SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT: Christian Peters Talks New Album

Samsara Blues Experiment

Berlin-based psych rock trio Samsara Blues Experiment have returned recently with the release of their fourth studio album ‘One with the Universe’ (review here). The founder of the band, guitarist and composer Christian Peters spoke for Prog Sphere about what it took to come up with this album.

Samsara Blues Experiment has been somewhat quiet after the release of Waiting for the Flood back in 2013. What’s been happening since then?

Well, we had to deal with a significant line-up change first. Richard, our ex-bassist, decided to leave the band in early 2014, basically to focus on his career as a touring sound technician. Hans, the former rhythm guitarist, then switched to bass, and honestly after these years of readjustment, I think it’s the best thing that could have happened. The band is just so much more flexible like this. I also had a period of readjustment myself. I did a few releases as a solo artist (Surya Kris Peters), where I am getting deeper into synthesizers and early electronic music / Krautrock in general. Still do that, but I also missed the band. We also wanted to take our time to come up with a good album, not just another album, know what I mean? Too many bands, especially in this “retro kind of genre,”seem to focus on things which aren’t as nearly important as the music itself, IMHO.

One With the Universe seems to be proggier than previous material—was that something you felt when writing it or did it turn out a lot madder than you expected?

A few things came up while we recorded, like some verses or most of the keyboard solos, but not the “proggy things” I guess. This just happened naturally. Especially our drummer is a real prog fanatic. He loves all the Canterbury, and all the early-mid ‘70s stuff from Britain, and Rush. But I think Waiting For The Flood was more proggy, or not? I am not sure there. And I actually don’t care for any genre label at all. I love music, that’s it. The music that comes out is what is inside of me, of us. We really don’t (try to) think too much at all.

One With the Universe

Which track from the new album did you find easiest to write?

I did “Sad Guru Returns” as the only track mostly by myself and just showed the guys the riffs, so that was pretty easy. Some other tracks were really difficult, especially the title track was a hard one. It took something like a half year to figure out how to puzzle all the parts together.

What was your personal highlight during the recording of One with the Universe?

The Fender Rhodes part in the title track! It’s just the second take and it all came out so naturally, and that great sound in the studio where I was sitting alone in this big room with only the Rhodes at high volume: ah, heaven really! We had something like six or seven days for the basic tracks and I had another ten days just for all my stuff (vocals, keyboards, guitar overdubs etc.) and Richard (our ex-bassist) who recorded and mixed the album with me. It was a very intense work atmosphere I can tell you. Only three weeks for an album, including the mixes, is not too much of time. We always had a lot more space when Richard (who co-owns the studio) was still in the band and we wouldn’t have to pay him. But he deserves the money, he did a great job there too.

I’m fortunate enough to be familiar with a large portion of your discography up to this point. For those less familiar, can you elaborate on where you started and what’s brought you to where you currently stand in the scope of independent music?

We started as a three-piece jam band (sort of a bit like Earthless) after the split from my band Terraplane, where I spent a good amount of my 20s doing pretty much something similar than now, only less professional. I then moved to Berlin and found the people I am still with today; Hans and Thomas, and also Richard is still a friend. We did a lot of touring across Europe and parts of the USA. We did the Long Distance Trip album, a bit too early maybe, when I could barely sing (I never did it before the early days of SBE, when I was already 26 years old) and the whole band was in a very naive state still. But despite that it’s become pretty much of a Stoner Rock “classic album” by looking at sales or clicks on youtube, [laughs] it´s great and a bit frustrating at once you know. Anyways… After the second album we decided to do our own label Electric Magic and since then are still a independent band and happy to be that… just, there’s a lot you can do by yourself you know and I don’t see why a label should take most of my money… But we also owe a good amount of gratefulness to our booker(s) Matte, and now Kat, in Sound Of Liberation who try to put us in the right festivals and concert halls at the right time and who contributed a lot to the growth of this scene in general with events like the Desertfests, or the Up In Smoke tours! This whole things was a lot smaller only ten years ago. We’d be happy to play for 50 people then, now it’s sometimes up to 500.

What were your artistic influences on One with the Universe?

Hm, I have no clue actually. I for myself mostly listened to Caravan’s Land Of Grey and Pink and Sinatra’s Songs For Swinging Lovers throughout the whole last year, if that helps… But I also rediscovered my love for Kyuss.

Samsara Blues Experiment

This year marks your 10th anniversary. Do you have any plans to celebrate it?

We will play two very special shows this week. All self-organized by the way… But that’s it, pretty much. I am not really a “happy celebration kind of guy” I guess, though I had a lot of reason to be proud with what we achieved.

What do you see for SBE’s future?

Let’s see when it’s here. I am not somebody who plans a lot. I’´d like to be more acknowledged for our latter albums too, not only Long Distance Trip, but let’s see really…

One with the Universe is out now, and is available from Bandcamp.

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