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Biography

For more info: http://paulflum.weebly.com

Find on Reverbnation : http://www.reverbnation.com/475563/

Paul Flum (aka Doug Shanahan) was active in the Baltimore, MD music scene from 1992 - 2004. He played bass and sang in Helikopter (Hat Factory Records) from 1992-96, then The Uniform (Morphius Records) from 1997-2004, then moved and is currently residing in Portland, OR.

During this period he also appeared in many short-lived bands including UV-373, Flum Rampage, Qalrus, and The Gualalasphere.

For more, visit www.shrimptrawler.net

This is the first interview with Paul Flum to appear on the Paul Flum Discography. He hasn’t had much to say to this point. When told it would be placed on a last.fm site he indicated "last.gm interview = last interview…nice." He told me to tell the followers to “let the music do the talking…”

Well…it is 2013 and he has finally granted an interview, hosted at his home in Portland, Oregon on March the 3rd.

Kevin Lundahl (KL): “Flum…thank you for granting my long awaited interview request.”
Paul Flum (PF): “OK.”

KL : “Just so we can get started, I know you posted your ALL MUSICIANS DAY Top Forty of deceased musicians on Facebook…would that hint at your musical tastes?”
PF: “That is ridiculous.”

KL: “Ummm…help me here. Could you come up with a musical top ten that best influences your solo work?”
PF: “What is the point? All top ten lists in music are absurd. Most often, there would probably be 100 performers to squeeze into a top ten. Geez… ‘should I make Sonic Youth 6A and the Minutemen 6B’ or vice versa? That is just stupid. Musical groups were never supposed to be placed in competition with one another. That is what sports are for. It is very easy to use a 1-10 system in sports. Most often it is called points. Whoever has the most points wins…except in golf.”

KL: “umm (lolz) so you do a top 40 of dead musicians but not an overall top ten?”
PF: “Don’t get obnoxious. ‘All Musicians Day’ was deliberately created as a day of tribute. I simply selected 40 and numbered them to entertain the masses. There is no significance. It is not up to criticism. There is no reason to continue with rock criticism anymore. It was good for Rolling Stone and SPIN magazine in the 70s, but it is currently useless.”

KL: “Why is it useless now?”
PF: “It is more of a business now then it ever was. More resources are available now then at any other time in music history to access music so that the listener can discover what they like themselves. The modern listener has more information available and can form opinions on there own. Those magazines are dinosaurs desperately trying to avoid extinction by using modern business metrics.”

KL: “I see. So rock criticism is dead?”
PF: “You are asking me. Rock criticism is dead. Why would I say “I think rock criticism is dead” when it is what I think?”

KL: “Ok…let’s move on.”
PF: “Hold on. You want to know why Jack White is so huge? It’s because he can be. The music industry is always looking for that huge act that is willing to participate in all sides of the business. The White Stripes make good records – but not great ones. It doesn’t matter. That dude has an appealing personality. He is a talented guitar player and a song- writer. He hasn’t exactly been shy. Can you tour? Can you make more records? Are you prolific? Are you good looking? Do you have other buddies who also make music (and make money)? Are you willing to schmooze with the upper crust? If you are bad at any of those things, most likely…you’ll sink like a stone. One of my heroes, Neil Michael Haggerty, has made things difficult for records labels in the past. Doesn’t mean he is less talented than JW, just not as driven to be a star. Frankly, I find JW to be a pale imitation, hanging out by the dumpster near Haggerty’s studio hoping Neil will toss some ideas in the trash.”

KL: “Those are bold words.”
PF: “I don’t think it’s bold at all. I’m describing two artists, one I’m supposed to like according to the media, that I don’t, and another I like a whole lot because I listen to his records often. I kind of think that makes a lot of sense. (shrugs) There I go again with the ‘Think’ word! Let me restate…that makes a lot of sense.”

