Riverside is a way of expressing reflections, dreams and fantasies through music. It is an idea for exposing emotions, for an escape from the grey or unnaturally overcoloured reality. It is a music inspired by a time, a place, a thought and a word, a figment of their own and other people's imagination. It is joy and sadness, a whisper and a scream.
Before they met at the same time and place, Piotr Grudziński (Grudzień) had experimented as a lead guitarist in a metal band "Unnamed", Mariusz Duda had created progressive sounds as a vocalist, bass and keyboard player in a band "Xanadu" from Węgorzewo, Piotr Kozieradzki (Mittloff) had been a drummer in death metal "Hate" and "Domain", and Jacek Melnicki, a sound engineer in his own recording studio, had played keyboards as a guest musician on the albums of the artists he promoted.
Piotr Grudziński: The idea of creating a band emerged rather accidentally. I was going with Mittloff in his car, Mit put a tape on and quite unexpectedly I heard Marillion. It turned out that in spite of playing in a death metal band, he was a great fan of progressive rock, and as I was also very keen on that kind of music, we thought that maybe one day we could play some progressive sounds together. After a year we started to talk about this idea more and more often.
Melnicki's studio proved to be a good place to start up a musical side-project, quite informal and non-committal, the one Grudzień and Mittloff had been talking about for some time. Jacek agreed to play the keyboards and they only needed a bass player.
Mariusz Duda: One day I gave Jacek a CD with some recordings of my previous band and asked him to "de-hiss" it. He kept it for about a year and never "de-hissed" the material (laughs). But he might have listened to it, because after a year he asked me to show up at a rehearsal of a new band who were to play similar music. I thought, "what the heck, someone here wants to play progressive rock? Why not?" :-)
They first met at a rehearsal in the autumn of 2001. It clicked.
Mariusz Duda: We have decided to depart from certain clichéd schemata; to abandon any inspirations drawn from the bands which most "progressive" rock players tend to follow despite changes in musical trends; to just play around with melodies and rhythms in a way that would satisfy all of us.
Then came the first compositions. Instrumental at the very beginning, they began to evolve towards songs, when one day Mariusz experimented with singing in some strange language. Much to his surprise, his friends approved of it and thus the band gained a vocalist.
In the meantime, someone suggested the name Riverside. It stayed.
The band started more regular rehearsals. What was to be only a non-committal project, became the priority for the members of Riverside and lessened their interest in their mother bands. In October 2002 Riverside presented their music at two concerts in Otwock and "Przestrzeń Graffenberga" in Warsaw.
March 2003 saw the release of their first demo titled simply "Riverside."
Piotr Grudziński: The release of the demo was, in my opinion, an essential step on the way towards showing our music to the public and creating an interest in Riverside. We made 300 copies, some of which were sent to radio stations and phonographic companies both in Poland and abroad, and 200 of them were given out as a bonus to the ticket for the concert in "Kopalnia" club. That was a perfect move. We "got rid" of the CDs in a couple of days, and some copied CD-Rs soon began to circulate. We've whetted the appetite for a full studio album.
The promo concert in the Warsaw club "Kopalnia" on March 5th, 2003, attracted full house and went beyond the group's expectations.
Piotr Kozieradzki: Personally, I was a little anxious if anyone comes to our concert. It proved to be the other way round. So many people turned up that we ran out of tickets, CDs, cloakroom numbers and everything in the bar. We have very fond memories from that concert.
Unfortunately, the next gig was to take place no sooner than in a year...
