Riverside is a young band, but its musicians are very experienced. I have to say I believe that this band can cause a lot of commotion on the progressive stage, as their capacities are huge. I managed to talk its guitarist, Piotr Grudziński, into answering my questions.
Hi! Riverside are four musicians, each of them coming from a different musical stream, but it has been the will to play more progressive sounds that's bound you. How and when was the idea of creating Riverside conceived? Who was the author of it?
Hi! The idea of creating a band emerged rather accidentally. I was travelling with Mittloff (Piotr Kozieradzki, drums - red.) in his car, Mit put a tape on and quite unexpectedly I heard Marillion. It turned out that in spite of playing in a death metal band, he was a great fan of progressive rock, and as I was also very keen on that kind of music, we thought that maybe one day we could play some progressive sounds together. After a year we started to talk about this idea more and more often. In the meantime we asked Jacek Melnicki (keyboards - red.) to play with us, and he agreed without hesitation. The first rehearsal wasn't very successful, but Jacek invited Mariusz (vocal, bass guitar - red.) to the next one and we knew that he was a perfect man for the band. This is the story in a nutshell. As far as the musical streams are concerned, we really come from one... every one of us started with metal, different forms of it of course, then we followed our own likes, developed our abilities and, surprise, surprise, we met in Riverside.
I admit that the sight of Mittloff at the Porcupine Tree's concert in Polish Radio "3" was a surprise for me :-) You've mentioned the other members of the band, but Riverside is not the first band for any of you. Could you say something more about the previous involvements of Riverside's musicians?
True, each of us has some musical past... Mariusz used to play in a progressive rock band Xanadu, Mittloff in Hate and Domain, Jacek had his solo project Cedamus, and I've played for 10 years in Unnamed.
Now that we know something about you, it's time to talk about the music and your inspirations. We've already heard the name Marillion, I also have a few more on the tip of my tongue, but why don't you yourself try to describe the style of Riverside's music and say something more about the inspirations?
Marillion was really only a stimulus, we never intended to play like Marillion. In fact, we were curious what kind of music will come out of our playing. Of course, in the creative process you catch yourself thinking that you want to use some ideas that have been used before and the music you're currently listening to subconsciously leads you in its direction, but nonetheless I think that so far we have managed to avoid being influenced. In my opinion, Riverside's music is closest to what Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree or Tool are doing, but as I've said before, it's only about certain solutions, not the music as a whole.
Would you agree that although the influences you've mentioned are visible in your music, you're not just another copy of those bands? I have a feeling though that there might be people who will point out the lack of originality Have you already experienced that?
No, so far no one has blamed us for the lack of originality... On the contrary, we have heard some opinions that although some of the influences are visible in our music, the whole gives an original impression. You know, it's quite difficult for us to distance ourselves from what we're doing. The music carries an emotional message and we would like it to be treated that way, but, of course, everyone has their own way of reacting to it and there will be those who will take down what we did into little pieces and blame us for the lack of originality... they have a right to do it.
Of course, you're right. There are a lot of emotions in the music, how does it translate into composing new pieces? What is the influence of your present state of mind on creating? On the other hand, I don't think you writing new stuff when you're pissed because, despite Mittloff's presence, there is no place for kicking out the jams in Riverside, is there? :-)
It depends on what you mean by kicking out the jams. If you mean the death metal sounds then no, there is no place for it... But I think that a degree of heavy playing kept in Riverside convention is there and it comes from the fact that people are ruled by different emotions, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. We want to convey the beauty, but also the darkness, harmony and anxiety... Everyone has their joys and sorrows, we don't only meet when we're in excellent moods to create something sweet and beautiful... now that would be dull, wouldn't it?
I meant more heavy metal way of playing, but I'd lie if I said that your music is soft and easy, it's enough to listen to "Out Of Myself". Right. Is it traditionally the vocalist who writes the lyrics? Are they about the aforementioned positive and negative emotions, or are they just abstract stories as a background for the music?
The lyrics for our first album will tell a whole story. It will be about creating our own worlds in which we choose to lock ourselves up to escape from reality. In the case of the main character of our story, who created himself such world, dreams blur with reality, which influences not only his, but others' behaviour as well and can have tragic consequences. I think that it all creates a perfect picture and Mariusz's lyrics wonderfully fit the music. Also, our website will be launched soon. We will put the lyrics there so that everyone can judge whether the story is abstract or not and how essential it is for our music.
With what you've just said we have approached the more tangible part of your music, namely the recorded material. Let's talk about it for a while. The promo with 5 numbers is ready. Tell me something more about how it was created, how long it took to write those tracks, where you recorded them? Was the demo recorded for promotional purposes only or can an average mortal have an access to it?
The promo CD's task is to create an interest in our band in both phonographic companies and people involved in music business and the "average mortals." This five-track promo contains only some of the material that we've prepared for the album and we hope that we'll manage to release the whole LP soon. The material was created in about half a year and it took us a couple of months to record it. With breaks, of course, as we used Jacek's studio (DBX Studio) and, unfortunately, we had to adjust to his timetable. But most importantly, we managed to finish our recordings with pretty good results. And whoever is interested in our promo CD, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. or come to our concert on 15th of March 2003 in "Kopalnia," Warsaw, where it will be added as a bonus to the ticket.
So, I understand that your debut material is ready and recorded? You are talking about the interest of the phonographic company, then I reckon the album will be released under Apocalypse Production, Mittloff's company?
Let me put it this way: the debut material is 70% ready. For now, we are concentrating on the promo CD and then we'll see how the situation evolves. There is not much interest at the moment, because the CDs have not been sent to the companies yet. We know the reality and we have adopted a certain distance to it. Time will tell. It's not a secret that Apocalypse Productions will be the last resort. Maybe Mittloff will not be interested in it at all? :-)
Let's hope that you won't have to resort to it :-) Finishing our chat, I'd like to ask you one last question. This Thursday you're playing your second, or third if we count Otwock, concert in the history of Riverside, though for you as musicians is not a new experience. This time though, you're playing in front of a large audience, a few hundred people. Despite your experience, do you still have stage fright?
It is not certain that the audience will be large :-) But I'm conscious of the number of people who attend Parkfests, so we can expect a vast audience... I can only speak for myself... I always have stage fright :-) And I am not ashamed of it. This is just the way I am. Anyway, my stage fright has good and bad sides to it. I guess that if I stop having it one day, that will be the end of my musical adventure.
So maybe don't, because you're really doing great. One last word for our readers?
Those who don't know Riverside are invited to visit mp3.wp.pl/p/strefa/artysta/1225.html, maybe this will familiarize You with what we're doing. And those who know our music and would like to listen to it live, are invited to "Park" on 13th of March and "Kopalnia" on 15th of March, both clubs are in Warsaw. Thank you for the interview Artur, see you around.