KL: “OK…moving on. How would you describe your music to new listeners?”
PF: “Well up to this point I have tried not to. I try to represent fragments of my life, whether its true stories or dreams, without it being necessary to be sold to newspapers or magazines.”

KL: “Why not?”
PF: “It doesn’t interest me. It is like I run out of gas. That usually happens soon after I finish mastering a piece. I just get drained. I barely have enough attention to produce an initial distribution to friends and listeners.”

KL: “What do you mean by drained?”
PF: “I start to not care about the music being listened to. I have found myself being less and less interested by who listens to music and why they do. I think the function of a songwriter, or rather a storyteller, is not as necessary now as it once was.”

KL: “When was it more necessary?”
PF: “That is a good question. Personally, it made sense that I was more excited to produce for an audience when I first started…in my 20s. However, I am not sure if it was because I was young and ambitious, or my age overlapped and coincided with an interesting time in music which would have been the early 1990s.”

KL: “You think the timing has a lot to do with it?”
PF: “Absolutely. Knowing ones awareness as it crosses into the significant events of human history is very relevant. To think that your behavior isn’t dictated by how you relate to the real-life events is a lot of fakery IMO. I am very content in knowing how old I am, where and what I have lived through, and have noted my behavior accordingly.”

KL: “Can you give an example?”
PF: “(Sigh) Let’s just say I am glad to have been a child growing up in the 1970s. I feel very fortunate about that. It is as if my musical development has coincided with the urgency of different art forms.”

KL: “Do you mean like punk rock?”
PF: “What I mean is…I once thought that it would have been great to be an adult in the 1970s. To be able to participate actively when punk, disco, new wave…heck even SNL…were developing. Later I developed an appreciation for still being a kid at that time. Actually, I experienced a little of the disco thing with older siblings involvement. (lolz) Do you remember “That 70s Show” with Eric Foreman? If they had cast an obnoxious little brother that is always told to “get out of here” that would have been me.”

KL: “Would it be fair to say that your sound comes from the 1970s?”
PF: “I wouldn’t mind that. I loved growing up. It was a great situation. I was always around music. My older brother Rick was always collecting music.”

KL: “What kind specifically?”
PF: “He was always getting his hand on old 45s. For some reason, a lot of the old scratched up singles were being thrown away. We used to have this type of flea market called the ‘Family Fun Fair (FFF)’ and he would buy and sell old scratched up 45s.”

KL: “How did he get them?”
PF: “He asked people for them. He literally went door to door asking neighbors if they had any old 45s they didn’t want anymore so he could sell them at the school FFF. It was amazing how huge a stack of records he accumulated. He used to put them in these round boxes. They were UTZ potato chip boxes. (UTZ chips were made in Hanover, PA not too far from Baltimore where Paul Flum grew up) These boxes were about eight inches in circumference so you could stack about 100 scratched up records in them. No sleeves, obviously."

KL: “What kind of music?”
PF: “It was all over the place. There were a lot of dogs in there I won’t lie to you. Perry Como, Bing Crosby, the really weak Elvis stuff. On the good side, there were all these obscure record labels like Curtom, Gamble, Colossus, Sound Stage 7, and the like. It was a wide variety of pop, country, soul, rock…being just a kid, I didn’t care about genres and things like that, I just plopped another 45 on the record player, if I liked it I kept it, if not it got tossed.”

KL: “So they weren’t sold at the FFF?”
PF: “They got the leftovers. (lolz) I couldn’t tell you back then if Glen Campbell or The Impressions was a white or black group. The labels were key. I was always on the lookout for ABC or ABC Dunhill because it could be early Impressions or James Gang, Grass Roots or Three Dog Night. Same thing with the Capitol Records ‘yellow and orange’ swirl. It could mean Strawberry Fields Forever or Strawberry Alarm Clock.”

