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Monday, June 26, 2006

Flat Duo Jets


Named after an obscure kind of electric guitar and playing stripped down, raw rock, Dexter Romweber and his pal Crow escaped from a broken down shack in Chapel Hill NC to record an album in an old automobile transmission shop. The Flat Duo Jets debut album was recorded on a portable two track machine, which gave it a spontaneous and unrefined feel as it should be. This is rockabilly, the purest form of rock and roll known to mankind, and the Flat Duo Jets have mastered this lost art. They have three albums out now, all of which are a testament to the artists of the 1950's who began and shaped this style of music. Dexter has with great diligence studied rockabilly, and the musicians that made the genre great. This has enabled him to recreate many of these lost classics and bring them to a new generation of listeners. I interviewed Dexter Romweber by mail, shortly before the release of their second album.

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AC- Could you tell us how the Flat Duo Jets got started out, and how you chose the name for the group?
DR- My mom had a little house in the garage called the "box," and after getting stoned one day me and Crow played and it was magic- a different sound. A Flat Duo Jet is a 1950's Gretch Guitar.

AC- What other music or groups do you listen to beside your personal liking of Chopin, Jazz, Rockabilly from the 50's and 60's, and of course The Cramps?
DR- Marc Bolin, and Jackie Gleason.

AC- How did you get into this style of music that the Flat Duo Jets play? Has it taken very long for the band to find its musical identity?
DR- We were born into our identity. Of course a lot of time can be good and bad, but it's my life's work.

AC- I've read that your home life was colorful. Would you tell us a little about the circumstances that led to a moat, a coffin, and not being allowed to eat with the rest of the family?
DR- Spin magazine made up that story, and they're lucky I didn't sue them. My family is very close, and it hurts to think that they would portray it negatively. As far as coffins.... I was a haunted house fanatic.

AC- What is Chapel Hill, North Carolina like?
DR- A lot of isolation, but I was living like a Paris poet compared to a street musician. I might move away for a time.

AC- Crow said in an interview that, "Our music was made to listen to on a shitty stereo." Do you agree with this, and if so, why?
DR- Yes, because usually it's recorded shitty in the studio.

AC- What does the Flat Duo Jets do to "jet-ize" a song?
DR- Forget ourselves and mathematically philosophize.... transcend life.

AC- How long have you been studying rockabilly?
DR- About 6 years.

AC- Is the reference to a "Walking encyclopedia" an accurate description of yourself?
DR- Yes, I'm a walking encyclopedia! BLAH!

AC- What are your plans in the future for yourself and the Flat Duo Jets? Will the band continue to play pure rock or branch out into other music?
DR- Well, our new record has so many more diversified forms... only a few rockabilly cuts. I would like to do a record of 1940s ballads and record a Jimmie Roseri Country/Western acoustic album.

AC- What will the next Flat Duo Jets release be like?
DR- Our second record is Billie Holliday meets David Bowie meets The Stones meets The Who meets Marvin Gaye meets The Flat Duo Jets.

AC- Is the Flat Duo Jets tape still available from Dolphin Records? How can one obtain a copy?
DR- A classic. Some of my favorite stuff. Write to: Monica Romweber PO Box 4 Carrboro, NC 27510. 6 Buxs!

AC- What are some of the more wild things that you've done while playing live?
DR- Took off my clothes, handed over the guitar for someone else to play... got drunk.

AC- How old are you and Crow?
DR- I'm 24 going on 60, and Crow is 24 going on 24.

AC- When will the Flat Duo Jets be going on a tour again?
DR- February hopefully.

AC- Was the tour with The Cramps good for the Jets?
DR- The Cramps tour was very good for us.

AC- Will you go on tour with the Cramps again?
DR- I don't know. We want to headline our own tour.

AC- What do you do for relaxation outside of the band?
DR- I play and write classical music, poetry, and do research on Errol Flynn, Rimbau, and Gaugin.

AC- Who are some of your favorite or most appreciated "old timers," (in reference to the artists of the 50's)?
DR- Jerry Lee, Eddie Cochran, Elvis, The Phantom.

AC- How do you think the Flat Duo Jets would have done back in 1957 or so?
DR- We would have been totally understood.

AC- If you can be objective, how might you describe your music?
DR- It's as mean as a serpent, and gentle as a dove.

AC- How does the Flat Duo Jets feel about the music industry?
DR- I can get what we want.... and freedom is what we want, but you know, sometimes you're like a product. I'm not doing this to get famous. I'm doing it because I love music.

AC- The Flat Duo Jets have been compared time and time again to the "Stray Cats." Is there really a similarity between the Flat Duo Jets and the Stray Cats? I think I must have missed something there.
DR- I can tell you why we're different- we ain't no pretty boys and if I played Eddie Cochran I would never play a heavy metal riff!

AC- Any video material on the way?
DR- Yeah, but I'm not sure when.

AC- What is your definition of a "Crooner"?
DR- Johnny Ray, and I was very sad to hear of his death.

AC- How has the band reacted to the deluge of publicity and acclaim that your debut album has provided?
DR- Well, it's interesting to be recognized on the street, but often I say "No, I'm not Dexter Romweber."

AC- In the future will the band play more hard-edged, raw sounding music?
DR- Harder edged music with torch song leanings. A stew of stuff old and stuff new.

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This interview originally appeared in Antocularis issue #1, August 1992.

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