About a year ago, it seemed like the stars were aligning for Charlotte’s Paint Fumes. The ragged and ruthless garage trio had just released Uck Life, a debut LP that stretched their combustible energy without spreading it too thin, balancing psych-scorched epics with two-minute ragers. Tour dates were booked across the U.S. and Europe, an opportunity to cash in on fortuitous momentum.
The band’s luck didn’t hold. In February, just weeks before the Fumes were set to hit the road, Elijah Von Cramon, the group’s sneering singer and smashmouth guitarist, was struck by a car. His pelvis and skull were fractured. His teeth were chipped and his knees were torn up. He spent most of the next four months in a wheelchair, stalling the Fumes just when they were ready to take off. Uninsured, Cramon was saddled with daunting medical bills.
But the frontman wouldn’t be defeated. Benefits in Raleigh and Charlotte helped defray expenses, and he kept busy, demoing material during days stranded at home. By the summer, he was out and about, playing new songs with The Rolling Lords, a backing band fleshed out by local friends.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, Paint Fumes returns to Asheville as part of an extensive East Coast tour, the first since Cramon’s accident.
Mountain Xpress: When did you know you were ready to hit the road again?
Elijah Von Cramon: As soon as I started playing with Rolling Lords, I was ready to do this. Our drummer, Josh [Johnson], lives in L.A., and he’s like my best friend. I had missed him so much. As soon as he came home, I was like, “This is it. I’m so excited.” As soon as I could stand up and not use a walker or a cane, I was like, “I’m ready to do this. Let’s go on tour and get crazy.”
Usually, we don’t need too many practices. All of these songs are ingrained in our brains pretty well. Even the songs that I thought I forgot, I was like, “Oh, I totally know this stuff.”
Tell me about the Rolling Lords. How did that get started?
All those songs I wrote when I was f••ked up on all these [prescription] drugs. It’s weird. A lot of the songs that I wrote that we didn’t use are super dark, but most of them are really happy and just fun, like Black Lips mixed with the Ramones.
It’s perfect. It’s like hanging out with two of my best friends and the love of my life. [His girlfriend, Stefania Antonucci, plays drums.] It’s the best. All of those shows have been fun. We’re going to still play when I get back home.
I heard you and the Lords were initially thinking about playing in wheelchairs. Did that idea pan out?
We decided to move past it because I was like, “F••k being in a wheelchair for longer than I need to be.” It sounded like a good idea at first, but then the more we thought about it, we were like, “Man, that would just be a boring show.” Nobody’s moving around. Everybody’s just sitting there.
How’s the tour going? What are your plans for the future?
We’re figuring it out. We’re definitely planning on going to Europe in March, and we’re talking to some bands about doing it with us, some American bands. Hopefully, we’ll have some money together to do it then. I may just stay in Europe. I’m pretty over living in Charlotte. I’ve lived here all my life. It’s not a bad city. I’m just sick of it.
I’ve still got some [medical bills] that need to get paid, but I don’t even think about it now. I got my teeth fixed, which is cool, I guess. Even though I kind of miss those cracked teeth, now that I think about it.
— Jordan Lawrence can be reached at email@example.com.
who: Paint Fumes
with Impossible Vacation and Mad Tea
where: The Mothlight
when: Saturday, Nov. 23 at 9:30 p.m.
$5 in advance/$7 at the door