Samsara Blues Experiment interview (Chris Peters)

"In the end I sing mostly sort of love songs"

03/12/2013 @ 11:22
In a short period of time the heavy psych, 70s retro, stoner or raga rockers, call them what you will, Samsara Blues Experiment have become not only fan favorites but are also considered leaders of a scene. This year's record "Waiting For The Flood" finds them not only to be fulfilling the expectations that have been created but possibly to be showing to us their best work so far. All these are more than a good opportunity for a conversation with Chris Peters, their guitarist and singer.

Samsara Blues ExperimentAre you satisfied with "Waiting For The Flood"? What were you aiming at with this release?
Yeah well I could say I am satisfied. As most other artists might say there’s probably always some points which could have been done better, here or there, but on the whole I am happy with this new album. We did not aim for anything special but the expression of ourselves. I mean each album is sort of a contemporary statement, a document of time somehow. Some of the lyrics represent the circumstances i’d been living through these last one and a half years of my life.

A lot of people have noticed a more focused attention at the vocals and especially the vocal harmonies on this record. Was that deliberate?
Vocals are really important for me. At times I really feel a strong need to speak about things. Some things I wouldn’t speak about open in a conversation, which might seem weird because now I sing them to the ears of thousands of people. Βut yeah, these things have had to be spoken out.

Samsara Blues Experiment - Waiting For The FloodThe songs from "Waiting For The Flood" are long and with a lot of free form moments. How much of it has come out of you four guys jamming and how much is composed 'on paper'?
Nothing is composed on paper and very few is from jams. We hardly jam at all, this is not really possible with four guys and some of the egos clashing at each other. Most of the licks and riffs come from intuition. Ιt’s a little hard to explain,imagine someone has an idea and we ‘re puzzling it together to a song until the point we feel it’s finished. I have the final decision what goes and what not.

Are you recording 'live at the studio'?
Yes all the basic tracks are live studio recordings with few overdubs only.

The Eastern/Indian influences are always present. Are you planning to explore them even more at some point? I have in mind Siena Root’s "Different Realities" record.
If I were a better sitarist i’d totally like to go further, but playing sitar needs deep and dedicated studies. I lack the time for that and there’s so many other cool instruments to play. It’s a bit of a compromise I have to find all the time. At the moment i’d rather study a little more piano / keyboards.

Samsara Blues ExperimentPlease tell me one artist that you consider as a major influence to your music but no one has ever mentioned or recognized listening to your songs.
Frank sinatra. Even if you might find this weird, but I am right now listening to him. His way of singing might have had a deep influence, no kidding. In the end I sing mostly sort of love songs you know.

They say that for every band, making the first record is easy because they record all material gathered through previous years, but the second one is hard because you have to come up with new material in a reasonable time frame. Did you feel that way with "Revelation & Mystery"?
Actually we had very few time to do the stuff for "Long Distance Trip" and this record became the classic. We took a lot more time to write the second album and few even understood it I think. This is much more complex and rendered out. The first album was mostly build on intuition, not much thinking at all.

Samsara Blues ExperimentHow come you decided to release a live record with only two studio records released?
Well from the recent point of view I think the first album was recorded a bit too early. The songs weren’t really played very well, my singing mostly sucks to me (I wasn’t ever really singing before other than in school class or when I was sloppy drunk) and really I felt a need to present these songs in a better light. The show at Rockpalast was a good opportunity to prove that we can do better and also we are sort of a live band. Οnly there you really feel the immense energy that is floating in and around us.

I am thinking sometimes that especially in the heavy psych field, we usually tend to overlook the fact that we might be living in the best period of the genre in terms of combined quality and quantity, leaving out the historical significance of the late 60s / early 70s records. Your opinion?
It’s naive to wish you’d been living the 60s while now we have WAY MORE possibilities. Looking at our fans we "depend" a lot on the internet. Looking at the possibilities of self control, of being able to record and promote your own music we’d been nowhere in the 60s. The 70s even worse. It’s good to look back and see those times in our glamorous light but I bet those eras haven’t been much more glamorous than our life today except that most music in the mainstream had a way better quality than today’s crap entertainment.

Samsara Blues ExperimentHow easy is it for a band playing your kind of music to become known and respected in traditional rock producing countries like the UK or the USA. Have you received any help from the press there?
Let's put it like this, when we released "Long Distance Trip" we received no feedback at all from the mainstream, nothing from the print magazines, nowhere, EXCEPT from the "internet community". And there it was a world wide recognition, almost on the whole planet. We now seem to get more recognition from metal magazines and all that, but still not much from other continents, also because their structures seem to be quite old fashioned. You need to know the right people or have money to get into magazines. It does not really depend on talent or whatever. More on the "right label". Same with certain festivals.

How important is Electric Magic Records for you? I guess it started just to serve your needs but now it is signing and promoting other bands as well.
It’s on the one hand the best way to release our own music. We have freedom and get most of the income which wouldn’t be the case with any other label deal where you get something like 15% from the whole trade price (which is something around 1,50 euro for one record compared to 10 to 15 euros that we get and deserve). I then try to support bands that I dig and that I feel would need some support. At the moment all is much more sort of a passionate hobby, not a job that I could depend on and make a living from it.