Interview By Kayley Guyette
How did Building Rome get started? Where did you guys get your name idea?
Jon Heisserer: Back in 2003, I had written 5 songs and decided to start a band. I started this huge citywide search for band members, but no one really knew who I was, so things weren’t as glorified and easy as I had hoped. One day, I was visiting a friend at work and told him about my struggles in finding the right band members. He basically told me to quit my bitching and keep looking because “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” So, I went home and changed all of my demo songs to “Building Rome – (SONG NAME).”
What do you guys describe your sound as?
Jon Heisserer: People say we sound like Alkaline Trio meets Weezer meets Green Day with elements of Death Cab For Cutie and Jimmy Eat World. We are honored to be in that kind of company but seeing as they are some of our biggest influences, I guess that makes sense.
What makes Building Rome different from the other bands out there?
Jon Heisserer: I think we have a pretty good idea as to who we are, and it really comes through in our songs. Our album Nightmare has a lot of variety in it, and we don’t really stick to one particular formula of songwriting. Some songs are fast and punk-ish, while others are sad and slow. I like to throw in some comedy to my lyrics sometimes as well… the sort of comedy that makes you laugh in a “that’s messed up” sort of way.
Is there a main song writer in the band or did you guys all collaborate on it?
Jon Heisserer: I have done all the writing to date, but when we get it into the practice room it’s all fair game. We each add an element that is unique to who we are and what we are able to bring to the music.
Your album Nightmare is out now and it’s a concept record, what made you choose to write one?
Jon Heisserer: I’ve always been really intrigued by the idea of a concept record; one that goes together and tells a full story. Given the time I was at in my life, it was just the right thing. The movie Jacob’s Ladder really illustrated exactly what I was feeling at the time, so if you watch the movie and then listen to the album, you should notice a lot of parallels.
Could you explain the concept behind Nightmare?
Jon Heisserer: The main concept is the destructive nature of addiction and how it ultimately leads to death. Some people choose to deal with their problems in different ways – the character in Nightmare did it through drug use. On the surface, the character is living in two separate worlds, a dream world (that he uses drugs to get to), and the real world (which is quickly becoming a hellish nightmare). Throughout the album, the character is extremely angry, longing for the girl of his dreams and unable to reach her. But soon, you figure out that the character is choosing the drugs over the girl, even though he doesn’t quite realize it. Eventually he comes to terms with his destructive nature and loses faith in certain things that he once held dear. He ends up letting go of the girl, only to realize that he is right back to where he started…
In your opinion is it harder to go into the studio to write a concept record vs. a normal record?
Jon Heisserer: I think that it was harder at first, because I started writing it without really knowing where I wanted to go with it. I didn’t want to completely neglect my own life experiences while writing, but at the same time, I didn’t want to limit the songs to only reflect my own experiences. As time went by and I wrote more songs, I started to really get into a groove of writing for this character. He’s pretty much an extreme version of me, and therefore, I can say whatever I want!
Is a concept album something Building Rome would consider doing again?
Jon Heisserer: Yeah, for sure! I feel as if the Building Rome albums are snapshots into my life at that time, so the next album will more than likely be a follow up to the Nightmare story in one way or another. We don’t know where it will go, but we have already written the first song and we love it. It’s fast and lyrically dark.
The band has a Formspring account; do you think it helps you stay in touch with your fans? Have you been asked anything ridiculous yet?
Jon Heisserer: I love Formspring. It’s a lot of fun answering random questions, and it’s way better than most internet trends. It’s a great way to get to know us as people and interact with us one on one, while allowing the rest of the world to be a part of the conversation as well. The most ridiculous question was if I was interested in Morse Code, in Morse Code. Also, someone asked what kind of shampoo I use. That was a little different.
There are some tour dates up on your MySpace, any more tour plans?
Jon Heisserer: We have been playing a ton of shows across the Midwest and we plan to be touring full time starting this summer! Let us know where you want us to play and come out and meet us in your hometown!
What can Building Rome fans expect from you guys in the coming months?
Jon Heisserer: We are releasing our first official music video in a few weeks that we’re really excited about. We worked with Amy McClung at Blue Wave Productions and had a great experience. Our new website should launch this month as well and it will be packed with tons of songs and media. We are also going to be in AP Magazine!!!
On top of that we are planning to release more homemade videos of us on tour on our YouTube Page Check them out ASAP!
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