It would be an understatement to say that this has been an eventful year for Mariusz Duda and Riverside. As the year began, they were riding high on the success of “Love,
Fear, and The Time Machine,” and it seemed things couldn’t be going better. But life doesn’t always cooperate, and February saw the tragic gut-punch of losing Piotr Grudzinski, which left Riverside’s future indeterminate for a time.
Duda himself, as I found out in the interview, lost his father some time after that.
It’s a lot to take, but some how Duda and Riverside soldier onward, as their recent announcement to continue as a three-piece attests. I was fortunate enough to be connected to Duda for another conversation (my first one can be found here), as we discussed what he and the band have been through and where they are going from here.
Progarchy: Well, it has been an eventful year for you guys … how are you holding up?
Mariusz Duda: Thank you so much, every day better and better. You know, time flies, and time also heals our wounds a bit. This year for me, personally, has not been good because I lost my father in May. So if you just imagine three months after Piotr’s death, I had a death in my family. Piotr was also my family. Anyway, this year was not so happy, and I just needed time to recover. But now I feel better and I have the strength to talk about Riverside and some other stuff, both in the past in the future.
Progarchy: In deciding Riverside would continue as a three piece, did you audition any guitarists or did you make the decision [to stay as a three piece] and go with it?
Mariusz Duda: Exactly, we just made the decision. I think casting was so inappropriate; it just didn’t fit with what we do. We lost a member of the family, so we just said to each other, now the family has three people only. We can’t just simply hire another member and go on tour like nothing happened. Lots of things happened, that’s why we canceled our shows, canceled our tour, and we needed time to heal. At the end we decided we should continue as a trio. We don’t know what the future brings, maybe we will meet up with someone and he will become part of the family. But for now, we believe that this was the decision we should make.
Progarchy: Was that decided early on, or did that come about later?
Mariusz Duda: At the beginning, we just thought that we will not do a casting. Of course people started to send us their resumes, it was just two or three days after. I don’t even have the words in Polish, for that, so imagine that I can’t find words even in English. So their behavior was not appropriate. We said if we continue, we definitely need to do this as a trio.
I am the guy that is the main composer in the band, so from the composer point of view nothing will change, I can still carry on. And I think we can record a new album without a guitar player in the band. We can hire someone if I have problems with very complicated solos, I can ask someone for help. But I am responsible for two guitars now.
And I will compose the same way I composed in the past. Of course the sound will change, and everything will change. We will become now a different band, we will have to open our souls for more experiments. Maybe for music it will be better. I have learned that I need to search for the bright side of what happens. I feel that we can carry on, and we will still have something to say. That’s why we decided to announce that. This announcement was necessary for the future, that we would like to record another album, that we would like to play a show. And the fact that we are not going to do a casting, we knew from the very beginning. We knew that if we had to survive, we were going to survive at a trio. Later we said to ourselves, we said we will say in September to the world what we decided.
Progarchy: Will you bring in touring guitarists for going on tour?
Mariusz Duda: That’s very true, that’s why we will hire someone to help. First and foremost, we would like to play the tribute show to Piotr, in February, exactly one year after. We found a venue, we have a date, we will announce, and it will be one show where will ask perhaps three guitarists for help, but it won’t be a casting, definitely. But it will show the band from a different perspective for sure, and this is exactly what we will become now. But it won’t be so normal as it used to be. We will find something different, not only in the studio, but also our new performances live.
Progarchy: How do you see the musical contributions of the other guys in the band changing as you move forward
Mariusz Duda: The main two persons in a band are the vocalist and a guitar player, and we lost one of the main core. So it’s just in some sort of way, the other members are in a higher position now, if I can say that. The balance will be different, but it’s just a matter of time that we will find a new approach. We will do everything, I will do everything to keep the things that are the most important and were always the most important in Riverside’s music. The soul and the heart of our music should be in our music itself, and I think I can take care of that. Even if the sound will change a bit, you will still have the feeling that this is Riverside, because we are not changing the name of Riverside, we are not changing our character, we are not changing our sensitivities. The river will be different but it will still flow.
We didn’t want to change the lineup, but we didn’t have any choice. But this is better for us to stay as we are, and ask someone for help. I see this in more of a Genesis way, and then there were three! Only three people left, but they found a solution, how to work in the studio, and how to work when it comes to play live shows. They found members and did it in a great way. Maybe we will find someone who will help us tour, and maybe there will be more people than four, we will see. But we will stay as a trio for sure, at least for this next period of time.
Progarchy: When you made your recent announcement about the future of Riverside, you mentioned that the next album would be a bit darker than LTFM. Do you have an idea about the next album from a conceptual standpoint?
Mariusz Duda: Well, not yet. Right now we are just promoting ‘Eye of the Soundscape’, our ambient style, our ambient side. And at the very beginning of the next year, I am going to release my solo project, the next album of Lunatic Soul. When I finish that I will go back to Riverside and focus on that. I miss a bit more of an intense sound. Darker sound, I’m not sure. For sure it will be more intense and more self-confident. ‘Love, Fear and the Time Machine’ was the last chapter of me [light laughter] crying for myself. I just wanted to grow up a little bit and stand on my own two feet and pull myself together and go on. So for sure the music should be more straightforward and more self-confident. Maybe more heavy, but not in a depressing kind of way. There are so many depressing things I don’t want to dig into all the time. For sure it will be a mark, now we will become a totally different band, we are a band with a scar. So everything we do from now on will be from the perspective of a band that lost someone. But I don’t want to seem only about this, I want to sing about a positive way of life. I want to sing about struggling and about how you need to live, and not think about death and things that can happen to you, but you need to overcome lots of things. So I want to change into this direction, focus on all the strength I have inside of me. This is how I see that in this moment.
