The paths of development of some artists are truly windy. The drummer Piotr "Mittloff" Kozieradzki has come a long way from the brutal death metal he created in the band Hate to refined prog-art-rock he is creating today in Riverside. I have the honour of presenting the kind of metal that is rarely present on our pages, at least in the interview section, and at the same time a unique phenomenon at our, well, a little boring prog-metal scene.
Welcome. Tell me, why is it so that a death metal musician decides at some point to put an end to death metal and starts playing prog-rock?
I'm not sure there was "some point." I've been listening to such music for some 20 years. I listened to Marillion before I listened to metal, so it's not really about quitting to play death metal and starting to play progressive rock. It may seem to be so to someone who doesn't know me. I didn't brag about my fascination with progrock, because no-one in my previous band was interested in it. For all of them, death metal was all that mattered and what I was listening to was important only for me.
So, let's say someone had shown you Riverside's tracks in 1989, you wouldn't have been surprised?
I would have because I play in a different way as a drummer, but surprised about the band? I don't think so. The idea has been there for a couple of years and it's pure coincidence that I bumped into Grudzień. And it's all because of the above mentioned Marillion. Accidentally, he heard a compilation of their music in my car. One word led to another and thus it began. We decided to create a band. It was still at the time I played in Hate and Domain. After a while I solved some problems and was free, so we could start it.
Did you quit Hate because you felt tired of death metal or were there some other mysterious reasons?
Huh, mysterious reasons. No. Honestly, I just had enough. I'm 33 and I'm tired of that kind of music. I don't think it evolves enough to create a possibility to say something new through it. You can record some better or worse sounding albums, but not better musically. There are a few groups that play some good stuff. I like the recent novelty - Nile, but it's a drop in the ocean of things that are flooding the market. Listen to some of the new releases. All the albums are breakthroughs, historic events or best in the career. Honestly, it's all crap which is difficult to listen to. It's a bit better in Poland, but only a bit.
Let's talk about the band. What is the musical past of the members of Riverside?
Piotr "Grudzień" Grudziński plays in Unnamed, Jacek Melnicki in Cedamus. Mariusz Duda used to play in a progrock band Xanadu.
Does the name of the band carry some hidden message?
No, honestly we were choosing it for 10 minutes. There was another name, proposed by me, we modified it a little and came up with Riverside.
You once said, still in the times of Hate, that you don't play solos. Despite the audience's encouragement at Riverside's concerts you don't "solo." Is it going to change in the future?
No, it isn't. I don't think I'm good enough a drummer to play solos. It's much more difficult than standard tracks. You have to sit down and write a solo, so that it makes sense. Thoughtless hammering, the faster, the more sounds the better is stupid. I can play a solo right now but I won't be pleased with it. When I'm pleased I'll play it. It's still the future. Maybe not so distant, but it's the future all the same.
It's quite a modest approach...
It's simple, when you play a solo, you have to know how to play a solo, and the majority can't do it, metal drummers included. I've seen a few metal drummers doing solos. It wasn't a great experience. Only those from the older bands are able to play something interesting. I once saw Sandowal from Morbid Angel. With all due respect, he shouldn't have done that. The solo was based on tempos and two crazy pedals. It's really too little for a solo. I don't want to play such bullshit. It is not a solo but a piece of drumming from a track.
One can hear a fascination with heavy, death metal playing in your drums. What would you say to that?
It's probably not a fascination with death metal playing. It's just that I've been playing death metal for several years and it is in my hands, that heavy drumming. I can't change it. I'll always play this way, though there are fragments where I don't play like a metal drummer. Quite a lot of them.
It's not a way of playing you often hear in prog rock.
That's why people notice that I am playing there. It's really nice. I'm trying not to copy anyone and have my own style. It's very difficult, but I'm trying.
I can hear two guitars in "Loosing Heart" but you only have one guitarist. How do you intend to solve this problem in the future, at concerts?
If you listen carefully, most of the tracks have two guitars, or even three. The most important thing is the album. Concerts too, and though they are really very close to what we're playing in the studio, not all of the fills can be rendered at a concert. No band can do that. Maybe Pink Floyd where there are twenty people, though the album is recorded by three. We're not like them yet! Ha!
