In 2007, Samsara shook the foundations of Australian hardcore with their colossal debut album ‘The Emptiness‘. Three years and two new members later, Samsara is back with their new sophomore LP ‘Instinct Over Influence‘ and a handful of shows around Australia with Newcastle’s Dropsaw. We had a chat with the band’s bass player Brett and asked him a couple of questions.
To start things off tell us your name, what you do in Samsara, and what footy team you follow?
Brett – I play bass and supported the Essendon Bombers when I was growing up, but don’t really follow Football much at all these days, and try and avoid it where I can. Sorry, looks like you got the wrong guy for a footy question!
Your latest effort ‘Instinct Over Influence’ has just been released. Do you think you’ve managed to top your previous album ‘The Emptiness’, despite the fact it is undoubtedly one of the heaviest Australian hardcore records of all time?
Ha. Thanks for that, but there are plenty of other good ones I would put on that list too. I don’t think we set out to ‘top’ the last album, but more just wanted to continue writing what we had previously but at the same time expanding further on it. The final version of the album came together really quickly in the last few months prior to recording after the band had spent a lot of time before that with it not really taking shape at all, mainly due to the focus not being there due to all the changes within the band.
So, given where we were at 6 or even 12 months ago, we are all really happy with the album now it has come out. The songs are still really heavy, but we’ve added a lot of other elements which really give more dimension than The Emptiness. Having worked with Kurt before, we also knew how to get the best out of each other which really takes the sound to another level.
Last year you lost vocalist Luke Bainbridge and drummer Tim Shearman, how have Nick and Mat filled the void? Have you found the band has improved with the addition of new members?
The guys have really reinvigorated the band. Any time there are line-up changes for a band it can either be the kiss of death or a new beginning, and thankfully we fell into the latter one. They are both really easy to work with and actually brought quite a lot to the writing process which was great.
Plus as the ‘new guys’ we have made them give each of us all a foot rub after every jam and I know I personally am really enjoying that. I go home like I’m walking on clouds!
Who writes the riffs in Samsara? Is there any particular process that the band follows when writing a song?
Brad is definitely the riff guy, and I don’t think I have worked with anyone who writes as many good riffs, or comes up with them as quickly as he does. He does also write a lot of crap too, which is the main reason he keeps us around to tell him that it sucks, otherwise the band would be some wacky bald solo project!
The general process is Brad brings one or two main riffs for a song idea which we jam on, and then it flows on from there. Occasionally someone else will bring an idea, riffs or even whole songs into the mix as well, and once we have a rough skeleton of a song, we spend quite a bit of time refining it as a band together.
You’re about to kick off a tour with label mates Dropsaw, what are you looking forward to most about
playing these shows?
For us it has been a really long time since we have done a run of shows like this, so I am really looking forward to getting out there and playing a heap of shows all over the place, and seeing what people think of the new songs. We haven’t played in QLD or WA for a long time so the guys are especially looking forward to those ones.
Do you prefer to play primarily new material live, or can listeners expect to hear some old stuff on the upcoming tour?
We’ll definitely continue to play some of the old songs on the tour and I can’t really see that changing any time soon, but we’re really excited to be adding a bunch of the new ones into the mix though to give people a listen.
With members of Within Blood, Shotpointblank and Mindsnare, there’s no real surprise as to what
influences Samsara. Are there any bands that influence you that we wouldn’t expect?
Most of us listen to a lot of really diverse stuff which has really helped us evolve musically. I know Brad has added more Black Metal riffs into some of the songs on this album, and there are some D-Beat sounding fast parts in there as well. The instrumental song ‘The Divide’ is probably the biggest indication that there is some variety in what we’re into as that to me brings elements of Paradise Lost and bands like that.
Some other stuff that I know the guys have been listening to are bands like EA, Katatonia, blackmetal bands like Alcest, Lifelover, Negura Bunget, Coldworld (Germany) etc
Is there a particular message that you are trying to convey through Samsara?
That question would be best answered by Nick, but my two second take on a continuing theme if there is one, is that the world is full of fucked up people who do fucked up things, and like everyone else, we are just trying to make sense of it all to make our own lives less fucked. That’s probably not the G Rated version but you get the gist!
How do you feel about the hardcore scene in Melbourne right now? What bands should we be looking out for?
I’d like to extend it to include Punk/Hardcore as one band that I am really siked on at the moment is ‘Anchors’, who have a much more punk influenced sound and put on an awesome show. ‘Warbrain’ are also playing a lot of really great shows at the moment and ‘In Trenches’ have just started playing shows again which is great too.
They aren’t from Melbourne, but I am loving ‘The Weight’ from Adelaide now too. One of my favourite current Aussie bands right now.
What is your favourite venue in Australia for hardcore shows?
I think we definitely need more, good inner city All Ages venues in Melbourne, as I have always felt that these are vital to future of this music and I always love playing a good all ages show so it sucks that we don’t have a current one that has much going on consistently for me to mention.
Outside of this, I would have to say the Arthouse and it will be a sad day when it finally closes next year. It is always fun to play, and has been a huge part of Melbourne Punk/Hardcore for a long time so I do have a soft spot for it. The up side to it is that there are going to be some amazing shows there in the next 12 months, so it should hopefully get the send off it truly deserves.
What are your top five records of all time?
In no specific order:
From Ashes Rise – Nightmares
Earth Crisis – Gomorrah’s Season Ends
Carcass – Heartwork
Seu Jorge – Life Aquatic Soundtrack (Bowie songs on acoustic guitar in Portuguese! Awesome!)
Inside Out – No Spiritual Surrender
How has your experience with Trial & Error Records been?
Yeah good, we don’t expect a lot and Nigel delivers!
He is really easy to work with and takes a lot of the tedious elements of releasing/distributing an album off our hands which I don’t think any of us mind at all. Most of us have all known Nigel for a long time, so it’s a pretty comfortable relationship and we are just happy to work with someone who isn’t likely to rip us off!
Thanks for your time, do you have anything else you want to add?
Nope, people say I talk way too much as it is!