This Charlotte-based North Carolina band is exactly what the doctor ordered. They’re catchy. They’re punk rock. Give ‘em a big ole huff, and you’ll be feeling great. They’re Paint Fumes!
Paint Fumes is comprised of Elijah Von Cramon strumming the guitar and belching out the words, Josh Johnson hitting the drums like there’s no tomorrow, and Brett Whittlessy taking the lead on guitar and shredding face.
They’re sound is captivating with a classy touch of viciousness. The lyrics intimidate you with a tough-guy vibe, the melodies get stuck in your head in a somehow pleasing way, and the dark, yet poppy undertones keep you coming back for more.
Combining their injury-prone lifestyle with anxiety attacks and frustrations that need to be vented, sprinkle some old-school punk inspirations in there and you get Paint Fumes—your heart will beat faster and the hairs on your arms will stick up!
Cramon put the band together after he had endured a “psychedelic freak out” (which, in my opinion sounds like it should be a cool surf-rock song by The Cramps) and went sober for a year. During that year he was throwing shows in his house and was crawling out of his skin to find an outlet.
Eventually, he got together with a friend to create Paint Fumes. “We were listening to the Ramones and talking about all the things we’ve huffed before and I was like, ‘what if we call it Paint Fumes, because our music kind of makes you feel like you huffed something weird and feel crazy?’” Cramon tells BTRtoday about coming up with the band’s name.
Photo by Steven Reid.
Cramon suffers from panic attacks, so he admits to most of the songs being about that, however, he adds that at least with their last album there were several tracks about his experience getting hit by a truck.
You can imagine that’s a difficult thing to glaze over in your life. Their newest full-length album “If It Ain’t Paint Fumes, It Ain’t Worth The Huff,” features tracks like “Weird Walking,” which is referencing Cramon’s struggling in having to re-learn how to walk after the accident; “Puddle of Blood,” because apparently there was a lot of blood; and “Tunnel Vision,” from having to suffer through having tunnel vision.
“I was dead for five minutes, they had to revive me,” he says, though he assures us he’s fine now. “I’m okay now, I’m supposed to get a hip replacement, but I told them I don’t want to because I’m too young for that.”
This most recent album took a while for them to get out, because, well, Cramon got hit by a truck, and their drummer, Johnson, fell off a cliff and broke his back! You’d think these are some really unlucky guys, but at least they’re making some great music out of it!
“Since I’ve been back, I’ve already written 10 songs and have like 40 more that I’ve been writing over the span of a year,” Cramon explains. “So we should have enough for at least a record or two and maybe like two singles.”
“If It Ain’t Paint Fumes, It Ain’t Worth The Huff,” was released this past September on Get Hip! Recordings. Tracks “Weird Waling” and “Master of Confusion” are some of Cramon’s favorites on the record due to their intimate meanings to him and their pop-influenced sound.
Album Artwork courtesy of Get Hip!
Cramon doesn’t even know how to explain how he came about the type of music he likes and creates with Paint Fumes. Growing up, his father was a reggae musician, so he was raised with Rastafarian music. He concludes that watching skate videos is what ultimately turned him onto punk rock.
“Watching old skate videos growing up and hearing the coolest music like The Velvet Underground…shit like that,” he explains about his taste in music maturing like a fine wine. “I taught myself how to play guitar when we first started the band, I guess we’re coming up on six years in January… Now here I am.”
Paint Fumes originally was Cramon and a good friend of his getting together to make a band. “I’ve known him since 7th grade, we became BFFs after we saw each other eating Taco Bell hot sauce packets in and out of lunch,” he explains about the original lineup. Eventually his friend dropped out, and the lineup that Paint Fumes is now formed.
Cramon met Whittlessy while attending community college in North Carolina. He was on his way to dropping out and was selling vintage clothes out of the trunk of his car. Whittlessy approached him and they started talking and they’ve been friends every since.
Johnson played a show at Cramon’s house and displayed some seriously raw talent. Cramon wanted him to join the band, but thought he lived in Canada. Fortunately, Cramon was mistaken and Johnson actually only live an hour away! Thus Paint Fumes was solidified.
Paint Fumes recently finished up a month and half long tour with King Khan & The BBQ Show that went all over North America—from Seattle, Vancouver, then wrapping around the west coast, through the south. Cramon admits that since their return home is so fresh it all is still such a blur. “I couldn’t even tell you what happened, my brain is so fried.”
Currently, Paint Fumes is working on new material. They hope to be recording a new single before the holiday season and then touring Mexico and Europe. Make sure to follow them on all their social platforms (Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, Bandcamp) to stay up-to-date on what they’re creating next for your huffing pleasure, and where they’re playing next—I hear their live shows are always lively!