Save Money in this Sunday's paper

comments

Paint Fumes: Near-tragedy changes band’s tone

By Courtney Devores
Correspondent

More Information

  • PREVIEW

    Paint Fumes

    WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday.

    WHERE: Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St.

    TICKETS: $5.

    DETAILS: 704-333-9799; www.snugrock.com.



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 didn’t 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 wasn’t taking a crosswalk. He didn’t have his lights on. He was going 45 miles per hour. He didn’t see me. I didn’t see him,” he recalls.

Today he’s 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 Year’s 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 didn’t derail the release of the band’s 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 he’s relaxed about that, too. “I’m not thinking about that. The people that have helped have helped out so much. It opened my eyes to how thoughtful people are.”

He’s no longer on medication and says he’s 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 band’s debut for being “too punk.” “I love punk, but we’re trying to get weirder and psychedelic.”

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases
Your 2 Cents
Share your opinion with our Partners
Learn More
CharlotteObserver.com