One in 5,000: Guitarist Brendan Sandhovel and His Band Samsara

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For Francis Lewis High School senior Brendan Sandhovel, the sounds of guitars, drums, and bass are part of daily life. Starting with guitar lessons in the 8th grade, Sandhovel now writes songs and plays in a band called Samsara

“I started Samsara the summer of my sophomore year when I was about 16 years old,” said Sandhovel. “I’ve been playing with them ever since.” 

Sandhovel creates mostly alternative rock music, a mix of grunge from the 90’s, and alternative rock bands commonly heard on the radio. As he grew up, many bands inspired him to create the type of music that he plays today.

“One of the first bands I started listening to was Queen,” Sandhovel said. “I just love their music. I still do till this day. But when I really started really progressing with guitar, I was listening to bands like Metallica.”

When writing his band’s songs, he said that inspiration comes from anywhere at any time.

“For writing music, honestly, it just comes to you,” Sandhovel said. “You’d be surprised how often it comes to you when you’re not even looking to write a song. I wrote one of our songs while the rest of the band was rehearsing a song at the top of their lungs. I was just humming something in my head and I ended up grabbing a guitar and just making a song out of it.”

He and his band write a guitar line or a bass line and base the rest of the song around it, forming a firm structure and a catchy chorus to capture their audience’s attention. They go to a studio to record their songs, but they sometimes implement music software platforms to record and to mix their songs from the comfort of their homes.

“As for recording, we all just get our parts down to the nuzzle,” Sandhovel said. “We can play it effortlessly. I set up a microphone in front of my amp and I just play. I play right into Logic [a music software platform] and we usually send all of our parts to one person. They put it all together and we work off from there.”

He and his members mainly promote their music on social media, including Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, and tell their friends to post about it. Sandhovel said they also email their music to radio stations. The outreach worked: one of the stations featured their song on the radio.

“We view our social media as our resume,” Sandhovel said. “Especially at the beginning, when we didn’t have music out, we would say, ‘Hey here’s our Instagram. This is us. This is our live videos, pictures of us, our whole look, our sound, everything.”

Sandhovel’s family also supports him and his endeavors in music.

“I’ve gotten a pretty good amount of support – it’s definitely from my family,” he said. “I come from a father who’s a very experienced musician, so you always get support from there. My mother and my sister always take me to rehearsals and shows.”

His friends at school also support him, by promoting and listening to his songs when he and his band release them.

“There’s not a lot of kids that are in bands at Francis Lewis, I don’t believe, so it’s definitely something odd seeing another kid playing like an instrument in a band and getting music out,” Sandhovel said. “I’m not saying it’s never been done before and there are not other kids who do it, but it’s definitely something that’s a little bit more odd, a little more uncommon. Nevertheless, we get a lot of support.” 

As for balancing rock with school and academics, he sometimes struggles to find a balance between the two.

“I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it’s not easy,” Sandhovel said. “I’ve had to postpone my school work and stay up till 5 a.m. to go to rehearsal. I’ve had to really cram assignments just so I could get to a rehearsal or to a show, so it’s definitely a challenge sometimes.”

Despite such stress, he loves creating and performing music with his band but does not want to make being a musician his career.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love music, but I definitely have other things I want to be doing with my life,” Sandhovel said. “I want to study computer science. I just don’t want to be a musician.”

Despite that, Sandhovel said will continue to stay in his band, play guitar, and release music as it’s his creative passion and source of enjoyment. 

“I’m 100% gonna keep playing for the rest of my life,” he said. “I just love playing. It’s not a grind to pick up the guitar and learn a song. I find it fun.”