Interviu: Jerome Reuter, Rome

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La inceputul anului pe blogul de MySpace si site-ul Rome a aparut un anunt laconic si misterios, prin care Rome anunta ca anuleaza orice aparitie live pe anul 2010 si ca vor lua o pauza, sperand sa se intoarca in curand. Aceasta situatie nu a incurcat insa planurile de lansare a noului album, Nos chants perdus, pe care il vom putea asculta incepand de luna urmatoare.

Interesati si intrigati de curba evolutiei acestei trupe din Luxemburg, care se defineste mai degraba printr-o internationalizare a mesajului decat prin apartenenta la vreo natie si care si-au schimbat semnificativ stilul de la ultimul album (Flowers from Exile, 2009) incoace, l-am rugat pe Jerome Reuter sa ne raspunda la cateva intrebari si ne-am bucurat foarte mult cand a acceptat:


Versiunea in engleza mai jos / English version below (click here)


De vreme ce anuntul vostru recent [anularea concertelor pe toata durata anului 2010] a intristat pe multi dintre ascultatorii vostri, trebuie sa intrebam asta: cand veti reveni pe scena? Speram ca nu este o decizie permanenta.

Nu, nu cred ca situatia va fi permanenta. Compusul a ajuns sa reprezinte o parte atat de importanta din viata mea incat nu cred ca as putea sa nu mai fac asta. Si in timp ce compun mereu mi se invarteste in cap ideea generala sau conceptului unui nou album. Mereu ma gandesc pe ce fel de album ar trebui sa fie acela cuvinte, deci sunt destul de sigur ca nu am terminat inca de scris sub numele de Rome.

Dar acum trebuie sa las apele sa se mai linisteasca. Am trecut printr-o perioada mai agitata si trebuie sa iau o pauza. Cariera mea muzicala merge foarte bine, dar nu vreau sa ajung sclavul ei. Am lansat atata material intr-un timp scurt nu pentru bani, ci pentru a supravietui la nivel artistic si spiritual. Simteam nevoia sa ma eliberez de toate acele lucruri. Nu pot spune ca am obosit, imi place foarte mult ce fac, dar mai sunt si alte motive personale pentru care vom lua o pauza. In plus, o mica recreatie ne va face bine, si mie, si muzicii. Va da o noua perspectiva lucrurilor. Ultimii ani au fost foarte interesanti si plini de surprize. Dar o viata agitata, in care esti manat mereu de la o sesiune foto la un interviu sau la o inregistrare, nu ajuta creativitatea.

Am un sentiment ciudat al libertatii. Imi place viata la mare si voi folosi acest moment sa imi petrec cat mai mult timp langa mare... o sa imi las barba sa creasca, nu o sa beau altceva decat rom. E un fel de boala - poate nu e cuvantul potrivit - un fel de rau de mare simtit pe dos, care li se intampla oamenilor care stau prea mult timp pe valuri. Atunci cand pun piciorul pe pamant iarasi se simt rau si vomita peste tot pentru ca pamantul pe care calca nu se misca. Asta vreau sa mi se intample si mie. O sa incerc sa ma "imbolnavesc" de asta pana la sfarsitul anului si cand o sa ma simt mai bine probabil voi scrie din nou, dar nu stiu deocamdata daca vor mai fi concerte sau material pentru inca vreun album.


Citez din mica descriere biografica de pe site-ul vostru: "a fondat aproape neintentionat ROME in decembrie 2005" - ne poti spune povestea din spatele acestui "accident al gestului"?

Mi s-a parut accidental la catva timp dupa asta, deoarece cantasem vreme de peste 10 ani alaturi de multe trupe si proiecte muzicale inainte sa iau numele Rome. Acest proiect nu pornise cu intentia de a-l transforma in ceva cu atat de mult succes. Il incepusem in joaca. Unele dintre trupele cu care cantasem erau destul de bune, dar cu ele nu am avut vreodata ocazia sa ne demonstram capacitatile si sa impresionam pe cineva.

Dupa o vreme mi-am dat seama era imposibil sa traiesc din asta. Si cand am vazut ca nu mai aveam o para chioara pentru ca sparsesem multi bani pe echipament muzical si pe inregistrari (parea inutil sa mai am un cont in banca la cat de putini bani mai aveam), mi-am dat seama ca aveam nevoie de o slujba normala (la vremea aceea, cat timp eram inca la scoala,lucram intr-un magazin care vindea absint ca sa fac rost de bani pentru chirie) Si am hotarat ca putinii bani pe care ii mai aveam sa ii cheltuiesc pe inca niste inregistrari inainte sa imi iau o slujba full time... ceea ce, din fericire, nu s-a mai intamplat. Demo-urile pe care le-am inregistrat au captat ceva atentie si 6 luni mai tarziu am lansat primul EP la Cold Meat Industries.


