05/04/2014: Riverside - Mariusz Duda
Metal Discovery: Interview with Mariusz Duda of Riverside - 5th April 2014
Riverside's emotionally profound and perpetually riveting sonic journey continued last year with the release of their fifth studio album, 'Shrine of New Generation Slaves'.
Combining melancholically haunting, and invigoratingly uplifting, melodies within the context of their atmospherically rich, musically expansive soundscapes, it's another masterful work that both consolidates and augments their genuinely progressive aesthetic, transcending any generic sense of the 'prog' label.
Over in the UK early-April 2014 for six headline shows as part of a wider European trek to conclude their 'New Generation' touring cycle, Metal Discovery
met up with Riverside's ever-humble frontman, Mariusz Duda
, at the Academy in Liverpool.
Settling down in the venue's production office a short while before showtime, we chat about 'SONGS', acronyms, festivals, cruise ships, ukuleles, his
forthcoming new solo album under the Lunatic Soul moniker, and a whole lot more...
: This is your biggest run of UK headline shows, so is there a feeling that your profile over here is still on the rise?
: I'm sure that this tour will change a little bit.
I mean, this album changed something in our career because we've noticed that, last year, we had more people in Germany; more people in Poland.
Unfortunately, last year, the UK was only London plus a couple more… but we've never had more than two or three shows.
This time, I have to say that six shows in the UK means that this is a huge tour for Riverside!
(Mariusz Duda on eschewing "new generation slavery" through his career as a musician)
"I think I can do what a lot of people can't do.
I mean, I can connect my passion with my job so, talking about this, I feel like I'm not a slave."
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PART 1 ABOVE - CLICK HERE FOR PART 2
Mariusz Duda backstage at the Academy, Liverpool, UK, 5th April 2014
: [Laughs] I'm maybe just kidding with this huge thing but, for the first time, we're playing more than three shows so it means that, maybe, after the next album, we'll have even more people.
So we still feel like we're growing and it's really, really nice for the band, for us.
MD: Has there been big crowds at the shows so far?
It's just London you've done so far in the UK, isn't it, last night…
: We started with two shows in Germany for this last leg of the tour… London was yesterday and was very nice - a lot of people; a lot of guests.
MD: Last time you were over here, you were due to perform at the Y-Prog festival in Sheffield but I gather you had to cancel that show due to some sort of bad cold, or bad throat?
: Yes, yes.
I, unfortunately, had some kind of troubles because, usually, winter to the beginning of spring is a kind of tricky period for my health, and we had to cancel.
Besides, we had some kind of logistic problems with our Nightliner and everything was not so well.
But, yeah, that was last year, but this year will be different.
MD: Last time we spoke, you said that you really wanted Riverside to play a UK fest, so that must've been pretty hard on you to cancel…
: Right, but a festival is a festival, but it's also nice when you're just playing your own shows.
Maybe some kind of festival this year, or next year, we will play something.
MD: Festivals are a good chance to bring Riverside's music to a crowd of people that maybe haven't heard your music before…
: Of course, there are festivals and festivals.
There are festivals for, say, three hundred people for a specific festival, and festivals for fifteen thousand.
MD: Also from the last time we chatted, in 2011, it was a couple of months before you were due to play Woodstock in Poland, and you said that was a two hundred thousand capacity festival…
MARIUSZ: Five hundred thousand.
So was that a more intimidating and daunting experience?
: That was bizarre!
: Yeah, that was weird because Helloween did a lot of fire on the stage and we felt that we should do something more, but then we just realised we can't do something more… and we should just simply show ourselves, who we are, with our music.
So we started with a slow, sad song and people started to, "oooooooo", but, after ten minutes, they were really into our show.
MD: And you were on the bill of the Prog Nation at Sea recently, so how was the whole cruise ship experience?
: Well, crazy a little bit, to be honest.
: Yes, that was really cool.
: I'd like to continue this but I have a problem with another acronym, to be honest!
That's much easier to find six words this time, but it's hard to find six words that make sense and are an acronym too.
But I will fight with this, somehow!
I would like to continue this idea; I think it's cool when you're just looking at the whole discography of the band, you see some kind of patterns.
I think it's nice.
MD: Did you start with 'SONGS' and then think of words that would fit into that acronym, or did you have a rough concept first?
: I actually started with 'SONGS', and I started with 'SLAVES', this word.
First it was 'SLAVES', that was my first idea of the new album and, later, it was 'SONGS'.
I wanted to combine those two elements, somehow.
MD: And you've been quoted as saying, "the acronym will definitely explain what we did with our music his
What exactly did you mean by that?
You have some fantastic 'songs' already!
: Yeah, exactly, we're always playing songs but, maybe this time, I think we just paid more attention to all those things that we didn't pay attention to before.
I mean, when creating songs, when creating just the music, which has a chorus/verse, chorus/verse, a song doesn't have to be ordinary, simple and with no deepness.
We wanted to create something which has a few levels, in our opinion, of course, and more ambitious songs than just any songs.
Mostly, this is based on the melodies, so I wanted to base this album mostly on melodies.
MD: There's progression again with your sound, but is it fair to say there's maybe a little regression as well in parts of songs, with some of the rockier grooves in the music, like in 'Celebrity Touch', for example?
: We wanted to experiment with this a little bit.
: Actually, we didn't want to do a tribute to the seventies because many bands, now, are just coming back with the sound and the way of composing.
: It was two songs even.
Yeah, but it simply just doesn't fit to this album.
We wanted to add something more, and we did it, but then it was later and almost added for the bonus CD.
But those two songs, maybe, they will find their places on the new album.
But, this time, it didn't work out, simply because I didn't have the lyrics, so I couldn't send the lyrics to them.
MD: You've described the concept as being "where people seem to be unable to take control over their own lives" - do you feel that you've taken control of your lives through pursuing Riverside as a full-time, professional band, or is there still an element of "new generation slavery" in your lives?
: I think I can do what a lot of people can't do.
: There's a website, progarchives.com, we are just tagged as 'progressive metal', and we don't feel like slaves of this tag so we just did that kind of album, for instance.
And I remember that someone just showed me a review of our album which only had one star.
Someone just wrote that we did a really good album, he
likes it, but this is not progressive metal so we need to have one star.
MD: So he's
criticising it for something it's not, or even supposed to be, or pretending to be.
The worst kind of review and reviewer!
: Yeah, it was a bad review because we didn't play progressive metal.
MD: Shame on you!
: We were trying to forget but it's just not possible, so I think the next album will be very progressive metal! [Laughs]
MD: That just shows how ridiculous genre tags are in the first place.
At the end of the day, there are only two genres - music you like, and music you don't.
: I just notice that people don't like to be confused, sometimes.
: Oh my god, thank you.
MD: I listened to it for around a month before I reviewed it because I wanted to digest it fully, so it was a grower, for me, in that sense.
If I'd written a review after a week, probably eight out of ten but, after a month, a definite ten.
: I'm just curious if, maybe one day, we should do something like play the songs live before we release them on the album.