I morgon fredag släpper 482 MHz-favoriten ROME nya singeln Who Only Europe Know, från kommande plattan Le Ceneri Di Heliodoro (ute januari 2019 via Trisol Music Group). Jag hörde av mig till Jerome Reuter, hjärnan bakom Rome, för att snacka inspiration, framtid, och Europa. Bland annat.
Det finns vissa människor vars intervjuer jag läser med andakt. Människor med fingret stadigt på tillvarons puls, som med väl avvägda ord kan berätta hur landet ligger. Jerome Reuter är en sådan, och han gjorde mig inte besviken med den här intervjun. Jag ger er nu intervjun i oavkortad och oöversatt version, för att i mesta möjliga mån gynna Jeromes genomtänkta och välformulerade svar. Varsågoda.
Your music is quintessentially European, and that deeply European feel is one of the reasons many of us love your music. In a vastly Anglo-Saxon world your approach is very refreshing. What is it about Europe and its history and atmosphere that compels you and continues to inspire you?
I am a European and have always felt a very strong connection to Europe and its tribes. I was fed a steady diet of MTV, Playboy and McDonald’s as all of my generation did, but I guess it lacked the spiritual and poetic protein. But all kidding aside, the North-American cultural hegemony has had its positive side-effects too, obviously, and we have a common heritage beyond that capitalist cancer. I do feel that this age will put things into a different perspective, however. And I believe it’s necessary for us as Europeans to find the strength in ourselves again. As far as inspiration goes, I can’t think of a richer and more diverse source of inspiration than our European lands.
It’s just something you know when you come across it. There’s never any doubt, it just hits you as the obvious thing to do. I just follow my curiosities.
Is there a theme or an arch for the upcoming Rome album? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
There might be, yes, but it’s not like with Rhodesia or other records I did. I just wanted to assemble a bunch of good songs and since it’s all sort of old-school as far as the vibe is concerned, it’s got this punky tristesse that goes well with our current live set. I wrote most of it in Italy. So I guess that accounts for the sloganeering gestures and passion.
Also, what music inspired this upcoming album?
Nothing really. It just flowed together naturally. I usually have a few heroes that I like to partially emulate, I guess. But not this time, haha.
Do you have a favourite part of European history that you have yet to explore? For example, I would love for Rome to delve into the DDR.
Well, generally speaking, Brecht and Heiner Müller have a place in all I do. It’s not just all Jünger. So the DDR is in there always, to a degree. I don’t have a favourite, it’s an ever evolving thing.
Where does your interest in history and philosophy stem from, would you say?
It’s a bug you either succumb to at an early age or that will never affect you. I don’t remember a time in my life I did not read about history or philosophy in some way or other. One of my first books I bought when i was a young teenager was Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. I didn’t understand shit, but it set quite the standard.
You studied in Manchester when you were younger – an industrial city with a deep, rich musical heritage. Has Manchester inspired you? And what is your favourite Mancunian bands?
I’m also a long term Morrissey fan. He’s suffering from a bit of a backlash these days, from media and certain factions of his fan base, because of him expressing support for alt-right party For Britain. Where do you stand on all of this? Does it serve him right or should we separate the artist from the person?
Oh, shit, I disagree with someone, let’s lynch him! He’s not entitled to his opinion when we know so much better. We like diversity but God forbid we should allow diversity of opinion… We could end up in a democracy without realizing it. This cannot stand. We have to burn his records. Our artists should be role models in all regards, they have no right to be wrong.
Anyway…I’ve been into Morrissey for years and I have learned to not agree with him. I like my meat and my monarchy. So there we go.
You are one of few artists/songwriters who manage to be both very prolific and consistently great. What’s your “secret”?
I get up early. Also, I am a bit of a misanthrope and certainly thoroughly antisocial. I only drink with a handful of old friends, and that’s usually called touring and other than that I try to interact with the modern world as little as possible. I like to work on stuff. And I do it on my own terms. I used to be in and around what people call nightlife, but I’ve had my fair share of all that. I just don’t lose any time on that fun-pursuing business… So you could say I’m a bit of a party pooper. But I still travel a lot, visit friends and write in quiet hotel rooms. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. And I get a lot of work done that way.
Listening to your music I always sense a deep yearning for salvation and meaning – be it from higher powers, or political or philosophical convictions – where do you yourself find salvation and meaning?
I don’t, that’s why I’m still singing and writing. It all hurts less on stage and almost makes sense sometimes.
You have experimented with a variety of musical styles, yet without ever losing that unique Rome-esque sound and touch. What genre or style lies closest to your heart and/or the heart of Rome? And what are the odds of you ever making a completely machine-based album? I am a huge fan of your ambient stuff.
I don’t know, really. I guess, ROME will always be neofolk, whatever that means. I believe that by now I have sort of established my own brand of sound. One should hope so anyway. But there’s never any real plan. As far as the machines go… I am actually working on a record that’s completely made of what’s best termed martial ambient. I just love that stuff. To me it’s a warrior’s version of zen muzak. There’s no vocals, no guitars, just archival recordings chopped up and screwed with. No one’s gonna buy it, probably, but then again, who cares?
That martial ambient album sounds like a dream come true. And I for one will definitely buy it. When can we expect it to come out? Or is that too early to say?
It’s still a bit too early, but judging by the pace I’m going I will want to get it out there sometime in 2019 for sure.
Your Swedish fan base increased in 2015 when Joakim Thåström sang your praises in an interview. I also discovered you through him, but a few years earlier than that. I thought Stillwell was the best song of 2016 and your cover of Fanfanfan really hit home. How much of Thåström’s music have you listened to? And are you guys planning on doing some more collaborations?
Thank you! I don’t know if I have really heard all of his work, but it’s pretty close, I think… The first time I came across him was in the 90s when I saw this clip of Peace, Love and Pitbulls, though I didn’t really follow his work until years later. He’s just an amazing artist and I am extremely happy to have him on speed dial. We have grown quite close over the years, that’s all I’m gonna say there. We both value our privacy. I don’t know if we will collaborate on a record again, but we might, who knows. If it happens, it will come about naturally. It needs to make sense artistically, of course.
Your first three albums were released by legendary Swedish industrial label Cold Meat Industry. How did that come about? And what are some of your favourite CMI albums?
Oh, there have been many a great band on that label over those 30 years or so. Hard to pick. It was just one of those labels you could buy new releases from blindly.
I just sent Roger [Karmanik, skivbolagsboss på CMI och även verksam artist under namnet Brighter Death Now, red. anm.] the demo and he liked it. It was as simple as that. The rest is Roman history. By the way, we couldn’t play that anniversary CMI fest last year, but we’re working on something extraordinary to make up for it… Fingers crossed.
You seem to enjoy playing in Sweden and the Swedish crowds love having you. Are you planning on returning any time soon?
Always, yes. 2019 at some point for sure.
And ending on a light note: what are your top 5 desert island albums?
A huge thank you to Jerome!