You must be pleased the new album ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ is finally out? It is a very strong album and has been getting good reviews.
Thank you. I am kind of surprised at the public reaction but it is nice.
Riverside are on the front cover of the latest issue of the Polish ‘Metal Hammer’. Have you seen the band’s popularity grow over the past few years?
For the first time we are on the cover, before we were only on the cover of our label’s magazine. So it’s kind of progressive. (Laughs)
The new album has lots of musical ideas. Do you play the music in the studio and see where it takes you or did you go in with a specific sound/style in mind?
I had some problems before as I was a little bit tired of the formula that we had in the past and I didn’t want to do another album with complicated structures. I just wanted to finally focus more on the arrangements and the composition. To focus on some details, like a way for playing drums, a way of playing guitar. I really, really wanted to focus simply on songs. Simply songs, ambitious songs should be the foundation of this album. The metal parts I skip and replace them with hard rock elements.
Our keyboards player uses instruments that are older than him like the Hammond organs. I just thought it would be very naturally to join him with our guitars.
You have made a video for ‘Celebrity Touch’. Was that fun to make?
We didn’t have some kind of mission to make the video. We didn’t really have a script for the people in the video. We just wanted to show celebrities falling down. The band prefers to play in places that are more comfortable for us like the basement!
How important is YouTube to bands like yourselves now? Before there was MTV but every band now seems to have a video on YouTube to accompany nay new music. Do you get a lot of reaction from when you put a video up and does it increase interest in the band?
Yes there are nice reactions to the video. This is only the second video we have done so it’s still a fresh experience for us. We had a chance to do the video and that’s why we did it.
Of course now you don’t have video clips on MTV so YouTube is the place for all video clips. It helps with all promotion, I hope!
This maybe a new chapter for the band, as we start to focus more on doing video clips. Everything depends on the future.
You have a big tour coming up. How do you go about compiling a setlist and how much of the new album will you include?
We didn’t play anything for one year, so we just want to play. We will play new tracks and older songs to make a good concert we hope.
You are playing Europe and the US. Do you have to change your set much between different countries?
We play our best pieces and we don’t have any problems playing any of our songs due to the lyrics anywhere.
Do you change the set much for festivals as I see you have the Y Prog festival in the UK coming up.
Festivals are special events and we will prepare some surprises for festivals.
Progressive rock seems to be very popular in Poland as you have British bands like Arena and Pendragon going over to Poland to record live DVDs. Is it a big music scene in Poland?
There are a lot of progressive rock bands in Poland and it is popular. Sometimes I get the impression there are more bands than there are people in the audience. When you gather all the bands together you would have enough for a Pendragon show.
As Riverside we are at a different level in Poland and we didn’t want to be just a progressive band.
Is progressive rock bigger now than say ten years ago? Here in the UK we have magazines like ‘Prog’ on sale in High Street stores which we never had five to ten years ago.
Music tastes change. When we said we were progressive ten years ago people always think Marillion, Genesis, Yes and King Crimson. There were a lot of clones of that kind of music and nothing interesting musically to be honest. For me in the 90’s the only band that played interesting progressive music was Porcupine Tree. Later you had Dream Theater becoming popular and a lot of bands started to play progressive metal. Now you have bands that just play progressive music like Mars Volta and Anathema. Progressive means something totally different now than it did in the past.
With progressive music you can play many styles like rock, jazz, blues. You add some solos and keyboards and you have progressive music. In Poland many bands want to start playing and like to play some ambitious tracks.
Going back to the new album you have two versions on CD, one has a two discs. What is on the second CD?
Actually it is a very funny story because I wanted the album as a digibook with pages but the label said it wasn’t possible with just one disc. We did some bonus material, ambient style, whatever it is. So we have this on the second disc.
We are in a good position as people who like progressive music like to have something on the shelf, like a CD or vinyl.
That’s true as here in the UK vinyl sales are shooting up again.
Yes that is why we are very happy that our label can release vinyl.
What have you got planned for the rest of the year? You have tour dates booked up until May at the moment.
We will basically tour for the rest of the year. After Mexico in May we will be back in Europe to play Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Turkey and Greece and then after holidays onto Portugal and Spain.
What sort of sized venues do you play in other countries?
In Poland we play to venues that hold 600, 700 people. Last year on our anniversary tour we had over 1,300 people at one show. I am so happy that in this UK tour we will reach more places as we usually play a London show and one other.
With your solo albums have you anything planned yet or is it all Riverside this year?
It all depends on the flow and that is Riverside at the moment. I will do it more and I did the Lunatic Soul albums between Riverside tours and albums. I am definitely going to come back to this. I have an idea for the next album and next year probably.
If you had the chance to tour with anyone who would it be?
You can always have a dream. I would love to play with Rush, supporting Rush of course. It is hard and it has been so long since I have been on tour I need to remind myself of what I have missed.
Message for you fans…
I am really happy we have more shows in the UK. I would like thank the fans for their support and look forward to seeing them on tour.