RIVERSIDE: "It's all about making people interested in music - that's the main problem"
The interview conducted before the band's concert on October 17th, 2002 in Warsaw "Przestrzeń Graffenberga"
Good evening. It's good I'm talking to you, if only because I once said that you sang in a slightly grungy manner. Mariusz Duda (MD):Grungy?
What's the policy in the band? MD:Silent dictatorship (laughs)
RIVERSIDE, it brings to mind the grunge band Green River. Where did the idea for the name come from, who thought it up and why? MD:Probably Mitek with Grudzień brought it and it stayed. Though I don't really know for sure (laughs)
It's a question that has to be asked, do you have the division into the leader and the rest of the band? MD:No. As far as music is concerned, we create it in the way a band should. The ideas brought to the studio are the beginnings for constructing compositions as a whole and every one of us takes part in the process. It's true that we have strong personalities and yes, it often happens that everyone wants to force the music their own way, but what is extremely important is that we can get through to one another and finish a piece without a bloodshed, without jealousy, rivalry, or other unnecessary stuff. When it comes to the lyrics, I am responsible for them, but it probably doesn't entitle me to being a leader (laughs)
Can you introduce the members of your supergroup to the readers of Metal Centre? (laughter in the background)
MD:But why the supergroup? Do I sense a vicious question?
No, just tell me where each of you comes from MD:Mittloff had played death metal in HATE. Now he's playing with us and with DOMAIN. Grudzień plays in UNNAMED. Quite an experience, some 15 years or so (laughs), Jacek has his own projects, CEDAMUS, he'd played in other bands too. And I used to play in a band that did progressive rock a couple of years ago. The band was XANADU and I have a great sentiment for those days. It certainly was an excellent school of playing an instrument and working in a group...
(Piotr Grudziński joined us, and in the meantime Jacek Melnicki and Mittloff showed up as well)
Why was the Riverside born? Isn't it that you created a band that nicely plays commercial music, on the basis of which you want to promote your own bands? MD:Riverside was born definitely in order to play commercial music. (general rejoycement)
Well then, Mariusz, is Riverside the only band you're playing in now? MD:I also have a friend who plays keyboards with whom we create quite pretty sounds. I hope we manage to record some material soon. Damn, what can you do when you have such a lot to say musically? (laughs)
(a question for Piotr Grudziński)
How do you treat playing in Riverside? Is it a side project or a band with equal rights for you? Piotr Grudziński (PG):Riverside is very much a band with full rights and honestly, I have great expectations connected with it. I think this is the band I have always wanted to play in. I'm fully realizing myself in it and I'm also learning a lot. I hope it will last as long as possible.
If you think that in Unnamed you're not really playing the things you want to play the most, then maybe try to name a band that is closest to your musical aspirations. Voivod, Marillion, Rush, Genesis, Collage, Pink Floyd... (a voice from the side) JOY DIVISION!!! (laughter)
PG:I don't think I can give you a specific answer to this question. Most of all I'm trying to be inspired by music that carries an emotional message. Out of those you named I feel most attached to Marillion and Pink Floyd. And I can openly say that what we've been doing in Riverside so far is a huge shot of emotions which makes me really happy and I can honestly admit that I'm realizing myself here in 100%.
I asked that slightly ironic question on purpose, but usually when describing a band, people compare it to something they know. PG:It's true. It happens when someone wants to tell something about a band that's not quite famous and says "go to their concert, they play like this or that". For what is Riverside? People are looking for some associations, as they are easier to convey. I believe we're creating something that is widely inspired by various styles. It cannot be pinned down precisely. It makes no sense anyway. It's easiest to remember that we're playing prog-rock or something like that. But you have to remember that we're consciously and unconsciously influenced by a lot of things and I couldn't logically describe them. I can say that a piece of ours is a bit like Tool or Pain of Salvation but you know well that those two bands have not much in common.
I totally agree with you, as it is close to my perception of music. I know that you're cooking something in the studio. When will it be available in shops? PG:What we're doing now - never. We're recording a demo, most of all for ourselves, but also for commercial purposes of course. We want to get as many people interested in our music as it is possible and we'll be trying to get in touch with some phonographic companies, music papers and radio stations. Time will tell what we will manage to achieve with that.
