By George Burrows | November 18, 2013
Dex Romweber has a catalog of music that is extremely varied, from band configurations that include The Flat Duo Jets, solo projects and his current project with his sister Sara on drums in the Dex Romweber Duo.
I was privileged to be able to chat with Dex from his home in North Carolina. He is a kind person, like speaking with a relative. He was concerned as to the recent batch of tornadoes that recently went through the Midwest, stating that he was watching the activity on TV and wondered if Cedar Rapids was affected.
Dex was very laid back and exuded a sense of personal achievement and confidence. He was going to work in his yard after our interview.
I will be covering his show @ Snug Harbor in Charlotte. Dex said that the next day he will play the earliest gig he has ever played, a 9:00 A.M. set at a car show in Raleigh.
George Burrows: What have you been doing lately?
DR: Me and Sara just got back from Spain where we played a festival. We recorded our next record a couple of weeks ago and we’re just pulling things together like photos and ordering songs. My mom was on album covers in the 50’s and I was able to find one in a thrift store in Athens, GA. We are using this bizarre cover she was on from 1956 inside our CD and album cover. I also have been doing a lot of solo gigs around North Carolina and neighboring towns.
GB: Dex said that he does the solo gigs to help put money in his pockets:
DR: It is a hard business and you do not know when you are getting the next buck. It is important that I keep working. I am a little bit older no so it is not as easy as it once was but am older and wiser so everything keeps rolling on. Another thing I do is art – I am a painter and I have an art show in Charlotte December 13th with a friend of mine. (Dex is looking into putting his work on-line)
GB: Dex released Piano in 2006 which I found to be quite good. I told him he is a hell of a piano player…
DR: I wish I would have practiced piano more for those sessions. I had gone through a lot in my life and moved in with this girl and if I would not have been with her I would have spent more time with the piano. All the stuff was done by memory, some of the songs were put together many years ago
GB: Can you tell me about you and Sara’a gear? I understand you do not use any pedals?
DR: I do not use any pedals and my amp is a Randall which is a pretty raunchy amp. It is about as low-income as my guitar so the two go together. I never really needed any of that (pedal boards) at one point I had a delay unit I used which fell by the wayside. When I have more money I am going to buy unit mostly for recording.
GB: Jack White worked with you on the EP Third Man. He is a fan of yours and you are credited a big influence of his body of work – what was it like to collaborate with him?
DR: I have not seen him in a couple of years and sure what he is up to…me and Sara were on tour and on a day off he invited us up to mansion in Nashville. He had a recording studio in his estate where we knocked out the 45 in the span of a night and a day. I do not see Jack very often. I first met him in 2003 or something. The drummer before Sara, Sam Sheppard and I were able to play a show before the White Stripes in Boston. I was a huge shoe with several thousand people. That was the first time II met Jack but we stayed in contact off and on. Years ago he would call me and we went up to New York to see Jack’s band backing Wanda Jackson. That was probably the last time I saw Jack. He is a busy guy, he told me one night that he had dinner with Mick Jagger.
GB: Prior to the interview I listened to your new record quite a bit (Is That You In The blue). The Death of Me, makes me recall the music of Twin Peaks. It hit me right in my soul. What was behind The Death of Me?
DR: Many people have commented on The Death of Me. I agree with you, it was written by a local artist Django Haskins who has a band called the Old Ceremony. Our next record I was hoping to get more of the feel as The Death of Me, but I am not sure we did it I do not know. The Death of Me is definitely special. That was an interesting time in my life during the time we recorded that record.
GB: You have recorded records with The Flat Duo Jets, Solo and your current duo with your sister. Each time you have been recognized as frenzied, authentic, possessed and visionary. In your opinion which ones fits you best ?
DR: I do not really know man, I just live my own life. I have my own interests and fascinated by so many things such as the world around me and the universe, ecology, art and music. I need to read more. I used to read things by authors like Charles Baudelarie. I try to get by and live each day doing what I want to do. Today I am going to be working in the yard. I love working outdoors working with the land and nature. I am selling my own house and trying to get it in shape to sell.. At the moment I am a person of the land. Also me and Sara need to sit down as we just had a photo the other day so we got to figure out what we are going to use on our album.
GB: Prior to a gig what is your pre show routine and has it changed over the years?
DR: It has not really changed much. I need a place to get quite, maybe say a little prayer just to pull myself together. I try to get more in balance then go up and give it everything I have.
GB: Your records are on Bloodshot Records out of Chicago. When did your relationship with them begin and how did it come about?
DR: A few years back I started working with them. I let my manager work with them. I am not sure the angles used to promote our records. I tend to stay out of what they are doing. I am not sure what kind of budget they are working with, I would hope we are being promoted more and maybe they are doing that but I do not know.
GB: I can tell you that Joe Swank of Bloodshot took an active interest in setting up the interview and obtaining a photo pass for your Charlotte show.
DR: I have literally done 40 interviews when new records come out, so this is true.
GB: The Carolinas seem to be home to you for many years. Is it the Southern culture (musically) or is it other reasons?
DR: It is mostly that my friends and family live here, and I love the Southern terrain. It is actually a good location for this side of the country. I guess you could say I love the Southern things about the Carolinas. I would like to see more of the country. I have been to England but have to say I love the United States.
GB: If you could change things in the music world what would they be?
DR: I am not really sure man, it seems like a lot more people are staying home now. I understand the internet and all, but if I could change anything it would be for people to get off the computers for a few hours and come to the nightclubs.