Another band for you to check out before you make your new year’s resolution to check out even more new bands. Today, all four members of The Fill Ins sat down and answered our questions.
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
ALEX: I’m from Charlotte NC, though I’ve lived in VA, NC and SC throughout my life.
JAMES: I’m from a small town outside Memphis, TN, called Brownsville.
MIKEY: I’ve lived in Wingate NC the past 19 years of my life (I’m 22).
ADAM: I’m originally from a small town called Rutherfordton NC. I currently live in Stanley NC.
ALEX: The only person I knew before starting the band was Mikey. When the band split up in VA, I relocated to NC and reformed the band with two of my good friends that were “filling in” until I could get a full band going again. A year or so later after that lineup’s time had come to pass, I got a guy and long time friend named Steven on bass. When the two of us were in his living room running through material I had written, Mikey popped in to hang out and wanted to be a part of it too. I found Matt from a band that I was good friends with and we were off to the races. Eventually James would replace Steven on bass less than a year later and Adam would take over the drums from Matt earlier this year.
JAMES: I met the band when they were a three piece, opening for Wednesday 13 at my first local show in Charlotte after I moved there. I thought the band was killer and met Alex after their set. I had been in touch with him since then, and I asked if he knew anybody in town that was looking for anybody to fill in for them. He told me that they were needing a bass player, so I grabbed my $100 EBS Epiphone to try out with them, and have been with them ever since.
MIKEY: I’ve known Alex for a long time through mutual friends. I didn’t meet the other guys until they joined the band to create the current lineup.
ADAM: I had briefly met the guys at Tremont music hall when another band I play in were playing with the Fill Ins prior to joining the band.
How long have you been playing as a band?
ALEX: We have only been playing with Adam for the past few months, but the other 3 of us have been playing for the past 3 years; though the band name and idea has been around since 2010.
MIKEY: I believe it’s been about 4 years actually. 4 years this march.
ALEX: Wow, you’re right.. Man does time fly.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
ALEX: The name came out of the first “lineup” of The Fill Ins back in 2010 when I was still located in Roanoke VA. The band at that point consisted of ex-members of the bands I had been a part of before. After a few nameless practices, someone randomly said “We are just a bunch of Fill Ins aren’t we?” Nothing much was said after that, it just stuck and had a ring to it that nothing else we were throwing out did.
What are your influences?
ALEX: My influences span from classic punk bands like Ramones and Misfits, to classic rock bands like KISS and Alice Cooper, and everything in between. I would have to say that bands like Dwarves, Supersuckers and Ramones influence our songwriting the most though.
JAMES: Anything that has a genuine attitude and delivery, whether that’s from Afrika Bambatta, The MC5, or even Dwight Yoakam.
MIKEY: I have tons of influences for my guitar playing. For this band it’s a lot of old school punk, 90s pop punk, and 80s thrash and hair metal bands. I like to mesh a little bit of everything together to try and get a unique blend of sounds and progressions.
ADAM: My influences are all over the map. From 311, Deftones, Periphery, Dirty Heads, Beethoven, Elvis and Sevendust just to name a few.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
ALEX: I would say we are a bit unique because we simply label ourselves as a “high octane rock n roll band”; which means the door is wide open for us to play whatever we want to write. A song could have a 60s garage rock feel to the riff, have a real heavy drum beat, a metal influenced solo and some funky bass lines, but it still creates some cool tunes that we’re real proud of.
MIKEY: It’s a melting pot of what we all like and a little of outside inspiration from each of us. It’s what I like to call musical fusion. Really, it’s just loud rock’n’roll.
ADAM: I would say it’s high octane rock n roll. A mix of the best parts of all rock n roll from the past to present. I think it’s unique because a lot of bands nowadays are just doing the same thing as every other band out there trying to be djent or just super heavy and The Fill Ins to me are a breath of fresh air.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
ALEX: I feel that we can sing about anything and everything aside from politics. From day one, I’ve never wanted The Fill Ins to be a political band because I don’t care what your political, religious, ethnic backgrounds are; we’re here to have a good time so leave the judgements at the door. We sing about partying, women, love, hate, social media, and the day to day annoyances that everyone can get behind and agree on. When you come to a Fill Ins show, we want you to forget the bullshit that may be bringing you down, and just escape for a little while. If we can make you forget about that stressful paper that’s due tomorrow, or the job that you hate, then we have done our job.
