Polish band Riverside will perform in Novi Sad, at Theatre of Youth (Pozorište mladih), on March 6. We had great pleasure in talking to the front man, Mariusz Duda about music, life, Serbian gigs and other stuff.

You performed twice in Serbia; how do you feel about coming back? 

It might sound like excessive flattery but whenever we play in Serbia, we realise how much we regret not visiting you more often. First of all, there are always lots of people at our shows, people who are young or young in spirit; secondly, I really like the energy of the audience, which always gives us wings. We simply play better concerts there. I don’t know, perhaps someone adds something to our coffee, or maybe it’s just in the air, but we feel really good with you 😉

You announced on the 2019 show in Belgrade that you will return on a Balkan tour, you even specified March 2020. Was that planned prior to the show, or was it a kind of an impulsive, onstage decision? 

Before our last year’s performance in Belgrade, we talked to our local promoter about coming back the following year and organising the “Balkan edition” of the tour. We collectively arrived at the conclusion that it was a great idea. That was the starting point. It was then developed to include Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey, and we could not longer call it “The Balkan Tour”, so we called it “With the Sun Tour”, but it all started from you.

Speaking about that, do you have any ritual before going out on the stage?

We do “whoa” together, a kind of “circle of friendship” hand-stack. We form a circle, Mittloff puts his hand at the bottom, my hand is at the top, we shout out and let go. If we don’t do it, we play bad concerts.

Let’s talk music, seven studio albums, how hard it is today to be (and stay) original? What inspires you the most to write music?

I have been leading Riverside artistically right from the start, and I’ve always tried to create albums which I myself would like to listen to, but I don’t like to repeat myself so each release must be different from the previous one. I could never record the same album again and again. Such approach really helps me keep the music fresh and original, but also leads to stress and fear of creating something that will not be interesting or exceptional. I get strong internal desires to create. They are so powerful that I feel really restless if I don’t let them out. That has been my main inspiration and drive for many years. Which is why, apart from Riverside, I also have my own solo project, Lunatic Soul.

Melancholic rock, or introspective prog? The question derives from the lyrics: Where are we now, what have we done? 

You know, I think that this kind of questions will be the main theme of the new Riverside album: who we are, how we’re perceived. Unfortunately, our band has been labelled “Dream Theater style prog metal band” for quite some time. And it’s not quite the case. We don’t play prog metal, we simply play melancholic rock songs which are sometimes a bit heavier, sometimes a bit more metal, sometimes a bit more electronic and ambient. We are in the progressive rock family but we would like to be perceived as a band with a message. So I think that melancholy is quite close to us. The lyrics are often touching on the subjects of loneliness, fighting for survival, attempts to find yourself in a society, and so they’re more “introspective” indeed, but perhaps more “rock” than “prog” 🙂

After the show in Belgrade, I compared Wasteland with Slipknot’s The Grey Chapter, they are completely different albums, but both are burdened with similar heaviness of battling with the loss of a dear friend. Does anyone in the band listens to Slipknot? What are you favorite artists? 

No, unfortunately, we don’t listen to Slipknot, but we respect the fact that they have become one of the most popular metal bands. We are more into, you know, the classics, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Slayer (laughs)

You plan to perform the entire Wasteland album (it’s a personal favorite); do you feel you have crossed it, is there life beyond the Wasteland? 

During the upcoming tour we are going to play a bit more from our previous releases, not just the latest album. These will be the last “wasteland” shows so we’d like to introduce a bit of variety to our setlist. We don’t want it to be the same as the previous year. We’re planning to play some covers as well. But if you’re asking about our feelings, then yes, we’ve just welcomed Maciek Meller as an official member of the band and it’s time to move forward. It’s time to show that Riverside are OK and keep going strong.

Is there anything you wish to share with the fans in Serbia? 

We are truly looking forward to the concert. As I said before, we really love your energy and sensitivity. And we’re happy to play in Novi Sad for the first time, as we’ve heard a lot of good things about this place. We really can’t wait. See you there!

Stefan Nedeljković

Photo: Promo