Interview with Mariusz Duda of Riverside and Lunatic Soul after a gig in a Bulgaria Concert Hall, Sofia
The show was great, thank you so much! How did you like the venue?
Mariusz: It was much better than the previous one where we played last year. This is a very similar venue to some venues we have in Poland – you know, with a great acoustic and everything. I heard that we’re the second rock band playing here – Anathema played last year. So that’s a big honor for us that we could play in that kind of place. Very, very, very nice.
Did you like the audience?
Mariusz: I couldn’t…you know, don’t like them. They were standing all the time in spite of the fact that there’s a lot of chairs here. That means that they’re very…with their heart open and their mind open. I adore your audience. They’re fantastic. They were very loud, they were singing and I felt that they really enjoyed our show and they really wanted to see us so it’s great. You’re one of the best. Seriously. We adore playing in brand new places. Like yesterday, we played in Romania for the first time, people were also very enthusiastic. That’s very cool. I don’t know why we played all the time in the West of Europe, we should come to the East more often. Greece, Turkey, the people are crazy! Amazing.
What inspires you? Do you think that gathering ideas is like catching a big fish, as David Lynch puts it?
Mariusz (smiles): You know, when you have the main idea what you want to talk about, then later you’re just waiting for the spark. Sometimes it comes suddenly, out of nowhere, sometimes you have to work on it, but when the spark appears, what happens later is just the normal flowing. Our ideas are first from the main subject and later after the spark…the flow, just the flow. The spark sometimes appears in different, totally different moments.
Mariusz: You know, when you’re just watching, reading, thinking, seeing something and you’re just… ”Yeah, that’s it!” I think that’s just the normal way for everybody just trying to do stuff from nothing. Create. I always have to have the idea. For instance, when I had the idea for my solo project Lunatic Soul about all those dead people… And the spark appeared the moment that I saw some nice, I remember, pictures… pictures of dead people, you know. Old photography of dead people from the beginning of the 20th century. Did you see the movie “The Others” with Nicole Kidman? If you remember this picture, she found a picture of three people. They slept. It was one of the most beautiful photography I’ve seen, very amazing and a little scary. And I remember that when I saw these pictures, I decided to do 3 or 4 tracks.
Yeah, I think I can relate Summerland to The Others.
Mariusz: No, it wasn’t Summerland. As far as I remember, it was something like Near Life Experience. And Summerland was more connected to those images: black procession and it’s raining…
Was it a real funeral?
Mariusz: My very close friend, maybe not a friend but someone from the family had this near death experience. That was the main reason why I created Lunatic Soul – I wanted to check this subject, you know, about your soul wondering somewhere…
Have you ever had such experiences? You describe it quite well.
Mariusz: No, me not. I just asked some questions and I received some answers. It’s very intimate music. Very close to the listener. That’s why it touches some very personal stuff.
Do you separate your ideas, like: this is a Riverside tune and this is a Lunatic Soul tune?
Mariusz: Mostly yes. And I try to remember that in Riverside I’m not the main composer, I’m just a par of the mechanism. I’m like someone who just gathers ideas from different people, so I can combine them in one piece. In Lunatic Soul I can do everything by myself. In Riverside in some parts also too but I still don’t want to forget about the character of everyone because I think the strength of Riverside is that all instruments in music are very important. There’s nothing like one leader and the rest. Every one of us is more or less on the same music level and everyone has a very characteristic style of playing on his own instrument which is very cool and I would like to keep it.
What are the main differences between Lunatic Soul and Riverside?
Mariusz: First of all I think that Riverside is much more a rock band so all those ideas that I wanted to connect with rock music – some very specific rock music – rock, metal, mellow stuff together. And Lunatic Soul is more experimental and alternative I think. Everything is based on the groove, on the rhythm, on the trance, they are very simple songs but they are building atmosphere… I Riverside we have also the same but the songs there are more colorful. Lunatic Soul is colder, more black and white. Riverside is more full of color, more melancholic in a different way. So when I have an idea, I think: if this is in that kind of color I’m taking it to Riverside and if it’s in this kind of color I’m taking it to Lunatic Soul.
You see your sounds in colors?
Mariusz: Yes, I guess so.
Actually… The pictures you saw in “The Others”, they’re black and white…
Mariusz: Yeah, right.
So what’s next on Lunatic Soul?
Mariusz: There will be some bonuses that we’re planning to do with KScope – some kind of a limited edition with instrumental tracks that didn't find a place on the main two albums. Probably September we will have a new release which will be called Lunatic Soul Impressions.
I think all Bulgarian fans have one nagging question: What’s up with Poland? Does the government put some magic substance in your water? Poland has become a synonym of great metal, rock, prog music, you name it… There’s no bad band in Poland.
Мariusz: Oh, I think there’s a lot of crappy bands in Poland. But yeah, I agree that something happened. Maybe in some part it happened also because of us. Because so far Poland was quite well known for it’s metal music: Vader, Behemoth, Decapitated. And we were the first rock band that makes some kind of ambitious music: post-progressive, progressive… And we started to work hard on that. And we started to play tours abroad. And after that a lot of bands in Poland believed that if we can, they can to. Maybe we were an inspiration for some people, maybe we were the proof that you can make it without blabbling all the time…that, you know, we have bad conditions and everything is so bad… C’mon, stop blabbling, just pull yourself together and do something! But we’re a very specific market I think and we’re very open to the ambitious music right now. Because on TV we have a lot of crappy bullshit. And you need a different side of that. So a lot of people are just choosing this alternative side of music. I think it’s much better.
September is Riverside’s 10th anniversary, how would you describe those 10 years?
