Interview with Here Comes Everybody
Here Comes Everybody was conceived by founding members Michael Jarmer & René Ormae-Jarmer in 1986 and has been rocking the greater Portland metro area and the Northwest United States of these Americas ever since. From its new wave progressive rock beginnings, Here Comes Everybody has evolved over the years, moving freely in & out of various configurations and genres, but sticking the entire time to its greatest passion & strength: the memorable and delicious modern pop song. The 21st century finds Michael and René crafting mostly acoustic piano rock & performing as a trio: drums, bass, keyboards and a whole lot of singing.
QRD – How do you turn music mode on & off in your relationship with each other? Or do you find yourself pretty constantly collaborating on music even if it’s songs about cooking?
René – I guess we’re just used to it after all these years. We’ve been making music together for mover 25 years (started as high school kids). We talk about music constantly because we write so much. Producing a monthly “day album” for our Veronica Lodge (our song writing group where we have to write 6 songs within a 24-hour period, then present them in mixed CD format at our meeting), keeps us always thinking about the next thing. We are perfect for each other musically: we’re both drummers, Michael writes the lyrics, & I write the music. We’re two halves of a whole & compliment each other well. There was a dark time in the relationship where music was overshadowing the relationship, (in other words it became so dominant that we weren’t taking care of the core relationship), so we had to fix that & find a healthy place to turn off the music & find balance.
QRD – How has your music changed by having
someone you’re romantically
René – Here Comes Everybody’s music has changed through the years as we have evolved. The changes didn’t seem to be linked to any type of romanticism, but just a reflection of us being able to communicate musically & lyrically better through our music as we have grown within the marriage.
QRD – How do you keep things professional rather than getting personal in the band? Like not letting being upset that someone’s not doing their house chores spill into band practice?
René – It’s like a switch we flip. When we’re in rehearsal mode, we both respect each other as musicians. Sometimes when someone is having a bad day & rehearsal isn’t going well, or someone can’t let something go, we just quit & have a drink or we just goof around & try to make each other laugh. It helps having a third person. We’re the “married” couple in the band, but I’d like to think that we keep things professional. We don’t have raging arguments in the practice room or name call or anything stupid like that.
QRD – Do you think working musically together increases the strength of your relationship?
René – Definitely.
QRD – Do you think the music ever suffers because of your relationship?
Michael – Sometimes we have creative differences. But it doesn’t make the music suffer, per se; it’s just a hurdle we have to jump, but it can be frustrating.
QRD – Being in a romantic couple, do you try to curb lyrical content to or away from things in your relationship?
Michael – We have very few tunes that could be said to be romantic, & the ones that are are not very often biographical. There are relationship songs, & I guess, the entire song cycle of the Submarines CD could be said to be about a relationship, but at the forefront is what each character discovers about themselves through a process, & not about the couple. & that’s very loosely biographical. There’s a song on the new CD, “Ice Cream,” that is really the only song I can think of off the top of my head that is clearly & specifically about us, but even that song has some stretchers in it.
QRD – A lot of families kind of look down on musicians as immature, do you find that going out with another musician has eased relationships with your parents or in-laws?
Michael – It’s never been an issue with our families. Maybe more so with other musicians & bands, in a kind of negative way, you know, like, because we’ve been together so long ? that’s not very rock & roll.
QRD – Which came first the musical collaboration or the relationship & do you feel that at this point that you could have one without the other?
Michael – It’s a good question. Our relationship started, when we were very young, in a musical context, & the two things have worked side by side ever since, going on 21 years. But I think we both believe that the marriage would still be strong without the band, but probably the band would not be so strong without the marriage!
QRD – How do things work with band members besides the two of you to get the same level of connectivity while playing your music?
Michael – Most of the musicians we’ve played with over the years have become close friends ? so there’s another kind of chemistry working, & it’s usually pretty positive & interesting. We’ve always enjoyed that added element, that is, when it’s working, when the relationship with that third or fourth member is healthy & positive.
QRD – Do you find music related gifts to be romantic or more like giving someone an appliance?
Michael – I love them. René hates them.
QRD – The musician life style has an inherent lack of financial security & healthcare. Do you find yourself thinking, “How can we start a family & continue our musical careers?”
Michael – Well, we’ve always had day jobs, & that has been a real blessing, even though, I think, it may cause others to think somehow that we’re not as serious about music. We think that’s bull. We just never had any interest in living out of a van for 9 months out of a year.
QRD – Do you ever switch off instruments to give each other ideas?
Michael – I am limited by my ability to play the drums & write the words & sing on key. René could play drums if she wanted to, but then I just get to stand around & look pretty. So, we don’t often switch around.
QRD – A lot of people say they feel most spiritually connected to another person is when they’re on stage & the set is working. Is this what you find & how does this energy flow into your romantic relationship?
Michael – I don’t think we feel most connected while we’re playing, more so, say, than we do in our day-to-day lives; but there is certainly an excitement & a shared enthusiasm for performing this music we’ve created together. Not many couples have anything like this.
QRD – Some couples start to get seen as a unit with one member as dominant. Do you ever want to get one of you more recognition?
René – I think that our personalities tend to compliment each other. Michael is the front man, but he tends to be a bit more shy. I’m the social butterfly & love to talk to people. Since he’s the “mouthpiece” of the band, he naturally is assumed to be the more dominant one. Sometimes, I get approached as the girl in the band & people think I’m the lead singer. I like to mess with them & tell them I play the tambourine. I do take pride in the fact that I’m a drummer, but since I play keys in the band, it’s kind of a strange little secret.
QRD – Do you feel a need to have separate projects where you just work on your own?
Michael – René freelances as a drummer sometimes. I have played drums in other projects, too. But nothing as consistently or as seriously as HCE. & I write fiction -- so that’s the creative thing I do on my own. & currently, I’m taking up some acting. I was cast as Nick Bottom the Weaver in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in Milwaukee, Oregon. The play opens on Valentines Day!
QRD – Musicians often run into fans with crushes, is there a secret to recognizing when something is getting inappropriate instead of being band promoting?
Michael – Interestingly enough, it has not been an issue. René acts professionally with people. I just nod & smile.
QRD – Any advice for other musician couples?
Michael – I don’t think we really represent the norm for musician couples. We have known so few. The stuff that keeps a relationship or a marriage healthy is the same kind of stuff that will keep a musical partnership healthy. As we’ve alluded to before, you have to nurture both sides, both aspects of the partnership. It can’t be all about the music 100% of the time. If it is, you’re probably doomed.