(Austin Weber introduces our premiere of a new single by Montreal’s Samskaras.)
While song premieres at No Clean Singing are typically introduced with an article discussing the band and dissecting the song, I decided with today’s exclusive premiere of “Red Hill”, by two-man Montreal-based death metal act Samskaras, to do a short interview with band member Eric Burnet instead. Eric writes the music, plays guitar and bass, and performs vocals as the core member of Samskaras, and he is also a member of the well-known and justly praised technical death metal band Derelict (and if you don’t know about Derelict, listen here). In Samskaras he is joined by Unhuman drummer Alexandre Dupras.
What led you to create this project and what do you seek to achieve with it?
My main project for the majority of the last decade has been the tech death band Derelict. Inspiration and energy was running low after several tours and a lot of years of constant activity, so we decided to put it on ice for an indefinite period. This opened me up time-wise to other projects, so I immediately hatched the idea of starting Samskaras with whatever material I was writing. Since Derelict has its own specific sound, I had been writing in that vein for a long time. So with Samskaras my goal is really just to let my ideas flow and see what they become. No need for a pre-determined genre tag.
What are your plans for the band after the release of today’s second standalone single?
As “Red Hill” comes out and we move into promoting it, we’re going to return to writing mode and work on a four-song EP. That should happen over the course of the next year, depending on other projects and how life plays out. Once that’s ready, we should have enough material for a few live shows, so we might put together a live lineup and get on stage. We’ll see when we get there!
How did you join forces with Alexandre Dupras (Unhuman, Teramobil) and how involved is he in the songwriting process for Samskaras?
I met Alexandre when my PR company was working for his band Teramobil, and I of course had seen him live many times in the Montreal scene. He’s a great dude and we get along well. I was aware that he writes sort of organically, feel-first, and that’s what I’m going for with this project. He was totally into it when I sent him the demos. I write all the music and lyrics, but Alex is free to do whatever he wants on drums. I provide a guide track with my demos that shows more or less where blasts or various kinds of parts could go, generally, but the whole point of having him with me is to add a dimension I could never come up with myself.
Can you tell us a bit more as to what was the impetus for crafting the song and lyric video we are premiering today? The lyrics and story behind it are quite atypical for metal.
“Red Hill” is about one of my real ancestors. He was born to a homeless mother, one the suffering many during the industrial revolution in England. He was more or less saved by a philanthropic organization running a school called the Red Hill Reformatory (his other possible path being rotting in jail). They taught the kids trades and let them choose a British colony to go start their lives in. My ancestor chose Canada, and so that branch of my family was founded here. To me it’s a story that shows how each human being has potential and greatness in them so long as they are given an equal chance.
Overall, I’m trying to write lyrics that contain some hope and light. It’s possible to look at the darkness of a situation and write a heavy song, but there is a lot of power and triumph in finding the strength to overcome something negative. I think metal is more about that than this wallowing in “evil” and “filth” that a lot of bands have come to do. I’m not really into pretending I’m evil or talking about gore. There is so much real passion, energy, and adventure even in our everyday lives. It’s just about finding a way to talk about it that works with the genre.
With a name that echoes eastern philosophical ideas, do your personal beliefs align with Hinduism/Buddhism/Eastern philosophy? If so, I don’t think I’ve heard too many Eastern-religion-influenced metal acts. Or are such ideas merely a thing of interest to you rather than a spiritual code?
I’ve turned to Buddhist philosophy and yoga a lot in the last few years to help me overcome some of my personal challenges. What I really like about it is that a lot of Buddhist writers present their ideas in a secular way first. You don’t have to believe in any magical or metaphysical elements to gain the wisdom they offer. This is of course true of most religions, but I found the Christianity I was brought up with as a young kid was always first and foremost packaged in worship and believing in miracles, before getting down to the simple caring and awareness stuff. That’s just my impression though, I suppose.
As far as having a spiritual code, I make my own from the elements of things I come across by asking, “what ideas make me happier as a person, and more in harmony with those around me as a being?” We can and should all make our own codes. No shepherd needed.
The band name is a pluralization of the word “samskara”, which is meant to represent an imprint or an echo on a mind or heart, left over by our actions and experiences. Since I’m trying to dig deep and write about personal and real things with these songs, I figured each track is like a samskara for me.
As far as other bands inspired by eastern philosophy and religion, check out the newest Gorguts album. It’s all about the philosophy and recent history of Tibetan Buddhism!
“Red Hill” is available on Bandcamp via the first link below, along with the band’s previous single “Consecrate”. “Consecrate” is available on iTunes now, and “Red Hill” will be eventually. And now, here’s Samskaras‘ official lyric video of “Red Hill”;