say this is obvious, but a lot of people look at us with eyes like an Owl when we tell them that we have to work the next morning. We’re all really quite "regular" people.
You are going in to the studio to record your new album Waiting For The Flood the end of this month (May 2013). What can listeners expect from the new album? Are you going to attempt anything radically different with this album?
We feel like this album could be the perfect mixture of our last two albums. A combination of psychedelic mellow moods and unknown, sometimes almost brutal heaviness. Of course everything will be groovy as ever. We’re all looking forward to the finished album. It will take some time I guess, but I think this could become a real masterpiece. Four songs in about fifty minutes. The album is supposed to come out in November, which means no vacation in Summer, we’ll be working very hard on this!
Where is it going to be recorded and who’s going to be recording it?
We’ll do it all by ourselves again. Richard is a professional sound-technician. He also owns his own professional studio with all the equipment one could ever need. Just look up Big Snuff Studio Berlin, it’s the place to be when you play real music. We’ll probably have some recording assistance by either Richards brother Luke or our long-time buddy Daniel who are both co-owners of the Big Snuff.
What is the songwriting process like with Samsara Blues Experiment? Is there just a lot of jamming or does someone come in with an idea to share with the rest of the band?
It’s a mystery to me. We try to jam from time to time, but mostly end up tootling in D all the time. Then there’s moments of divinity, some higher form’s input, when someone’s hands receive information that he can’t understand but has to instantly transform into a riff that might crush everybodies heads. Hence a songs is born. Haha, whatever, I really have no idea how to explain it properly, it’s mostly based on intuition.
You just released your first live album, Live At The Rockpalast, in April of this year. How did you go about recording that show? Was it just a soundboard tap or did you mic everything?
They miced everything and everybody on that stage. Since the "glorious 70’s" Rockpalast has become quite an institution on German television, their artists have become almost mainstream. It’s a bit odd these days, but they started with a Rory Gallagher and Robin Trower played the very same stage as we did. So we were happy that they allowed us to wreck the room. It was a good experience. I wish they had been more cooperative with the album release, but it is what it is, so it has to remain a 500 CD release which is cool enough anyway. For the fans you know, all for the fans...
Was the Live At The Rockpalast album easier to record than your studio output knowing you only had to play it once or did that add some lever of pressure and difficulty?
Not much pressure. Noooo. You have to understand that this is a show on German TV. There were three or four huge cameras following my every move. It was not planned to become a live recording. It just happend to be the best recording we have of a show to this day, so we thought it was cool to release a Live at Rockpalast just like Trower's and all the other guys, even if I guess we’re still very much the underdogs, which is even cooler. An underground band releasing a Rockpalast album. Just great!
When you play live is there a lot of improvisation or is it all meticulously planned out?
We have real songs. All of them. These songs have structures and sometimes a shorter or longer section of improvisation. I never play a solo the same way, but don’t mistake all of it as improvisation. The others members in our band don’t improvise a lot. It would end up in chaos. We’re not Amon Düül.
Where’s the best place for fans to keep up with the latest news like album releases and live performances?
Facebook I guess, though I am also ashamed to say, but I am too lazy to put everything on our website. What would we do without the internet?
What do you have planned as far as touring goes for 2013 so far?
We are planning a three weeks tour through Europe for the release of the next album. We’d also like to follow our fans calls to play on other continents but it’s not that easy, not any more. There’s so many things to keep us from playing, like jobs, family, lack of contacts and money, money, money...
Do you have a funny or interesting story from a live show that you’d like to share with our readers?
No, we’re very serious musicians, wink, wink.
Who are some of your favorite acts you’ve played with?
With Samsara Blues Experiment? I’d say Pater Nembrot, The Machine and This Is Ghost Country because all of these guys became true buddies over the years we’ve been touring and getting to know each other. Then we’ve met several big and small names in the scene. Those were good experiences but nothing more. I’d never brag about meeting this or that "famous" person. I guess I got old and realized that everyone‘s just a normal person when you get to know them. Where are the true idols? Not in the music scene, that’s for sure...
Speaking of favorite acts can you tell us who some of your personal influences are? What about the band as a whole?
Each of us has very different favorites. We could all agree on Kyuss and some "glorious 70s" bands though. My favorite at the moment is Rory Gallagher, a rare and exceptional person. Other influences are pretty obvious I guess. You know, all the big names...
You have been releasing rare and live material on a weekly basis via links on your Facebook page for some time now. Where did the idea to post free downloads of rare and live material for a limited time come from?
The gods told me to share and make some peoples happy.
What’s your opinion on digital music and the way the rapidly changing affects it’s having on the music industry?
The world needs digital music, but then again it doesn’t need it at all. It just depends on you, do you want to spend your life in front of a computer searching the endless plains of the world wide web for more and more music or leave that crap and plant a tree, return home happily and listen to that old Neil Young record.
I love having a digital copy of the album to listen to wherever I want, but there’s something magical about a physical album. A special something about holding a record in your hands, creating a world with the music you are hearing that can never be achieved via a disposable digital copy. Do you have any such connection with physical releases?
I like looking at things, touching things, especially when there’s a beautiful woman on the cover!
Is there anyone from your local scene or area that our readers should be listening to that they might not have heard of?
Suns Of Thyme if you’re open minded. I happen to really dig that band.
What about nationally and internationally?
Imaad Wasif. He’s got a rare gift.
Is there anything that I missed or you’d just like to talk about?
For now that’s really okay. Thanks. Thank you for having Samsara Blues Experiment in your magazine!
(2008) Samsara Blues Experiment – Samsara Blues Experiment Demo – CD-R – Self-Released
(2009) Samsara Blues Experiment – Samsara Blues Experiment EP USA Tour Edition – CD-R – Self-Released
(2010) Samsara Blues Experiment – Long Distance Trip – CD, 12”, 2x12” – World In Sound
(2011) Samsara Blues Experiment – Revelation & Mystery – CD, 12” – World In Sound (1st pressing 12” Limited to 1,000 copies, 150 on Yellow Vinyl, 850 on Black Vinyl. 2nd pressing of 2,000, 200 on Yellow Vinyl – Black Vinyl not limited)
(2012) Samsara Blues Experiment – Center Of The Sun/Midnight Boogie – 12” – World In Sound (Limited to 1,000 copies, 200 on Orange Vinyl, 800 on Black Vinyl)
(2013) Samsara Blues Experiment – Samsara Blues Experiment EP (Remastered) – CD – Electric Magic Records
(2013) Samsara Blues Experiment – Live At Rockpalast – CD – Electric Magic Records (Limited to 500 copies)
(2013) Samsara Blues Experiment – Waiting For The Flood – ??? – Electric Magic Records (November release planned)
ELECTRIC MAGIC RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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