When In Rome started out as a British new wave trio consisting of vocalists Clive Farrington and Andrew Mann, and keyboardist Michael Floreale. Farrington and Mann had been members of a locally popular band called Beau Leisure when they decided to strike out on their own. This song was from their debut LP in 1988 and was an instant hit, reaching #11 on the Billboard Top 100. However, it turned out to be their only major hit. Farrington and Mann went on to other things, but they continued to stay in touch and write together.
Floreale revived the group under the name When In Rome II in the mid-2000s with vocalist John Ceravolo and drummer Chris Willett. In 2009, Farrington and Mann reformed as When In Rome UK with drummer Rob Juarez.
Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
This song was used in the 2004 hit movie Napoleon Dynamite
at the end scene when Napoleon asks, "Do you wanna play me?" and also in the credit sequence.
Thomas - Bakersfield, CA
The band name was inspired by the idiom "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," which encourages adapting to the culture of the places we visit. Farrington got the idea when he and Floreale, both Manchester natives, were visiting London. He recalled in a 2012 interview with the newspaper The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania): "I distinctly remember dropping Mike off at a very unique food shop and saying something like, 'Let's try some of that,' followed by, 'When in Rome' - this was and still is my dad's favorite saying. This meant, of course, 'When in London, do as the Londoners do.' When Mike returned to the car, I said, 'How about When in Rome for the name of the band.' We both very enthusiastically agreed. When we both told Andrew, he gave the name his total blessing."
Farrington's father converted a garden shed into a studio for the band, which is where their hit song was born. "I'd had this tune in my head for a long while and hummed a basic melody to Mike," Farrington recalled. "This was the intro piano part for 'The Promise.' Mike played it over and over and I then sang the first verse melody over the top of a basic C chord. I then flowed into the chorus part and wrote the lyrics down. I kept these first lyrics, even though I thought them a little odd, especially the words, 'I'll make you fall for me,' because it is, of course, strange to say that you are going to make someone fall for you."
After receiving a rough demo from Farrington, Mann added the second verse, which has him singing:
Sometimes if I shout
It's not what's intended
These words just come out
With no cross to bear
According to Farrington, most cover versions feature the erroneous lyric "No gripe to bear" instead of "No cross to bear."
Farrington was somewhat surprised when this became a popular song at weddings. "I now believe that the words are the kind of thing that everybody who's in love wants to say to their partner, although I did not think about that at the time of writing," he explained. "The song has been used at many weddings worldwide, and is a kind of betrothal message that goes beyond the usual religious/marriage message. Of course, the song can be thought of as a wholly religious message. However, I can say hand on heart that this was not intentional. I wrote the lyrics straight from my head and heart without real knowledge of its subject matter. The song is not my favorite off of the album - however, I have come to like it more and more as time goes by."
This was also used in the movies Nightingale (2014) and Cicada Season (2018), as well as the TV series Sex Education (2020).
This has been covered by New Found Glory, Anberlin, Sturgill Simpson, Holly Miranda, Tony Moran, William Control, and The Eyeliners, among others.
This was also a #1 hit on the US Dance chart.