Rome Romeo

Rome Romeo's sound may not be exactly punk rock but the fact that Genevieve Tremblay and Olivier Maguire are former members of beloved band Fifth Hour Hero makes this band interesting for the Punknews fauna. A few years after its creation the Montreal based band will finally release Make Up Her Mind, its first full length, and hit the road later this year. Punknews interviewer Alexis Charlebois sat down with Olivier and Genevieve in which they talk about their new sound, Machette Records and, of course, Fifth Hour Hero.

I think that your new album was recorded quite some time ago. Is that right? Olivier Maguire: In fact we started recording it in February 2011…

Genevieve Tremblay: But the recording ended in July or August 2011. I’m not too sure at this point. It’s kind of a long process but the reason is that we took more time than originally planned to record and Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lake) who produced the album had a tour booked so he didn’t really have time to focus on mixing it so we had find someone else. When that was done we took some time to find a label but we ended up with Machette Records.

You would have preferred another label? Maguire: Well, we were just looking if any label was interested. It was not that much of an intense research. We sent a few e-mails but we knew that it’s really rare that a band get signed through an e-mail…So we just gave it a shot. We knew that Machette would release it if we didn’t find another label and that it was still a good option.

Isn’t Machette Records your own label? Maguire: Yes, it is, but the exposure of a big indie label is always interesting. When our previous formation signed on No Idea Records there was suddenly more interest for our band. It’s always easier to climb the steps when you are on a bigger label. But we were not necessarily ready to make all the sacrifices that a more established label asks for.

Do you have projects coming up with this label? Maguire: We have Duchess Says’ first LP that was never released on vinyl that will come out on May 26th. A few other things but nothing official so far. But the release of the Duchess Says and Rome Romeo album it will already be a lot of work since we’re pretty much only two involved in that project. We’re trying to get better distribution in the US and in Europe for the label. We’re pretty excited about this project but we are realist. We started it out of passion and not to make money. And we make choices that make that we don’t really generate money with this label. But these choices make that we remain an honest label that only works with bands that we like.

So, to come back to your band, how far do you want to push Rome Romeo? Maguire: Well, at the point we are now we want to invest ourselves in it. I miss touring. At the end of Fifth Hour Hero we were kind of tired. But after a few years home…the envy is back.

Tremblay: It really is a serious project if that’s the question. We are ready to make sacrifices. We are really happy with the album. We invested a lot of time and money in it so we really want people to hear it.

Maguire: We didn’t really tour before because we didn’t want to do like when we were twenty, which means go on tour without a record and play show just to meet people. The first tours we did with Fifth Hour Hero we had like fifteen t-shirts to sell and after three shows they were all gone and we had nothing else to sell but still had a month to go. We just wanted to do something that was more organized so we decided to release the record first and put more efforts in it afterward.

Are you sick of talking about Fifth hour Hero. Tremblay: (laughters) It’s part of our past. It’s normal that people makes reference to it but…it’s like an ex-boyfriend, you loved him but you got to move on.

Maguire: We have been in this band for ten years, it’s what defines us musically and for persons of the media and people in general. We are defined by our past because that’s all people know about us since we produced much more material with Fifth Hour Hero than with Rome Romeo so it’s normal that people talk about it.

When I heard your first EP I thought it was different than Fifth Hour Hero but still, not that much. Maguire: Of course because we had that reflex to come back to punk rock.

Tremblay: But we wanted to keep a good energy and a raw sound. It’s something that we didn’t want to get rid of. We never wanted to have a polish sound. It’s still kind of something that worries us. We want to keep an edgy sound.

Make Up Her Mind is much better than your first EP and really defines the sound of Rome Romeo. Do you see it as a progression? Tremblay: The EP was some kind of experimentation more than anything else. It was recorded at our practice space and it was not even supposed to be released. It was supposed to be a demo.

Maguire: David (Machette Records) heard it and told us he wanted to start a label and release vinyl and asked us to use these songs. The thing is also that we wanted to incorporate new influences to our music but it was still kind of hard to assume it in a way. I think that slowly we learned to use different sounds that we like. Just the keyboard, when we started this band we had no experience with that but we learned to use it.

I’m curious to know what you guys do for a living. Maguire: I work for Greenland (Montreal show promoter) and for bands. Last year I went on tour with Suuns, Duchesse Says, We Are Wolves as some kind of tour manager. Sometimes I just load amplifier for big bands.

Tremblay: I make the street every night….no; I’m a waitress in a restaurant…which is another form of prostitution.

Was there a concept behind the name, the title or the whole concept of your new record? Tremblay: Hum…not really. In the music yes, of course, but not in the lyrics.

Maguire: We just loved the title. I have tons of old Life magazines at home and when I was working on the artwork there was a sentence and in that sentence there was «Make up her mind» so we thought it would make a cool title for the album.

Tremblay: And honestly it defines me pretty well cause it’s really laborious for me to make decisions sometimes.

In Fifth Hour Hero you were both singing. In Rome Romeo Genevieve is the only singer. So, Olivier, do you miss singing? Maguire: It depends. Not in the context of this band. Bass is somewhat of new thing for me and I like to focus on it. But, I still write other stuff that doesn’t fit with Rome Rome at all and if I have time I would eventually love to release these songs and it would be me singing of course. It’s punk rock but not the No Idea sound, something dirtier more influenced by old bands but still melodic. I’m not being really precise right now…

Is there a difference for you between being on stage today, in you early thirties, compare to when you were 18? Tremblay: It’s weird but I appreciate it even more today than when I was younger. It used to be more of an experience and a road trip. Sometimes it’s shitty but it’s still fun. Of course today we are more organized.

Maguire: When you are young you do it without really thinking, you just do it. Today, it helps me to get out of the everyday life which makes that I appreciate it even more.

Will you go on tour soon? Did you get offers to go on tour with another band? Maguire: We will go on tour this summer in the States. So far it will be our tour to spread the word about our band. If we get an offer to go on tour with an established band it would be cool but we’re not going to wait for it to happen. If there’s something we’ve learned with our previous bands is that nothing comes easily. You have to kick your own ass and eat shit for a period of time.

Is there something that you still wish to achieve with you music? Maguire: To live from our music will always be a dream. But at the same time, I think that if at our age we still make music it’s because we’ll be rocking all our lives. It’s something that is stuck deep down inside of us. You always dream that wherever you go in the world with your band there will be people there that know your songs and sing along. To go in Tokyo and play two sold out shows to people with their fists in the air was something crazy.