With the hugely exciting news just announced of RIVERSIDE’s new studio album, and European Tour, we thought we’d dig this one out of the archive for you ...
Polish ‘prog’ masters ‘RIVERSIDE’ have just released an entirely instrumental album entitled “Eye Of The Soundscape” which compiles all the special tracks that have previously been used as bonus material for their albums “Shrine Of New Generation Slaves” and “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” [re-released recently], alongside rare cuts and 4 brand new songs (“Where The River Flows”, “Shine”, “Sleepwalkers” and “Eye Of The Soundscape”).
As a huge fan of ‘Riverside’, I was really quite blown away by this new release – it’s a departure for them – it pushes their boundaries into new musical territory – but it’s an album that you really must seek out.
If you aren’t already aware of ‘Riverside’, then please accept this introduction.
Formed in 2001, in Warsaw, by friends Mariusz Duda, Piotr Grudziński, Piotr Kozieradzki and Jacek Melnick, the band has gone from strength to strength, becoming a no1 selling act in Poland, with growing popularity around the globe.
Melnick left the band in 2003, after the release of their debut album – it didn’t halt their creativity, and with the addition of Michal Lapaj, the band have since released 6 more studio albums – the latest being “Eye Of The Soundscape”.
2016 has been a tough year for them, following the unexpected death of founder member Piotr Grudziński – the band remain close, but are now a three piece, although they are adamant that this is how they will progress ...
I had waited for some time to catch up with lead singer / bassist Mariusz Duda, and here’s what happened when I eventually did :
Helen Robinson : Looking at the ‘Rock’ music scene in Poland – there seems to be a huge underground following of “extreme metal” music – why do you think this genre is so popular? How involved were you / the band in that scene before ‘Riverside’?
Mariusz Duda : From time to time everyone needs to do something extreme. And people need extreme music. True, it seems that in Poland we have pretty interesting extreme metal bands that there are known worldwide, but this is not so wide range as Norwegian bands for sure. ‘Behemoth’, ‘Vader’, maybe ‘Decapitated’. But that’s it.
For us the roots of the founder members were pretty metal. Our drummer used to play death metal in HATE, our guitar player used to play something weird, maybe not extreme, but for sure connected with metal music.
The fact that they wanted to start something more prog than metal, and they found me was pretty extreme too [laughs].
HR : Lucky for them, yes – but what persuaded you to become involved with a ‘progressive’ rock band?
MD : Progressive for me doesn’t mean that you have to sound like the bands from 70’s. Progressive in my terminology means – break your habit, push the boundaries. For us pretty original was the fact that our drummer in his death metal style always disturbed us to play ballads. And that was pretty original and... progressive, so we became that kind of band [laughs]
Ok, just to be serious – in spite of normal songs we always liked long forms, long structures and lots of keyboards – so after our debut release, full of that stuff, we became progressive rock band.
HR : How does it feel to have risen up to become a number 1 selling act in your home land?
MD : Pretty cool. It’s great to know that you live in the country where people like to listen to something ambitious from time to time too.
HR : You’re very popular in many other countries, of course – having been on the road pretty extensively since 2004 – throughout Europe, into the Middle East, Russia, South America, the USA and Canada – what do you most enjoy about touring and performing live? What has been your weirdest moment?
MD : There’s always an amazing adventure to be somewhere for the first time. Before routine comes and you mostly searching Wi-Fi in the venues instead of searching the town where you are for the first time! [laughs]
Speaking of venues – I remember our show in Turkey, Istanbul. very small club. There was no stage for our drums. I mean there was a stage, but only for the drums. We had to figure something out, and we did. I remember that our guitar player had to play on the stairs, next to the stage. Truly weird experience.
HR : The band suffered a devastating loss early in 2016 with the sudden passing of Piotr Grudzinski – he would want you to continue, I am sure, but how have you coped as a band with the prospect of moving forward?
MD : That was hard. I was considering the end of the band even, but then I realised that the legacy is too big.
Well, I’m still the captain of this band. I’m still the main composer. I’m going to continue anyway. We lost one voice, but we still have the ship and we still want to sail. Differently for sure. This loss made us someone different, but maybe it will help our music to become more progressive in the terminology I always loved?
HR : How did you evolve as a “unit” in the 15 years together since you formed? Do you hang out, or do you just come together to be a band?
MD : We are a family. That’s why after Piotr’s passing away we cancelled all our live shows till the end of the year and that’s why became a trio. We usually spend lots of time together, but we also know that each of us need to have his own room
HR : [laughs] Sure, I understand that, and you are 4 quite different personalities ...
How difficult was it to create (and hold on to) your own ‘sound’ and identity as a band ?
MD : It was not hard. It was long. This is a long process – in time. I had the idea for the style of our band, but I had to be patient. I always wanted to play both short and long songs, hard and soft, very melodic, spacey, psychedelic, etc.
HR : What inspires you / How do you stay focussed on creating music? Who do you make the music for – your fans or yourselves?
MD : I take inspirations from my own experiences. And the experiences of my friends. Mostly everything that is placed in my heart and soul finds its own reflection in my music. And I compose that kind of music that I always would like to listen to. So t’s not only reflection and spitting out everything I have to say without taking care how it sounds and what people might thing about that. I care. But the truth is in the right balance. As a Libra I always pay attention to that.
HR : Ha! Libra – yeah I know a few Librans! Well then from a more personal perspective – your own identity. You are pretty sure of yourself, but some musicians (especially front men) go through their careers constantly re-inventing themselves; is this something you have done? Is it possible to be 2 people at once and have a separate life on stage, and a real life away from it all – or is it all one place, where it’s easy to lose sight of who you are? [I promise I am not a psychiatrist! Just curious ...]
MD : I do what I feel. I try to be honest with my music. I usually write about something personal. My lyrics are like a pages from the diary. I develop myself with every album, grow up. I know what performance on the stage means, I know that I need to exist in social media to be alive in my job industry, but I also take care of my privacy. Libra. Balance 😉
HR : You have the libra balance musically too I guess. ‘Riverside’ have just released a new album “Eye Of The Soundscape” which is purely instrumental – a first for the band- what made you decide to do this now?
MD : This is a very selfish album. Myself and Piotr Grudziński always wanted to release that kind of album.
I think this is really an interesting piece of music. Something organic and electronic in the same time. Thanks to that kind of album – lots of people now can take a look at our band from the wider perspective. That we are not prog metal band only. That our influences are wider.
HR : From what I read, the fans are loving it ... so ... Where do you plan to go from here?
MD : The show in February with guest guitar players. The tour maybe. But mostly the new album recordings in 2017. It’s time to break the silence. Again.