Samsara Blues Experiment will release their new album "End Of Forever" in January 2021. It is the fifth studio album of the Berlin trio and it is their last, because the band is breaking up. But once again fans can enjoy the timelessly beautiful retro rock.
A few months ago Samsara Blues Experiment announced it on their official website, "It is time to face the changes and challenges that lie ahead. As a community of individuals who played together for a decade in Samsara Blues Experiment, we will be parting ways for a while from now on." Christian Peters (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Thomas Vedder (drums) and Hans Eiselt (bass) joined forces in 2007 - then as a quartet with bassist Richard Behrens - and played on the band's 2010 debut "Long Distance Trip" and subsequent albums "Revelation & Mystery" (2011) and "Waiting For The Flood" (2013), they played a retro rock that developed and increased album by album and finally reached its peak on "One With The Universe" (2017) and the brand-new "End Of Forever". In the interview, Christian Peters not only sheds light on the new album, but also gives open and honest information about the band's internals and the reasons for the split.
eclipsed: While working on the new album, did you already know that it could be the end of the band afterwards? If so, how did it feel and was it supposed to be "the best at the end"?
Christian Peters: Yeah, that was kind of clear and maybe didn't put the work under the best light. The recordings were a bit tense after all and ran more under the motto: "Let's at least still record the songs." The situation in the band stiffened a bit for various reasons. In the end, I have to say, this current distance from the band feels rather liberating to me. It's all kind of a very complex thing, no one is "to blame for anything" and there wasn't necessarily just one good reason for this decision. If the album is the best, I can't say, for me it's rather an album you can be satisfied with.
eclipsed: How has your approach to the album changed from previous albums?
Peters: It was definitely very concentrated work. The other two guys put a lot of thought into the rhythm. It was good, for example, that our drummer Thomas recorded with a metronome. In the past we felt that this was very unnecessary, but there are a lot of things in "modern music production" that are ahead of this "retro attitude". We used to be rather puristic about it. But maybe we didn't know any better.
eclipsed: Of course, the guitars continue to shape the sound. But the keyboards, which you introduced on the predecessor "One With The Universe", also take a proper place here again. "Less sitar, more mellotron"?
Peters: I'm kind of off my "hippie trip", especially since I could never really play the sitar. With Mellotron, organ, synthesizers etc. you simply have much more possibilities to create atmosphere, but also the 12-string acoustic guitar contributed quite well to the sound colouring of this album.
eclipsed: You can take it a little softer like in "Lovage Leaves" or faster, harder like in "Jumbo Mumbo Jumbo". How do you like it musically the most?
Peters: I love music of many shades and just have my ideas what I would like to implement, whether that is now harder or softer. You are not always in one basic mood in life. Sometimes you are happy, sometimes moody and dissatisfied, or even angry or something. Everything should be in balance somehow, but in the end the song itself counts.
eclipsed: How do you see the new album in comparison to the previous albums?
Peters: I am basically quite satisfied. Maybe it really is our "best album". Some songs I find really strong from the idea and you are nevertheless also proud of what you have created there.
eclipsed: What are the reasons for stopping Samsara Blues Experiment in the first place?
Peters: There are a few. 13 years in a band and scene, twelve of them with Thomas and Hans. You change. To say it from my point of view, I have changed too much to be happy with this band anymore. For example, I have completely focused a lot of my life on this band, I actually only lived in Berlin to be able to go to the rough and tumble rehearsal room twice a week. That couldn't work any longer.
eclipsed: Did you discuss it for a long time? Searched for solutions?
Peters: Yes, of course. I would just like to say that many of our problems didn't just exist for a few weeks or months and we had to overcome some crises over the years, but maybe some basic problems always remained under the surface. I still don't know that for sure, it's probably never easy to manage such close relationships over such a long time. People change, one more, the other less, but somehow you have to find together. But if that doesn't work or is forced too much, you have to go separate ways. That doesn't make sense then, a band like that has to and should be fun first and foremost.
eclipsed: You live in Brazil now. Was that a reason for the breakup? How did it come about that you went to Brazil in the first place?
Peters: No, that's not the real reason for me. I live here because I'm happier here than in Berlin, which I've been calling nothing but "shit town" for years. Now I probably owe it to fate or my rather open-minded nature that my wife is Brazilian. So one thing leads to another. A lot of things are different here and certainly not everything is better, but at this point in time, especially the Brazilian mentality comes closer to my personal attitude towards life than the German one. You don't have to be afraid and apprehensive about everything in life, etc. I found that really annoying in the last years in Berlin, today Corona, yesterday the climate or some other "doomsday scenario". I don't want to play down the problems, but I find the German mentality very fearful and a lot of things are somehow too cerebral.
eclipsed: In Corona times, a farewell tour was/is no longer possible. Were you still able to celebrate a farewell?
Peters: We said goodbye with friends in the park. My farewell to Berlin was also a farewell to the band, although I personally could imagine continuing to make music together under different conditions, even across two continents. Other bands manage that too. But anyway. It wasn't easy for any of us to make this step, but I think it's good and everybody can reflect everything, the high and low phases of this band, in peace. Despite everything, there was more than enough to be proud of, which is anything but self-evident for such a "DIY underground band", as we always were somehow.
eclipsed: When a thing is over that you've put your heart and soul into for years, it doesn't pass you by without a trace. What feelings are bubbling up inside you? And in the others?
Peters: For me it's good the way it is. Life has to go on and I can't keep standing there in Berlin feeling like something more essential than this band life is passing me by, while of course like most people I'm not getting any younger. Everyone is sad about the end of the band too, sure, but ultimately I think everyone sees it the same way. At this point, nothing else could be forced.
eclipsed: What have been the highlights over the years? What low points? Which decisive steps or sticking points?