Nu e chiar o intrebare oficiala de interviu, mai degraba o nelamurire personala, dar numele grupului vine direct de la numele tau? Je, Rome - Eu, Rome?

Da, da, eu sunt!

Rome Rome


Albumul vostru din 2009 Flowers from Exile a coincis cu plecarea voastra de la CMI si mutarea la casa de discuri Trisol. De vreme ce schimbarea de stil e de-a dreptul evidenta, trebuie sa intrebam daca e vreo legatura intre noul drum mai putin batut al chanson noir-ului si plecarea de la CMI si genul martial industrial.

Nu, nu e vreo legatura intre ele. Am scris "Florile" cand inca eram la CMI si ar fi sunat exact la fel daca era un album lansat la CMI. Se poate sa fi avut o masterizare putin diferita, dar atat. Am folosit acelasi studio si acelasi inginer de sunet (Patrick Damiani). A fost exact aceeasi echipa in spatele Florilor ca si in spatele albumului “Masse Mensch Material”. Doar ca am lucrat mult mai mult la el.


Si apropo de Flori, e intr-adevar un punct turnant in stilul vostru. Ce a produs schimbarea?

Habar n-am. Am vrut sa incercam lucruri noi, sa nu fim repetitivi. Cantecele in sine s-au cerut lucrate intr-un anumit fel. Atat pot sa spun. Depinde si de locul in care te afli in cariera muzicala, cat si in viata personala cand se intampla lucrurile astea. Sesiunea de inregistrari e mereu altfel. Nu poti planui in avans ce urmeaza sa se intample.


Scrii versurile in engleza, presarate cu strofe in germana si franceza, iar mai recent, pe Flowers from Exile, si in spaniola. Ca sa nu mai vorbim de faptul ca avet un cantec intreg in romaneste (ceea ce ne-a bucurat pe toti, evident). Care-i povestea din spatele acestei internationalizari?

Nu ma simt ca apartinand unei natii, ma simt mai degraba european. Am crescut in Luxemburg, o tara minuscula, si de aici m-am obisnuit sa stau foarte mult timp peste hotare. Am trait in mai multe tari, si turneele si cititul m-au dus mereu in locuri noi. Exista o asemenea bogatie culturala in toata culturile noastre care sta sa fie descoperita. Nu vreau sa traduc asta intr-un ghiveci.


Apropo de The Culture of Fragments, spune-ne mai multe despre ea: tu ai scris versurile? In ce limba in original? (Intreb deoarece acelasi mesaj se regaseste in To A Generation of Destroyers, in spaniola, si in Accidents of Gesture, in engleza). De ce in romaneste, de ce sub acest titlu atat de potrivit? Cine e vocea de pe versiunea in romaneste?

Cel care citeste este prietenul meu Doru [Atomei, n.r.], cel care a ne-a adus in Romania. Cand am cantat la Brasov lucram la Flowers from Exile si mi s-a parut potrivit atunci sa includ si un cantec in romaneste. Nu-mi dau seama de ce, dar m-am simtit foarte apropiat de oamenii pe care i-am cunoscut acolo si tocmai citisem jurnalele unor membri ai brigadelor internationale care luptasera in Spania, iar acestia mentionasera camarazi de lupta din Polonia, Ungaria si Romania... Deci cumva totul se lega. Scrisesem cateva versuri pentru  “Accidents” si alte bucati din album (unele dintre ele n-au mai ajuns pe Flori, dar le-am folosit la “Mourir A Madrid”) si am rugat-o pe Andreea Wade (o alta prietena din Romania) sa traduca unele fragmente. S-a descurcat foarte bine.

 .


Ce reprezinta pentru tine Flowers from Exile? Mie imi suna ca un dor de duca plin de regretul neadaptatului, al expatului, al calatorului. Cine sunt "Fiii secreti ai Europei" si pana la urma vor "muri printre straini"? Se vor preda vreodata?

Cred ca nu! Pentru mine Florile inca reprezinta ceva foarte deosebit. A insemnat foarte mult pentru mine si pentru diversi membri ai familiei mele care sunt imprastiati prin Europa. Nu cred ca va mai exista vreun album cu fotografii personale ale familiei mele. Am vorbit recent cu matusa mea si mi-a spus ca i-a placut si albumul nou, dar ca nimic nu se va mai apropia de Flowers. E ceva strict emotional, care n-are prea mult de-a face cu muzica.

