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Diane Coffee's Grooving Bloomington Bunch
Posted January 26, 2016 by Seth Johnson

Shaun Fleming knew he wanted to make the move from bustling New York to small-town Bloomington. He also knew he wanted to continue recording and playing music under his theatric songwriting alter ego, Diane Coffee. There was only one problem, though.

He needed a new backing band of tour-ready musicians to play alongside him — especially considering his previous band mates were all based in New York.

Thankfully, good friend and studio partner Tim Smiley was there to help, using his knowledge of the local music scene to make sure Fleming had a band that fit just right. In addition to being a longtime Bloomington resident, Smiley’s work as a soundman at venues in the city like Rhino’s and The Bishop made it easy for him to pinpoint players.

“I’ve lived here for 10 years now, so I was just like, ‘These are the people you need to put in your band,’” remembers Smiley, who also recorded, mixed and co-produced Diane Coffee’s 2015 album Everybody’s a Good Dog. “He lived here, so he just needed to get it together and have a different band to make touring easier.”

One by one, the Bloomington version of Diane Coffee’s band came together, as Fleming linked up with bassist Glenn Myers, drummer Ben Lumsdaine, guitarist Drake Ritter and keyboardist Caleb Hickman. All with impressive résumés of their own, these four were able to pick up on Fleming’s glittery grooves almost immediately.

“It’s just a group of good players, so it kind of just happened pretty quickly,” says Hickman, who’s actually based in Nashville and also plays with the Dead Oceans band Night Beds. “I remember I came up almost a year ago to rehearse for the first time. I think all the other dudes had kind of been rehearsing before I got there. So they had played together a little bit, and then I got there. But, it pretty much was an automatic thing. We just locked in really well, and it felt good.”

After having a brief amount of time to gel, the band would quickly jump into the fire of their first tour, which was no small order. Throughout the fall of 2015, the five-piece hit the road with Athens, Georgia’s of Montreal, opening up for them for more than 20 dates across the U.S. “Those were definitely the biggest shows I’ve ever played,” says Lumsdaine, who is also a member of Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, Sophie Faught Trio and Spissy (formerly Wet Blankets). “It was really wild to just get dropped right into that. But, all the people in the band are pros so it was really easy.” This includes Fleming, who’s adequately eccentric as a frontman. “It’s nice to be able to just hang back, hold it down and watch him go nuts,” says Myers, who also plays bass in Bloomington’s Sleeping Bag. Considering he worked as a voice actor on shows like Kim Possible [check out his IMDB page here] as a youngster, Smiley believes that this front-and-center role ultimately fits Fleming quite well. “Shaun’s really cheesy,” he says, laughing. “It’s not like a bad thing though. It’s just theatrical. He did a lot of musical stuff when he was a kid, plus all the Disney shit.”

This week, Diane Coffee embarks on a headlining tour of the U.S., kicking things off at The Hi-Fi in Indianapolis on Thursday. Now with plenty of gigs, practices and hangouts under their belt, the five-piece is sure to have loads of fun out on the road, too.

“Now, we’re all just buds, and it feels just like a normal band,” Lumsdaine concludes. “I definitely was a little starstruck when we first started hanging out until I got to know Shaun. He’s just a normal dude.”

For more information on the band’s upcoming Indy show, visit the official event page here.

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