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Riverside interview (09/2013)

With: Mariusz Duda
Conducted by: Ivor (in person)
Published: 20.09.2013

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Recorded before the gig at Club Tapper, Tallinn, Estonia, 12.09.2013.

I wanted to do this interview with Mariusz back in March when we went to Belgium to see Jolly and Riverside. However, as Mariusz hadn't been feeling well on the previous dates, this interview got postponed indefinitely because back then it also wasn't known that Riverside would be coming to Tallinn. However, once the gig was announced (on a rather short notice), I decided to try again to have a little chat.

Mariusz Duda

So, first of all, welcome back!

MD: Yeah, thank you!

For the third time in the same venue.

MD: Yeah, we wished to announce this show a little bit earlier. We weren't sure that we can reach Tallinn again but we finally made it. So, that's what's important. We could announce this earlier but we couldn't. (Laughs.) Anyway, it's nice to come back.

Let's be honest, this tour you're having this year is pretty humongous.

MD: There's a lot of shows, that's right.

Yes, from the beginning of the year and going on and on. Is this a direct result of the band growing and getting bigger?

MD: You know, the main reason is the fact that we released the album [Shrine Of New Generation Slaves] in January. And we could start the tour from March. If we released the album in April-May - that's normal that we would play less shows. First of all, we wanted to play more shows because last year we spent entire year in the studio and we haven't had the shows. But the fact that people still want to listen to us and come see our shows, that means that probably we are growing, yeah. (Laughs.) A little bit. Growing up.

What kind of changes you feel have come about with the band over the years?

MD: I have to tell you that when we are just playing the new songs and during the set list when we are trying to connect the new songs together with the old ones, we feel the difference with playing. I mean, the old ones had a really strange arrangements. We hear how we progressed since last few years. Especially after the new album. I think the new tracks are with much better production and playing and everything. So, I think that after 10 years we finally sound like a normal band on the shows, you know. Yeah, it's never too late to grow up. So, I feel the main difference is that we just became a better band that plays shows, and, I hope, record albums too.

Now that you are saying that you play better, what is the difference between being a support band and becoming a headliner?

MD: I don't know. We've never been a supporting band. We always wanted to headline our own tours, our own shows. And we proved that it's possible. OK, we were supporting Dream Theater for 6 or 7 shows but that was totally different, you know. So, this is really not a question for me. (Laughs.) It's obvious that when you are a support band your mission is to convince as many people as you can and bring them back to your own shows, right? So, I hope that when we played with Dream Theater at least someone heard us and knew that we also are a band that plays our own shows. Maybe they came to see us because of this.

What is your relationship with support bands that you have for yourself, like Jolly, Dianoya, and Maqama?

MD: With some bands we like each other, with some others not really. We usually try to take the bands that we can be in a good relationship with during the tour. Music is, to be honest, on the second place.

So that you can fit together personally.

MD: Yeah, personally. Of course, music is also important. If the band is just playing shitty music, we're not taking them even if they were the best friends ever. But I think the personal stuff is much more important for us. And bands like Jolly, bands like Maqama, we're really in a good relationship with, that's why we played more than only one tour.

Last time we talked here, you thought it'd be pretty nice to play Hellfest back then. This year you played Hellfest on the main stage, or one of the main stages. How did it go?

MD: Weird. It was really weird because, you know, with the new album we're not a band with a lot of metal elements, like we had, let's say, after Anno Domini High Definition. And this year we're just promoting the new album, so we decided to play a lot from the new one. And almost every band was a metal band at Hellfest. So, that was weird. But, we convinced some other people, I think, I hope. Let's say that maybe few people in front thanks to Hellfest will buy our album or just come to see us. But yeah, the first impression was really weird. It was really weird.

Mariusz Duda

On a bit of a gloomy note. When you were playing in Belgium, just before that you fell ill on tour. How do you battle illness on tour? And how do you feel about cancelling the shows?

