Everyone knows that some of the best Indie Rock tuneage these days has been created by a guy with the manly, testosterone-dipped name of Diane Coffee.
Adhering to the long Rock tradition of men adopting a woman’s moniker — from the 16th-century-witch-inspired Alice Cooper to actual transgender pioneer Jayne County, who began her career as Wayne County — Diane Coffee is actually the nom du rocque of Shaun Fleming, perhaps better known as the drummer for Foxygen (he was also an actor/voice talent whose credits include Kim Possible, Lilo and Stitch: The Series and Jeepers Creepers II).
Fleming, a Southern California native, became interested in music in high school when his math teacher, who was also the music teacher, threatened to flunk him if he didn’t join the choir. After his child-actor years, Fleming joined his Agoura Hills High School pal Jonathan Rado, banging out the drum pulse for their project Foxygen, which would go on to experience great success in the Indie Rock world.
In 2011, Fleming released his first solo EP, Thank You, under his own name. Two years later, he invented the Diane Coffee persona — he says it’s a modified mash-up of Motown superstar Diana Ross and the Nathan Pelkey (who?) song “Mr. Coffee,” but I would have bet money that it was a Twin Peaks/Agent Dale Cooper reference — and put together his roughly recorded and produced debut full-length, My Friend Fish, an album inspired by Fleming’s relocation to New York.
Fleming’s sophomore album was similarly steered when he traded urban NYC for pastoral Bloomington, Ind., although the acclaimed Everybody’s a Good Dog sounds like an amalgamation of the totality of his musical experience. There’s the sunshine Pop of The Association, the buoyantly visionary Rock of Brian Wilson, the Glamadelic abandon of New York Dolls and Ziggy-era David Bowie, the Midwest nutkick of Urge Overkill and an irresistible Motown undertone.
Regardless of the inspiration, Fleming — particularly in his Diane Coffee mode — is making a damn fine cup of Rock & Roll.
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