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Rome: a life in exile - Interview with Jerome Reuter

Rome: a life in exile - Interview with Jerome Reuter
BANDS : Rome

Patrick Damiani, Jerome Reuter


Dragoş Bâscă: Hello Jerome! Rome is not a stranger for Romanian fans anymore; you have already played to Brasov with Spiritual Front. How was your first encounter with Romania?
Jerome Reuter: It was an amazing weekend! We really enjoyed our stay! The organizers and helpers and the audience were all amazing. It was a very nice show, especially since we had our friends of Spiritual Front with us.

Dragoş Bâscă: You have a new album that has just come out Flowers From Exile. It’s your sixth release and it also represents the departure from Cold Meat Industry, your previous label. Tell us more about this last album and your new label, Trisol.
Jerome Reuter: We have only just started working with Trisol, but so far, everything looks really promising. Time will tell. We have creative meetings on a regular basis and quite a close personal relationship already – which is important to us, because we want to deal with individuals, not some big firm. Trisol is highly professional and well-organized and handled, which makes it easy to work with.

Dragoş Bâscă: I can assume that in these days of massive garbage coming out from FM and TV is quite difficult to keep on playing such a haunting music, but I am sure that it is also rewarding when it comes to the feedback from your devoted listeners. How much of the promotion part is left on your side and what responsibilities the label you just signed takes?
Jerome Reuter: Yes, there’s a lot of weird stuff coming out, but it’s always been that way. The more interesting things have always come from the underground. As an artist every individual who can relate to what you do is a reward. We don’t do it for money or fame, it’s all about the music and art itself, so when you see you can touch people…that’s very rewarding, indeed. As far as the promotion is concerned, no, we don’t have to do that ourselves. But it’s a cooperative thing, of course. We decide what kind of promotion there will be, but we are of course limited to what Trisol can or wants to offer – which is a lot, seeing where we are coming from.

Dragoş Bâscă:  How far do you think you can develop as an artist under the actual circumstances with cutting budgets everywhere, dropping sales of CDs and many gigs cancelled? I mean, if an artist fails to reach his audience is there any purpose for him to exist anymore? How is Rome dealing with this matter?
Jerome Reuter: It’s a life in exile in a way. But I guess that’s how it should be. I like it that way. We have only just started, and we know there are still a lot of things to be done and that we haven’t reached all the people we could reach…but that’s not the point. It may grow over time. It’s only important to survive today, to make it to the next day (or to the next rent), and you can continue what you do. Yes, people are buying less CDs, gigs get cancelled because of lack of money…I can’t change that. But it’s no reason to not believe in what you do.



Dragoş Bâscă: There is this paradigm that an artist, in order to remain honest to himself has to create art for the sake of art, not for a specific target or a material gain. On the other hand, music business establishments validates achievements in terms of sales and world wide recognition. What means success for you? Is the love of your fans enough?
Jerome Reuter: As an artist you have to create something in order to eat, yes. But you can still decide if that which you create is good or not. Personally I would rather get a little job for some time than to release a bad record. We only release stuff we are convinced and proud of. When we are in the studio, or when I am writing at home, I never think about the money. I never think about how many records we will sell – because you really can’t control people’s reactions, no matter how hard you try. So the only rule for us is that we personally like what we do. After that, all you can do is hope. After finishing “Flowers” we thought people would not embrace it the way they did – because it’s really different. But there have only been a couple of people who (publicly) disliked it. Most people seem to really appreciate it, also BECAUSE it’s different. But you can never plan that. We try to make every record sound different, and have it’s own meaning and purpose, because we don’t want to repeat ourselves. But that also means that every fan has to check with every album whether he likes ROME or not. If people like it – that’s success, in some way, yes. But if people don’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean something is crap. Some things need time to grow on people and sometimes you like things at first but after a while they get boring. It’s something that develops over time. You can’t call it success. In the arts, I find, it takes decades to really tell if something is great or not. It’s only in the pop business that you are judged by how many records you sell in a week. For me that’s not success. That’s just expensive, brainwashing promotion: money generating more money. For me, financially speaking, success is the ability to pay the rent with your records and thus being able to continue. Nothing more, nothing less. All the other stuff is temporary or just too abstract to really grasp.



