The following interview was conducted with Riverside by email. Although the arrangements for the interview were made during progpower it took some time to get the interview going (from both sides). Within a week Riverside will start their first European tour and we could think of no better time to publish the interview.
By now we all know that your album really hit a "soft spot" with progressive rock lovers. Did you expect it to be this big?
When we composed "Out Of Myself," we knew that the album might appeal to people. But we never expected that it would be so successful or that it would appeal to both, those in love with progressive rock of the 70s, and those who don't listen to progressive rock at all. We couldn't have imagined a better way to start.
Do you have any explanation for this popularity?
Honesty and emotions. You can hear it. If an artist is happy with creating music, then the receivers have the same pleasure while they listen to it. It's really important. That's why some of the albums sound very fresh and others seem to be forced. For us, composing and recording of "Out Of Myself" was an incredible adventure. We made the music with smiles on our faces. I think you can hear it and this is what makes people warm to that album.
There are many good prog bands from Poland (Collage, Quidam, Abraxas, Sattelite, etc.)Do you feel like somehow they paved the way for you?
They showed us the way in a sense; which direction not to take in order to avoid being lumped together under one label. I'd prefer not to be associated with the bands you mentioned. Riverside is a different approach, a different generation (laughs). Most of all, we play a bit heavier. We're a different story, but I know that this "story" will only gain more meaning after we have released our second, third album. It may be a daring thing to say but I can't help there being huge ambitions to create something more than just sounds evocative of the times of Genesis or Marillion. You know, I've always wanted to create my own music. Music that might one day be inspiring for someone else. I believe that such approach changes the way you compose – you start thinking in a "broader" way, you're looking for original solutions, you're only satisfied with very good compositions…
“Out Of Myself' was first released by Sony Poland. I read on your website that you were about to sign with Galileo Records but decided to sign with laser's edge. Can you elaborate on how this came to be (who contacted who, what got them interested, etc.)?
We decided to release "Out Of Myself" first in Poland and then abroad. In Poland, we didn't know who to turn to, how to go about it, that's why we wanted to keep these two separated (Poland/the rest of the world). We have signed a contract for distribution with Sony Music Poland and we took care of the promotion ourselves. Then we sent our album to many labels abroad. Galileo Records responded, they were interested and we didn't have much of a choice. So they sent us a contract and we were about to sign it when we heard from Laser's Edge, who offered us much better terms.
Plans for the european tour are taking shape. Can you describe your complete schedule and thoughts on that schedule? Canceling Nearfest must have been a real bummer. Is Laser's Edge pushing you to tour the USA? Is there a change then that the visa problems will get solved?
Unfortunately, we're not going to perform at this year's Nearfest as some factors on which we had no influence got the upper hand over the possibilities of going there. I think problems with visas will exist until some people stop thinking that everyone in Poland wants to migrate from the country on any pretext. Anyway, we have a standing invitation, and I hope we manage to get there one day. Everything will happen in due course. Now, we're going to visit our European fans and we're really looking forward to it. Our European tour starts in mid April and we're visiting Holland, Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland. Not only is there no need for the visas this time, but we don't need our passports either (laughs).
Judging from your album, you all are experienced musician but I cannot find a famous band name in any of your histories. Could you please describe your 'previous bands' and maybe why they ended.
In the previous bands Mittloff played death metal, Grudzien played some strange rock-metal sounds and I played anything and everything, including progressive rock. So, before Riverside, every one of us had some musical experience. Only Michal, who joined us after the Polish release of "Out Of Myself," is getting his musical experience of playing in a band with us, in Riverside. Why had all that ended? Well, it was time to grow up and take to playing music seriously (laughs).
Your album has been re-recorded for Laser Edge and at the same time new artwork was created. Which of the 2 (artwork) do you like best and why?
I like both and I am emotionally attached to both Pjepshysh's and Travis's version.
Can you tell something more about the lyrics and the title of the album?
The lyrics on "Out Of Myself" are telling a story about the way to your inner peace, about the way to understand yourself and your own needs. There is a reference to a relationship with another person in every song. The lyrical subject in "The Same River" is this other person, then, from "Out Of Myself" to the end, the hero is someone who gradually loses faith, runs away, hurts others, which also hurts him, and which he feels guilty of. Then he shuts himself away and by doing so, he finds his peace and his "self." "Out Of Myself" is the first part of the trilogy, which will soon have its continuation.
Have you already started working on a new album? What should we expect of that?
Yes, we're currently working on it. This time, the hero will try to find his place among the people. It's going to be more than just a story about a relationship. After he reconciled with himself on "Out Of Myself," our hero will have to accept the fact that he is a part of society. He will learn the meaning of the word "friendship." It's going to be an album about transformation, about trying to find yourself in the real world. Musically, it will be different from our debut – it will be heavier and darker. Thanks to Michal, the keyboard parts will be much more elaborate. There will be more live sounds of Hammond organs or the piano. But we're going to keep the balance and prove that Riverside has its own, specific style.
When will it be released?
In the late autumn this year, I hope.
Will you be playing new songs during your European tour?
Yes. We've decided to play some of the tracks from the second album so that the listeners have a better picture of the style and direction of Riverside music. We even played some of the new pieces at the Progpower festival, the instrumental Reality Dream III among others.
Do you have still have 'normal' jobs, besides being musician? Any plans to change this into becoming full time musician?
Unfortunately, we still have regular jobs. But we hope it'll change in the future. As soon as we can make a living by playing and recording music, we'll certainly do that. But we all know that living off the music is difficult.
What's your opinion on the label your album is receiving (most magazines and web-zines come to the conclusion that it is progmetal)
Riverside balances between rock and metal but the last thing I'd want is to be labeled "art-rock" or "progmetal." Those who see us as a progmetal band should listen to the "Voices In My Head" EP which has recently been released in Poland. I can assure you that they will be disappointed (laughs). And those who think of us as of an art-rock band should wait with characterizing us till they have heard our second album.
On the Polish version of your website there is a EP called "Voices In My Head". What is it? And why is it released in Poland only?
Let me start with reminding you that "Out Of Myself" was released in Poland towards the end of 2003, while Laser's Edge released it 10 months later. Because our second album is planned for the autumn of 2005, we decided to record a few tracks for those who can't wait for the new LP. We have combined five new pieces with three live versions of the songs from our debut album and we released it as an EP at the beginning of March this year. The new tracks will not be included on our second album as they were prepared especially for "Voices In My Head." I don't know yet whether the material will be released outside of Poland. If there is an interest and an idea for how to go about it, we'll see what we can do.
Are sales of the album as good as all the good review makes you expect? Are there countries significantly different from others (sales wise)?
I don't know the details of the sales of "Out Of Myself" in other countries, but I hear they're not bad. It sells quite well in Poland.
How did you experience your performance at Progpower? Is it anything in particular you remember from your Progpower performance?
We were given an incredible reception by the audience and it was definitely one of the best concerts we have played so far. We're glad we have the chance to visit Holland again soon.
Is there anything not mentioned here you would like to share with our readers?
I'd like to thank you for taking interest in our music, for the many warm words we get from you. We're working on becoming a genuine band, a band that has its own style, that records surprising and diverse albums, a band that goes on tours, that plays the music that is missing on the market. Greetings to all our fans – see you on tour!