MD: Ah, that's always painful. During this tour I remember that first show that someone from the support band caught some kind of flu and we were driving by very sick bus, you know. Everyone was sick. Everyone. I was the second one. So, it wasn't good because I just felt that I can't just simply sing, that I have problems with my voice and stuff. It was terrible, especially when you're just singing and you feel that you are losing your voice. The best option is always not to talk and just take your pills, take your medicine. Step by step I started to recover but now I feel that after this disease a little distortion is still in my voice. Maybe it's better for the rock'n'roll music. You know, it's always when you get sick and you have a lot of shows to do you need to be safe. I mean, sleep a lot, and take some stuff, and wait for better days.

When you cancel a show, does it affect the band morale, or the touring company morale?

MD: We cancelled the show because of my illness, right?

Yeah, I think it was in England, one show, wasn't it?

MD: Ah, yeah. That sucked. But what could you do. Morale was fine. It was like everyone understood that. So, they were waiting patiently for the next show.

Do you have some kind of a touring habit, some sort of a routing you go through before the show?

MD: I need to take a shower before the show. Definitely. And that's it, to be honest. I'm not that kind of guy that who's just running in the morning, you know. But our own routine is just doing a rehearsal, and that's it, to be honest. No, to be honest, not really. Routine is just reading or checking internet, that's just this.

You have mentioned that you write new material while touring. Do you still do it?

MD: I always wanted to do this but I couldn't... I said something like this that we just work on the new material during touring, no?

No, you said that you get ideas while touring.

MD: Ah, that's true. I sometimes sing it to the telephone, or the Dictaphone. And that's it. When I later come back I try to play this on the guitar. It is very hard to compose the tracks during the tour. I just tried it many times and it never happened. So, I just said "OK, I skip it." It's so hard because it's kind of tiring. When you're tired it's a problem with thinking open-minded. Of course you can compose a lot of tracks but I just got used to the fact that it has to be calm, peaceful environment, then I can compose.

So, if an idea comes you just record it?

MD: Yeah, I'm just recording some kind of sketches, some kind of, you know, draft, or rough versions. Later I try to listen to this and, to be honest, in many situations I simply don't understand what I was singing about or even it's a problem to catch some kind of tune. But this is always what I do. I try, at least.

When you finished the trilogy, the first three albums, your music kind of changed a bit. Do you feel that wanting to do a trilogy kind of set you into some sort of frames and limited you in your musical choices?

MD: Of course, of course. And I did it on purpose, you know. It was like I really wanted to create three a little bit different albums but with the same patterns. And I felt during Rapid Eye Movement that sometimes it hurts. I mean, you can't simply do everything. You need to stick to some patterns. But I think it was kind of OK. Because it's just like you have, let's say, 50 or 60 matches and you need to use only them. So, you're building something from these matches. But it's also kind of creative, I think. After that, yeah, we could let ourselves to do something else. That's why Anno Domini is different than the trilogy and the new album is different than the trilogy and Anno Domini. That's the way it should be, I think.

But if you're looking at the albums you kind of feel like you became a bit more free after finishing the trilogy.

MD: I hope, yeah!

And on a similar note. Do you feel like a bit of a bitter person when you tackle the problems of the modern world. Bitter, or sad, in a way the grass-was-greener-back-in-the-day, or something like that.

MD: Yeah, that's true. You know, I even wrote a song about, it's called "Deprived." Are you asking me who I am, or what? I'm kind of melancholic person. That's it. Of course I regret that I could do some stuff in the past in different way. But I believe that everything that I did in the past just helped me to find my own place now here, in this particular moment. I shouldn't regret that. That's just the way it should be. But I like to recall and remind some stuff and write songs about.

And do you feel that the modern world is maybe not what you want it to be?