Mai mult de-atat, a fost prima data cand am reusit sa exprim cumva codul meu de conduita, valorile mele. Si inca n-am terminat cu asta. “Flowers” este si originea noului album, “Nos Chants Perdus”. In timp ce studiam pentru “Flowers”, am dat peste atatea lucruri interesante despre exilul francez (anii '50-'70), incat am stiut ca trebuie sa facem un album nou despre asta. Deci “Nos Chants Perdus” e un fel de continuare.


Ce te inspira? Istoria? Literatura? Muzica?

Ai uitat femeile... dar da, toate cele de mai sus.


Cum ti-ai defini acest stil nou "chanson noir"?

Nu sunt sigur. A fost important pentru noi sa iesim din acea clasificare sufocanta in care eram prinsi. Nu imi place sa disec ce fac. Mai ales acum, cand am niste idei noi despre ceea ce vreau sa fac, unde vreau sa ajung. La urma urmelor, nu conteaza atat de mult ce spun eu. Oamenii trebuie sa judece si sa comenteze, nu eu.


Ai venit in Romania deja de doua ori, in doua orase diferite. Ai amintiri placute despre care poate ai vrea sa ne vorbesti?

Am foarte multe asemenea amintiri din calatoriile in Romania (mai putin cea in care am pierdut zborul la una din escale... dar astea sunt riscurile vietii pe drumuri). In Brasov am stat la un hotel care apartinea chiar unuia dintre fanii nostri (Lao, cu care ne-am imprietenit). Toata lumea ne trata ca pe niste regi si toti erau atat de generosi, ne-am simtit foarte bine. Bucurestiul a fost mult mai rece din multe puncte de vedere, dar tot am dat de oameni prietenosi. E intotdeauna usor sa fii strainul, calatorul, neadaptatul, cand oamenii te plac inca dinainte de a te cunoaste si chiar te asteapta cu bratele deschise. Sper sa ne intoarcem in curand acolo.


Apropo de ultimul concert in Bucuresti, ati venit acolo cu un alt membru in trupa. Cum a ajuns Nikos (foto stanga jos) sa cante cu voi?

Din pacate trupa s-a tot schimbat de la bun inceput. Au fost multi oameni in trupa, mai ales prieteni care ma ajutau, dar care nu aveau timp sa plece in turnee tot timpul. Din pacate si Nikos a trebuit sa plece - a fost chemat inapoi in Grecia pentru stagiul militar obligatoriu (pentru asta inca mai au bani!). N-am mai avut vesti de la el de o ceva timp si ma indoiesc ca voi avea prea curand. Si cand am fost prima data in Romania aveam tot trei membri in trupa, atunci eram cu Patrick Kleinbauer la bass (prieten bun de foarte multi ani) - foto dreapta jos. Line-up-ul va fi diferit iarasi cand ne vom mai vedea...

Rome Rome


Si daca tot am vorbit despre asta, ai putea sa ne spui cateva cuvinte de prezentare pentru tine si pentru Patrick, pentru fanii maniaci cu datele biografice? (Data nasterii, filmul preferat, adresa de acasa si daca ai o prietena? Glumesc, filmul preferat nu e atat de important)

Haha, scurt si la obiect! Foarte bine! Eu si Patrick avem intamplator aceeasi zi de nastere: 2 august … iar filmele sunt prea multe ca sa le enumar aici. Iar despre restul vorbim cand ma intorc.


Ati scos de la inceput cate un album pe an si in vara asta se anunta al cincilea album de studio, "Nos chants perdus". Am ascultat deja cateva cantece care au rasuflat online, dar ne poti spune ce va scrie acest nou album in istoria Romei?

E cam devreme sa pot spune asta. Ia timp sa te detasezi si sa te indepartezi suficient cat sa poti judeca mai la rece asta. Stii, cel putin la mine, cand lucrez la un album, e ca si cum  as juca un rol. Imbrac pielea altui personaj pentru o mare parte a anului si e greu sa o las apoi deoparte. Dar pot sa spun totusi ca imi place ce a iesit. E altfel. Foarte diferit chiar, in multe aspecte si ma bucur ca mi-a deschis o noua "usa" muzicala. De asemenea este clar cea mai accesibila lucrare a noastra vreodata, iar asta imi va da ocazia ca data viitoare sa compun ceva cu adevarat sumbru si incomprehensibil, ha ha :)

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English version:

Since your recent public announcement sank the hearts of many of your listeners, we just have to ask this, to get it out of our systems: when will you wake the fields from their fallow sleep? We certainly hope it's not a permanent state.

