Here’s the short interview I did with En Vogue/The Whispers drummer Dante’ Roberson for pearldrum.com....
Dante' Roberson: Always Gonna Get It!
The powerhouse R&B drummer sat down with Pearl to discuss his many projects and playing with En Vogue.
Dante' started playing drums at age three and has since performed with Najee, Eric Benet, Carl Willer, Ivan Johnson and The Coup, and was in the house band on Comedy Central's Weekends At The DL. He's just returned from a European run with En Vogue and was stationary just long enough to answer a few of our questions...
Pearl Corporation: You’re a busy guy and always on the move… catch us up with what’s been happening lately and how you came into the En Vogue gig.
Dante' Roberson: I’ve been doing a lot of recording with some great producers like Carl Wheeler (Grammy Winner) and Jamie Hawkins (Donnel Jones/Sunny Hawkins/Tony Saunders/CS&N). I’m also touring with R&B legends The Whispers and performing on a show called Night Calls on the Playboy Channel. I have also been on some drum clinic tours… some of the dates have been with Mike Johnston. I am also getting ready for a HUGE drum festival in Las Vegas where I’ll be one of the featured artists.
It's funny how I came across the En Vogue gig. I received a call from their (then) Musical Director Jamie Hawkins saying that there was going to be a vacancy in the drum chair. I asked, “En Vogue like the Funky Divas?” He said, “Yes idiot, what you think?” (laughs) Of course, I accepted the gig and I’ve been playing for them over three years. I must say, they are some of the nicest women you will ever meet.
PC: How did you prep for the gig? What essentials did you bring with you?
DR: They gave me this super long CD of a previous rehearsal and I had about a week and half to learn all these songs. I also referenced the originals recordings so I wouldn't disrespect the gig. Then just practiced to the rehearsal tracks till I couldn't think straight! (laughs) As for the essentials, honestly the only thing I brought with me was my iPhone (with the rehearsal tracks on it), some Vater Fusion sticks, and my lucky gold Pearl Masterworks drum key.
PC: How does the En Vogue gig differ from some of the others you’ve played?
DR: Their show is so different from any other show I’ve been a part of in the past. En Vogue has one of the craziest bands ever! Elijah Green III on bass… who will not let up at no time! Augusta, GA's Chris Thompkins is on keys and I tell you he will peel your face back! Derek Yung Wurld is the Musical Director and he keeps coming up with new and different things to do with the show. He wants me to keep going for it but at the same time not to disrespect the gig. So I have to come with it every night.
PC: Do you have a regimented warm-up before the show?
I make sure I get some rest in my room directly after soundcheck. Once we get back to the venue, you can find me in a corner warming up with a practice pad or a rolled up towel. I work on a lot of singles and doubles just to get my hands going. Then I begin to incorporate some flams and diddles before I shake my hands out, say a lil' prayer, and then it's showtime. En Vogue is a very high energy show… it's like going to war. Yung Wurld asks of the audience, “What do you want on your tombstone?” as in we are the ones that will be “taking you out”. I love that type of thinking.
PC: What advice would you give to aspiring drummers wanted to break into the business?
DR: Drummers that really, I mean reallywant to be in this business need to stay hungry. Try to learn everything but at the same time know your strong points. Mingle with all musicians. Keep a great attitude, have your equipment ready to go when called, and LEARN HOW TO READ MUSIC!
PC: Although you played a Reference Series kit for the O2 performance, you’ve been a longtime endorser and have played a variety of Pearl kits…
DR: Man, the Reference Series kit sounds great, looks great, and Pearl hardware is the truth! The kit I use most of the time is the Reference Series and every so often I will use my Masters Series. When it's time for video or something real big, my Masterworks kit comes out… that's my baby! The ICON rack system is the best ever and I’ve never had an issue with it or any of the hardware. I have homies that play kits by other drum companies but when they hear my kit, they just shake their head and say WOW!