Read what happened when music editor, Josh Gray, caught up with one of Exeter’s finest bands Sankara to talk about their recent Battle of the Bands triumph, highlights from their time at Exeter and future plans as the band’s members look to go their separate ways.
I’m here with the band Sanskara, recent winners of Campus Bands’ ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition. You guys have been a feature of the Exeter scene for some time now, but how would you describe yourself to someone who hadn’t heard of you?
Vivek: Basically a mix of at atmospheric post-rock, but with a lot of prog bits and a lot of post-hardcore as well. A mix of all of that, just something very atmospheric really.
Chris: We all listen to different stuff and we all mix it together. I mean me and Maroo are really into prog, and Viv and I are in the hardcore band Exit Wounds so there’s that influence there as well. Jeff’s into all kinds of shredders
Jeff: I sure am!
V: Jeff’s into a lot of instrumental guitar playing as well, and a lot of prog; and that really reflects in what he plays. Through a background in instrumental playing you get a lot of sound into bands with vocalists as well, and that really comes out and Jeff tries to make it unique.
C: We’re guitar first really, then Maroo and I will write something and put it together. It ends up sounding atmospheric and heavy; not so heavy it’ll scare you all away, but heavy enough to start a pit as we found out on Monday.
Did you see your victory at the Battle of the Bands as the reward for the amount of work you’ve put in?
V: Jeff and I have been here since the very start two years ago, and that was probably our best show. I think I’d probably say that was the best show I’ve ever played in my life. It was incredible, just seeing everyone singing and everyone jumping around and dancing and everything, even having an insane mosh pit which one of our bandmates from Exit Wounds started. It was very rewarding
If you hadn’t won who would you have liked to see win?
(Laughter) J: There’s definitely no bias!
C: Of course Exit Wounds, our other band, would have loved to have won it. But realistically a hardcore band were never going to win a popular music competition, but the fact they were in the final was great. To The Woods played really well on the night we thought, out of the bands we played with they scared us most
Will: Yeah, cause after they went on we were like if they were to win then we’d be fine…
J: (Interrupts) They had onesies!
V: They had a lot of fans there and we were actually feeling quite nervous. At least Maroo, Jeff and I had a kind of déjà vu second, because we were in the finals last year and we were arguably the best band. At least some members, I won’t say who, in some other bands came up to us and told us we should have won, so yeah we were feeling kind of déjà vu like. Some of our equipment wasn’t working before the show and we had the same problems last year, and then To The Woods really brought it and we were scared for a little bit. But we just thought ‘okay, you know what? This is our moment, so we just have to go out there and destroy it’.
W: We just thought we should go for it and see what happens. I think we were just all on top game and ready for it.
V: I think we just wanted it more than anyone because we really wanted the recording time to be able to at least do an E.P. before we call it a day.
So the reward was the chance to record a 3-track E.P. in a professional recording studio.
C: I think it will be at least 3 tracks, we’ll get three tracks done then we might extend it and get some more of our old songs done. We’re still talking about it
And when can people hope to hear that?
J: July sometime?
V: Yeah, sometime in the summer
And what songs will be on it? Which are you proudest of?
V: That’s a really tough question because we’ve got so many great songs from last year and a bunch of amazing new songs. Like, even one we wrote two weeks ago was just incredible when we played it the other day. It’ll be a tough one
C: A lot of thought goes into it, I mean there are two or three that we think are real candidates for it and a few on the side that might creep onto it
W: We probably all have our own favourites as well. I mean I know which ones I want to do, but then you guys are probably like ‘I wanna do these ones’ sooo…
J: Whichever one has my solo in it
W: Every song’s my solo, being a singer is great.
Are you guys going to have time to do many gigs in third term as well as recording?
J: We’ll do what we can get
Maroo: We’ve got some things in the planning stages for the Cavern, so hopefully that’ll be great
W: It’d be nice to do a gig where we just go ‘This is our last gig’.
V: Keep your eyes peeled because we’re trying to organise, well I guess I should keep this secret, but we’re heading up a gig at the Cavern at the end of May. We’re also trying to get some festivals at the end of June. But the best thing to do is just keep up with our facebook page www.facebook.com/sanskara.music and we’ll update everything there.
What festivals would you like to play at?
W: Glastonbury would be great wouldn’t it?
V: I’m sure everyone has their own preferences for festivals as well, because I’d go for Download. But yeah I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’re just happy to play gigs and go mental live to be honest
W: It’s nice when there are people there who actually appreciate it.
C: Yeah we’ve been really lucky in that respect
Since most of you are in your final year Sanskara will soon be coming to an end. What have been the highlights of your time in Exeter?
M: Definitely the Battle of the Bands.
C: Yeah, Battle of the Bands was pretty good. Pretty much every night of that was even madder than the one before
And has your music evolved over the last few years?
C: Well I’ve only been around since September so you’ll have to ask these guys (motions towards Viv, Jeff and Maroo).
J: I suppose it was mostly sort of a classic rock thing in the beginning, but it’s turned into this lovechild of different genres.
C: It’s turned into a monster
V: It wasn’t really classic rock but it was kind of a mix of other stuff with classic rock. You can hear on our track The Hollow Laugh, which is on our SoundCloud as a demo, it’s very classic rocky at the opening with this epic Slash-like solo from Jeff. It blows your mind but it’s not really us anymore; we actually changed it around a lot so the song we play live is not the same as the song on the recording anymore because we’ve kind of grown into this mix of atmospheric rock, which comes from Jeff, and post-hardcore, which comes from me.
If you could relive it all again would you do anything differently at all?
C: Well given what’s happened in the last month or so I’d say no.
V: I think maybe we wish that we had recorded stuff earlier? But besides that I think, for me personally, this has been the best band I’ve been in my whole life and probably will be for the rest of my life.
J: It was better when I was in Metallica but… (laughter relieves the heightened emotional tension)
One final question: what are your musical plans for the future when you all go off?
C: I’m in another band as well that formed out of a progressive metal band but it’s now an 80s cover band. And yeah, we do play gigs so I’ll do that and then I’m moving off to Austria for a year, so there won’t be anything too serious for me next year. I don’t know what the other guys are doing.
W: Well I’m staying here for another two years. I do a lot of acoustic stuff which is how the other guys found me through doing an acoustic gig for Campus Bands. So I might just continue with that and maybe start a band for fun rather than anything serious, as I doubt I’m going to find something like this
J: Yes you will!
So that was Sanskara giving what might well be their last interview. See them while you can…
Josh Gray, Music Editorbookmark me