Peters: There were actually a lot more highlights than we might even be aware of sometimes. We toured the entire west coast of the US with a self-burned demo at the very beginning of the band, almost before we were able to play the songs ourselves (no joke). Later on we played the two most important scene festivals in the US, did two successful Latin American tours, were successful in Australia and New Zealand and played in Europe with pretty much all the scene bands of any note. The real low point can probably only be described as our inability to always communicate respectfully with each other. Sometimes there were almost unnecessary arguments because of sensitivities. Apart from that we achieved a lot without the support of any businessmen or metal labels with no idea about the scene, who could have helped us with marketing money or booking contacts. We didn't want that. We never wanted to sell ourselves. That's what I'm forever proud of, to have made it this far on our own. Just look at a map, you can't get any further away than New Zealand. And then we played sold out gigs there and not in a pedestrian zone.
eclipsed: As you said, you guys managed to play concerts overseas - be it the US or Australia - in your early years. How did it come to that?
Peters: I tried to establish contacts early on. You have to talk to twenty people, and then the twenty-first is the man who brings you to California. DIY is not the easiest way, but somehow the more honest. In other words: Bands that some ad wants to sell to me as "super authentic", I somehow find to suck at first.
eclipsed: How heavy was the departure of bassist Richard Behrens in 2014, who after all had recorded and produced your albums? He also recorded and produced the last album.
Peters: Richard had just contributed one song to the Samsara back catalogue and was rather important for the community feeling in the band. He was rather the sunny antipole to the sometimes too thoughtful minds of Thomas or Hans and also me. For example, when Richard said "hey come on, let's tour the USA now, because it's great", he convinced everyone.
eclipsed: "One With The Universe" was the "Album of the Month" in eclipsed in 2017. How do you see the album today?
Peters: It's a nice honour for the moment, but in the long run it doesn't mean much to me. I mean, even if you tell me today that the album would be in the TOP 10 of all time for you, I don't know ... a musician makes the music because he has it in him and he needs to get it out. What other people then do with it is not something you can control or in any way exploit for yourself in the long run. It's certainly nice to be noticed, but I can tell you there's so much great music out there that hardly anyone knows and never will, because most people would still rather read about the "miracle guitarist" Jimi Hendrix or other "rock gods" for the twelve thousandth time. Otherwise I find the album like all Samsara albums quite okay, but I don't really listen to it myself.
eclipsed: As singer, lyricist, guitarist and keyboardist in personal union: Were you the boss in the ring?
Peters: In principle yes, unfortunately I never learned to find the balance between main songwriter, (quasi) manager and label owner, and "normal" band colleague. I sometimes lack the empathy to put myself into the minds of my people. That would probably be my biggest mistake in that sense. It really wasn't easy sometimes, but I'm sure you don't go to your boss and question his decisions more and more, do you? So how should you solve this? Handing over tasks after more than ten years of things going really super well? We quite often joked that a band psychiatrist like in Metallica might have been useful. Of course I give Hans and Thomas a lot of credit for the fact that we actually always somehow pulled together despite everything, only - as I said - the rope was getting longer and longer on my end. And not everybody could follow my changes, also concerning the musical. I just don't need a super deep fuzz guitar anymore, underneath which is an even deeper fuzz bass. I find that rather boring.
eclipsed: You started your own label with Electric Magic Records. How did it come about?
Peters: Let's do a little calculation: a normal deal between band and label brings most of the bands between 10-20% of the net income of the meanwhile very small editions of recordings. What a label does for that huge extra 80% is, in my opinion, completely redundant in 2020. Unless you have a mainstream product and you know that you can sell at least 10.000 records to the fans. Our print runs are so small that it just doesn't make sense to sell like that. Even our absolute bestseller "Long Distance Trip" is in principle still below the limit where such ancient music business deals make sense at all. But what should I buy e.g. from a nice review or a music video? Music labels like to adorn themselves with the saying: "We'll do a nice promo for you." On top of that, the absolute majority of most bands' income - especially if they don't tour much - is in the digital business, where anyone who can halfway operate a computer can, with a few clicks of the mouse, have the album ready to be released, distributed worldwide and, in the best case, even promoted. You shouldn't be lazy there.
eclipsed: You've been doing solo work as Surya Kris Peters on the side. Was that a second mainstay that you are continuing now?
Peters: I'm going on with it, sure. The thing with Surya Kris is just 100% fun for me and I really enjoy listening to it. Unfortunately it's completely different with Samsara, where sometimes not only some of the "administrative work" was more than the fun of making music, but where I always find too many things after finishing an album that couldn't be solved better in the short studio time. Now you could ask why I didn't produce Samsara myself, but that's another thing where I unfortunately encountered blockades on the part of my comrades-in-arms.
eclipsed: The inevitable question: Is there a chance that Samsara Blues Experiment will continue at some point?
Peters: I can't say. I connect Samsara somehow with the people who accompanied me there and also with the old songs, which I'm sick of at the moment, just like the old sound. Unfortunately I can't pretend there either. It doesn't make sense just because people think it's a pity and I'm sure you could go on like this for a long time. I think time off is good for everyone. As I said, there's more than enough other good music out there.
eclipsed: Famous last words?
Peters: I would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the past years. Some of you have become almost like dear acquaintances. I guess whoever has read this interview up to this point knows anyway. Life is not always the same. There's so much bullshit going on in the world right now. Don't let it drive you crazy.
*** Interview: Bernd Sievers