KL: “I think Strawberry Alarm clock was on the UNI label?”
PF: “OK (sigh) you are right. Then lets say “Time Won’t Let Me” by “The Outsiders” and call it good. You have to understand, I could listen to 'Get Off My Cloud' and the next record to drop might be 'They're coming to take me away ha ha!' and I would have no idea how huge the Stones were or how irrelevant Napoleon XIV was."

KL: “You’ve mentioned The Impressions several times and also included Curtis Mayfield #1 on your top 40. Can you explain your interest?”
PF: “They definitely left an impression on me (laughs)…you get that? See (laughs) left an impression…anyway…my favorite single in this collection growing up was “You’ve Got Me Running” on the ABC label. You may also know the song performed by Baby Huey re-titled as “Running”…. what is also interesting is that I had plenty of other Curtom stuff by Curtis, Baby Huey, and the Impressions but since I was a kid, had no idea all those acts were basically in the same catalog.”

KL: “You were a fan at an early age?”
PF: “I wouldn’t say fan. Things would soon be changing by the late 70s anyway. I won’t bore you with the details since there are enough publications describing punk/disco/ new wave/ sucking in the 80s out there already. I simply rediscovered Curtis later on probably when I hit my 30th birthday. Fishbone did that “Freddys Dead” cover, and then more of the Superfly soundtrack found a new life back on the radio… it was this reconnection to my youth.”

KL: “Is your style in the matter of Mayfield.”
PF: “(laughs) you’re kidding, right? I wish. What I play and what I listen to are not the same. That “Running” 45 I had was worn into the ground. I abused it to death so that it became unplayable. What dorky kid doesn’t take a magic marker, pens, and a thumbtack to his record collection? I’m not kidding about the thumbtack. When the needle broke on the record player, I thought it would sound just as good to replace it in the tone arm with a thumbtack and scotch tape.”

KL: “Do you still have these records?”
PF: “My brother has maybe one box left if that. I only tried to find replacements. “Running” became the Holy Grail that I scoured record stores for over decades. It was my Holy Grail to find its replacement…which I did.”

KL: “Really?”
PF: “I was on tour with The Uniform I believe it was 2001? We were in Cambridge, Mass…a few streets down from The Middle East was this store I think “Skippy Whites” or “Slick Rick’s” I can’t remember. They had an entire wall of soul 45s alphabetized by record label. I had never seen that large a supply. I saw “Gypsy Woman” which wasn’t surprising…I actually remembered getting really nervous because the supply of ABC records was so huge that if “Running” wasn’t here…it probably wouldn’t be anywhere. It took forever painstakingly going through each and every one in case they were sorted wrong… and then I got to the “Y”…and there was my Holy Grail…”You’ve Got Me Running.”

KL: “How much?”
PF: “Can’t remember. Why would I care? After that I just grabbed as much of the ABC stuff they had. Including a Rufus –Rags to Riches in their LP section… are we almost done?”

KL: “(sigh) OK…I’ll get to the speed round questions…probably three more?”
PF: “Go for it.”

KL: “Your favorite Paul Flum recording?”
PF: “(lolz) Probably ‘The Shrimptrawler’ just because it felt like I lost my virginity making it. I really worked hard over many months at doing something I could now do in a few weeks.”

KL: “What are you mostly listening to now?”
PF: “Hmmm…it ain’t from America, I can tell you that. A lot of it is south of the equator, and I would say most comes from the Caribbean.”

KL: “Last question. When can we expect Paul Flum to appear live again?”
PF: “Probably not by himself. I have been blessed, as I stated earlier, I have been very fortunate growing up in the 70s, and then as an adult getting together with some great musicians. I am more likely to reunite with past friends from Baltimore then continue by myself. I think I’ve done everything I could do by myself, and there is no challenge. You will most likely see me reunite with Helikopter once again (Helikopter played at The Ottobar in December 2012) or with the Uniform, or any of my other side bands, (which includes UV-373, The Gualalasphere, and Qalrus) I have only wonderful things to say about everyone I have performed with.”

KL: “New material with these bands?”
PF: “That was a fourth question.”

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