ROME : parlez-vous optimism?

Interview | ROME : parlez-vous optimism?

Pierre Sopor 09 février 2021 Pierre Sopor

ROME just released a new album, the glorious Parlez-vous Hate? (review in french), where its pessimistic and scathing content is hidden behind catchy tunes and puns. Jerome Reuter was of course hiding the knife he'll use to stab us in our hearts. We asked the artist a few questions about this last album.

Your new album is called Parlez-vous Hate?... Would you say that Hate is the new universal language? With a first track titled Shangri-Fa, we think of a fascist utopia...
Haha, that is a very good way of putting it! We should have used that for the press release… About this "fascist utopia", that would be overstating it quite a bit. But we are heading that way in some respects, unfortunately.

You're usually very productive : there's only a few months between Parlez-vous Hate? and The Lone Furrow. Did you have more time to write music because of the pandemic, or is it your usual rhythm ?
I did have a lot more time, yes. We had to cancel about a hundred shows so far. So basically, I was pretty lazy, considering that the writing and recording for The Lone Furrow was done before the pandemic. I do not have a “usual” rhythm. It really depends on touring schedules and various other things.

Between its catchy songs and its puns, I found the album unusually fun, especially after The Lone Furrow which sounded more bitter. Why this change of tone ? Is irony a better way to criticize things?
It can be, sure. But I like to change things up now and then. I do not want to keep eating the same pudding. The Lone Furrow was something I really enjoyed working on and it took a very long time to properly assemble and finish. The new one is more spontaneous. My guess is the next one will be something inbetween. Or something completely different. Who knows.

Can you tell us anything about this new album, or the direction it'll take ?
I do not know yet. I have a few ideas for songs, but nothing really to talk about yet. Parlez-vous Hate? was put together and recorded rather spontaneously and then released pretty much right away. So I have not had that much time to think about anything else yet. But I am always working on something or other, and as I must expect this virus thing will keep us off the touring van for yet another while. So I guess, I will record something new later in the year. But I dont have any specific plans yet. We will see. It is really hard to plan anything (!) these days, to be honest.

The album is very easy to like, very accessible. Is Parlez-vous Hate? an album that you wanted more "open" to the world or is it just the natural evolution of your work ?
I guess, musically it is very open, while contentwise it is not at all, haha. Is it lighter? Sorry, I do not write the commentary. You guys do that. 

That's a strange question but... would you say that you're someone funny? Because that's not the impression ROME usually gives!
I am hilarious.

The neofolk and dak folk scene has the reputation to be politically "complicated", to stay polite. You don't express your opinions about politics and yet your music seems more and more political. It's obvious in Parlez-vous Hate?, where you talk about nationalism for example. How do you deal with those topics and the way you tackle them in your music?
On the contrary, I have expressed my political inclinations on (too) many occasions, I believe. I do not think I have to repeat them at every turn. That is just self-righteous navel-gazing. After all, precise political affiliations are unimportant to the work I do and its understanding. The political disposition of the artist is irrelevant in general. Also, you do not have to be a member of some political club to listen to the music, either. 

In your discography, you had albums named in English, in German, in French, in Italian and you often refer to European culture. Do you think there still are shared and relevant European values that unite those people and you recognise yourself in, or we just have to sing about the collapse of this civilisation?
Yes, I do believe we indeed share some core beliefs and a spiritual heritage of the West that is truly linked to the lands we inhabit. Western civilization has come under a lot of attack recently. Mostly by people who have no idea what it means poetically or metaphysically. It is an open and constantly expanding heritage of high culture which has enabled us to produce unique ways of living in the world, systems of law and government as well has breath-taking works of art. These are the bonds with our neighbours we often forget about it, because we take them for granted. I furthermore do not believe we should leave the defending of this heritage to narrow-minded bigots.

In an amusing nod to Springsteen, you sing that you are "Born in the E.U." while giving us the feeling that you sing about the end of our civilisation. To end this interview on an happy note, do you think that, the way things are going, you'll have the occasion to "die in the E.U”?
I do not think an honest answer to this would provide a “happy note” to end on.

Thank you very much for your time. Would you like to add anything or talk about something important we forgot ?
No. Thank you