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Tour Diary: Paint Fumes
Buckle Up For A Wild Ride Across France & Spain
Paint Fumes emerged from a grimy Charlotte, North Carolina basement club in 2010.
Heavily influenced by hard-living heroes like Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Dead Boys and The Gun Club, the band released a series of sludgy garage punk albums in the vein of The Cramps, The King Khan & BBQ Show and Jacuzzi Boys.
So, I was surprised when Dig! Records sent me the tracks for their latest album, Real Romancer. Not only had the rough edges been sanded down, but guitarist/vocalist Elijah von Cramon’s songwriting seemed to have taken a huge, hooky leap forward.
I was so intrigued that I had to get the backstory on the band.
So, I interviewed von Cramon for Big Takeover magazine in February. I discovered a debaucherous rock and roll ride replete with near-death experiences, hardscrabble U.S. and European tours, a revolving door of band members, and panic attacks.
None of which necessarily squared with the lovesick guitar pop album I was listening to on repeat, until von Cramon gave me the obvious answer:
During quarantine I had gotten into a very weird but amazing relationship with someone who had a massive effect on me. I was writing songs constantly for the year we were together. Basically love songs. That relationship came to an abrupt end and I was still writing songs, but more about the frustration of it all.
Mix that heartbreak with additional influences including The Nerves, Buzzcocks and 20/20 and you get one of my favorite guitar pop albums of 2023.
When I heard Paint Fumes was embarking on a European club run I asked von Cramon to keep a tour diary for me.
Given the band’s history, I honestly wasn’t sure if we’d be getting a glimpse of the hard-living garage punks or the more polished pop band they’ve become. I got my answer in a stream of consciousness email rant a few weeks later.
The result is a wild ride across France and Spain that is more punk then pop.
Tour Diary: Paint Fumes
Smoked A Cigarette That Made Me Feel Like I Was A Kid
Finally landed and smoked a cigarette that made me feel like I was a kid again. We stayed with our good front Rodolphe for a week. He is the absolute best, and his post punk band is unmatched.
Our driver T.Boy (bass player for Les Lullies) met up with us and we had a drink at the bar next door. Onto France we went the next day after sleeping for maybe an hour.
The first show was in Nevers, France. Massive venue, small town. Good times. Don’t really remember much except how kind everyone was.
Pastis And Wine, Everything Was All Kinds Of Fine
Then off to Paris. I’ve always wanted to see the graveyard where Stiv Bators’ ashes were spread. Turns out we were having dinner across the street with Pastis and wine, everything was all kinds of fine.
First time in Paris that I had a good time. Our friend Chris Hall from South Carolina who plays in the band Comino (shout out to Religious Records) happened to be in Paris, so we kicked it… Did not sleep.
My Boots Smell Crazy This Tour
On we go to Limoges, France. This place was haunted as hell. Looked like a scene from The Wicker Man or The Witches. But an amazing show. Fred from King Khan and The Shrines/Weird Omen came out. It was cool to see him again. Been a while.
My boots smell crazy this tour, but Limoges was sick and beautiful. Drinking weird drinks and summoning ghosts through rock and roll.
We Exchanged Music And Philosophies
Then we went to Lille, France. ET Aloha booking treated us right. I did eat some cheese that made me throw up, but so it goes haha. Show was great. We played with a band called MIT and they were super punk and sweet. Then I tried to find a cigarette shop and got lost like 30 times, knocking on the wrong door every time.
Story of my life.
We stayed with these video gamers that were so sweet and they fed us a party. We exchanged music and philosophies. I slept maybe 10 minutes.
Hungover as hell, we had a day off in Portiers, France and finally did some laundry. We are all smelling crazy and looking for a shoulder to lean on. This super nice couple put us up, but the hangover had me and Joe very on edge and feeling down. So, we slept it off and walked around feeling outta place. So it goes.
I Don’t Even Like Whiskey, But Here We Go
Then we went to Bordeaux and everything changed in the best way. We loaded in/down into this 17th century prison room and got haunted. It was amazing. They took us to this restaurant that has a different chef every night and we ate maybe the best food I’ve ever had. Bordeaux rips. Ghost and all. Don’t remember sleeping.
Then we went off to play with The Morlocks for two days. First night was Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. The craziest venue I’ve ever played. Tiny beach town, but like 500 people outta nowhere. They knew we were American so they gave us a big bottle of Jack Daniels. I don’t even like whiskey, but here we go.
Romeo from Les Lullies was playing in The Morlocks, so Joe, him and I partied until the sun came up, sharing each other’s demos and songs. It was beautiful, but fuck the morning birds!
I’ve Seen Some Castles Before, So I Stayed In The Van
Next night with The Morlocks was in Fumel, France. It’s this crazy, tiny town with castles and shit. I’ve seen some castles before, so I stayed in the van. I felt like a jerk. But we get to the venue and it was so cool and everyone was so kind. Show was great. Romeo, Joe and I party again all night (after showers, thankfully).
Then we went to Montpellier, France. Woof. Felt like a bad city in Southern California, but staying positive…
Don’t Remember Where We Stayed
Toulouse was beautiful, Le Ravelin always rips. Don’t remember where we stayed.
Then onto Marseille, France. Show was in a place the the size of a living room and at this point Joe has a bad ear infection. Like, he has to go to the hospital because of the pain. But he doesn’t. So we stay in this very nice apartment, but Joe is bad off. The drums are so loud in that small room all you can here is BBRRRRRRRR.
Off to Perpignan and another very small room, but had some amazing curry chicken. Joe’s ear is fucked, but he went to the hospital and got some drops. We stayed at this guy Sam’s house, which had a brewery attached to it. We stayed up all night teaching him Dice and talking about the world and how fucked everything is. When we left he said, ‘Have a nice life,’ because he was so hungover.
A Super Sick Day Off In The Countryside Of Spain
On to Tarragona, Spain, a tiny beach town. We played to barely anybody and then it got bigger. All of a sudden my ear is fucked up too. So me and Joe can’t hear a thing in opposite ears. I’m not going to the hospital.
So, then we go to Alicante and have a super sick day off in the countryside of Spain. No sleep baby! Just playing records and chupitos y besitos.
Next day we play Cox to a packed room. Looking for UFOs.
We Stayed In A Haunted Hotel And I Had Weird Dreams
Then to my favorite show, Granada. Everyone is a mess when we get into town and have to do an interview. Sounding like the more degenerate Ramones. Joe’s shaking from his hangover.
But we played to a packed house and the highlight was this 5-year-old girl eating Doritos with headphones on in the front row. Last song she somehow has drum sticks and a drum pad and is playing in beat with our drummer. Cutest shit I ever seen. I almost cried.
Left the venue, played pool, sang some Thin Lizzy karaoke, and walked to get kebabs. Granada rips. We stayed in a haunted hotel and I had weird dreams. Now we’re looking at Morocco from the beach and feeling alright.
Life’s all right sometimes. Panic attacks are life, but so is the world of rock and roll. If you do it right, the hearts and love always fall in line.
Remember The Lightning—A Guitar Pop Journal
A new semi-annual music journal featuring some of today's best music writers on modern guitar pop, and talented modern artists on the music/genres that inspire them.
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