Mariusz Duda: The album will be called "Out Of Myself." It will contain the material from the demo, but there will also be some new, more mellow pieces and another instrumental "Reality Dream." The lyrics seem to be coherent. It will be a story about a man who is trying to find himself again in a society after a nervous breakdown, he's "entering the same river" and believes that this time everything's going to be alright. But when he fails again, he doesn't give up. The first track on the album is a "wink" to the listener. We know that we're not discovering new lands in our playing. But we do hope that we're doing it our own way, and, sooner or later, we will work out our own distinctive style and our music will not easily fall into any categories, it will not be easily labelled. In the last song on the album, "OK," there are the words "There is sadness in my mind - OK." I think it's a good summary of the album. It's a kind of coming to terms with things as they are. You're sad for the most of the day, you're locked up inside yourself, you're wearing black clothes or whatever else - so what? You are what you are and that's OK. For us, what we're playing is OK and I hope that the story will not end with "Out Of Myself"... :-)
The listeners' interest, the warm words in radio programmes, the favourable press reviews, the thank-you letters and emails - all that left the band no choice but to finish the recording of the debut album. Unfortunately, there was an increasing dissonance between the involvement and approach towards music on the part of Mariusz, Grudzień and Mittloff, and Jacek's interest mainly in his own studio commitments. The atmosphere was becoming unbearable.
And so the last months of 2003 turned out to be revolutionary for Riverside. The band parted company with Jacek Melnicki, leaving behind the way they used to work. As a trio, they finished mixing the debut album, "Out Of Myself," just in time to release it before Christmas.
One month before the album was released, the band was joined by the new keyboardist, Michał Łapaj. Riverside started meeting in their own rehearsal room and in this new, refreshed line-up they began preparations for the upcoming live performances.
The first live performances after the release of "Out Of Myself" took place on 6th and 7th March 2004 in a befriended Warsaw club "Progresja," and on 27th March in Wrocław club "Kolor," where, surprisingly, almost 600 people turned up to watch the "unknown" band. In May (1-15 May 2004), Riverside started "Progressive Tour," their first one. Together with two other bands, Anamor and Intricate Division, they visited 12 cities, Cracow, Wrocław, Bydgoszcz, Konin and Łódź among others. On 11th June 2004 they gave their first open-air performance at "Ryockowisko" in Goleniów (near Szczecin), and on 12th June 2004 they played support to the British band Anathema in "Kuźnia" club in Bydgoszcz.
In the meantime, Riverside got media attention in Poland and abroad. It turned out that their songs were aired not only late in the evening and at night. "Loose Heart" got to the popular hit list on the Polish Radio Programme 3, and the track "Out Of Myself" topped the Warsaw Radio 94 and the Polish Radio Programme 1 charts. The interesting thing was that before its worldwide premiere, Brazilian Internet zin "Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal" recognised "Out Of Myself" as the album of July 2004.
On September 4th , 2004, they gave another open-air concert. This time it took place at the "Alternatywne Granie" festival in Amfiteatr Miejski in Zgorzelec. On 11th September 2004 the band performed during the "Rock Against Terrorism" festival in Warsaw and a day later, in Poznań, together with the German band Sylvan.
21st September 2004 saw the worldwide release of "Out Of Myself," issued by the American label Laser's Edge with Travis Smith's (famous for Opeth and Anathema covers) graphic design. As a way of promoting their material, Riverside played their first gig abroad on 3rd October during Progpower Festival 2004 in Baarlo, Holland. They performed before such stars as Devin Townsend and The Gathering, and were acclaimed the biggest surprise of the festival. All their CDs and T-shirts were sold out before the end of their concert.
On return from Holland, the band started the second part of the Progressive Tour (7-17 October 2004). This time they played in 10 cities, Białystok, Olsztyn, Gdynia, Poznań and Katowice among others. They also found their way 250 metres underground to play in a salt mine in Bochnia.
The great reception of "Out Of Myself" in various media polls and round-ups both in Poland and abroad crowned the year 2004. The band won the title of the debut of the year (monthly magazine Metal Hammer) and the revelation of 2004 (Belgium site Prog-Nose).
For a good start of the year 2005 the band are going to release a mini album "Voices In My Head" and set out for their first ever European tour.
translated by Marta Nowosielska and Piotr Pędziwiatr
Thanks to Mike / Badinstinct@hotmail.com for submitting the biography.