No, I don’t think it’s a permanent state. Writing has become such an important part of my life that I truly doubt I could ever stop. And while writing I always have some sort of concept or general idea for a record in my head. I always feel what sort of release those words should be on, so I am quite sure there will be more coming from me as “Rome” in the future.

But right now I need to let those fields lie fallow for another while. I have been going through a rough patch lately and I really need to take a sidestep out of it all. My musical career is going very well, but I don’t want to become a slave to the business. I have released this much in such a short period of time not for the money, but for artistic and mental survival. I guess I just needed to get that out. It’s not that I am tired of it all now, I love what I am doing, but there’s other, private and personal reasons to go on a break right now. And besides, I think a little break will help my music as well in some strange way. To put things into perspective. The last years have been very interesting and full of surprises. But in order to be creative it doesn’t really help to be chased from one shooting/recording/interview to the next without stop.

I have this weird sense of freedom. I have a strong passion for the life at sea and I will use this moment in my life to be at sea for a considerable while…you know, grow a beard, drink nothing but rum, that sort of thing. There’s some sort of disease (I don’t know the proper name of it), like reversed sea sickness, which happens to people when they have spent too much time on the waves. You know, … when they set foot on land again, they feel sick and puke around for a while, because the earth they are walking on isn’t moving. …That’s my goal. I’ll try to catch that sickness by the end of the year and when I feel better I might start writing again, but I have no idea whatsoever when there’s gonna be some touring done or a new album released. 

Rome Rome


I quote from the short bio on your website, "almost unintentionally founded ROME in December 2005" - can you tell us the story behind that... "Accident of gesture"?

It felt like an accident some time after, because I had played in numerous bands and projects for more than ten years before I gave myself the nickname Rome. This project was never planned to be this successful. It was just something I did for fun. Just a little project. Some of the bands I played in were quite good but we never got the chance to really make any sort of impression on anyone.

After a while I realized that the idea of making a living with that was both crap and impossible. And when I saw that I had literally no money left because of the sums I spent on equipment and recording (it seemed absolutely superfluous to even have a bank account for what little money I had) I realized I really needed to get a proper job at some point (at the time I was working in a store selling absinth to pay the rent while studying). So I decided to spend what little money I had left for some more recordings before working somewhere full-time…well, luckily I never had to. The demos I recorded got some attention and 6 months later I released the first EP on CMI.


Not really an official interview question, more like a personal taking, is the name of the group related to your name?Je, Rome - Me, Rome?

Yes, that’s me!


Your 2009 album Flowers from Exile coincided with your leaving behind CMI and moving to Trisol. Since the change in style is pretty obvious, we have to ask if there is a connection between this new road less traveled by of chanson noir and leaving CMI and the "martial industrial" genre.

No, there’s no real coincidence. I had written “Flowers” while still on CMI. “Flowers” would have sounded exactly the same if it had been released on CMI. We might have had a different mastering, but that’s it. I used the same recording studio and engineer (Patrick Damiani). There was the same team behind ”Flowers from Exile” and “Masse Mensch Material”. We just put a lot more work into it. 


And speaking of the Flowers, it's quite a turning point in your style. What brought about this change?

I don’t know. You want to try out new things, work on your sound and try not to repeat yourself too much. The songs themselves cried out for a specific way of producing them. That’s all I know. It really depends on what place you are at in your personal/musical life at the time you are doing these things. The recording session is always something unique. You can’t totally plan what’s going to happen.


You write lyrics in English, but they are punctuated with stanzas in German, French, and recently, on the Flowers album, Spanish. Not to mention that you have a whole song in Romanian (which obviously made our hearts skip an emotional beat). What's the story behind this cosmopolitanism or... internationalization?

More than being part of a specific nation I feel primarily as a European. I grew up in Luxembourg which is a very small country, so you get used to spending a lot of time abroad. I have lived in different countries over the years and touring and reading have brought me to ever new places. There is such an impressive richness in all of our cultures to be discovered. I don’t want to translate that into a pulp.

Rome Rome


Speaking of The Culture of Fragments, tell us more about it: did you write the lyrics? In what language in original? (I am asking since the same message recurs in To A Generation of Destroyers, in Spanish, and also in the Accidents of Gesture, in English). Why Romanian, why that seemingly accurate title? Who is the voice on the Romanian version?

