Tag Archives: Diane Coffee

Shaun Fleming, Diane Coffee, 5 Albums that Changed My Life

Asking anyone to name five life-changing albums is no small feat, but Shaun Fleming, songwriter and frontman for Psychedelic Motown band Diane Coffee, handles it like he handles everything else: with style and grace.  So here’s his list, in no particular order, along with some pictures we made last night before his show at Cleveland’s own Beachland Ballroom and Tavern. 

“I don’t know if these are going to by my favorite albums of all time,” says Shaun. “But they will be ones that changed my life.” 

Shaun Fleming, Diane Coffee by Cleveland music photographer Mara Robinson

Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man
Donovan, The Hurdy Gurdy Man album artwork
“I was in high school. I wasn’t really into music quite yet. I was just getting into theater and improv comedy, which helped me kind of open up. I was also a big skateboarder and I heard a song in a skate video that was super weird — it was very Donovan — it had a crazy sax solo. I remember, this was right when Limewire and Napster came about, but I didn’t have that because I thought it would ruin my computer. So I had to find the track name and go to Tower Records and ask them about it and they had to look it up. So I got this record, and at this point I only knew stuff that was on the radio. I’d never really heard anything from the ’60s and ’70s or anything like that. It was really bizarre, really new and I just fell in love. I got really obsessed with Donovan and bought every single record I could. I started wearing kimonos around, drinking a lot of tea; I mean, I was that kid in high school. I told my Dad about it and he was just like, ‘Oh, yeah, Donovan. You know, I played with Donovan a couple times.’ So I think that record pushed me into learning about music and discovering what was actually out there.”

4. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album artwork
“I remember the first Pink Floyd song I ever heard was Comfortably Numb. A friend put it on a compilation mix tape, and I was like ‘What is this?! What is this beautiful piece of music I’m hearing?!’ I remember people with Pink Floyd T-shirts walking around high school, so I knew the name before I knew the music, but didn’t really understand what kind of music that was. So I went to Tower Records and picked up my first Floyd album. I saw that (Dark Side) cover and I’d seen people wearing T-shirts of that triangle artwork, so just grabbed that one. Then I put it on it was just— and still, those last few songs— There’s only a couple albums where I actually always cry, and that one still brings me to tears, especially when I hear the whole thing front to back. I put together a cover band in high school, and all we did was Floyd and Beatles almost exclusively. Like, we did all of Dark Side of the Moon, we did all of The Wall front to back, we just were obsessed. That was my first band. So maybe that record started me down the path of being a stage musician.”

Shaun Fleming, Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson

3. The Beatles: Abbey Road
The-Beatles-Abbey-Road-Album-Cover
“I was touring with Foxygen and it was our first time going to the UK. I was reading a Beatles book at the time and I remember as soon as we started driving around the UK, it felt so different than anything else I’d really seen. I started listening to Abbey Road and I swear to God I listened to nothing but that record on repeat the entire time I was there. I don’t know if it changed my life. There are very few things that really changed my life. But that one holds a special place. All those memories. First time I was ever touring, and it’s England, and when you do that, when you make that sort of leap, it was like, ‘I made it. I’m a rock ‘n’ roll musician now, really doing it.’ And that’s another one of those records that makes me tear up every single time.”

2. Young MC: Stone Cold Rhymin
Stone Cold Rhymin Young MC album cover
“That was the first CD I ever bought with my own money. I was, I think, eight years old and my Dad took me to the record shop. I think I just grabbed the first thing that looked like something I might like. Even though there’s very little about that album that’s cool except for Bust a Move. I probably liked Bust a Move and I got the record because of that. It was the first record I ever bought, and I still put that record on all the time. I can rhyme every single verse on every single track. That changed my life just because it was the very first. I started buying CDs after that. That’s a good one. That’ll live forever. Bust a Move will never die. (laughing) Just the rest of the tracks will.”

Shaun Fleming, Diane Coffee by Cleveland music photographer Mara Robinson

1. Third Eye Blind: Third Eye Blind
Third_eye_blind_self_titled
“I really liked that record. It was incredibly melodic. I think when I was just starting to get into music, they were my favorite band at the time because they were what was playing on the radio. That’s all I would listen to was pop radio and stuff like that. I remember when I first started getting into music, when I first got a guitar from my Dad and started learning how to play, that was the first record I broke down and started listening to with the ears of a musician. I started trying to learn everything and figure out ‘How do they get those kinds of sounds?’ This was even before I started recording, and I started to understand how a record is pieced together. ‘Why does this sound the way it does?’ Noticing all of those little details. Plus that record is just amazing. It’s such a good album. I remember spending a lot of time learning how to play Jumper on acoustic guitar. I was that guy at parties. I’d bring my acoustic guitar. There’s a fire pit, and maybe some people have some beers that they took from their Dad, and I’m playing Jumper on guitar. (laughing) I was the epitome of a ’90s high school movie, and that record helped.”

Shaun Fleming, Diane Coffee by Cleveland music photographer Mara Robinson
Shaun Fleming, Diane Coffee photos by Mara Robinson

Shaun is currently on tour in support of his new Peel EP. There are a lot of good bands, but not a lot of performers. I’m glad I found Shaun, who satisfies both. 

