An interview with Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really cool, simple back and fourths with lead man, Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment. Christian has been graces enough to share with me the unreleased latest full-length album recording by SBE, End Of Forever. End Of Forever will be released in January 2021. I’ll write a full album review the week of its release. In the meantime, I’d like to share with you a bunch of typed questions and answers between Chris and me.
Let me start by saying – in my humblest opinion, Samsara Blues Experiment is one band that continues to make some of the most relevant music to date. Back in 2017, I wrote a review for their brilliant album One With The Universe (review here). It was also my top album of the year (Mr. Omen’s Top Albums 2017), inside a year where many heavy hitter bands killed it.
I’m not going to lie, after receiving End Of Forever I became somewhat obsessed. Unfortunately, in the last few years I find myself becoming somewhat cynical and heavily critical of the “fuzz” scene. I find myself struggling to find great bands or albums. I feel like I’ve been sifting through a ton of poser, wannabe heavy/doom/stoner genre styles. Maybe it’s because the world has become smaller because of the internet? I’m not exactly sure, but something has been watering down most new music. I’ve been passionately listening to music of all genres since birth (1974), and I’ve been listening to heavier styles since as far back as I can remember.
I’d say in the last few years – it’s rare when a new release gets a hold of me, and into my blood the way End Of Forever has. I’m not saying it’s on the level of One With The Universe, but it’s wonderful and beautiful just the same. End Of Forever has been on constant spin since I’ve received it. Cranking it through my house speakers, my car, and headphones – It’s one hell of a follow-up record. End of Forever is regal and exuberant. It’s a remarkable sonic tapestry, sprinkled with progressive, blues rock, and something totally unique that exists at the apex of varied influences that I find myself hearing within each song. But like I said, I’ll write a full album review in January prior to their album release.
One more thing I want to note, however – Mr. Christian Peters speaks within his truth, and he’s unforgiving about it. (In my opinion) As he should be, in fact, as we all should be. His words are refreshing, they’re his, and they exist during this moment in time. From my perspective, he’s a man on a journey. Grass doesn’t seem to grow under his feet. His wide array of musical ability is something to pay attention to. If we think we’re going to hear the same style from him over and over again, then we’re surely missing the point. Christian Peters is reinventing his music, daily. Regardless of what he thinks about End Of Forever as a finished project (I didn’t ask him, so I can’t speak for him on this), I think it’s one for the ages. When the album plays its last note and fades into nothingness, I’m left wanting more!
A conversation between Mr. Omen and Mr. Christian Peters (CP)
Mr. Omen: On the SBE band website (samsarabluesexperiment.com), you guys let the world know that you are going on an indefinite hiatus. Will you please elaborate on what that means and what that looks like for your future collaboration together?
CP: “Well, to be honest, for myself, this is quite a relief, thirteen years in one band really is a long time and many things have changed throughout the last years. This doesn’t mean I am ungrateful or whatever to all we have accomplished with this band but then the whole situation became just nearly unbearable and that is not what playing in a band should be like. It has never been about fame or money in the first place… we are in a small scene, but when you’re not happy with what you do, it’s time to stop. So for now I will continue to concentrate on my solo-works as Surya Kris Peters, maybe emphasizing more on “traditional songwriting” there, more vocals, and guitar who knows. Hans and Thomas will both go their separate ways with other projects. This break may be easier for me as for them, but then I could not go on with something that didn’t make me happy anymore … it’s a rather difficult topic still.”
Mr. Omen: From what I understand, Hans Eiselt, and Thomas Vedder still reside in Germany and you have moved to Brazil. What brought you to Brazil?
CP: “I kind of fell in love with the country in 2017, and more importantly found a loving wife and family here. I feel quite lucky, yet there’s a lot of work for me here. I feel needed and appreciated. It’s about time for me to settle down for a bit I guess. For someone from “good old” Europe with all its overload on comforts and distraction, it has been a life changing experience to be here from the first day. This new life and this country are full of mystery and wonder. Generally speaking, people here seem a bit more down to earth and full of light and life. I’ve never really felt at home in Berlin anyway.”
Mr. Omen: Former bassist Richard Behrens left the band prior to recording your 2017 masterpiece One With The Universe. However, Richard recorded and mixed One With The Universe, and End Of Forever at Big Snuff Studio in Berlin. Will you please explain how and why this came about?
CP: “Even long after the split from him, Richard is this kind of guy that you can never be mad about for too long. We remained friends with him through good times and bad times since 2008 when we all met. His recording studio is literally just like three doors away from our (ex-) rehearsal room, he knows our music, so things just made sense.”
Mr. Omen: Richard leaving as bassist, transformed SBE from a four-piece into a power trio. Because of this band adjustment, there seems to be a significant transformation in style and sound within the last two records, compared to your earlier ones. What major differences do you experience, while playing and recording in a trio versus a four-piece?
CP: “SBE also started out as a three-piece in 2007, then I felt insecure especially with singing and playing guitar at once, that’s why we took Hans in the band for rhythm guitar support. Later on, I managed much better to deal with vocals, lead guitar, and keyboard stuff and Richard’s departure didn’t “hurt that much” if you know what I mean… I don’t think we changed that much because of that transformation, as rather our tastes have changed, from being that typical kind of “stoner dudes” to becoming more interested in many types of music.”
