Tim Allen a.k.a. "Gweemer" Interview
Flat Face And The Shemp-Dells
They bill themselves as playing a mix of hot rock ‘n’ roll,
rhythm and blues and a touch of Country and Oldies.
They created the theme song for the “Home Grown Music Network” here
Their name is Flat Face And The Shemp-Dells.
Lead singer Tim Allen, also known as “Gweemer” talked about
his group, in this never before published interview conducted on September
18 th 2000.
Q – Tim, why has this band of yours been getting
so much attention lately? Is it in part because of this Homegrown Radio
A – I think (it has) a lot to do with that. The band has been around
for a long, long time, late ’78, ’79, and had the same name
for years and years. We came out with a CD that did really well, 8 months
on the charts, 5 of the months it was Number 1. I think that has a lot to
do with it too, but the theme song we wrote for the Home Grown Radio certainly
helps out a lot.
Q – Were you asked to come up with that theme
song or did you write it on your own?
A – No. Danny Dunn asked me. One night I saw him and he asked me
if I’d write a song for their radio show. I said, ‘Why are you
picking on me’? He told me he liked my songwriting. (Laughs). So,
I said o.k. and we wrote a song and they liked it and they’ve been
playing it for over a year as their theme.
Q – You say you’ve been out there since the late 70’s?
A – Yeah. Bob Beattie and I are the original guys in the band. We’ve
had a lot of different guys over the years in the band. One time we had
a stretch of oh, I don’t know, 12 years of playing all the time. Then
things slow down, people drift apart. One guy moved to Denver. We had one
guy who played banjo with us, Jim Kennedy who passed away in an auto accident.
That kind of hurt things for awhile too. But, I think it was basically a
lot to do with just playing. A lot of people have heard us. We’ve
played the Oswego area. We’ve played the Syracuse area. People remember
the name from way, way back.
Q – Where was your first gig? Do you remember?
A – Yeah, I do as a matter of fact. (Laughs). It was the Red Door
North in either ’78 or ’79, as Flat Face And The Shemp-Dells.
Q – That’s where-----in Pennellville,
A – Yeah. Jerry Padyo owned it at the time and he used to let us
practice there on the weeknights. He kind of liked what we were playing.
He said, ‘Wanna play a gig here’? And he said sure. That was
Q – You’re based out of what city?
A – Phoenix, ( New York). Five of the guys are from Phoenix and one
of the guys is from Jordan.
Q – As I listen to your music, I can hear the
influence of Z.Z. Top, Skynyrd, Canned Heat, Creedence, and even The Rolling
A – Oh, yeah, sure. All of them.
Q – You must’ve played quite a few bars
playing cover material.
A – Oh, yeah, tons. Exactly.
Q – What did Dan Dunn say about Flat Face and
The Rolling Stones?
A – He said we were Oswego County’s answer to The Rolling Stones.
Q – What the heck is a Shemp-Dell anyway?
A – (Laughs). It’s kind of funny how the name come to be. I
was in South Carolina and I come back and I had been in an accident. I had
my face kind of messed up.
Q – You were in an auto accident?
A – No. (Laughs). It was running with police officers and their Billy
clubs. So, I come back here and they used to call you if you did something
stupid-----shemp, for like Shemp of The Three Stooges.
Q – I never heard of that.
A – Well, this was years ago. They don’t really do that now.
I’m talking in the late 70’s. So, if you did something stupid
they called you shemp. One day I walked into, I think it was the Riverside
in Fulton, New York. I had just come back and my face was kind of messed
up, and this guy said, ‘Flat Face’, where are the rest of the
Shemp-Dells’? (Laughs). People in the place started laughing. The
name just stuck from there. We’ve had the name for a long time.
Q – You’re also known as “Flat Face”?
A – Yeah.
Q – You’re also “Gweemer”?
A – Yeah.
Q – Why “Gweemer”?
A – That’s my nick-name.
Q – Where does that come from?
A – In high school I played basketball. We had another guy on the
team. His name was Donny Montani. He was 6’ 10”. Really thin.
