Interview: John Kolodij and Matthew Derby of The Pines of Rome Talk ‘The Unstruck Bell’

A lot has happened in the 20 years since Providence, Rhode Island, lo-fi band, The Pines Of Rome released The Everlasting Arms. We’ve seen the creation of Facebook and Twitter. YouTube made access to video content free, easy, and on-demand. And Spotify changed the face of music consumption. Now 20 years on from their last record and with new record The Unstruck Bell out into the world, The Pines Of Rome have adapted to whatever changes have come their way.

“It’s obviously a different landscape, but none of us stopped putting out music,” guitarist John Kolodij explains. Brushing off the changes as you’d expect from a DIY artist, vocalist Matthew Derby contemplates how different the experience of releasing music in 2023 is compared to 2003, describing it as “Kind of torturous.”

“Back when we started, the internet was just a harmless baby; your first and biggest milestone as a band was getting the local record store to stock one of your CDs; that was all you needed to pretend you had an audience.” He elaborates, “I prefer just dreaming that people are listening, with absolutely no evidence in the world to back it up.”

All this was no deterrent to them—In truth, it was the change in the world that lit the spark in them to get back to releasing music as The Pines Of Rome. “I missed hearing the kind of music we were making back then,” remarks Derby. “It was just a particular strain of austere, lo-fi music that was somewhere between post-rock math rock and outsider folk, that sort of faded in the early 2000s.” Kolodij agrees, “I’ve chased a lot of things that I wanted to simply express ideas and loves into music I wanted to hear.”

It may sound simple to want to bring back a sound you were a part of 20 years ago, but as previously mentioned, a lot can change in that time, and with personal change comes creative change. Derby discusses how his song writing has changed, initially writing with a sort of youthful ignorance he now finds himself almost overthinking his lyrics: “I think I wrote better inside of that ignorance. Now, I’ll write many, many drafts of a song. Sweating over every word.” While there may be more self-examination, Kolodij notes that their song writing still ultimately comes down to the “if it feels good, follow it” philosophy.

Having faced all the difficulties that come with a 20-year gap between records, from the changing music landscape to technological advances, The Pines Of Rome achieved something brilliant on The Unstruck Bell, capturing their personal growth and journey both individually and as a band. It’s no surprise that it resonated with their core fanbase and newcomers alike. Fortunately for all, it would appear that we won’t need to wait 20 years for their next release, as Derby adds, “We’ve got a bunch of new songs we’re planning to record later this year, so I hope we’ll beat our 20-year timeline.”

The Unstruck Bell is available for purchase from Bandcamp. Follow them on Facebook for future updates.

Photo courtesy of The Pines of Rome

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