ROME

   

The following article was published in N-SPHERE February 2010 issue.

 

Although it is perhaps a bit late for a set of questions related to your release “Flowers of Exile”, the Spheres would like to take this opportunity to delve a bit into the ideas and aesthetics this album embodies.

Compared to Masse Mensch Material, Flowers from Exile seems to employ a more fragmented and complex spectrum of feelings and sides. Lyrics like “Everything within me turns rapist/Everything turns saint” shifted from a black and white dichotomy to fragmentary shades of grey. Would you describe this as a new way of seeing things or a more mature view?

Well, I’ve never been into portraying stuff as black and white. The grey areas are certainly the ones worth exploring. Life is never black and white. However, we are human so we like to keep things simple, easy to digest. But if you want to really satisfy a curiosity for something, you need to dig deeper. That’s what we did on “Flowers”. It’s not the devil that lies in detail – as the saying goes – but truth. And concerning maturity, well, I guess we all grow older, and writing songs is a craft, or if you do you job well you also try to get better at it, bit by bit. I hope we achieved that here.

“Swords to rust – Hearts to dust” – The War–Love–Death triptych is used extensively in Rome lyrics. How does this tie in with the message you are trying to send across?

Well, actually, I don’t believe we have a message as such. There’s postmen for that. But I won’t try to deny that there are certain things we want to get across because they are truly important to us and our personal worlds. The most important things at the end of the day are love and respect. Some find it in pride some find it in the letting go, but certainly, warmth is what we are all looking for, as corny as it sounds. As to the War–Love–Death triptych, well, war has certainly always been an interesting and somewhat rewarding setting for our stories. War and death are quite honestly the most impressive backdrops if you want to talk about love. It offers you the possibility to turn a bit more “dramatic” lyrically and get some notions across that would – for the most part – seem kind of unforgivingly over–the–top in a regular day–to–day situation.

“We who fell in love with the sea” almost seems an assessment of relinquishment to the Sea. Would you argue that it could be interpreted as a contemplation of death, the Sea becoming both womb and tomb?

I’ve always been drawn to the sea and seamanship. As Melville wrote, each man finds the sea to be a mirror of himself. So whatever you once set out to look for you will most certainly find among the waves. 9 roads out of 10 lead to waters and if you follow these you will reach the sea at some point or other. The sea, to me, has always had this quietude of a higher, holy order. I, personally, need to live next to the sea at least a couple of weeks of the year in order to keep going. It seems the most refreshing way to reload. It’s a place where you certainly go to bury things – especially if you want no roses to grow on that grave – and for me it’s been the place of birth for so many things, like songs or decisions concerning the path to take.

The Father and The Sons, The Master and The Servant, The Bride and The Sea, The Artist and The Clay, The Man and his Grief are all regarded as eternal enemies that continuously search for one another, forever swapping roles with each other and amongst the pairs as well. Do you believe that we, as humans, are cursed or are we blessed with this malleability of roles?

That’s tricky. I doubt that we are truly cursed. I choose to believe that we often make ourselves ill with the roles we choose and are either to lazy or stubborn to let them go or run from them. And I’m not too sure about their malleability. You see, people like these things and I have to say that these roles are perfect for metaphors in songs if you set out to transmit something. It’s something people automatically respond to. These archetypes run through all of literature.

Spring and the New Dawn stands almost at the centre of Flowers from Exile. Do you believe that innocence can be reinvented by means of experience?

That’s a truly great thought right there, thank you for that question! I don’t believe innocence can, as a whole, be either reinvented nor re–established. But I am quite confident that we can kid ourselves into believing that. I think, and maybe that’s just my early theatre background speaking, we can reinvent ourselves by kidding ourselves into believing we are leading a different life. After all, that’s what we all do, everyday. Every waitress I talk to is an aspiring actress, every friend I have is embarking on a writer’s career, or similar… just waiting to start or finish that book, record or whatever. Most of them never really do it. And then after a while they see it’s too late. I know so many people who kid themselves on any given day and I am convinced that we only have to act accordingly to be what we really want to be. I think success is only happening in our heads. I have been a musician and writer for ages even though I only recently got that record deal. It doesn’t matter. You don’t need everyone’s approval and recognition. It’s a curiosity you set out to satisfy and the only thing stopping you from being what you want to be is social pressure. I suppose that was not the answer to your question at all.