When I was at your concert in Otwock, I had a thought that the best place to listen to your music is a concert hall, where the concert is started by a conductor dressed in tuxedo, grunting meaningfully to get the orchestra's attention, tapping his baton against the table and during the intervals the audience seated comfortably in chairs clap their hands... PG:You really imagine it that way?
Eeer, how do you imagine your audience? Do you play for someone who listens to some heavy sounds or rather someone who has nothing to do with it? MD:We're not playing for a precisely defined group of people.
PG:We want to play for the sensitive.
MD:The music has something in common with both the 70s' bands and the modern sounds. Our listeners may well be the people who grew up listening to early Genesis or King Crimson.
Would you agree that the music you play is rather difficult? MD:Difficult for whom?
For an average listener. PG:If an average listener enjoys songs like "Majteczki w kropeczki" (Polish disco music) then yes, we do play difficult music. But in spite of all I still believe that we play rather simple music, filled with emotions and flowing straight from our hearts. And I think that the emotions are sometimes extremely different and that it can be heard in different pieces.
MD:It's not the music that flows in through one ear and out through another. It needs some involvement on the part of the receiver. And not everyone is willing to get involved.
PG:I don't want to offend anyone, but there surely are people for whom the music is "I'll turn on the radio, whatever plays is fine" but there are also people, who study music. It's a matter of individual sensitivity. It certainly isn't the music you'd hum under your nose...
I would. This morning I was humming your "Out Of Myself!" But the question is different. You're playing music in which there is a lot of broken rhythm and syncopation. People usually want to hear simple rhythms... PGIt's true that we also wanted to vary our music so that it's not so simple and monotonous.
MD:Besides, using a non-standard metre...
... gives power? MD:...gives endless possibilities of composing whatever we want to. To get "power" you don't have to rely solely on the heavy sound of the guitar. Personally, I'm in favour of playing broken rhythms with sense and restraint, so that, God forbid, the music doesn't get lost on the way. Otherwise it all starts to look like dance macabre...
PG:We're trying to find the golden means. Obviously, each of us has some musical aspirations and each of us wants to realize himself as an instrumentalist, that's why we're trying to play some non-standard stuff, maybe a bit more difficult to listen to, but at the same time we're sticking to what comes straight from the heart, to the simplicity of feelings and emotions that rule the man.
An extremely stereotyped question. It's good you're all here (for a moment all the members of Riverside were around). Whom out of the living musicians would you take out for a vodka? Piotr Kozieradzki (PK):My favourite musician is Wojnar. That's the personality. (laughs)
PG:I drink vodka with the people it's nice to drink vodka with, not necessarily musicians.
MD:That reminds me of the question from the times of the primary school, name your favourite male and female singer, and the answers usually were Shakin' Stevens and Kylie Minogue. (someone from the side) and Jason Donovan!!! (laughter) In answer to your question, the company would fill up at least two coaches...
Jacek, and you? Jacek Melnicki (JM):Definitely Jason Donovan. (laughter) I heard what you're asking about, but I'm afraid that maybe Krzysio... (unexpectedly it caused general rejoycement again)
What will be on the album? Will that be the music we can hear from the stage or... JM:More or less. But more less than more. In the studio, we want to take some time for musical researches.
PG:We're at the stage of retouching. The basic elements, like the rhythm and guitars are already recorded. But there is still a lot to be done, first and foremost Mariusz's vocals, which will be essential for the sound of our music and will give it the character.
So will the demo be just the demo or will that be more like a full album? How long will it be? PG:It will be some 45 minutes of music.
Sounds like a small LP...
PG:LP... you know, I call an LP something that has been published by a company and you can buy it in a shop, and this will be a demo, because we do not intend to publish it... As I've already said, that material is to create an interest in our band in people, phonographic companies, music press, radio stations... whoever can get interested and we'll see what happens next. Anyway, what will appear on the demo will not be the entire material we'd like to publish on an LP. We're still at the stage of creating.
Right, creating and researching when you already have more than 40 minutes of music... PG:Right now we have 7 pieces and we're thinking about 10. Besides, we're thinking of a concept album and the story is not complete.
Who will write the story?
PG:Mariusz, of course.