The guy reading that out is my friend Doru. He was the one to get us our first shows in Romania. When we played in Brasov I was working on the lyrics to “Flowers from Exile” and it just seemed right for me at the time to include some Romanian on the record. For some reason I felt really close to the people we were meeting there and I had just read the diaries of some members of the international brigades who fought in Spain, and they mentioned comrades from Poland Hungary and Romania …so in a way it all fitted my concept. I had written some words in English for “Accidents” and other parts of the record (some of which never made it onto the album, but were used for “Mourir A Madrid”) and so I had Andreaa Wade (another friend from Romania) translate some parts of it into Romanian. She did a pretty good job!


What does Flowers from Exile represent to you? We - well, I - read in it a very poignant wanderlust, poised with the regret of the misfit, of the expat, of the wanderer. Who are the Secret sons of Europe and did they finally Die among strangers? Will they ever surrender?

I doubt they will! Well, “Flowers” for me is still something very, very special. It just meant so much to me and the different parts of my family that are spread around Europe. I doubt there will ever be an album again with a booklet full of personal pictures from parts of my family and such. I recently talked to my aunt and she said that the new one is pretty good, but there will never be anything close to “Flowers”. It’s a highly emotional thing that has not so much to do with the actual music.

Moreover, “Flowers” for me was also the first time I was able to somewhat express the code I live by, the values I cherish. I am not done doing that. There will be more of the sort, I am sure. “Flowers” also is the source of the new album “Nos Chants Perdus”. While doing the research for “Flowers” I stumbled across so many interesting things dealing with the actual time in French Exile (from the 50s to the 70s) that I knew I would have to do a separate album for that. So “Nos Chants Perdus” is something of a sequel. 


What are your pillars of inspiration? History? Literature? Music?

You forgot the women…but otherwise all of the above.


How would you define your "chanson noir" style right now?

I don’t know. It was important for us to get out of that suffocating pigeonhole we were trapped in. I don’t like dissecting what I do. Especially now, that I have some new ideas in my head of where I want to go. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what I say. Other people have to be the judges and do the commentary, not me.


You've been to Romania twice already, in two different cities. Got any nice memories you'd like to share with the group? :)

I have many nice memories of our trips to Romania (except that we missed one of our connecting flights getting there…but that’s life on the road, I guess). In Brasov we stayed at a hotel that actually belonged to a fan of ours (Lao, who is now a dear friend) which was pretty weird. Everybody made us feel like kings and they all were so extremely generous! We had a great time! Bucharest was a much colder place in many respects but still, people were quite warm. It’s always easy to be the stranger, wanderer and misfit when people like you even before they met you and are actually expecting you with open arms. I hope we’ll be back soon!


Speaking of your last show in Bucharest, we noticed a new mamber in the line-up. Can you tell us a bit about how Nikos joined your "flight in formation"? 

Well, unfortunately the crew has kept changing and changing ever since I started my project. There have been numerous people in the bands, for the most part they were friends helping me out, but who couldn’t do all the touring the whole time. Nikos unfortunately has had to leave the band because he was summoned back to Greece to do his military service (yes, they still have money for THAT!). I haven’t heard from him in a while and I doubt I will any time soon. Actually, the first time in Romania we were also 3. There was Patrick Kleinbauer on bass (he has been a close friend for many, many years). I believe the line-up will be different again when we come back…

Rome Rome


And since we;re here, could you also present in a few words Patrick and yourself, for your die-hard bio-maniac fans? (Your birthday, favorite movie, home address and if you have a girlfriend - I am jokin g, of course, the movie doesn't count that much)

Haha, straightforward! That’s good! Well Patrick and I share the same birthday: 2nd of August …and I would have far too many movies to mention here anyway. We’ll talk about the other stuff when I’m back.


You have been releasing albums at a steady pace of one per year and you are now ready to announce your 5th one, Nos chants perdus. A couple of songs have already leaked here and there on the www, but can you give us a glimpse of what this new episode will write in the history of Rome?

It’s far too early for me to know that, actually. It takes time to get it out of your system and gain some sort of distance to be the judge of anything. You know, when you work on a record, for me, it’s pretty much like method acting. You commit to living in this other man’s skin for the better part of a year and it’s really hard to let go afterwards. But I know I like the record. It’s different. In some way it’s very different and I am glad about that because it opened a new door for me musically. It’s also easily the most accessible work we ever released so that gives me the opportunity to really do something utterly dark and incomprehensive the next time around, haha.



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