The plural “we” is also used in the lyrics (“We Men Of Cold Politeness”/”We break the windows to breathe”). Would you consider that through this representation of the self in your songs, man becomes a symbol through the erasure of the body and the embracing of an “us” or this could be carried out on other levels?

Well, I have to be careful here, as I don’t really like to dissect my work that much. I believe it’s best to leave it to others. Furthermore, there is quite a simple reason for the “we” in the songs. I wanted to make these men speak, these soldiers, deserters, refugees who refused to bow down to the oppressor. My great uncle was one of them. And I believe I just wanted to explore that world and try and find out what it must have been like to live among these fine young men. But I never wanted to create a sort of holy collective. There was – in all spheres – only partial unity. You can only find purity in a close–up.

For “A Culture of Fragments” you chose a Romanian to recite the lyrics. Do you believe that Romania’s history and development could be couched in terms of fragmentation or does this concept transgresses borders of nation and national identity?

I think it transgresses these notion, actually. We have friends in Romania and since we like to work with different languages the choice was obvious. And of course there’s another reality to that as well. You see, in Spain the whole world was fighting, although the world for the most part chose to ignore that fact. There were fighters from all nations and colour there. Also Romanians. And the repercussions of that conflict are here. Even to this day.

Does your latest release, The Assassin single, mark a new artistic endeavour or a more sculpted concept that you tried to illustrate in your previous works?

I believe this to be a new departure on all levels. We are trying to create something truly new.

The text that promotes this new release ends with “ROME: unmasked, honest and authentic!”. To what degree do you consider masking and the creation of a persona relevant to the artistic process?

I think it is important to work with personas/masks. It’s something you do on instinct anyway, but it is a natural thing because it allows you to explore worlds that are different from your own. At the end of the day, what keeps us interested in art is that it allows us to satisfy our curiosities. The world’s biggest pleasures come from that feeling of having explored something, of having grasped some truth, some insight. Masks, (method) acting are extremely helpful with that.

In connection with its title – “The Assassin”, does the concept of this single embody the notion of destructive creativeness?

To some degree, certainly! I am sorry but I can’t go into more details here because I would reveal to much of what is coming. The path, most certainly, is the right one ;)

Would you also see murder as a transcendent rather than solely a bodily experience?

Murder as a bodily experience as such is way too vile to be of interest here. The assassin we are referring to is surely not an evil individual, but a more complex character.

A large part of your audience comes from the neofolk/military pop scene. Do you feel that musically and/or lyrically there is a connection between Rome and that subculture?

Well, our first recordings undoubtedly were inspired by one or two bands from that subculture among many, many other important influence, and I never tried to deny that. But honestly, ROME is about other things. I am not interested in scenes or groups of people who have chosen to create a new way of peer pressuring each other into creeds and codes. There are many fine individuals in there, and we have met some of them, but at the end of the day I honestly don’t care whether I fit into a specific genre or not. I am thankful for every fan we get, no matter what musical background they are from, and I like the idea of remaining somewhat unpredictable. We have always made the music we like, not the music anybody expected us to make. We try to make every record sound different and new (if only to ourselves) and I believe as a ROME fan you should get used to the idea of having to find out with every new record whether you still want to consider yourself a fan or not. I don’t mean this in a bad or ungrateful way. We are not trying to scare anyone off and I believe the essence of our message and our lyrics has been and will remain the same in all that we do, no matter what musical direction we go.

questions by Diana Daia

photo by Vel Thora

Full article here.