On Feb. 13, Paint Fumes singer/guitarist Elijah Von Cramon was crossing the street around 9 p.m. close to his home near Parkwood Avenue in Charlotte when he was struck by a black truck. He lay unconscious, broken, bloody and, according to a friend who found him, not breathing.
They didnt shake me. They just kept saying my name. After five minutes I came to, he says, calling from Florida after a handful of tour dates in Puerto Rico. Von Cramon had multiple fractures to his pelvis and shoulder, broken teeth and a broken hip. He underwent multiple surgeries (he lost count around four or five), was hospitalized for three months, and spent another three in a wheelchair.
He and the driver, who he says was not subject to a Breathalyzer, were both at fault.
I wasnt taking a crosswalk. He didnt have his lights on. He was going 45 miles per hour. He didnt see me. I didnt see him, he recalls.
Today hes happy being on the road again. Paint Fumes plays Snug Harbor Friday and will do a monthlong residency there every Wednesday in December.
The accident happened just weeks before Paint Fumes was scheduled to tour the U.S. and Europe and make a stop at South By Southwest. The garage rock trio was already on the fast track. Von Cramon formed the band after quitting drugs and alcohol and struggling with panic attacks, which explains some of its early songs.
I was having panic attacks every single day. The only thing that made me happier was listening to music, so I decided to start a band, he says. My (2011) New Years resolution was learn how to play guitar and start a band by January 31. After that I felt way better. It was the only resolution I ever went through with.
Paint Fumes had a built-in venue at Sewercide Mansion, the house-party pad that Von Cramon booked. Through those connections he met his current drummer, who also plays as the one-man band Pinche Gringo, and formed relationships that led to signing with Slovenly Records, an indie label that records, distributes and books bands internationally. His accident didnt derail the release of the bands debut full-length, Uck Life.
No momentum has been lost necessarily. The record has been selling fine. We have 12 shows left and only 12 copies of the LP left (for the tour), he adds. The group hopes to raise money to help Von Cramon offset his massive medical bills, but hes relaxed about that, too. Im not thinking about that. The people that have helped have helped out so much. It opened my eyes to how thoughtful people are.
Hes no longer on medication and says hes learned to live with pain. The accident changed his outlook and in turn Paint Fumes music.
Usually the stuff I write is super dark. When I got out of the hospital, I started writing happy stuff, he says, criticizing the bands debut for being too punk. I love punk, but were trying to get weirder and psychedelic.
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