DATE OF INTERVIEW:
22nd October 2015
With their recently released sixth studio album, 'Love, Fear and the Time Machine', Riverside have continued to forge their own progressive space within which their atmospheric and mood driven music has flourished once again. This time, however, they've shifted focus onto their more stripped-back, melody-driven side to reflect the album's overarching introspection; a central theme that delves into the ambivalent duality of both excitement and trepidation involved with making life changing decisions. Thus, the melancholy that's been perennially present in their compositions has been coloured with a healthy dose of optimism, as lyrics weave a path between nostalgic reflections and future speculations. Back in the UK as part of their 2015 European tour for their longest run of dates on these shores thus far, and appearing in bigger venues to boot, Riverside's popularity is undoubtedly still on the up, as indicated by the first ever entry in the official UK album charts last month. Vocalist/bassist Mariusz Duda spoke to Metal Discovery about 'Love, Fear and the Time Machine' in Manchester, a few hours before the band's show in the city's historic Ritz venue...
METAL DISCOVERY: Congratulations on the new album. Another masterpiece, I think... perfection. How have the general reactions and reviews been so far?
MARIUSZ: Very positive. At first, I thought that maybe old fans didn’t like the album and, maybe, we’ll just gain a new audience, but the old fans loved it… and we didn’t gain a new audience, so everything’s the same!
(Mariusz Duda on the optimistic flavours on new Riverside album, 'Love, Fear and the Time Machine')
"I was delving in the darkness for so many albums recently that that was really a challenge for me to go back to some much more open tunes and do something more positive and brighter."
Mariusz Duda backstage at The Ritz, Manchester, UK, 22nd October 2015
Photograph copyright © 2015 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: There are bigger venues on this tour so there must be some new fans.
MARIUSZ: Yeah, for sure, there are more people now, so maybe they’ve had a chance to hear the new album. I’ve heard about the charts that we’ve finally, for the first time, appeared in the UK charts, so that means that more people have access to our music.
MD: You’ve based the album’s theme around the mixed emotions involved with making life changing decisions, but with the emphasis on an optimistic outlook. The music reflects that optimism, so did you choose the theme before composing the music, or did the compositions call for a more positive narrative?
MARIUSZ: That’s the tricky part with the happiness on this album because it’s still full of melancholy and nostalgia. But, for sure, it has a happy end or, at least, more positive. But I was delving in the darkness for so many albums recently that that was really a challenge for me to go back to some much more open tunes and do something more positive and brighter. So, I really wanted to try something different… but the most important thing connected with the Riverside core, if I can say that, I think it stays still. You can hear that this is Riverside.
MD: Oh, it definitely sounds like Riverside very much… it’s not like you’ve become a jazz band, or something like that, overnight.
MARIUSZ: No, no, definitely. But that’s what you mentioned, because of the subject and because of the lyrical theme, I couldn’t play jazz this time or some progressive keyboards because it simply didn’t fit. That’s why it’s a little bit of a simpler formula this time.
MD: Indeed, and it works brilliantly as well. We chatted before about the acronyms and double meanings of album titles, and how you might want to continue with that, but is ‘Love, Fear and the Time Machine’ supposed to follow that trend? Is there any kind of hidden meaning in there?
MARIUSZ: Only with the numbers, with the number of words in the title, but not an acronym. I was thinking of an acronym, to be honest, but I couldn’t think of a whole title, so I just skipped the acronym this time, and I focussed mostly on the words. It’s still ‘Love, Fear and the Time Machine’… six words, and the album has sixty minutes, and it’s our sixth album, so there’s some kind of devil number inside!
MD: I looked up “LFTM” in the Urban Dictionary, and it returned “Looks Fine To Me”… which fits with the optimism thing, maybe, so I thought there is some sort of cunning thing going on there.
MARIUSZ: Yeah, yeah, that was on purpose! No…
MD: It seems the song order reflects a journey from uncertainty and ambivalence on the opening track, ‘Lost’, to certainty and positivity on closing number, ‘Found’. Would you say you ‘found’ yourself in any way, through the process of making this album?
MARIUSZ: I think I became more self-confident this time… you suck when you think that life sucks. That’s, maybe, a very clichéd sentence, but it’s true, and I think I found myself in a different place and a different time now. For sure, I became more mature but, still, I’ve got a lot of childish things inside, so I try to keep a balance. But I know where I stand now and this album helped me to realise many things, for sure.
MD: Progressing with your sound and style, and taking risks with your music, could be considered as reflecting the theme of the album, because how each new album is received could become life-changing in various ways. Is that something you’d agree with?
MARIUSZ: We wanted to change something, definitely, and I think we did that. For me, Riverside’s music should always develop some ways and, so far, I try to, on each album, do everything with different colours. But, as we mentioned before, leave the main core, so it depends what you’re looking for listening to the music. Some people listen to keyboard solos or something, or guitar riffs, or the music itself is much more important than the lyrics’ subject. On this album, we wanted, first and foremost, to prove that we are not a Dream Theater type of band… the emotional side connected with the space and the mood is the most important thing.
MD: So did you experience “love”, “fear” and the “time machine” when writing the music?
MARIUSZ: I think that kind of music, which is full of moods and space, reflects, much better, that kind of title, like we have now. And everything which is connected… I think all our titles are connected with the music, very much, so I couldn’t simply imagine a different kind of music for this one. So, I’m sorry if someone doesn’t like it, but we like it very much!
MD: Did you feel like you were leaving your comfort zone when punctuating the melancholy with the optimism, and was it difficult to get into the mindset to compose music with a more positive vibe?
MARIUSZ: You know, I was a little tired of the amount of darkness that I’d got recently, because I also did, in the meantime, Lunatic Soul, which was about suicide. So that was pretty dark and ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ was also pretty dark, so I really wanted to do something different and it came very easy to me, because I composed this album within two months, everything, almost, and with a good flow. So it appears that kind of music came to me much easier than the previous stuff. That means something but I don’t yet know what… probably that I was looking for this optimistic side very much; you know, it was connected with my personal issues and personal experiences. There was some kind of transition in my personal life, so I wanted to… I’m not sure if I’m ‘found’ already in my personal life but, for sure, I found myself in Riverside.
MD: So, in that sense, is it a catharsis for you, the music you make?
MARIUSZ: What do you mean?
MD: Well, I asked Devin Townsend this once, and he said that every album he does is a cathartic experience for him. You know, like an emotional release…
MARIUSZ: Sure, this is always what I do, you know. I don’t need to be inspired by different artists too much to create something; I just, from time to time, need to spit out something that’s stuck inside of me. And, this time, that kind of mood was stuck inside of me.