Riverside: Mariusz Duda controls his own life

Riverside’s new album, Shrine Of New Generation Slaves, of which the acronym is “Songs”, is, as its title shows, about the different kinds of slavery our generation is victim of or locks itself into. The record is about love, religion and so on, but we chose to focus on the theme of the ones who complain about their everyday lives, who think they can’t have control over their life, an image that inspired the record’s artwork showing unidentified beings on an escalator, the kind of people you pass next to every morning when you go to work.

“Maybe it’ll sound cliché”, starts Mariusz Duda, the band’s singer and bass player, before insisting on the importance of choosing your own life’s color, for instance in combining work and passion, instead of enduring it. The fact that’s it’s been said thousands of times before doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant anymore.

A lot of artists, Duda for instance, will tell you that living your dream life is difficult, frustrating – but still less frustrating than the life of the one who’s never tried a beautiful adventure –, long, but most of all, that it’s possible.

So let’s stop being cynical, and don’t laugh about any kind of naivety or lack of originality that you may find in this interview.

« One day, I was in a taxi and the cab driver didn’t stop complaining about everything during the whole trip. When I came home, I heard my friends say exactly the same. […] I asked them: “Why can’t you change it ?”, they all said that it wasn’t possible. »

Radio Metal: If we take every first letter of the title of the album, Shrine Of New Generation Slaves, it gives the word « songs ». Was it something intended ?

Mariusz Duda (vocals, bass) : Actually, yes. I just had a plan to do something in between two full albums, like an EP. I was tired of doing another concept album, so I thought it nice to gather some songs and combine them together in one piece. But unfortunately, some songs, which were first intended to last 4 or 5 minutes, turned into 8 or 12 minutes long ! I had some interested subjects to write about, like unhappiness and slavery, so I decided to change the titles of the songs, and use this acronym.

The album was recorded, mixed and mastered through the months of March and June as well as September and October of 2012. That’s quite long : what took you so long?

We were in the studio all the time : we had a lot of breaks. First of all, I wanted to bring all my thoughts together. Then, in March 2012, we did some promo and when I had all the songs, I decided to go back to the rehearsal room in April. It was something like three weeks of work, and two months of break. During this time, we didn’t do shows and I developed this record bit by bit. Somewhere around October, I finally finished it ! (laughs)

Did all these breaks help you to have more hindsight on your songs?

Yes, it did. The previous album was mainly made in our rehearsal room. For Shrine Of New Generation Slaves, only two songs were made by us all together, and the rest by me. I had some ideas that I worked on my acoustic guitar, like the second track, for instance, but I wanted to change them for something less cliché: that’s why it took some time. Maybe I should have recorded this album like The Beatles did with their first one, but I didn’t want to be in a hurry.

You always produce your album by yourselves. Is it in order to have full control on your music?

Yes, exactly. We recorded Shrine Of New Generation Slaves in the Serakos Studios, in Warszaw. We’ve already recorded in these studios before, but this time, although the sound engineers were the same, the location, the equipment have changed a lot: the studios are much bigger, much better and the quality of the sound is really nice. I think you can hear that on the record.

Haven’t you nonetheless thought of working with a producer whom you can trust?

We have our sound engineers but to be honest with you, it is the first album which I entirely produced. I had a clear vision from the start of what I wanted: it wasn’t a brainstorming process, like the four of us deciding what to do. As soon as I have a vision of what I want, I don’t need any producer, but if one day I’m stuck, we’ll ask someone from the outside, maybe.

« You have to combine your passions and your job. »

On the limited edition of the album, there are two songs, ‘Night Session Part 1’ and ‘Night Session Part 2’. Why aren’t there on the normal edition?

It’s because I really wanted to release them on a CD. Our label, unfortunately, said that we couldn’t do it on one record, so I had to suggest to put them on another CD. We had some suggestions to put some old stuff on it or do a DVD, but as this new record is something new and fresh, I didn’t want to use anything form the old days. So we spent three days in the studio, mostly at night, without a drummer: we started to do some strange and ambient things, like the ones we did on Rapid Eye Movement, but much more mature! (laughs) There’s also some stuff close to my solo project, Lunatic Soul. These two songs are some interesting pieces of music that you would listen to at night.

