Interview: Piotr Grudziński / Riverside


We are talking about creativity, but making music is also hard work. Whole days spent in a rehearsal room or studio, hours devoted on recording or correcting all the details. Then there are also issues connected with tour organization and preparations for it. I guess there are many things which to a big part of the audience are unknown or at least invisible. When I am at a show of a band promoting their newly released record, sometimes I hear people or even journalists asking members of the band “so when can we expect your next album?”. I always think then whether people asking this question aren’t treating all that musician’s hard work too lightly? It seems they approach it like a new product which is cool, but they want to know when it’d be possible to get a newer version. Do you also get that impression or do see you it differently?

I’ll answer this question in a slight off-the topic manner by relating to the current whole buzz about ACTA. You know, sometimes I get the impression people respect only their own work. Especially if that work is physical. I get the feeling sometimes that when people think of amusement such as cinema or music; they treat it as it should be naturally given to them. They tend to think they can have it any time, because it’s easy to get. They look only at the final product without thinking, what it actually takes to create a certain movie or album and that to some people it is actually work. People respect only their jobs, be it physical or an office job. They treat it as an effort for which at the end of each month they should be paid for. Music to them is something that is used in their free time, when you come back home and want to play music which simply should be there. You don’t think how it got there, it just should be there for your taking. And this is where I have an objection, people should think about that other side too. They respect their own jobs but don’t respect work of others and it’s hard for them to understand because it is something from the “amusement” category. In that context, me as a person working in this industry, I’m often not treated seriously, because everything I do is just fun, because it’s a piece of cake to me, because I only party, drink, rock’n’roll is rolling and I don’t give a damn about anything. I think many people perceive creating any form of art in such way, that it is just fun and those doing it only party, get lots of money and live like lords.

Yes, many people do have such image, although it would be interesting to see how many of them would actually want to try this “rock’n’roll life”. I don’t know it from my personal experience, but I can imagine eg. ordinary day on tour, when you have to squeeze yourself fora few weeks into a metal box with a dozen blokes with different characters and drive day in day out a few hundred kilometres from one place to another.

Exactly. Every work has its conditioning. One of the elements of the job as a rock musician are parties. Yes, they do happen from time to time on tour, I won’t hide it. However, in the moment of actual work, meaning playing a live show, such things are absolutely impossible to take place. We never walk on stage buzzed. What I do after the show, so after my work, is up to me because it’s my free time. Just like everybody else does what he wants after his work time is finished. Somebody will have a drink at home, other will go to a club. People think that through our tours I have managed to travel and see Europe, but they do not really ask how much of it I have actually managed to see. When you’re on tour you basically see the world from through a window. You just drive and drive and that is the conditioning of my job. You have to like it.

There is also the issue you raised in the question. You’re locked in a bus with a dozen blokes and you have to be prepared that people have their moods. Beside it all, of course, there is work to do. Our live show work starts when we reach the venue. Our crew installs the gear, we do soundcheck, then play the show, then the gear goes back onto the bus. Sometimes all of this lasts even more than those standard 8 hours in the usual job. Maybe there is no bad boss who is standing over you and judging you, but for our crew in some way we are their bosses. We’re not that strict to forbid having a beer or two, because as long as the job is done well we don’t have any complaints. You have to remember though that the crew also demands from the band. They put out our gear so they want us to play best show we can, so it works both ways.

I realize there was a bit of luck in it, but the fact that I’m able to make my living off music is also an effect of taking some risky choices. I know people tend to make their lives easier. Everybody wants to have a good life, but not everybody wants to take risks. People are afraid of that because for example they are involved in some family or financial issues. They don’t have the courage to take certain decisions, yet they envy others who did that.

Partially I understand that need of getting new music as often as possible. No matter how you look at it, eventually it is and should be amusement. Besides, as you’ve said, people see only the final effect. When the album comes out and there is a gig promoting it, you go to a club, hit a beer or two, listen to good music, feel cool vibes, after the show you take that good vibe with you home so I guess for the audience the “cool” effect is there all the time, because they see only the final part of the process.

So to answer your initial question, I understand when they ask about a new album, because a fan permanently needs a new experience. However, we as a band prefer to let people take some rest from us. For example we try not to play too many shows in the same place so that people would feel insufficiency of Riverside, rather than the opposite.

(photo by Robert Grablewski)

All the questions I have already asked you and those few coming up are about you, but this one will be I think most direct one, because it includes your words on yourself. I came across this sentence in your profile on Riverside’s website and it says: “I’m glad I’m getting to understand more and more right now, when it is still not too late for anything.”. When is it or when would it be too late?

Hm, how shall I put it. What I would be most afraid of in my life is if I argued with somebody close to me so bad, that later on I wouldn’t have enough courage or would be too stubborn to make up with that person, or if I wasn’t able to say important things to this person even in a very difficult situation, or even in the face of death. I do get nervous or stubborn at times, but generally I was raised in a way that prefers to settle conflicts, not to sustain them. I think there are no such things that could make my relationship with somebody so bad that we could never talk again. Of course it needs involvement from both sides. I can’t make it all up just on my own, but it’s always better to try to change things than to regret them later. If something like that happens I do what I can. I still have two or three situations in life which hurt me, because they have gone the way they did. It’s related with people who were close to me, but unfortunately we have separated

Did you try to change it?

You know, yes. I think I have done as much as my characters allows me and so much so that I wouldn’t cross the line and basically started humiliating myself. I think I have done enough to explain and show to that person, that I have put my pride into my pocket and admitted I did wrong. I can’t force anybody to like me or be my friend though. And you know, such things should be repaired when they’re still fresh. You shouldn’t allow it to stagnate, because with time it gets harder to change.

To return to my quote; I paused over the direction of my answer, because there is also second aspect to that sentence. That sentence is also about relationship with my parents and the way I was brought up. In this context I think to some things in life you simply need to grow up to. Parents give us knowledge we should be using, but we are able to understand that knowledge only after reaching a certain age. That’s how it was with me. Only with age I started to understand more and more everything that my parents have been teaching me. Now I know that who and how I am today is only thanks to them. I never was some super rebel. In my teenage years I had my sins of youth, but I always respected home, my parents and things they were telling me. I knew that when they were telling me or forbidding me to do something, it wasn’t because they wanted to be mean to me, but because they wanted to teach me something. A parent, due to the simple fact of love for you and responsibility for you, sometimes does get over-protective, but some people take it the wrong way and don’t appreciate that. They think their parents don’t know what’s the real deal, so they do everything against them. I have understood that the way I am is due to the way my parents raised me. In terms of a character I am exactly half of my mum and half of my dad. Recently in a movie I heard this one interesting line which said that we are everything what is the best and the worst in our parents. I’d agree with that. Of course within ourselves we modify those inherited elements of characters, but we do take a lot from our parents.

Do you have good relationship with your parents?

I have a very good relationship. I appreciate very much the fact that I had a normal childhood and a happy home. My parents make a normal family, not wealthy, rather poor, but in their life they learned to love and to pass that feeling onto their child, because I am their only child. They also taught me respect. Respect not for things, but for each other. That’s where everybody should start from. If you don’t have that basic thing which is respect for yourself and your close ones, then the longer you live the worse it gets. That is why I respect people, I like people, I look for good things in them, not the bad ones. Although there are some people who will not convince me anymore. They’re simply incurable (laughs).

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  1. Agnieszka

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    Świetna rozmowa. Obu panom gratuluję wrażliwości i umiejętności głębokiego spojrzenia na otaczającą rzeczywistość. Także dziękuję za zostawiony ślad ;) Życzę równie inspirujących wywiadów!


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