So, everyone called him linguini. The long thing macaroni. So, I called
him the Big Guin. He would call me the ‘Little Guin’. I was
tall and thin too. He became a Senior and I became a Junior and he’s
filled out. He’s not linguini no more. He’s ‘Big Don’.
And I’m stuck with ‘Gweemer’. (Laughs). So, it kind of
back-fired. I tried to give this nick-name to him and he turned around and
I’m stuck with it.
Q – Does anybody in the band call you “Gweemer”?
A – Oh, they all do. Actually, most everybody does.
Q – When did you start writing your own material?
A – Oh, years, and years, and years ago. Some of that stuff on the
CD is 20 years old------or more. I’ve been writing since I was a young
teenager. Me and Bob Beattie, the lead guitar player started playing guitars
together when we were 12 years old. We’re 45 now. We’ve still
been playing all those years together. Bob’s wrote a lot of the songs
with me. I kind of pretty much write most of them. We’ve got Rick
Jewett who toured with ‘Savoy Brown’ for a couple of years and ‘Mad
Jack’. He’s a good songwriter too. We’re gonna try to
do another CD here shortly.
Q – Are you writing both the lyrics and music?
A – Yeah. I usually write both of them. The last CD I wrote all the
songs, but one of them. Mike Farrar, the other guitar player wrote it. And,
Bob Beattie helped me with a couple of them. We’ve got a couple of
tunes where Mike’s written the music for it, and I’ve put the
lyrics in it. Then the band, they actually all put in a lyric or something
to. So, we try to keep it so we can all write the song together. Keep it
as a whole band effort rather than one or two people doing all the songwriting.
Q – Was it expensive to put out a CD?
A – It was about $4,500. The night we had our CD release party, we
sold a lot of ‘em that night. We’ve made our money back.
Q – Why did you feel the need to put out some
A – We hadn’t played as the band for a bit. This friend of
mine’s mother passed away and asked if I could play a benefit for
the family. So, I got a hold of Mike Farrar, our guitar player, Danny Cromp,
our bass player, Dave Eldrige, our drummer and Bob Beattie, and myself and
we went over to Dave’s house and practiced for an hour. We learned
15 songs in an hour and we’re going, why don’t we just get a
band together? I said, ‘What do you want to call it’? Mike said, ‘Call
it Flat Face And The Shemp-Dells. It’s been that for years. Why change
it? People remember the name’. We’ve all wanted to put something
out anyways on CD. It was like a perfect time. The band really gels well
together, you know? We get along good. We’ve all jammed with each
other over the years. It’s funny, Dave sat in with us one time to
play drums, and he busted the snare on the drums ‘cause he really
plays aggressively. I started laughing. My drummer is sitting there. He
said, ‘What are you laughing at’? I said, ‘I’ve
never seen you break the snare before’. He goes, ‘This guys
Q – What bars have you played in Syracuse?
A – We used to play The Lost Horizon quite a bit years ago. We played
Styleens not too long ago. We haven’t done Hooligan’s.
Q – Bleachers?
A – No. We’re thinking about getting in there. Years ago, we
played around the city-----Shifty’s.
Q – That’s a small place.
A – (Laughs). Yeah, that’s really small. We used to play in
Oswego a lot. We got a job coming up in Canastota the next couple of weeks.
We’re trying to expand our horizons and get around, actually as far
Q – Having that CD out probably will help you
get that exposure.
A – Oh, yeah. You know what helped us a lot too; we opened up for
Todd Hobin at The Beach Days at Oneida Shores. There’s like 7,000 – 8,000
people there. We got a lot of phone calls after that from people who owned
bars that wanted us to play.
Q – That must’ve been great.
A – That was a riot. Todd’s a great guy too. A real nice guy.
We used to open up for Joe Whiting and Mark Doyle too, in the early 80’s.
That was a lot of fun. I think it was the Doyle-Whiting Bandit Band.
Q – When will you be releasing your next CD?
A – We were thinking about starting to record it in November. We
want to do a few things ‘live’ too. We’re gonna try to
do some ‘live’ recording. We got a special surprise and I don’t
really want to have it printed yet. It should be pretty neat. It probably
would be coming out in March (2001) hopefully.
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