Click here for more photos of Shaun Fleming and his Diane Coffee bandmates

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Diane Coffee Talks New Peel EP, Upcoming Cleveland Show

While Shaun Fleming of Diane Coffee began writing songs for his upcoming third full-length, the first two he wrote sounded maybe too much like the last album, Everybody’s a Good Dog. Also, the direction for the album changed, and these two songs no longer fit with the new concept. Not wanting the songs to just fade away, he decided to release them. Enter the new PEEL EP, a one-two punch of funk, soul, pop goodness he calls Psychedelic Motown. 

The first song, Poor Man Dan, is based on a true story from Shaun’s childhood. An older kid in their Agoura Hills, CA neighborhood would tell the younger kids stories about the area that became like urban legends of the area. 

“We were five or six. He was probably 13. He was just screwing with little kids. He was kind of a bad egg, but he told good stories,” Shaun says. 

“One of them was about a guy who lived a block from us,” continues Shaun. The story went that his daughter died and he buried her in the front yard. It’s silly when you actually explain it. Then he would kill kids off the block that would come to his house — like, you could never go Trick or Treating at his house because he’d kill you and he’d bury you in his yard so his daughter would have friends to play with.” 

“You know what’s funny too, is every time I drive past that house — if I’m in town sometimes I like to drive past my childhood house — I see that house and I still kind of get weird feelings. Even though I know that it was just some guy who then, for some reason, didn’t have any kids Trick or Treating at his house, but it still weirds me out.”

Song two, Get By, is Shaun’s example of three people who bury their pain and put on a smile through hard times. It’s a warning that we should accept rather than stigmatize or feel shame about the hardships of ourselves or others. 

“This is just three examples of people dealing with things, says Shaun. It’s the out-of-work actor, and the person who’s going through mental problems, and the way we can just kind of hide that behind a half-smile and deal with it. Maybe there’s shame about talking about certain issues that you’re going through, even though most people are going through it.” 

“We should be more accepting, and not stigmatize people going through certain things, he continues. We should be more open to talking and helping.” 

Shaun feels like he might be done with songwriting for the upcoming third LP, but wants to get a producer for the first time, take the demos in, and work the songs out in the studio. 

Diane Coffee plays the Beachland Sunday, November 5, where he and the band will play old songs as well as new, including songs from the upcoming album. 

“I’m excited to go back to that vintage store,” says Shaun of the Beachland. “And the food is really good. Most times a venue is a venue is a venue. But it’s all the little things that come along with it. Like if you have a sound guy who’s always really fun, or you have a vintage shop connected, or if they serve really good food. It’s these little things you love about certain places. We always get really good crowds at the Beachland, and at the end of the day that’s the most fun. But the first thing I think about when I think about the Beachland is the really good food and the vintage clothing shop. 

See more photos of Shaun and his band here

 

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Shaun Fleming of Diane Coffee Answers the Famous Proust Questionnaire

Two years after author Marcel Proust died, among his belongings they found a questionnaire titled Marcel Proust Himself, which was later used for interviews by Bernard Pivot and Vanity Fair. We loved it, and are happy to rejuvenate it here at Blown Speakers.

Before coming back to Cleveland on tour in support of his latest Diane Coffee album, Everybody’s A Good Dog, Shaun Fleming took the time to answer it for us, and we happily present it along with the photos by rock photographer Mara Robinson.

Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson
Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
SF: Honestly, THIS is. I have the love of a beautiful woman, I’m playing my music to people who WANT to listen, and I’m able to make a living off that music.

What is your most marked characteristic?
SF: I’d like to think my persistent positivity.

Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson
Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
SF: The release of my first record.

What is your greatest fear?
SF: The deterioration of my mind

Which living person do you most admire?
SF: My little brother Dan.

Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson
Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson

Who are your heroes in real life?
SF: David Wilcox, John C Reilly, Sam Cooke, Sufjan Stevens, Donovan, Paul McCartney, Steve Martin, Marc Cohn.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
SF: I can get lost in the task at hand… Lose sight of the bigger picture.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
SF: The inability to walk in others shoes.

Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson
Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson

What is your favorite journey?
SF: I love the trip all the way down the PCH.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
SF: I’d like to think I’m a man of virtue, I think they all have value.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
SF: Sick. But more like “siiiiiiiick.”

What is your greatest regret?
At the moment I can’t think of any. I love who I am and where I’m at.

What is your current state of mind?
Calm and ready to shut down for the evening.

Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson
Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
We would all be living closer.

What is your most treasured possession?
Maybe my ring? I never take it off.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
That’s too dark a question for me right now.

Where would you like to live?
Northern California. Maybe somewhere in the redwoods.

Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson
Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson

What is your favorite occupation?
Other than music? I’ve always loved the idea of cranberry farming.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Gentleness.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Toughness.

What are your favorite names?
Pierce and Ruth.

What is your motto?
Dream Big.

Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson
Diane Coffee by Mara Robinson
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Diane Coffee returns to Cleveland

Last time Diane Coffee played Cleveland, frontman Shaun Fleming (also the drummer for Foxygen) was sick as a dog. But you’d have been hard-pressed to notice if he hadn’t admitted it. His energy was still high, the vocals were still on point, and except for a few brief winces toward the end due to a sore, dry throat and a lack of water, it was a great show backed by a killer band.

He apologized unnecessarily for his condition and promised to come back on a better night. And that night is rapidly approaching.

He and the band will play the Beachland on April 2, and we’ll be there to cover it.

We hope you’ll join us. It’ll be a good time.

Diane Coffee Winter 2016 Tour
Diane Coffee Winter 2016 Tour

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