‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ is a two-faced album. One side of its pretty little visage is a catchy collection of tracks you can sing along with in the kitchen. The other is deep and dark. Loaded with meaning and magnitude. Listen to it and learn from it. This record’s choruses have conviction. Its lyrics have a pulse.
The creator of ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ is Jerome Reuter, AKA Rome.
A gentleman who makes music that won’t bend or break for anyone – songs that would rather walk through walls.
And he is a gentleman who was also kind enough to spare some of his time to have a chat with Devo’s Jo Wright…
So, will we get into the politics of Rome’s new record, Devo asks, tentatively, as she and Jerome start their Skype session on a Saturday afternoon?
‘Best not!’ laughs Jerome, who is speaking to her from Luxembourg. This one’s quite charged! I guess what I’ve go to say is on the record. it was written in a fury!’
Some of the songs which feature on ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ were composed before Lockdown – others during. How has Jerome been finding this somewhat incomprehensible state of affairs? ‘The Lockdown itself is fine – as Lockdowns go! It’s weird to have a curfew. But the problem is not being able to perform live,’
So the shows that artists and audiences know and love cannot go ahead, complete with the atmosphere, anticipation and actual performance itself. And as a consequence, Jerome hasn’t seen his fans’ reaction to his new release in the ways he would have done in the good old days.
‘People are writing to me and commenting,’ he says, ‘but it’s not the same.’
Much has been made about Rome’s new record being released such a short time after his previous album ‘The Lone Furrow’ came out (in 2020).But as Jerome explains, ‘’The Lone Furrow’ was written a year and a half ago, and it’s not like I wrote ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ in three months or anything! It took as long to write as any other record. People think it’s rushed, but it isn’t that at all!
‘Looking at things, there’s probably going to be another record coming out before we get on tour!’
Only in 2021 can this be both a good thing and a bad thing in equal measures. New music from Rome? Hurrah! No live performances for a long time? Woe is us. But this was never meant to be the case. ’The Lone Furrow’ came out in August 2020, and single ‘Ächtung, Baby!’ which Rome recorded with Alan Averill of Primordial, was released to coincide with what should have been a massive tour. ‘But everything fell through,’ Jerome tells Devo.
He goes on to say around 110 live shows had to be cancelled. And it gets worse. 2020 marked 15 years of Rome.
‘An anniversary’s always a great excuse to do more,’ Jerome smiles. ‘We were supposed to tour in the United States and Australia.’
Fingers are crossed for Rome to take to the road again in November of this year, ‘but we’ll have to see,’ he says.
‘We had one show [earlier in the year]. The venue rearranged their room to accommodate about 60 people. It turned out to be almost a normal show, because the audience were very happy to be there. The atmosphere in the room was really, really good. We played several songs from ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’
Devo has been happily telling anyone who will listen (and those who won’t, to be fair) how much she enjoys listening to, and then singing for days, the tracks ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ and ‘Death From Above’.
Jerome’s favourite track, he tells her, is ‘Toll In The Great Death’, due to the amount of time and effort involved in its writing – ‘it was a lot of chiselling away.’
The extra work rate was worth it though. ‘The outcome is the sort of song that surprises you. We set out to do something and it turned out different. But I’m really happy with the results. It has a different vibe to it.’
He adds, ‘it’s as if we were playing live, sort of thing.’
To those who have been subjected to Devo’s near constant humming, she has described Rome’s music as ‘folk’. And then made a face and said, ‘but not folk folk. Neo folk. And with a hint of protestation and politics. And a hefty beat.’ And using the internet for research purposes, as opposed to shopping or reading the news and then crying in a corner, reveals a number of descriptions of Jerome’s style.
In conclusion: No one makes music like Rome.
Jerome sums this up neatly, saying, ‘we made our own niche.’
He tells Devo, ‘I have my heroes and they don’t change much, and they formed who I am, musically. They’re still with me, and I can’t get rid of them! There’s some people like New Model Army who I really love. What I like about them is they don’t really fit. They can play a goth festival, and a metal festival, and a punk festival without changing the set.’
Devo explains to Jerome ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ was quite the educational experience for her, having looked up what ‘Panzerschokolade’ was, after listening to his thumping, trippy, eye-opening track.
‘There’s some stuff I want to say, and you also know that people should be able to listen to it without having to consult the dictionary!’ Jerome explains. ‘I like music that is easy on the ears as well, but at the same time I like some of the brainy stuff. So with Rome, I try to combine it.’
The result Jerome aims to deliver is that the listener discovers something new, ‘but you’re not bored out of your mind because it’s inaccessible.
‘So with ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ there was the idea that we wanted to do something straight forward. Simple songs. Catchy tunes.
‘It’s just what I needed at that time.
‘[With] ‘The Lone Furrow’ although there are some rhythmical songs, overall it’s a more ambient, philosophical record. There’s this epic dimension to it all, and I didn’t want that for this record.
‘What you hear is what you get.’
And how about the title of his latest album – where did its name come from?
‘I had that idea at some point – the play on words or whatever you want to call it. You know; hate speech. I thought it was quite funny in its own twisted way.’
Because Rome’s discography is absolutely massive, Devo develops a slight fear that he will release new material before she can clear the kitchen table of homework/home learning/husband working from home detritus and get her own job done.
So how does he manage it?
‘It’s what I do. I sometimes wonder why everybody else is not doing that much – but I know why. It’s because I’m not a band. I make the decisions – I don’t need to get consent.’
Which is some much needed good news for music fans. Because, as we all know, you can never have too much of a good thing.
Interview by Jo Wright