Exclusive Interview with Wonderpub's Rome Malerba: "I believe songwriting was crucial to get me through it all..."
Wonderpub was formed when musician Juan Pastor approached then solo singer Rome Malerba to start a band. The result became a whirlwind of 90’s punk, grunge, and what was once called “alternative” or “indie rock”. Wonderpub’s self titled EP is a nice 4 song getaway to those times. Frontwoman Rome’s punk infused vocals intensifies this trip all the more.
Metalhead World sat down and had a fun discussion with Wonderpub’s singer/songwriter Rome Malerba. We discuss the EP, music in general, where her creativity came from at one point, and much more!
MHW: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Rome, and let us congratulate you on your self titled EP! How did the band Wonderpub come to be? How did you meet up with Juan, Joel, and Eze?
ROME: Ahh thank you for listening to it! I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Wonderpub is an extension of my solo project. Juan contacted me after watching me play ‘Come Around’ live on national TV and it all just kicked off from there. Eze replied to a post on social media where we were scouting for a lead guitarist and Joel is actually good friends with Eze.
MHW: Have you or the other members ever been in any other bands or projects?
ROME: They have yes. Eze and Joel actually used to play together in a metalcore band and Juan used to play drums in a band previous to Wonderpub. Funny story, he actually got a bass because i needed a bassist! I also used to play with other bands, but i was always the main/only songwriter so i did go from solo to band format and back a couple of times when it didn’t work out.
MHW: So you are still the main songwriter?
ROME: I am yes! Still am, (laughs) although I do wish for the other members to start collaborating in that area. I feel like there’s a lot of musical influences and it has to do with the fact that we all listen to various styles of music.
MHW: What type of musical influences goes into Wonderpub’s style of playing and songwriting?
ROME: I grew up listening to classic and progressive rock, had my fair share of grunge and britpop in my teens, but i would say metal is what i listen to the most. It’s genres of all kinds blending together.
MHW: What type of influences or experiences goes into your lyrics?
ROME: The experiences that go into my lyrics, as a teenager I would take on any activity that accounted for a great story. No matter how dangerous or stupid it would be because I believed that I wouldn’t be able to write anything worthwhile otherwise. This involved experimenting with drugs, regular binge drinking, inappropriate relationships with older men, getting into strangers cars, having guys literally fight over me, the list goes on. Not that I’m recommending any of this, but I did feel very creative at the time. Songs like ‘Wonderpub’ were inspired by these events.
I’ve had my ups and downs like everyone else, but I did get quite depressed while in Bogotá,, Colombia. My parents and I moved there right after finishing high school because of my dad’s job and it wasn’t really the best experience for me. I ended up searching for professional help and eventually got back to Argentina on my own. I believe songwriting was crucial to get me through it all.
And then there’s always heartbreak, which I also find very inspiring.
MHW: Being in Argentina, you do your vocals and lyrics in very good English. Is this to bring a more universal appeal to Wonderpub given the music business becoming more of a global market?
ROME: It was not really a conscious decision. My parents sent me to a bilingual school since I was two so English always felt as natural as Spanish to me. Even in elementary school i would write short stories and songs in English. For some reason I feel more comfortable getting creative in that language. The truth is that it’s a double edged sword here in Argentina. I do love the fact that we can reach more people worldwide this way, but it makes it harder for us to get support from record labels and producers locally. Time will tell whether it benefits us or not. We’re just doing what we love.
MHW: Your album art for the Wonderpub EP was one of the things that drew me to listen. How was it conceptualized and what is the meaning behind the artwork?
ROME: Ahh, this makes me extremely happy! (laughs) I took and developed that picture when I was in art school. I love everything ´Alice in Wonderland’ related, so I wanted to go for a grungy version of the scene where Alice gets too big to fit into the White Rabbit’s house and gets stuck there. Now when I look at it, as the cover of ‘Wonderpub’, I like to think that maybe that’s the actual Wonder Pub? The legs are spread out and there’s a door in the middle. ‘Pussy Liquor’ by Rob Zombie comes to mind (laughs).
A great visual representation for Alice. Shifting gears here, I noticed you did a “Queens Of Noise” show back in September. What are your feelings about women being accepted now more than ever in rock and metal beyond a marketable novelty?
ROME: Personally, I love watching women end the “just a singer” stereotype. Not that there’s anything wrong with being one, but I was always bothered by the fact that most people would assume I was ‘just a singer’ the minute i would mention being in a band. There’s fortunately more and more women playing instruments and writing songs in bands and that’s groundbreaking to me.
MHW: You did a couple TV appearances, one very recently on Surf And Rock TV (again, congratulations on a stunning performance by all). What was the experience like?
ROME: Glad you enjoyed it! I was a tad nervous since it is a pretty popular show here in Argentina, but I gotta say we did feel very comfortable there. The host even jammed on the drums with us, we could not have asked for more!
MHW: I see that you do solo shows also. Do you feel that the atmosphere is more intimate? How does it differ than performing with Wonderpub?
ROME: It is possible that the atmosphere is more intimate, but at the same time I now feel that the songs are incomplete without the band. Everyone contributed to them and I truly believe that the songs are better songs because of it, so I don’t feel like I’m enough on my own anymore and that’s the best feeling. I love performing with Wonderpub.
MHW: With Wonderpub on the rise, what future plans does the band have moving into 2019? Are you interested in pursuing any type of tour outside of local Argentina or even outside South America?
ROME: We would love to get back to the studio and play more shows outside Buenos Aires, yes. I wish we could play outside Argentina! But right now touring other provinces seems like a better and more affordable idea (laughs). Argentina is a pretty big country, so there’s a lot of places we would love to visit.
MHW: Where do you see yourself and Wonderpub 5 years down the road?
ROME: Well, if i’m completely honest, I do wish for our band to get signed. I know how people encourage bands to be independent, but at least in our country that means being musician/producer/manager/graphic designer/community manager/you name it. Plus your daily job. Plus the costs; being in a band is crazy expensive. And it wears you out. I truly do wish to focus on making music at some point. The sooner the better!
MHW: What direction do you see Wonderpub’s musical style going forward? You strike me as someone who likes to keep things fresh and evolved with each effort.
ROME: What I like the most about Wonderpub is that nobody seems to figure out what music genre we’re playing. I definitely see the band heading towards a heavier sound but at the same time we want to stay original song writing wise and not just imitate metal bands that we love.
MHW: With such a breakout type of 2018 by introducing Wonderpub, what is the one lesson that you would take away from this past year and apply to the next?
ROME: That hard work pays off. It is true that being an independent band is tough. But people respond positively when you hand them out flyers, contact them through social media, invite them to your shows… you need to get your stuff out there, play as much as you can and people will support you in any way they can.We wouldn’t be able to keep doing this if it weren’t for our supporters and friends. We’re truly grateful to them.
MHW: Is there anything more you would like to add?
ROME: Yeah, our very first video for the song ‘The Tea Party’ will be released in a couple of weeks so i’ll write you as soon as it’s out! I’m very excited to see the end result.
MHW: Nice! We will definitely keep an eye out for that! Thanks again, Rome, for taking the time to speak with us and introduce Wonderpub to what we hope will be an even more expansive fan base! You and the guys have a nice holiday season!
Rome: Thank you for this lovely interview, and have a nice holiday season yourself!
Wonderpub’s self-titled EP and merchandise is available on Bandcamp. Support the music artists of the underground!