“Meet Me in the Shed” :: An Afternoon with Winnipeg’s Roman Clarke

by Mark Teague

As I was getting ready to go meet Roman Clarke, I received a short e-mail telling me to “meet him in the shed”. It was an ominous start to a surprisingly pleasant interview, and the shed, as it turns out, is where most of Clarke’s creative works originate. 

We met on a Sunday afternoon and Roman has just driven back into town after playing drums in Brandon for his father’s cover band. He is the first to recognize the familial roots in his passion for music.

“My dad is really musical and my mom is musically inclined too. My dad did a similar thing that I’m doing when he was my age. He was touring a lot in his early twenties.” “One of his biggest touring opportunities was with this Elvis tribute band, it was called Elvis, Elvis, Elvis. There was a short Elvis, a tall Elvis, and a fat Elvis, and that was their thing. They went on the road one time for eleven months straight.”

But Clarke is no stranger to touring himself, spending much of his post-high school years on the road. 

“With [The Middle Coast] I feel like some of the years we were in high school we played over 100 shows … and when I graduated, we just tried our best to not have jobs and book a shitload of tours.”

And although he is no longer touring with The Middle Coast, his schedule has not changed much. 

“In 2019 I was on the road for pretty much 6 months. I’ve gone through other years where I was touring that much, but it was a different level of touring that I was doing this past year, it was better. Better shows, not crashing on couches as much, and not really financially scared for my life, which is sweet, but it was mostly because I was touring with Joey Landreth, so I was playing drums for him and opening.”

When he is not on tour, Roman spends most of his time creating in the aforementioned shed and amassing an impressive body of work in an admirably disciplined way. 

“It is like exercising. Like everything else, I am training my brain to get to that place of allowing myself to be inspired and running with it. It is not necessarily a song every day, honestly, I will come in here, and screw around on my piano for a bit, and if I find a cool chord progression or something, then I will start recording a track. I come in everyday and I have no idea what is going to happen, I don’t have a plan or anything, I just tinker around and by the end of the day there is either an instrumental, or a song, of I have gone through a few versions of a song that I want to get. Every day is just different because I don’t really care what I make as long as I make something, as long as I flex that muscle, that’s all I really want to do.”

But with a body of work growing as quickly as his, choosing what to release can be just as challenging. 

“Deciding what songs I want to put out is kind of hard, because I like all of them, and I do want to put out a lot of them, but not all of them are what I want my art to be, so I have to curate something towards whatever my goal is, or what I want my art to look like.”

“Usually it is not even things that sounds the same or look that same, it is the things that give me the feeling that I know that this is who I am, and sometimes those things sound drastically different, but it is still me, and it is still what I want to put forward, and it is what I want to sing when I am on stage in front of people. “

You can have access to Roman’s daily output of music by subscribing to his Patreon page – https://www.patreon.com/romanpclarke.

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