Interview | Dex Romweber Duo, Chapel Hill, August 2014

All photos by Agatha Donkar

Last spring, SiC ran an interview with Scott and Grant Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, about their family, their musical history, and playing with a sibling. This is a second in that series, with Chapel hill’s Dex and Sara Romweber of Dex Romweber Duo.

Speakers In Code: You said you have a lot of siblings.

Dex Romweber: I’m the last of seven. Four brothers, two
sisters. Our dad died in ’94.

Where do you fall, Sara?

Sara Romweber: I’m the 5th one.

So you’re … 5 and 7. How long have you been playing

DR: 7 years.

SR: Well, we started out young.

DR: Yeah, we started out playing real young.

SR: He was the first guitar player I ever played with. I was
his first drummer, but we both played guitar.

DR: We were called [the Romaines].

When was that?

DR: ’79, ’80.

But you’ve been playing together as Dex Romweber Duo
for seven years? Before that, I know you played with Flat Duo Jets for a long
time. How was that? Were you playing with someone you’d known for a long time?

DR: His name was Chris “Crow” Smith. We went to school
together, fifth, sixth grade.

So that goes back a long ways, too.

DR: It goes back a long ways. ’78, ’79.

How did the two of you come back to playing together?

DR: Well, the Duo Jets had broken up and Sara was free, and
I asked her – we had a series of dates on the Outer Banks and I asked Sara if
she would play with me. And we began touring and making records pretty quick.
We got our manager, who was a childhood friend, who was in Venice, FL – he lives
in Largo, FL now – Brett [Seal]. Me and Sara were in Austin, he asked to manage
us. He got us a record deal with Bloodshot Records.

How many have you put out with Bloodshot now?

SR: Three. When we started out, we were just going to put
out a record together. Then it turned into three records. I’m glad that it did,
because I think we had more to do than just on that first record.

DR: And I like all the records a lot.

I love all three. I lived in Chicago in early 2002, and
I’ve been familiar with the Bloodshot crew since then.

DR: And Sara has made the records a lot better than any drummer
I played with.

SR: That’s really sweet.

DR: You can tell any musician out there that. But she did,
she made the records a lot better. And I’m real proud of me and Sara’s records.

Are any of your siblings musicians?

DR: Joe, and our mother is a classical pianist.

SR: And that’s where I really think our musical talent came
from, was her. We don’t have a history of musicians in the family.

You didn’t sit around at Thanksgiving playing or

SR: But when Dex, when he started playing guitar and piano,
he was always playing. It was part of the household all the time. It was, you
know, always there.

DR: And Joe plays guitar and writes songs, and he’s very
good at it.

Where did you guys grow up?

DR: Here since ’77, but Florida. Venice.

Is the rest of your family still in Florida?

DR: Well, some of us.

SR: We were born in Indiana, from there we moved to Florida,
and spent a lot of youth there, and from there moved here in ’77. That’s the
year Elvis died.

That’s before I was born, so now I feel really young.

SR: Well, you are!

I’ve spent a lot of time recently feeling really old
because of the Merge stuff, and being like, I’ve loved these bands for twenty
years, how can they still be playing together?

DR: We played here a few weeks ago and it was all the old
school bands me and Sara grew up with, the Pressure Boys, the Connells, Let’s

I missed it last weekend. I was so upset to miss Let’s

DR: It was really good.

The two questions I always close with, the first is: if
you had a time machine, and you could back and see one show – either one you
want to re-experience or one you missed, what would you go see?

DR: 1959 in the Tampa Bay Coliseum, Big Joe Turner, Benny
Joy, and some other singer.

SR: That would be killer. If I could see any show again, I
saw Nick Cave at the 9:30. That was back in the ‘80s. With the Bad Seeds.

DR: We’re big fans of Nick Cave.

SR: Another thing is, in playing with Dex, because I’ve
played with so many musicians, Dex and I started playing together – the duo
format was really different for me. But in our recording, and some of our live
shows, especially some of the recordings that we’ve done, are my favorite I’ve
ever done. Absolutely the coolest songs I’ve ever done in the history of my
career, I’ve done with him.

DR: I agree. The sound of the records, just.

Of everybody – you, you, your five other siblings: who does your mom love best?

DR: Me! No, I like think she loves all of us.

SR: She loves all of us a lot.

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