Progarchy: What is the genesis of the various tracks on ‘Eye of the Soundscape’?
Mariusz Duda: First and foremost this is a compilation of the odd songs we had on the bonus disks, and some new tracks we recorded at the beginning of this year. It was really important for us to release this kind of album. Thanks to this, I think lots of people can see our music from a wider perspective and see that we are a different kind of band, that we are not only this strict progressive metal, progressive rock band, but we have something more to say speaking of different influences and different types of music. I always wanted to have a band that has a really wide range of moods in its discography. When you wake up, you can listen to ‘Anno Domini High Definition’ and feel full of strength, later you can listen to ‘Love, Fear, and The Time Machine’ and its just normal songs. Later you can listen to something more to connect those two worlds, listen to ‘Second Life Syndrome’. When you go to bed, you can listen to ‘Eye of the Soundscape.’ So you’ve got all these moods in one band, so it’s pretty cool. So I thought it was a good time for us to release that kind of album for us, so we can show that we are that kind of band.
And what we do mostly? We get rid of the drummer [laughs]. We said “Piotr [Kozieradski], would you be so kind and, I don’t know, let us do this without you?” Because we don’t want to set up the drums and record these things because it takes so much time, so the three of us will just improvise and do something from nothing, and it will be so easy! And he said “Ok, that’s fine.” So it’s mostly created by the three of us. And that was always a part of our regular albums. When I realized that we’ve got lots of these songs, and also realized that lots of people don’t even realize that we play that kind of music, because mostly this is for die hard fans that bought special editions of our music. It’s not on Spotify! It’s not on streaming services. So I thought maybe this is a good time to release this and show people that we can play this kind of music. It has always been a part of our DNA. It is just full of improvisations, full of flow. It was really important for us, because we really adored that kind of music. Even if we played something hard during the day, at night we played that kind of music.
Progarchy: I’ve noticed some musical themes from some of these tracks make their way onto albums – for example, there are parts of “Machines” that show up on “Shrine of New Generation Slaves.” So does the recording of these tracks provide some basis or starting point for working on material for an album, or are these tracks taken from bits and pieces of the album and reworked into this format?
Mariusz Duda: I knew from the beginning we would record the regular album, and we will prepare the bonus tracks with different moods. And it was really fun to take some parts from the regular albums – thirty seconds of one track – and to later develop this into ten minutes of something. It was fun. The tracks from Shrine of New Generation Slaves, we just took a few parts and developed them in that way, and did the same with Love, Fear, and The Time Machine. When it comes to with Love, Fear, and The Time Machine, we have the track Aether, and we just took the part from We Got Used To Us [from Shrine of New Generation Slaves], the piano from the intro, we just developed this and created this soundscape. We always knew we could create something for a bonus disk, and it would have a different character. Everything on Eye of the Soundscape was created for this album, with this different attitude and this different approach, with this different thing. It was never as if this was something on the regular album and we said “Ok, it should be on something different.” This is definitely not a new direction for Riverside, this is the album in between. It doesn’t show what we will do in the future.
Progarchy: How about Lunatic Soul, what is next for that project?
Mariusz Duda: I am working on that right now, and I would like to finish this around January, so April or May will be the official release. I will probably change the direction a little bit, it will be more intimate but more intense too. And I will keep these oriental things, now, it’s more electronic … it’s weird. So maybe this is good. For sure, the new chapter of me in Lunatic Soul.
Progarchy: So you say there is going to be a shift in direction with Lunatic Soul?
Mariusz Duda: I think. It started with Riverside, the lyrics [on Love, Fear, and The Time Machine] were more optimistic. Walking on a Flashlight Beam is the darkest album I have ever recorded. It was about suicide, it was about solitude, it’s really intense … it’s my Pornography by The Cure. I just wanted to hide myself in a cage, deep down and everything. So I created this avatar, and I was terrified with the result because it was so dark. And I said to myself, “Jesus Christ, what’s wrong with me??” “Maybe this is the end of something and I should look for something positive in my life.” That’s why Love, Fear, and the Time Machine was different, with a different approach, with the track Found at the end, the light at the end of the tunnel. Something switched in my head.
I don’t want to record albums just for myself now, I want to record albums that can help someone else. That’s why another album I’m releasing, Breaking Habits [by Meller, Golyzniak, Duda] is about breaking habits … every day there is the time where you can start something, how you can start your life over. And the new Lunatic Soul will be about death, but from a different perspective. It will be about how to deal with it when you lose someone. It won’t be about this guy who died already, I did that on the four previous Lunatic Soul albums. Now I would like to focus more on the life side, how to deal, how to strive, how to fight with all these bad things around you. So as I said about this new approach with Riverside, I would also like to see this with Lunatic Soul in this direction. It doesn’t have to be happy, I’m not going to start singing happy songs. It will still have darkness and melancholy, but with a different attitude now, with something like hope at the end. So the new Lunatic Soul will change in this direction, and the music will follow. It will be something more intense and, I don’t know, it will be something powerful. Tomorrow I am going to another town and we will record the orchestra for the tracks. I’ve never worked with an orchestra, and I will start this with Lunatic Soul.
The most beautiful thing is that I am an artist that can create my own musical worlds, I can create this in Riverside, I can create this in Lunatic Soul, maybe I will create something under my own name … it doesn’t matter. I want to use this. Even if it’s hard, even if life is kicking you all the time, that’s the beauty of this job – you can focus on something and just create something from nothing. And I think within the next few years a new chapter will start in my career and my life. It will be really positive and good and I think interesting from a musical point of view. I just feel more self-confident now, and I think “what the hell, let’s improvise, let’s try new solutions, let’s take risks.” This is what I do now, I’m just recovering and starting over.
Progarchy: Thank you very much for your time, Mariusz.
Mariusz Duda: Thank you, Erik.