MD: Well, I'm not sure. I like modern world. I like the place we live in. I use some stuff, modern stuff, let's say. But everything should have a limit, everything should have a control. So, if you can control this, I think you can be happy. I'm kind of sad and bitter when I see that people simply sometimes are doing things out of limit. They let some stuff, some things, you know, to be over them. And a lot of people are just behaving like they don't have their own things to say. And this is sad for me. This is sad when everything is changing and sometimes is changing so fast that people can't even know who they really are. They can't find their own personality. And this is sad. But this is the time we live in, so we need to get used to this.

Mariusz Duda

Do you feel that you have found out who you are in this fast changing world?

MD: I'm always writing about some sad things and my hero in my lyrics is always alone and is always closed in the shelter. But me personally, let's say that there is a lot of my own personality in the lyrics. But I need to find the control and I need to find the limit of using modern things. Otherwise I would have to just, I don't know, stay at home and do nothing.

I think yes, I found how to survive. I'm learning how to survive, maybe. Still. And so far the only medicine, the only cure for that for me is just finding some kind of limit, you know. Use something but remembering that I should still develop something that was in the past and now is not necessary. Like handwriting, for instance. Usually when I'm just writing lyrics I try to write them on the piece of paper, not in the computer. I'm using phone for listening music but at home I'm listening music from the vinyls. I'm watching TV serials in a computer, and some movies, sometimes, when I'm on the tour, but I'm also going to the cinema. You know, I try to take care of everything. If there is a possibility to do this in the right way, in my opinion in the right way, I'm doing this. So, basically I try to find this some kind of limit.

You mentioned handwriting. Do you feel that your handwriting has become worse than it was when you were little?

MD: I handwrite less than I did it in the past, that's true. That's why I'm trying write down some stuff, and even notes, always in that way. I just simply can't stand when people always write on the computer or simply using only Dictaphones, or some kind of recorders. I like to cherish this, you know, and not forget about it.

You have kind of created acronyms for your album names, like ADHD (Anno Domini High Definition) and SONGS (Shrine Of New Generation Slaves). Have you tried to do something similar for song titles.

MD: Not yet. Maybe, sometime. I don't know.

How about hiding a secret message in the first letters of your lyrics?

MD: That's an option. A lot of people are doing this so I wanted to skip this idea. But I did in the past a track "Dna Ts. Rednum Or F. Raf" or something like this. That was a secret title because if you want to discover what it means, you should read it backwards.

You have also mentioned in another interview that you wanted female vocals for the last album.

MD: Yeah, I wanted. I wanted to have female vocals in "Deprived" and I even had a plan to do this. But I didn't have lyrics, so I couldn't send it to anyone. So, in the end it was too late for some kind of guests. Maybe it was better because there's something for the future.

Did you have somebody specific in mind?

MD: Yeah, I had but I can't simply talk about it because someone could just read this and remind that I promised him, or her, that we'll sing together. So, next time.

Looking at your albums as challenges, what do you think you have achieved with each one of them, personally or collectively as a band?

MD: Each album gives you something, right. Each album helps you to develop yourself. The last one, for instance, I think this is the most mature album we've ever recorded. And we became thanks to this much more mature band. I don't remember what was after trilogy and Anno Domini. (Laughs.) I think we just felt that we did another album and it's great, you know. We just need to do our things all the time.

OK, so whatever challenges there were, they were important at that moment in time, yeah?

MD: You know, the challenge for me is always to compose, to record, and to finish the album, you know. That's the biggest challenge. Sometimes it's a very long process. Sometimes... No, it's always a long process because I don't want to record just albums, I don't know, "let's go to the studio and record and we will see what will happen." I need some preparations for this. And I had preparations for the last album, after my experiments with Lunatic Soul I really wanted to have a satisfaction that I also with Riverside can record something that really makes me happy. Because so far it was always like we did good albums but something was wrong, you know. 10-20%, I could change this, I could change that. So, this album was for the first time like I'm happy with the final result. So, let's say that I think that was our most mature step in our career.

Hopefully it's not the last step.

MD: Yeah, hopefully!

You have also been saying, and you also mentioned earlier, that you're not really comfortable with a metal tag associated with the band.

MD: Yeah, a little bit.