New Generation Slave symbolises the unhappiness of people who seem to be unable to take control over their own lives and hate them and their jobs, for example. Why do you think so many people live a life that they actually hate?

First of all, the album is about different kinds of slavery. The unhappiness that you’ve quoted is the main theme of this song. My inspiration for it came from this : one day, I was in a taxi and the cab driver didn’t stop complaining about everything during the whole trip. When I came home, I heard my friends say exactly the same, and how a bad day they had, etc. I asked them: “Why can’t you change it ?”, they all said that it wasn’t possible so it was a strange kind of conversation. It seems that many people consider themselves as slaves: that’s why I wrote this song about someone totally frustrated and desperate. Other songs talk about other kinds of slavery: being in a relationship, religion, having problems with your identity. Shrine Of New Generation Slaves is not a concept-album, but its whole idea is in each track.

There is a song called « Escalator Shrine », which refers to the artwork, where we see people with no facial expression and with empty eyes on an escalator. Can we say that seeing people going to work that way is what inspired you this theme?

All these people are not moving on the escalator: they have no identity and this kind of slavery it inspired me for this track. All these big malls with escalators are today’s modern temples, in a way.

« Before, as children, we could use our imagination, but now, everything is brought to us instantly. »

Why is it so hard to simply live a life you want? Do you think that most people doesn’t have the guts to try to accomplish their dreams?

Maybe it’s going to sound cliché, but I would say that you have to combine your passions and your job. It’s very hard to achieve, and that’s why many people feel frustrated. But others would not do that and complain all the time. That doesn’t mean that I want to write about this kind of people all the time, because there is nonetheless a light at the end of the tunnel: the last track of the album is quite positive.

What about you? Are you happy and do you see yourself as a man that’s free from this slavery?

Yes, I try to be happy. To be honest, the lyrics are a bit personal and the whole thing is not about talking about unhappiness all the time, but that we are living in different times. Before, as children, we could use our imagination, but now, everything is brought to us instantly. I’m trying to find solutions to survive, that’s why I enjoy writing music and sad lyrics! (laughs) The fact that I write these kind of lyrics doesn’t mean that I have a huge problem with myself: I have friends, a nice wife and I see life through positive colours.

Riverside will be touring in Europe. There are lot of shows in Poland, Germany and in the UK, but only one show in France and in Belgium. Why?

I don’t know. You have to ask our tour manager. Last year, we did two or three shows in France, but it appeared that we weren’t as known as we had thought, or maybe the dates weren’t the right ones. Shows in Paris are always fantastic, but we’ll wait until we’ll be more popular and we’ll come back next September or October.

« I enjoy writing music and sad lyrics! (laughs) The fact that I write these kind of lyrics doesn’t mean that I have a huge problem with myself: I have friends, a nice wife and I see life through positive colours. »

Do you intend to do an other Lunatic Soul album?

I would love to, but right now, I’m quite busy with Riverside. I’m collecting ideas, but I’ve closed the chapter of writing about death: I’d like to do something different, like talking about instruments. I don’t want to repeat myself: I need to take a break, but I’ll continue with Lunatic Soul. I don’t know if something will come out next year, but 2014 at least.

Does this project have some effects on Riverside’s music ?

I think you can hear that on the new album! (laughs) For the first time, you can actually hear some Lunatic Soul in Riverside’s music. Thanks to Lunatic Soul, Shrine Of New Generation Slaves is a much more mature album and I have now much more experience of the studio: it helped me a lot.

Interview conducted by phone on December 2012
Transcription: Jean Martinez – Traduction(s) Net

Riverside’s official website: www.riversideband.pl

Album Shrine Of New Generation Slaves, released on January 21st, 2013 via InsideOut Music

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