When local folk band Roma di Luna announced they were disbanding in the midst of former husband-and-wife duo Channy Leaneagh and Alexei Moon Casselle’s 2011 split, longtime fans shifted their attention to the band member’s other projects, such as Kill The Vultures, POLIçA, and FRAEA. Against many odds, the band reunited for an unexpected reunion show at The Cedar in 2017. They recently recorded a new album We Were Made to Forgive, which they’ll be releasing at The Cedar on May 4th.
We spoke with Roma di Luna vocalist and guitarist Alexei Moon Casselle about returning to Roma di Luna, their new album, and their upcoming sold-out release show at The Cedar featuring DoubleDragon. Read the full interview below and find fan tickets for the show here.
What drew you back to Roma di Luna?
Roma di Luna regrouped about a year ago because enough time had passed to heal the differences that broke us up, and the timing was right for everyone in the band to start playing together again. Despite going through difficult times relationship-wise, I believe the want to make music together and be a band, was always there. Even though the notion of Roma being an active band again seemed very distant at times, the value and meaning of the songs we have made together, and the bonds we formed through the band never wavered. The chain of communication that led to our reunion show was as simple as Channy putting the feelers out to the band to ask if we wanted to play a fundraiser, so that’s all it took to start talking about playing together again.
You had your reunion show at The Cedar about a year ago. How did it feel to share the stage again?
The feeling of being on stage at The Cedar for the Roma di Luna reunion show was absolutely incredible. I still remember the applause and cheers the audience gave us as we took stage, and I just remember smiling a big Cheshire Cat smile throughout the whole show. It felt very surreal and dreamlike to be playing with the band on that stage, but also, very easy, as if we had only stopped playing months ago.
April 2017’s Roma di Luna reunion at The Cedar
Tell us more about We Were Made to Forgive, your upcoming 7th album. What are the inspirations behind the record?
We Were Made to Forgive was almost entirely written and recorded in the wake of Roma di Luna‘s break up, sometime in late 2011, and early 2012, as the post-Roma di Luna band, Warey (Roma di Luna minus me, and Jessie Prusha). After Roma‘s reunion in 2017, we began discussing releasing records, again, and noted all the songs we had written and recorded, that had never made it to an album. After sifting through all these songs that had been shelved, we decided that we liked them enough to share them now, and we also thought that by releasing these songs, they would serve as a missing link between where Roma left off, and where we are now. Before we start putting out new songs (post-reunion), it felt necessary to release these tracks that document a very important part of our musical development and personal lives. There are two tracks that I wrote and performed vocals for, but in a spoken word style, rather than the folk/blues style I usually bring to this band. I think we’re still figuring out what kind of band Roma di Luna is currently, but we believe that it was important to revive some of our unreleased material before we can move forward.
Many of the songs on “We Were Made to Forgive” date back to post-Roma di Luna band, Warey
How have you grown as musicians since your last release, Then The Morning Came?
How we have each grown as musicians since our last release (2010), is a very difficult question to answer, but I do believe we have all grown significantly as musicians. Just reading over the musical projects we’ve collectively been involved with, will give some insight into the various artistic directions we have each gone in. Channy became the frontwoman of POLIÇA, a radically different persona from her role in Roma, and pushed her singing, stage presence, and musical capacity to bold new levels. Jessie Prusha co-founded FRAEA and also established herself as a strong singer/songwriter and frontwoman, easily able to transition into the world of electro-pop. I continued to work with my experimental rap group, Kill The Vultures, which was founded in 2004, and which I am still currently active with, releasing albums and touring. Ryan Lovan steadily played with Romantica, Toby Churchill, and others, along with Ben Durrant (electric guitar), and James Everest (bass). Those same members of Roma‘s rhythm section formed Grave Trio an experimental instrumental outfit, as well as iNMiGRATiON, and many other projects. In short, the members of Roma di Luna we anything but stagnant during the bands hibernation, and the experience accumulated from the seven or so years in between, clearly affect how we play, and how we approach music in general.
What can audiences expect from your Cedar show this time around?
For those who have been to a Roma di Luna concert at The Cedar, you can expect the same signature sincerity that we bring as a band, mixed with excitement to be playing there, and maybe some nerves from still getting used to performing together (it’s always a big deal for us to play The Cedar). The audience can expect new old songs that they probably aren’t familiar with (unless they by the album beforehand), mixed with some old favorites and other deep cuts. We chose The Cedar for our album release because it allows us to share songs that typically would be lost to crowd noise or other distractions in other venues, and we cherish the opportunity to have an attentive audience that can ride the wave of emotional resonance and sonic output.
What’s been inspiring you lately?
My (and Channy’s) daughter, Pela (pronounced Pel-la). We have a band called DoubleDragon, and we’re going to be opening the Roma album release show, so I’m super pumped for that. There has been at least one Roma di Luna performance at The Cedar years ago, where Channy was singing on stage while pregnant with Pela, so it’s kinda trippy to think that she, too, will be singing on that stage. We do some covers and some original songs as well.
Alexei and Pela as DoubleDragon
Lastly, I just want to thank all the Roma fans who supported us from our earliest versions, and still ride with us today. One of the things that feels really special about this band, is how important the band seems to be to other people, especially in the Twin Cities. Whenever we play The Cedar, it feels like a celebration of music by our community, and it’s an honor to help facilitate that celebration. Please come celebrate with us on May 4th!