Why is it uncomfortable for you? Is it because you don't want to be part of the metal scene?

MD: No, it's not like this. I think our music is not metal. Metal is based on the guitar, on electric guitar. And Peter is much more melodic guitar player than the riff player, something like this. You can hear Alice In Chains now [playing in the background]. We're not playing like this, you know. We don't have this groove, this metal groove. We have some metal experiments only. Riverside is based mostly on melodies, not on the groove. Being thought of as a progressive metal band means that you need to play these metal elements. As you could see we also sometimes like to create these tracks like "Night Session" where there's only ambient stuff. So I think rock is much, much better than metal was. We just simply play rock music with metal elements. We don't feel like a metal band. The fact that our drummer used to play death metal, or that guitar player played some kind of strange metal doesn't mean that Riverside also plays metal. So, anyway, the sad thing is that if you want to play festivals, a lot of festivals, you need to play mostly metal because there is a chance that you can play more festivals. Which is sad a little bit. But, what can we do.

Mariusz Duda

Talking about festivals. Next year you're also taking part in Progressive Nation at Sea festival. What do you think about this kind of festival put together by Mike Portnoy.

MD: Yeah, it will be Mike Portnoy's show because he will play with, I think, 4 or 5 bands on this ferry. It's very nice that we could just have an invitation on this boat. It will be like, I don't know, 3000 people. So, there's a huge chance that someone new will hear about us and hear us. Plus, there's a nice chance to hang out with others. Yeah, it's nice. I mean, we should play more often in America because this is a very big market and a lot of people want to simply hear us or listen to our music and come to see our shows. So, we're really looking forward to be there. Especially when this ferry starts in Miami. And we've never been in Miami. So, that's nice.

If we're talking about touring, what's the most interesting incidents that have happened with you on tour?

MD: Oh, there's a lot of incidents during the tour. Mostly they are not funny and I'm not sure I want to talk about them because, when you think about it, it's funny but later it's just simply sad because, let's say, you wasted a lot of time. I think this is not a question for me. You need to ask our crew, how they behave on the tour and then you could hear about a lot of funny incidents. I just simply can't talk about it because I promised that I will keep my mouth shut. So, let's officially say that Riverside is kind of a boring during the tour and (whispering) we have nothing to talk about. But this is only officially. Unofficially it is totally different and we can talk after this interview. (Laughs.)

One more thing. Have you had anything gone missing during the tours?

MD: What do you mean missing?

Well, you travel a lot. You travel by plane also. Have you had some equipment gone missing?

MD: Missing... Yeah, we didn't lose our bags but during the tour - during this tour it was fine, everything was fine, but during the tour two years ago, let's say, we just lost a guitar of our guitar player. As soon as we started to play in Poland, a thief appeared and just simply took it away.

Ah, this is sad.

MD: This is sad. So, that was our welcome back to Poland. But so far it's OK. Nothing happened.

So, next you're going to Finland, right?

MD: Yes, tomorrow.

OK. So, I'll wish you a very good gig here and in Finland and all the rest of the dates.

MD: Thank you so much! Yeah, hope it will be very nice. Thank you!

Thanks to Rob Palmen for coordinating the press stuff now as well as back in March.

Posted on 20.09.2013 by I shoot people.

Sometimes, I also write about it.

And one day I'm going to start a band. We're going to be playing pun-rock.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 138 users
22.09.2013 - 13:01
I'm seeing them next week. I'm bubbling inside already. I thought it was interesting what he said about playing new stuff live, that they are playing better than the older albums. I would think it would be the opposite somehow because it was more complex.

This is the perfect preparation for their show in Lisbon eheh
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29

Like you could kiss my ass.

My Instagram
26.09.2013 - 13:36
Au Pays Natal
Thanks for this.
07.10.2013 - 17:56

I don't know. When I read some interviews here, I feel that this was a bit different. Sounds like Mariusz didn't want to speak too much, or he was too closed for somethings.

Just my impression, thanks for it

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