Interview with Mariusz Duda (bass, vocals) and Piotr Grudzinski (guitar) of Riverside
Symforce Festival (013 Tilburg 15/09/2007)
Glad to meet you again, the first time we met was at our own prog festival at Antwerp, back in 2005. A lot has happened since then, what were in your opinion the main events for the band in the last two years?
Mariusz: We’ve played a lot of shows and festivals, not strictly progressive rock like Masters of Rock in Spain, we also played a tour with Dream Theater, and we finally finished our third part of the trilogy, our third album which is going to be released very soon.
How did the public respond during the Dream Theater tour?
Piotr: Yes, I think we had a good response, Dream Theater is after all a progressive band, maybe we are not playing the same kind of music, but it is even better that we don’t play the same music. If course, most of the people came to see Dream Theater, but we were in countries where we never played before like for example Portugal. When we started the show in Porto en we entered the stage, the crowd was screaming like we were big stars. So, it was a good thing for the band to bring the show in other countries.
You played for big audiences?
Mariusz: Usually we had audiences of about 5000 people, so that was nice.
How was the relationship with the members of Dream Theater?
Mariusz: Yes, they are very polite guys, they don’t behave like big stars, it was very good.
Do you think that Riverside could evolve in the same way as Dream Theater? That includes making sometimes heavier stuff…I know that your roots were metal.. even death metal…
Mariusz: That’s right, the heaviest part we ever recorded was in ‘Second life syndrome’, in the next part we decided to balance that in different ways. But first of all, we want to sound like Riverside, not like Dream Theater, so we are working in our own style, and I don’t think that after the tour with Dream Theater we really want to sound like them.
Piotr: There is only room for one Dream Theater in this world :-)
There is also room for one Riverside also, I think. (laughs)
How would you currently describe the music of Riverside?
Mariusz: Our music can be described in 4 words: joy, sadness, whisper and scream, it is music of contrasts with mellow and hard songs and we try to balance this in a way that you can combine all those elements into one piece. It is a music of contrasts.
In a few weeks the third part of your trilogy ‘REM’ will be released.
No no, it is REM not R.E.M., it is a stage during the sleep. But no problem, you can pronounce it as you want.
How should you compare the music with the two predecessors?
Mariusz: Out of myself was a bit neo-proggish plus some metal elements, ‘Second Life Syndrome’ was the darkest and heaviest part of the trilogy, now we have a more trance, psychedelic part but still in a Riverside way. And this time we have our best production ever. ‘Second life syndrome’ was our flirt with progmetal (if something like progmetal exists), this record is more rockish, this is really different from our previous albums.
So this is the end of the trilogy, so what’s next?
This is indeed the end of the trilogy, our next album will again be something different.
Something in 4 parts? :-)
Mariusz: I don’t know, but we had to do our trilogy, it should also in 9 tracks, because it should be 3*3, the magic number 3 was always there. It was something we had to do, but now that it is finished we will allow ourselves on the next album for more open minded stuff, it will be nice, we will see.
Will it be more rock oriented?
Mariusz: I don’t know, we will see.
Piotr: We had 3 albums and one EP and we showed 4 different faces,it is good t be unpredictable, because people will not know what kind of music we will play on our next release.
Perhaps it’s time for a live cd or dvd?
Mariusz: Probably next year we are going on tour and we will make a live dvd, but we have to be prepared for that.
Anyway, Riverside is in my opinion even better live than on studio album.
What are the objectives for the band in the future? Is there something left you really want to realize?
Mariusz: It is very good for Riverside that we can play on very different kind of festivals, not only strictly progressive like this one (Symforce). This is very nice for us that we can play here for a progressive audience, but it is a step further if you show up next to bands like Slayer or Ozzy Osbourne. A progressive band can then reach bigger audiences, that are not connected with progressive rock. A 12 year old kid could write on his blog ‘I have discovered progressive rock and my favourite bands are Riverside, Genesis and Pink Floyd. So it would be nice that Riverside would be an open gate to discover other progressive bands.
There are some more mainstream festivals like Werchter or Graspop in Belgium.. would it be possible for a band like Riverside to perform there?
Piotr: We will accept everything what is going to happen to Riverside, we talk with our manager to play at Roskilde. We want to play at festivals of alternative rock or metal, but certainly not too heavy like death metal or black metal, because we don’t fit for this kind of festivals. We cancelled a festival in Greece, because we were between grindcore and death metal bands.
Mariusz: It was too far for us!
But some of your members come from death metal bands?
Piotr: The audience is too strictly into metal, most of the people don’t like the show because they are in another kind of music.
Mariusz: And we want to show the whole Riverside face, it is not fair when you play only mellow songs in progressive festivals and metal songs in metal festivals. We want to show ‘our’ music.
Mariusz, you mentioned once you wanted to record a solo cd, are you still thinking about it and what kind of music can we expect?
Mariusz: I am thinking about it, but I need to find the time, because Riverside will always be prioritory for me. I would to be a little bit different, I want to check myself. It will be in a kind of oriental way, trance or electronic. Maybe next year will be the chance.
And you, Piotr?
Piotr: It is all a matter of time, we have different priorities in the band, but I’m feeling good in the band, I don’t want to be a big star. But you never know, my first plans are to build a house, to buy for example a good computer and keyboard, after that it would be possible, we will see what the future brings.
Do you have other side projects?
Mariusz: I used to sing in Indukti and also in Amarok, that’s all. The side projects are the second choice, Riverside remains our first occupation. Sometimes it is not very good to play in different bands.
Do you have contacts with other Polish bands like Satellite, Quidam and so?
Mariusz: Satellite is a studio project only, it is the product of the drummer of Collage. We know them, but we have better connections with Quidam and other new Polish bands. We’ve asked them to participate on our next tour.
What are the main influences for the band (group or music style)?
Piotr: There are a lot influences like Pink Floyd, sometimes they also compare my way of playing guitar with Steve Rothery. There is no reason hide these influences, we are listening to music for some 20 years. But the main thing is that we want to be original in some way, we want to have our own style. In different reviews we are compared with bands like Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Tool and Pain of Salvation, but we are not those bands. It’s good that we are not compared with only one single band like Marillion and no other band.
Anyway.. every reviewer tries to find comparisons with other bands?
Piotr: That’s true, but we are playing different from all other bands?
Perhaps an indiscrete question to end with, the band is doing a lot of concerts and the cds are selling well, can you make a living from your music? Because in progressive rock/metal not so many bands can manage this!
Piotr: Mariusz and me were the only ones to have a real job, we have quit our jobs last year in March, it was the time too choose to be a musician or to have a normal job. So, we have chosen to be musicians, the money is at the same level as our regular jobs. We will do this as long as possible.
Mariusz: This is our regular job now, we became professional musicians, so that’s nice.
Final question, what can we expect today?
Mariusz: We are going to play songs from all albums, everybody can choose what he likes. This festival will be like an aperitive for our upcoming tour.
Ok, many thanks for this interview!