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 in Syracuse.

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 Network Show?
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, New York?
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 pretty cool.

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 Stones.
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 recorded product?
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 cool’. (Laughs).

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 as possible.

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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