Glimpses of the South Florida Scene: The Dewars
of the South Florida Scene is a weekly column devoted to the
artists thriving within Broward and Palm Beach counties featuring
interviews with the folks making it happen. This week, the Dewars.
The brothers who make up West Palm's the Dewars are clouded in dreamy mystery: they play shows only rarely and describe themselves on their MySpace as "twins born after the abortion of our phantom sibling" who "spent years in the institutions that slaughter dreams and have survived with sixty weird year'd songs, two chiseled hearts, one dead best friend and a love for music and art." Their songs are psychedelic, mildly nautical, acoustic affairs. Given the enigmatic nature of their music and their attitudes about songwriting itself, the title of their upcoming release, Songs From the Neverglades, is especially fitting - Anthony and Zachary Dewar are purveyors of a swampy, bluesy Florida that exists only in aural fairytales.
New Times: What's your living situation like, guys? Judging by your response to
my message and your nautical melodies, I'm imagining you at least live
in a houseboat, if you're not actual pirates.
Anthony & Zachary Dewar: We are only pretend pirates when we play in our backyard
pool, which, as it turns out, is not the Fountain of Youth at all. For
the most part we are landlocked creatures but periodically we visit the
beach draped in winter clothing to try to tap into a vast oceanic
emotion only felt at the edge of the world. Now we're back at our
mother's prodigal refugee camp after our two-year exodus in which we
endured the eternal lease of an apartment in nowhere [Bradenton] and
weathered the college town of Tallahassee.
The opening chords of "Pedophile Pete" sound like they're about to
transition into a hazy cover of "Under The Boardwalk." Any influence by the Drifters? And if not - any other influences?
I can't say that there has been any specific influence from the
Drifters, although I am a fan. Our influences can be abstracted from
many aspects of life from open books, rain, and bonobos to specific
bands and artists. I think if our greatest influences were personified
into one human it would have the eyes of Bob Dylan, the fingers of Jimi
Hendrix, the heart of Leonard Cohen, the voice of the Everly Brothers,
the spirit of Janis Joplin, the mind of David Byrne and the lips of Mick
Please tell me a little bit about "Pedophile Pete" - the song and the
man (is there a Pedophile Pete?).
The song is more of a suburban legend. If I were to describe him as a
physical man, I'd say his favorite book is Lolita, he enjoys baseball,
has a mustache and goes to church once a year. He's a good fella' to
grab a beer with, though his secret dark desires lay deeply beneath his
surface and haunt him at night. I believe the chord progression is the
vehicle into the neighborhood's eerie truths and hidden gossip. The
song is on one hand a confession of statutory love from a neighborhood
loner named Pete and, on the other hand, the fear-filled nursery rhyme
that the rest of the neighbor hood sings (in reality or in Pete's head).
The girl down the street doesn't show fear or even an awareness of his
love and Pete has committed no crime, so the story continues in a
pattern with Pete loving girl after girl until they grow up and out of
the neighborhood. An interesting thing about the song is that we wrote
the chorus when we were fifteen but the verse and rest of the song was
written when we were the eighteen-year-old band down the street, so we
had a taste of both the girl and Pete's perspectives. A video is in the
When did you guys start making music and what inspired you to do it?
We have always been fascinated by the magical world of music, coming
from a family background of musicians on both sides of the tree. I
remember at a very early age lotioning my father's classical guitar to
shiny perfection...but it wasn't until around age twelve that we
seriously delved into songwriting. Our move to New Zealand inspired us
to write songs and we came back as different people with some message to
give America. Throughout high school we formed some dysfunctional
friend bands for fun, before we reduced ourselves to our lowest common
denominator of the Dewars.
What are the best and worst things about being a band in South Florida?
At first I will admit it was a bit discouraging to roam the local
streets as a closet musician, peering in at washed up parrot heads
singing raspy "Brown-Eyed Girl" covers to barflies downtown. On top of
this it seemed most of the venues were dropping like flies. These
factors among others introverted us into reclusive recording hermits,
though we did manage to stir up an underground following on a handful of
high school and college campuses. Only recently, though, have we been
poking our heads out of our shells and, with the help of the bearded
guru Steev Rullman and fellow local friend bands such as the Love
Handles and Surfer Blood, it seems our pioneering into the local live
frontier has contagiously attracted attention to itself. So I guess the
advantage of being an ally in a bleak abandoned art community is that
any out-of-the-ordinary small town-sensation sticks out like a sore
thumb, and draws the surprised cave-dwelling counterculture to take part
in a cult classic of their town.
On that note, has Florida influenced your sound or song-writing process?
Growing up in Florida has greatly influenced us. It's an ironic,
surreal swampland to live in. Riddled in bizarre culture clashes and
cops, it has given birth to a uniquely fermented territory. But South
Florida starts as a misleading idea. The decision to move here could be
to live out the vision of a postcard paradise, vaguely recalled from
vacation in childhood... It seems as a first generation native, they
forget their initial impulse to move here and wind up lost in the
landscape's stressfully laidback, tourist-trapped lifestyle. I am
perplexed by this place's past and future, and in light of our habitat
we have named our release Songs from the Neverglades.
The Dewars perform at the Oil.Spill.Benefit, with Surfer Blood, the Jameses, and Chill
Pillars. 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 30, at Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake
Worth. Call 561-547-7273, or click here.
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