Do you have any musical models, not necessarily bands but musicians, masters?
Hoo-ha, a lot of them. Mariusz loves Peter Gabriel and takes a lot of inspiration from him. Just like the rest of the band, except Jacek, who is listening to a different kind of music. Grudzień likes Pain Of Salvation, he likes Petrucci, but I think all progmetal musicians love them, me too.
So for you, the model will be Portnoy?
No. He's a hell of a drummer, but I like different style of playing. I like Lombardo. He's the world champion for me. The old Porcupine Tree drummer was really great and had a terrific feeling, the new is a bit worse. There are lots of drummers I like and respect. There is not enough room here to name them all. An example? Alright: Dave Lombardo, Pete Sandowal, Ian Paice, Simon Phillips, Maitland from Porcupine Tree and many more.
It's good you've mentioned that name as your music is often compared to theirs.
Frankly, I don't really know why. I'll tell you honestly that different people hear a lot of different things in our music. That's good. Nobody says, like in the case of Hate every deaf dude said that it was a Polish Decide from Legion. It's really good it isn't this way. It means we're not a copy. You're saying it's Porcupine Tree. I know some people who say it's Tool. Yesterday I got a message that there are elements of Peter Gabriel in our music. If we were compared to just one band, it would mean that something is wrong. Everyone can find something they like here. Maybe we have our own style? It would be great to play in a band that's talked about in this way.
Maybe it will seem strange, but I heard in "Reality Dream" some influence of Pan-Thy-Monium.
Ha! I know what you mean. It's a delicate accent. It was Jacek's idea. He loves PTM. I like their one album - "Dawn Of Dreams," but the motif comes from a different one. From "Khaooohs." It wasn't really intended. It just came out this way. There's nothing wrong in it.
Let's leave the inspirations. Your music has a relaxing character. Will you introduce more anxiety, symphonic elements?
I don't think so. Symphonic elements are a great problem at the concerts. Jacek has only got two hands so he can play at only two keyboards at a time. It would be a turmoil. We like most what we're playing now. It's soft but it's not too easy at the same time. We will continue our prog-art-rock direction. There has to be some metal, you just can't let go of it. There should be some heavy playing too, if only for the sake of contrast and additional energy.
Exactly. How strong is your, as musicians, attachment to metal?
There has to be a middle ground. This is not and will never be a strictly metal band, though we sometimes play heavy tracks. Some of them have heavy endings or riffs. The new pieces also contain a bit of metal but generally everything has to have some middle ground. As I've said, it's not a metal band.
In "Loosing Heart" there are some overdriven, modern vocals, which bothers me...
Ha ha naaah, it was a small experiment. We were trying to make a strong impression. To boost the dynamics of the piece. Not only by means of the guitar. Usually, everyone uses guitars to underline a dynamic fragment. Bullshit, unnecessarily! It can be done with effects and a different sounding vocal. This time we did it with vocal but we're not Children Of The Korn. Ha ha. The guys are not wearing trousers with the crotch between their knees and do not "slouch" at the concerts. We'll never play that way. It's just production and coincidence that people receive it that way.
That's better. What can you say about Riverside's lyrics?
It's a story about a guy who is in two minds. He wants to be alone but doesn't really feel good about it. He wants to find a middle ground between loneliness and living with people, with a woman he wants and at the same time doesn't want to live with. It's not a romantic story, but a description of a period of that man's life during which he takes drugs and ends up in a mental hospital... Those five tracks from the demo are out of context. The album will contain 10 or 11 numbers and it will be a concept album. Moreover, there will be a 20-page story accompanying the music.
We're finishing the recording of the album. We want to release it. Make final agreements about releasing it here in Poland and abroad. There will be a lot of concerts. I'd like to do a tour after the release. It's all in the future so we'll talk about it more when the album is there. (It will be as I promised).
One last word.
Greetings to every Heavy Metal Pagers. I invite you to come our concerts and to listen to our tracks.