Mariusz (bites off a piece of his Mars bar): I’m sorry… I think during those 10 years we had some bright moments and some very crappy moments. And I think the shiny parts were those days when we had just signed the contract with InsideOut, when we released the Second Life Syndrome or when we went to tour with Dream Theater. And those crappy moments probably were some shows that we played. At the beginning we would play for, I don’t know, sometimes 10 people somewhere in the middle of deep black whole, you know… But this was just the beginning so we had to do this. And some festivals we shouldn’t have played also. Anyway, we’re still alive…let’s hope for another 10 years…
Mariusz: Yeah, you think we’re kicking?
Hell yeah! So we know that the first three Riverside albums were a trilogy but I read in some interviews that it’s not the exact order. Which one should be the first track?
Mariusz: I’m still waiting for the moment that I’ll have free time and I will sit and try to explain much more about this trilogy. So far it’s a very open subject. Most of all it’s the story about someone who probably was a schizophrenic. Of course, I wrote it in a way that there was a lot interpretation, there was a lot of space for your own interpretation. But my interpretation is that some day, some time someone wakes up and realizes he killed someone. Probably he killed his girlfriend or very close friend or second part…maybe it’s not a he but a she… But anyway, he did a terrible thing. And the shock was so big that he decided to start living in his own mind. To push this away… To push away this terrible thing that happened, right? And he couldn’t believe that he could do this. So he created this person in his mind.
Is this “Conceiving You”?
Мariusz: No, the beginning of the story is Parasomnia. (sings) It’s “lying here on the floor, starting to come around…” And after that when you have these words in “Ultimate Trip” – and now you will be my soul mate, I’m going to make you up again… So he’s going to make up someone else and later in the part of “Out of Myself” they’re just fighting with each other, living just like normal people. So they split up and in Second Life Syndrome he’s learning how to live without this person but later he’s trying to go back to this. So the first part of Rapid Eye Movement brings back to the beginning of the story. It’s some kind of circle. So, if we want to split it, it’s a little bit like Pulp Fiction, the movie. If you split Rapid Eye Movement because it has two parts – Fearless and Fearland – and you start from Parasomnia, later you have those tracks from Rapid Eye Movement, Out of Myself, Second Life Syndrome and the first part of Rapid Eye Movement. I think this is the correct line of the script.
But it’s not autobiographical?
Mariusz: No, no, there are some moments of course but I would lie if I said that everything is my own experience. In some parts – yes.
So what’s next?
Mariusz: The new album will be released next year. And I think I will think of something connected with the end of the world. 2012, right? We will see… Maybe some kind of post-apocalyptic mood. I always wanted to do this.
There’s a lot of great books and movies on the topic.
Mariusz: Yes, Mad Max, Waterworld. And games: Fallout, for instance. Right now I’m reading Cormack McCarty – The Road.
Do you have any favorite literature authors?
Mariusz: Yeah, I have. In the past I read a lot of Jonathan Carroll, some Polish authors. And now I think I’m a huge fan or Haruki Murakami. He’s like David Lynch in a different way. You’re writing a book, nothing’s happening in this book, but you’re writing a novel, a thriller. It’s amazing. Later, in the end, it means that you’ve just read about 500 hundred pages and nothing happened! (laughs) But the language is the most important in those books. And I adore this language, I love it.
Yeah, you like to play with language. On Lunatic Soul: Near Life Experience, I’m scared to life,…
Mariusz: Yes. Asoulum.
You like David Lynch too?
Mariusz: Yes, I love him. But I’m not sure about his last movie – Inland Empire. Anyway, I liked it because there were a lot of Polish actors in it and it was shot in Łódź in Poland.
Have you read his book оn transcendental meditation?
Mariusz: Yes, I’ve read it and I also have with me on this tour the movie “David Wants to Fly”, but I haven’t seen it yet.
Tell me about the last album. Is it a criticism of our hectic attention deficit lives or is it some kind of confession?
Мariusz: In some way maybe yes… Especially in Hybrid Times there is the criticism. But mostly it was based on the idea that sometimes you really need to slow down to realize some things. These days we’re in a hurry all the time, we’re running all the time, that we don’t even have an idea what’s going on around us and it’s very sad. One day we just I was saying to Grudziń for instance: “Man, did you know that in two days I will be 36 years old! How did it happen?! How fast!”
Mariusz: Time flies, exactly. So I think I wanted to take some pictures of the reality I’m in and write it in my way. I like this idea – to write the lyrics in a way so I can take the things with the open mind, with the flying heart and soul, I would just take them to Lunatic Soul. And with Riverside I would like to focus on the things that are going on right now. And I just started this with Anno Domini High Definition and I would like to continue it.
Why High Definition?
Mariusz: It was another game of words. I wanted to connect the symbol of our times – this TV with High Definition and Blue Ray (that’s why I said “the tortured porn on the Red Roy disc”, Red Roy meant Blue Ray, but I didn’t do advertisement for them) – with the other symbol of our times – ADHD. The attention deficit disorder which became a very, very, very famous disorder for everybody – everyone is sick now and have this ADHD. It was really funny because I also have some kind of conditions like that, so I just wanted to put those things together. So when you have Anno Domini High Definition and then you have ADHD.
Do you have an idea about the topic of the third Lunatic Soul album?
Mariusz: I think it will be connected with a totally different thing than living after death, but I’m not sure what yet. Maybe I will fly over the cuckoo nest, we’ll see. This is my thing, you know, this is my cup of tea. I love that kind of literature, movies and everything. All those dark things connected with death and being crazy. And some personal problems with your own mind. This is so cool, I would like to continue this.
This is a very personal question but have you ever felt like you’re going insane?
Mariusz: Yeah, some lyrics are very personal on Lunatic Soul. But I’m not using drugs. It’s OK without that. I can take care of my music without this.
It’s amazing that you’re pulling it off without any drugs.
Mariusz: I don’t need drugs to be crazy, you know!