MD:To tell you the truth, I'm in the process of writing the lyrics. (laughs)
Can you tell me what the story will be about? MD:The main character will be a man who has some problems with himself. (laughs) I don't want to talk about it now, because the idea of the story is not yet precise and can still change a couple of times.
Do you consider yourself a man who has problems with himself? MD:No. Not anymore. (laughs)
Are you planning Riverside's website? PG:Yes, of course we're planning to create a website, but for now we don't really have anything that could be put there, no music, no photos, not even a logo... We're only just beginning and it's all still ahead of us, but we'll definitely have a website!
Will it be possible to order, let's say, Mittloff's poster or a T-shirt with your logo? PG:Of course it will... and for a small fee it will be possible to invite us home for a jam session. (laughs)
Back to the material, will someone who is not a publisher, and is interested in your music, will they be able to, say, download your pieces from the site? PG:We want to put some of the material in the Internet...
MD:We're not playing solely for ourselves, are we?
PG:We are an unknown band and we have to work on our image and on the interest in our music on the part of the listeners so whoever is interested will get a chance to listen to at least some of the material.
Are you planning a promo gig? PG:First we have to finish the material. Right now, Riverside is a completely unknown band and I don't see any sense in going for a gig.
You know, to make a band famous, you just have to e-mail your friends that you exist... PG:Yes, sure, but everyone has an ambition to go beyond the circle of friends and acquaintances. It's obvious that friends aren't entirely objective and often their opinions are shaped by emotions towards the people, not the music. Besides, it's all about finding still greater numbers of listeners and gaining them.
I'd like to ask you a difficult question. You have Mittloff with you in Riverside. What are you counting on in connection with him and how are you planning to use this contact for the band? PG:Let me slightly duck the question. We all have some connections. Of course, he has much more of them. And he can somehow use them. But every one of us has some contacts and we will all be trying to use them to promote the band.
That's a sound approach. MD:Besides, there is one important thing. Today, I won't be introducing Mittloff but Piotr Kozieradzki on drums.
PG:True, Mittloff himself wants it, he wants to achieve something now as Piotr Kozieradzki, but I guess he'll never escape Mittloff.
Do you consider yourselves an independent band? PG:Right now we only depend on one another and as long as we want to play together, the band will exist.
PK:Unless Grudzień pisses me off and I crush him. (laughs)
MD:We haven't signed a pact with the devil yet...
PG:Right, it's a kind of fable question, what will happen when it happens... When someone wants to publish our album but sets some conditions, then we'll have to decide together whether we can accept them, because then we will be somehow dependent on a third party.
On how much dependence would you agree? MD:Only to the point where we can still do what we want to do. Otherwise it makes no sense.
Who in Poland would suit you most? PG:There are not too many phonographic companies in Poland and we can send our album to all of them and wait for what happens.
Metal Mind seems to be dominating at the moment? PG:I think we'll certainly send our album there. They've been publishing quite a lot of similar stuff, Collage, Fish, Pendragon, and many more. We know that Mr Dziubiński is interested in this kind of music. But we'll be sending our material everywhere.
Why is it so, that when a couple of musicians who used to play totally different things get together, they start to play progressive music? PG:In other words, why was Riverside created? I was travelling with Mittloff in his car. We didn't know each other very well in those days, and he put on a Marillion tape, which I totally didn't expect of him. I was deeply shocked because I only knew his devilish side. Then it turned out that we both liked such stuff and that maybe we'd play something together one day. Some time had passed and then Riverside was born. And we play what we do only because we have always wanted to play that kind of music.
OK. Would you like to say something to the people who visit Metal Centre? PG:Look for Riverside's music. Maybe you'll like it.
Only that? Maybe, don't let yourselves be fooled by the companies who promote Britney Spears? PG:If someone likes it, then why shouldn't they listen to it? They say everyone has their free will and chooses whatever they want to listen to or not. It's a matter of taste, that's all.
MD:Besides, we do not intend to compete with the artist who play pop music. We are conscious of the kind of stuff we play, we know that un- or fortunately we're doomed to play for a small group of listeners. And that's hardly good news for the phonographic companies. They have to make money, that's why they promote what they do. Besides, if people didn't need that kind of music, it wouldn't exist. But I still believe that people get tired of pop and want something more than just something to dance to. What will happen? Time will tell...
Alright then, on the behalf of Metal Centre, thank you for the interview...