MIKEY: I can’t write lyrics without turning into Dr. Seuss, so I just stick to guitar riffs.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
ALEX: Our live show is full of energy. You won’t find us just standing there playing our instruments; we run around and act the fool for your entertainment. We’ve been actively playing shows since 2013 averaging about 2-3 shows a month, with plans for taking it on the road for 2017!
JAMES: Van Halen circa 1979! Hahaha!
MIKEY: We try to bring a lot of energy to each gig, whether it’s some back street cafe or a full on music hall. We can’t play loud rock music without moving around and dancing on stage, even if it looks a little ridiculous at times.
ADAM: Our live shows are full of energy. Our presence on stage and our sound are high octane. We give it 100% every time.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
ALEX: Probably the only thing that I did intentionally was after opening for Wednesday 13 for the first time when I was playing bass for a short time before getting James in the band; during the last song we still couldn’t get people riled up like we wanted to, so on the last note I just started ripping off my bass strings and tossed around my bass a little bit. Funny thing is that night we met James and that was one of the things that sold him on the band… haha!
JAMES: Probably when Mikey broke a string on two guitars, all within the span of about 2 songs.
MIKEY: Well let’s see… I got a lap dance from Lady Fireball followed by the beautiful Ariel Swan of Carolina GoGo mid set for my 21st birthday. Alex got blackout drunk on stage for his 21st birthday show and our good friend Owen took over vocals on our last song, “Hipster Killers”, due to Alex’s inability to even stand from being handed so many birthday shots. There’s also been plenty of parking lot and backstage shenanigans we can’t really mention here. AND, at the last Tremont show Alex proposed to his now fiancée, Morgan.
ADAM: Craziest thing I’ve ever seen was when I was playing in a band called Headsnap. We were playing with a band that had suspension people hanging from the rafters while the band was playing. For those that don’t know what suspension people are, they’re people who put sharp hooks through their skin connected to chains so they hang from their skin, mostly in their backs. Crazy.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
ALEX: I am currently using a modified Acoustic brand half stack with an 80’s Gibson Les Paul Custom. Though I am currently in the market for a new amp set up; just have to find one that really speaks to me.
JAMES: I play Fender Precision basses through an Ampeg B2-R with Ampeg cabs.
MIKEY: I’m still experimenting and looking for the perfect guitar to fit my preferences, but right now I own a Jay Turser electric, an ESP LTD ec-401, and a Yamaha acoustic. I run a Blackstar HT 100 watt head through a Marshall MG Cab.
ADAM: I play DW Performance Series drum kit. 14” snare, 12” rack tom, 16” floor tom and 22” bass drum. Hi-hats are 14” Meinl Sound Caster Fusion, 18” Sabian Saturation crash, 18” Sabian AA China, 20” Sabian B8 Pro Power Rock Ride, 20” Meinl Mb 20 20” Heavy crash and Paiste 18” Alpha B Rock China. Bass drum pedal is a Eliminator Demon Drive pedal.
What are your plans for 2017?
ALEX: We have a lot on the table we’re looking at for 2017, and I mean a lot. It all comes down to what we can do with the resources and finances we have. We’re planning dates for some one-off weekend tours finally bringing TFI outside of NC and SC, a vinyl release of our new single “Hit the Gas” in a few months, and a new release of material later on in 2017. Those things are all confirmed, but we’ve got more on the horizon.
MIKEY: Bigger, louder, better!
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
ALEX: If we’re talking on a national scale; I’d love to have the acoustic version of Supersuckers open for us, and CJ Ramone headline. Otherwise, have some good friends of ours called Dirtbag Love Affair open for us and have the full rock version of Supersuckers close it out. Now THAT would be a tour!
JAMES: I would have Danko Jones go on before us to set the tone, have us go on afterwards, and have somebody everybody came to see like Alice Cooper or Cheap Trick to close out the night.
MIKEY: It would vary depending on the venue and type of show, I find that we fit well with a lot of bands from different genres. For an ideal show night, I would have The Body Bags open up and get the energy flowing. Then we would carry on that momentum for part 2 of the show. Afterwards, have No Power No Crown end the night with a bang.