Famous Polish prog rock band Riverside as a part of their 2019. tour promoted their latest album "Wasteland" across Europe. "I don't know why we didn't came back earlier", were the words of band's frontman Mariusz Duda when he saw the reaction of the audience during Belgrade (Serbia) gig.

Before that, Riverside played in 2013. in Serbia when they were on their New Generation Tour, and the next one, in 2016., was canceled because of sudden death of guitar player Piotr Grudziński. They never thought thay would continue playing after this tragedy but, in their own words, support of their fans helped them to continue with recording and playing. Wasteland album followed, and it represents survival, recovery and progress of the band despite bad period.

Wasteland tour is slowely moving toward the end. The last concerts go by the name Wasteland With the Sun Tour 2020. Tour is about to start so today we are talking with Mariusz about Pollish and prog rock scene, prog rock in general, Wasteland album, influences, upcomming tour, etc...

HC: First of all, thank you for the opportunity to talk for the web portal “Helly Cherry” and we wish to welcome your return to Serbia.
Next year RIVERSIDE celebrates twentieth anniversary of its work. Do the beginnings seem very far and have you expected this kind of success and importance which this band has in a world rock scene?

Mariusz: I definitely didn't expect time to have passed so quickly. (laughs) Let's be honest, when you start playing in a band, you never know if you will be successful. You can be hopeful but never quite sure because there are so many factors and conditions to be met. Around 2001, I certainly did not think that Riverside would survive so many years. Had we all known that, we would probably have tried to come up with a more original name for the band. (laughs)

HC: What does Poland have which is so fruitful for the formation of high-quality bands, especially of prog-rock orientation. That is not music for the wide auditorium, it’s unusual and complex, but I would say, there was never before more good prog-rock bands coming from Poland. What is the reason for that?

Mariusz: When it comes to progressive rock, we had SBB and Czesław Niemen in the 70s, but that was indeed 50 years ago and since then, only one progressive rock band has managed to achieve success outside of Poland - us. I don't know why other bands before us had not become famous elsewhere. Perhaps because progressive rock is the kind of genre that brings to mind elderly men and we play a little for women as well? (laughs)

HC: Are you satisfied with the media treatment? How much are you represented in them and do you think that rock’n’roll isn’t as important as it used to be?

Mariusz: We are not celebrities so media are not really interested in our band. We get some coverage when we're promoting our new releases and that's about it. Media are not usually interested in non-controversial bands for whom music is the most important thing.

Besides, rock'n'roll has not been mainstream for over a decade or even two. These days, the voice of the generation belongs to hiphop. Rock'n'roll is for sentimental journeys of 40-, 50-, 60-year-olds. Of course, there are still some Led Zeppelin clones, which shows that the younger people can do that too and are interested in the genre but those are exceptions.

HC: In today’s world all kinds of things are classified as progressive sound. What do you consider to be a real prog? What is the difference in sound and style between old prog dinosaurs and newer bands which we put in this ever growing basket of prog sound?

Mariusz: Are you asking about the difference between Boomer Prog and Teenage Prog? (laughs) Boomer Prog has got classical approach towards instruments, tempo and sophistication. Young people apply a lot of modern technology and their compositions are three times more dynamic and complicated. The older ones are better at selling CDs and vinyls, the younger are better at Spotify and Instagram. There is no such thing as "Real Prog" any more, there's just music that more or less resembles that of the past, it's more or less original. As for Riverside, I'm trying to tread the fine line between all of this with more or less success (laughs).

HC: Can you recommend some new, young band which you like and which has not yet received the attention they deserve, or have you discovered some forgotten jewl, which you would share with us?

Mariusz: I don't listen to new bands. I appreciate and respect my colleagues from Inside Out and Kscope but I listen to them mainly to see how well they've done. But I can definitely recommend those two labels to anyone who would like to find a new band or musician to listen to. I'm sure everyone can discover a "jewel" for themselves there :)

HC: Is the “Wasteland” your most successful and maybe even the best album? What distinguishes it from your other records?

Mariusz: For many people the best album is always the one which marks the beginning of their journey with a given band. There's always the subjective emotional aspect which overrides the crowd psychology. Is "Wasteland" the best? It's very subjective. It's definitely the most successful yet. The main difference is that it's an album we recorded as a trio.

HC: This is the second time you’re coming to Serbia with your “Wasteland” tour. How do you remember your last year’s performance at “Dom omladine Beograda”? What can fans expect at the upcoming event? Will there be any changes, above all, in the play list, the arrangements, playing?

Mariusz: Frankly, it was mainly because of our Balkan concerts and their atmosphere that we've decided to come back after a year. We happened to play more in the West recently but it's here that is much closer to us intellectually and culturally. So I promised myself a year ago that we won't be taking such long breaks between visiting you. We're coming back to Serbia smiling, with our last Wasteland concerts. Of course the setlist will be changed. And it will be different than a year ago so those of you who saw us then, will be treated to a different show.

HC: It is a well-known fact that the band “Marillion” is very responsible for the establishment of “Riverside”. Which other bands have had an influence on your band?

Mariusz: Listening to Marillion brought together two of the members of our band, the founding fathers of Riverside, but it's probably not a surprise or a secret that we have been connected mostly by our love for Pink Floyd. There was also Rush, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater with whom we even went on tour. But it was mostly Pink Floyd that was "our band".

HC: If you were to decide to record albums with the covers of some bands, which songs would those be? Have you ever come to that idea? Do you maybe play any at the rehearsals, or you don’t have time for that because of your author work?

Mariusz: I think, if we ever decide to release an album of cover versions, they will be mostly Polish songs by Polish artists. During the upcoming tour in Poland, we're going to play for the first time in our career a cover of a Polish song. Who knows, perhaps it will be the beginning of a new project?

HC: How was 2019 for the band, in general? Are you satisfied with your achievements in it and what are your plans for 2020? New songs maybe?

Mariusz: 2019 was incredibly intense concertwise. The first half of 2020 is also going to be dominated by live performances, and the plans for the rest of the year is for me to release another Lunatic Soul album and then most likely to start writing the 8th Riverside album with the boys. Classic.

HC: I wish you all the best and I’ll see you on March 6 in Novi Sad!

Mariusz: We haven't been to Novi Sad before but we have heard a lot of great things about it and we truly can't wait to play for you (laughs) See you there!

Interview done by Zoran Popnovakov