Dragoş Bâscă: I know that Nick Cave is one of your favorite musicians. What other artists are you fond of? How was your musical journey as a fan, not as a musician?
Jerome Reuter: I have been a fan of many things: bands and movements.Ranging from Punk to Metal, to Chanson and Singer-Songwriter stuff. In the end, the ones you still respect are the ones that don’t bow down to the industry, that still continue to create something new. Nick Cave is a good example for that, because he continually reinvents himself and his music. One is obviously supposed to make it a financial success in some way and people are far too quick to be calling you a sell-out – some individuals have accused us of selling out only because we changed labels within the underground – but you can’t allow yourself to be influenced by those things. You have to continue – whatever happens. And when people like an album, don’t be afraid to change things completely for the next one. That’s what I like about Nick Cave. He has released some albums that I don’t like, that don’t really do it for me, but I would never call them bad. I still buy every record. And recently that has been very rewarding again! The important thing is to keep it interesting and alive. That’s what I have learned from my journey as a fan.

Dragoş Bâscă: I read that you are interested in history. Is there any point you are trying to make through your music (message) regarding war and religion? What is to know about your view on these subjects?
Jerome Reuter: War and religion in history… you are not seriously trying to get a two-line-answer to that, haha? Well, honestly, I don’t like either one, however, they have shaped our history like nothing else which is why they have a place in our art. I personally try to live without both. But we are surrounded and shaped by it – whether we like it or not. They are the enemies of freedom as I see it. I guess that’s what we sing about. I’m not sure. You tell me.

Dragoş Bâscă: The restlessness from your music would be fit for a movie. I don’t take the chance to say what kind of movie, but I wonder if you have already thought about this option.
Jerome Reuter: Well, if ever someone approaches us with an idea like that…why not? I like movies and I think some of our songs would fit well into a film. Unfortunately that’s not our decision to take and we can’t make a movie ourselves – we lack that talent.

Dragoş Bâscă: You speak French, English and German and you live in Luxemburg. You have a lot of titles for your tracks in all three languages but you sing only in English. Why is that? I mean, it is clear for me that you try to make a point naming some of your songs in French and German, but why not going further with the lyrics either?
Jerome Reuter: Well, I wrote some lyrics in other languages, which others have spoken for us on records. So it’s not like we don’t really do it. I just prefer writing in English and having English as the “official” language of ROME. There will always be little parts and titles in other languages – that depends on the concept and context. After all, it is no coincidence, for example, that all titles on MMM are in German. But singing in German or French or so wouldn’t do it for me. I don’t know. I just prefer the narration to be in a more “neutral” language for me.

Dragoş Bâscă: Who are your favorite writers and cinema directors? The dearest book and the dearest movie?
Jerome Reuter: Movie-wise I like the seventies, stuff like Antonioni, etc. Writers…I like many. Right now it’s people like P. Neruda and R. Arenas – I started reading those in preparation for “Flowers”. I won’t tell you what I am reading right now, because it will reveal what the next records are about…sorry. But I can name you a few of my classic dearest movies and books. Movies: The Quiet American, Das Leben Der Anderen, There will be Blood, Good Night And Good Luck…only to name a few recent ones. Books: Der Steppenwolf, The SeaWolf,…stuff from K. Tucholsky, B. Brecht, H. Hesse, F. Nietzsche, J. Genet, H. Domin, G. Büchner…

Dragoş Bâscă: I have the feeling that Europe is the perfect space for your music. Not because of your name, but because of its aesthetics and the overall feeling. Do you think this is true or is it just my subjectivity?
Jerome Reuter: I guess it’s true, but that’s a very natural thing. I grew up and lived and travelled all over Europe. I have left this continent several times, but most of my life I spent here and I have friends and family around Europe and most of the writers, or other things that inspire me are from around Europe…I guess that makes it natural for ROME to sound somewhat European. Anything else would make me wonder, haha.

Dragoş Bâscă: I thank you for this interview, I wish you the best in all your projects and hope to see you in December when you’re going to be for the second time in Romania.
Jerome Reuter: Thank you for the interest in ROME. We are really looking forward to playing in Romania again! See you there!

Photo Credits- Trisol

Sursa: Twin Arts

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