By Jhoni Jackson
If Troma Entertainment had wanted a band on retainer for its raunchier early ‘70s flicks, Paint Fumes would have easily been a go-to group. While they look a little glam at times—mostly because frontman Elijah Von Cramon often sports neck scarves, patterned blouses and other accoutrement excavated from the prettier aspects of powerpop—there’s plenty of grime in the Charlotte, N.C., trio’s game.
Cramon and company stand on a foundation of garage-rock wearing puke-covered Beatle boots, obscuring every familiar melody by stomping a little filth into each and every song. The eerie tone of “Uck Life” would have been well-suited for frantic nighttime chases in a summer-camp-gone-wrong storyline. “Surf Party Apocalypse” could be the soundtrack to a manic, gruesome scene in which zombie surfers rip through crowds of unsuspecting locals at a beach bash. Paint Fumes would be the shindig’s hired band that keeps playing throughout the chaos.
Paint Fumes’ onstage merrymaking, however, would probably steal the spotlight. The band is only a little more than a year old and Cramon and guitarist Brett Whittlesey are particularly green as first-timers, but they’re already notorious for off-the-wall antics. At the Atlanta Mess-Around festival last April, a girl hopped onstage to dance, then abruptly took her top off to wave it wildly around in the air. It was the middle of the afternoon. Turns out that was drummer Josh Johnson’s fiancé, and it’s not the least of the band’s hijinks. More than likely, the directors of any Troma flick would have opted to expand Paint Fumes’ bit part into a starring role.
Watch the video for “Waste of Time,” from Paint Fumes debut EP Egyptian Rats (Slovenly Records). See the spectacle in person Wednesday, July 11, at the EARL. Until then, here’s Cramon and Johnson’s addition to the 5GB series.
What’s the first gig you ever attended?
Cramon: The first show ever when I was like three. It was the last Grateful Dead concert that Jerry Garcia was ever at. With my Dad. Josh’s [answer] is punk rock shows at his house.
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed?
Probably the Atlanta Mess-Around. That was fun.
What is the best gig you have ever seen?
The Norton [Records 25th Anniversary] fest they just had, hands down. I forgot I was there!
What is the gig you would most like to play?
On a boat or on an airplane.
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
Josh said it would be a zombie version of Bloody Holly—not bloody…well, I guess it would be bloody—Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. I would want to play with the Velvet Underground or the Stooges.
*Johnson texted me this message a few minutes after the interview: “Best zombie band ever: Link Wray, Eazy-E., Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.”
Catch Paint Fumes, July 11th @ The Earl