Publication: 12 February 2020
Interviewee: M. DUDA
Interviewer: Tatjana Babić

It has been almost a year since a Polish band Riverside visited Serbia for the second time. Their first visit was in 2013 as part of the New Generation Tour. After their gig in March last year we did not expect them to come back that soon. Luckily, they have surprised us, so all of those who were not fortunate enough to enjoy the beauty of their melodies in Belgrade will get a chance to see and hear them live in Novi Sad. They are returning with the final edition of the Wasteland Tour, promoting their latest, seventh studio album Wasteland.

We had an interview with the main composer, lyrics writer, vocalist and bassist – Mariusz Duda.

BR: In one interview for Tuonela Magazine, you mentioned that during the Balkan tour in 2019 you noticed many different people in the audience, while the audience in France is still an enigma. How does an interaction with people affect the show? Do you still get nervous when 250 people in prog t-shirts are staring at you?

MD: I must say that I’d like Riverside to not be associated only with progressive rock, because I have never set out to compose music only within the boundaries of this genre. I am far from denying our roots as prog is where we come from but, at the same time, I’d like Riverside to play mostly rock music in our own style, and that’s why I’m happy to see people who are listening to different genres of music, not only progressive rock, because that means that Riverside have managed to cross certain boundaries. I’m also happy to see young people as that means we play not only for our peers.

BR: This tour’s official title is Wasteland – With the Sun 2020 and will take place in countries where the sun shines on a regular basis. What are your impressions about the audience in warmer by comparison with the audience in colder parts of the Earth?

MD: Well, there’s no big philosophy to it. The sun makes us produce vitamin D. The more sun, the more vitamin D. The more vitamin D, the fewer problems we have with sleep, appetite, tiredness. In the countries with more sunshine, our audiences are always more smiling and spontaneous. They react more enthusiastically to our music and that feeds back directly to us. Still, I will never say a bad word about our fans, wherever they are, wherever they come from, no matter the temperature and amount of sunshine in their country.

BR: Your latest studio album “Wasteland” has been defined as a transition album, a new chapter in Riverside’s life. It surrounds us with this pure dark atmosphere. What is darker than death?

MD: What is darker than death? I guess only our reactions to it. Some are depressed after the loss of someone important to them, their life becomes meaningless or turns into a true nightmare. Fortunately, there are places where they can find help, there are numbers they can call, stories, films, books, music which help survive the darkest moments in life. I hope that “Wasteland” is one of those albums that might help in times of need.

BR: On November 7th the official video for the song Wasteland was released and once again was done in a collaboration with Tomasz Pulsakowski. It perfectly describes feelings of the album, but it also looks like a post-apocalyptic BBC documentary…

MD: Indeed, “Wasteland” is post-apocalyptic also in its visual side. We have been working together with Tomek Pulsakowski for over 6 years, we understand each other really well and Tomek manages to convey visually my sensitivity both in Riverside and in my solo project, Lunatic Soul. Everything he touches has a level of sophistication and artistic expression that makes me incredibly proud.

BR: If you were offered to write music for a movie or a video game, what kind of a movie/game would you do it for?

MD: I’m afraid it would have to be something truly dark. I’ve always been a fan of dark films and games. Although recently I’ve become more open to warmer shades.

BR: How does Riverside survive in a cruel world of music business?

MD: We still try to be ourselves. We haven’t been swallowed by any large music companies or concert agencies, so, as an independent band, we still control our artistic endeavors according to what’s currently in our hearts and souls, and we stay away from business calculations of all kinds of specialists and producers. We hope that, in spite of being subjected to permanent coaching by Google and Facebook algorithms, people can still find us in the information jungle.

BR: Your lyrics are like a book of philosophy – a listener might find himself seeking answers to very existential questions. If Wasteland is a place of ruin and grief, what or who could light it up or heal the wounded?

MD: Those who care. A small community of people who help each other. People who live the longest in the world don’t live in big, overcrowded, dirty cities but in small villages, in small communities somewhere close to nature. They say somewhere in Okinawa, there is a small town with the largest number of centenarians in the world.
I think it’s incredibly difficult to survive on your own but you have to start somewhere. Or rather, from someone. Love and friendship has nothing to do with cinematic cringe. It truly is the greatest force.

MD: What will be? You mean, what is! We’re all slaves to the few wealthiest companies in the world. Monopolists who tell us how to live, what to wear, eat, how to behave, what words to use in order not to hurt someone. Facebook and Instagram are modern shrines, along with Google, Apple store, Amazon, Netflix… This is our times. It’s an art to keep balance in all of this without completely rejecting it all and moving out to a desert. The desert will come for us sooner or later anyway, when the temperature rises so much that it will start burning us alive. Then, a shrine will be anything green that has still survived, or artificial imitations of something that a few years back was real.

BR: What comes after the apocalypse? Who will survive – only the strongest and fittest or we are all doomed?

MD: The strong and the fit will always survive. They will find their way, no matter the cost, and escape the sinking ship. Some will hide away like cockroaches, and they will succeed too. But most of us are doomed because we will start thinking only when it’s too late. I do hope though that in the coming decade, certain facts and numbers will make us more aware. I truly hope so.

BR: If you had the time machine, what would you change in the history of humankind?

MD: My philosophy is that everything happens for a reason and that applies to past events, too. I don’t know if different decisions made by someone in the past wouldn’t anyway lead to the same results, just in a different time. I think it works similarly on a more personal level, too. Do you remember “The Butterfly Effect” or “Back to the Future 2”? Making changes in the past always brings unexpected consequences in the future so it’s better not to do it.

BR: What did you use to hide from under your bed when you were a kid? What are your greatest fears now?

MD: On Lunatic Soul album “Fractured”, there’s a track called “Crumbling Teeth and the Owl Eyes”. These are my fears. I used to be scared of dreams in which my teeth were falling out or huge owl eyes were stuck to the window. These days I’m more afraid of diseases, of a premature cataclysm and of the possibility that one day I might stop wanting to create music.

BR: To many people, Riverside is a band that brings the sun to a sometimes homogeneous scene and is able to constantly surprise us with something new, so – what might come after Wasteland?

MD: It’s time for stories about people who live in overcrowded cities. These will surely be accompanied by heavier and more intense music. After coming back from our spring tour, we’re going to compose the new material. Who knows, perhaps in Novi Sad we will present a new idea on stage? See you soon!