Mr. Omen: Every single SBE album embodies its own identity. Your commitment to evolve musically is the cornerstone of what makes Samsara Blues Experiment albums so special. Will you provide some of the creative inspiration behind End Of Forever?
CP: “Uff… what to say. Honestly, I have a bit of a problem with this album, apart from the emotional clutter that is attached to it, … Thing is that at least half of its tunes are two to three years old now and I can’t tell a lie, some of them felt old to me after playing them over and over (and over) again. Also, I cannot really give you names of inspiration or anything. To be perfectly honest I don’t even listen much to other people’s music anymore, especially not any similar kind of rock music.”
Mr. Omen: How would you describe the process in which the band wrote the songs for the album? I recognize it’s an ambiguous question, so please answer it any way you like. I’m more interested in the road map towards each song, leading into recording in the studio.
CP: “Tiring perhaps, to be honest with you, it was really that for me. This way of creating music (especially these very unnecessary discussions), rehearsing “until your ears bleed,” recording in a live situation with the whole band… it just feels so outdated to me. There are other ways to make music. It was difficult for me to communicate even how much tired I am of this way to make music. I am 40 years old now, I’ve been playing guitar since 10 and I record music like that in bands (and alone) since 2000. (Just very) lately, I really got into electronic music and as strange as it may sound, it is just so refreshing to see how easily other people make music and still enjoy what they do … while we, in this band, aw man… the discussions, uff.”
Mr. Omen: Would you consider End Of Forever a letter to yourself, or maybe a letter from the band as a whole? What’s the motivating force behind the storytelling of this album?
CP: “Again with all due honesty, I am glad the songs of the album finally have been recorded but to me, it really feels like it was the only choice to stop after that. A motivation was hard to keep up at times. Also, I had been a bit overburdened with other events lately, the passing of loved ones, losing a significant job, living in a city I didn’t like, while rapidly moving towards 40 and being in a long-distance relationship, … with other goals to pursue in life, yet full of aspiration.”
Mr. Omen: There are many examples throughout music history where certain players within bands create music projects completely outside the box – sound/genre they’re none for. Do you find it challenging to evolve musically within the SBE sound/style while creating almost simultaneously within the Surya Kris Peters sound/style?
CP: “After easily recording dozens of albums and EPs with my solo works I found it just strange and very tiring to record that SBE album. It feels so weird and unnecessarily difficult to record by that old, old way: three people in the room, playing these old tunes over and over again. I guess once you have accumulated the skills of a “modern music producer” it’s just a bit like going back from the land of technology to record with some of these “caveman methods.” (LOL) aw man, I don’t know, many methods may lead to a similar goal. I really could have imagined to continue as a band with me living on another continent, but therefore the whole mindset of the band members had to be adjusted thoroughly. First of all everyone in the band could have shared my vision, as it used to be years ago, but now I feel misunderstood and it’s like people putting stones in my way and I can’t have that any longer. There are other ways to write and record songs than going to a rehearsal room twice every week over that long period of three years … other people have managed to do that.”
Mr. Omen: All creative elements of SBE seem to express mindful intentions. With the news surrounding an indefinite hiatus, most of us can read into what the title of the album End Of Forever might suggest. Will you please provide a little insight on the album’s artwork and the possible symbolism behind it?
CP: “End Of Forever” means just that, there has been a time when I was a “little hippie” and happy with SBE and just that … but this time has come to an end. Yet more significant changes surrounded these last two or three years for me, loved ones have passed, I myself once was in a near-death experience, I could not go on pretending things here would still be fine for me. A big change needed to come …”
Mr. Omen: (In order) Rank the following favorite ways to play or create music with others: Live, studio, a small room with your closest friends and family.
CP: “Me alone, without very unnecessary discussions about how often one part should be repeated or not and stuff like that. It doesn’t mean I always prefer solitude to collaboration with other musicians, but the common goal should be to have fun while creating. When things become too stressful something is really wrong.”
Mr. Omen: What band or musician was your most memorable live show experience, and where was it?
CP: “I don’t know man. I’ve seen a lot of bands and performers but most of it was just that kind of short-term entertainment without leaving much of a lasting impression. Then, I was impressed seeing Sanjoy Bandyopadhyay some ten years ago … Imaad Wasif was kinda nice too. Seeing Santana was a good experience that we witnessed as the whole band.”
Mr. Omen: When and where was your favorite SBE live show?
CP: “I can’t decide between San Francisco 2009, and Belo Horizonte in 2017. Both hard to forget, yet very different.”
Mr. Omen: What was the last movie you watched? What book are you currently reading? What album/musician/genre has become your latest go-to?
CP: “I don’t watch many movies or series anymore. I just got an app that provides this kind of book streaming and right now – (LOL) – after hesitating for many years I started to read the Lemmy biography… oh and I also struggle a bit with a book called What Makes You Not a Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse. As I said I really don’t listen to much rock (or popular) music at all. The last thing I did, was made a playlist of childhood favorites by T.Rex … I spend more time making my own music now.”
Mr. Omen: Where do you see yourself one year from now?
CP: “Happy, and hopefully a bit more relaxed (LOL) …”
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