Rock’n’Roll is a music tradition that refuses to die and as the years go by even though the genres may change in sound, the principles remain the same. From the radio waves to the underground, new bands just keep appearing at an alarming rate. It may even make your head spin trying to find which newer bands are worth listening to, but there’s one band I can assure you is worth checking out. North Carolina band The Fill Ins have been slowly rising in popularity and their new album Fifth Time’s The Charm is soon to hit the market. They’ve just released the albums single ‘Spit In My Face’ on their websites so check out http://www.thefillins.com to give it a listen. We got an interview with them to find out just what it’s been like for them as a band and recording.
The Fill Ins are:
Alex Stiff on Vocals
Mikey Black on Guitar
Captain Nunn on Bass
Matt McCoy on Drums
EX: Tell us a bit about your band that you’d like new listeners to know
Alex: We are a hard driving, rock n roll band with some punk rock flair.. Most people say we are just a straight punk band; and after listening to our 1st album “Hipster Killers” I can see that. Though I think people will be pleasantly surprised with this new album.
Matt: The only rock I know that stays steady is The Fill Ins, and the only institution I know that works, is rock’n’roll.
EX: So far you guys have one full length album out called Hipster Killers. How has having a full album out changed things for you all?
Matt: I think it finally let Alex get his vision out there in a more tangible way. Once he finally got a decent recording of the songs he’d been working on in other incarnations of The Fill Ins, it allowed him to finally “Let Go”, so he could look to the future and “Save The Rock”.
Alex: I can’t speak for the other guys, but it changed nothing for me. I had been stewing in about 50% of those songs for about 2 years prior and all of them besides 3 or so had been released in some fashion or another. All Hipster Killers did for me was get good recordings of songs we had already written, and get them all in one place.
Mikey: I think it’s very important for any band to put out an album or EP right away. It’s a way to get your music in people’s hands after shows, so they can continue rockin out to your music, and it helps build that recognition. Plus anytime I meet someone and I mention I play in a band, the first thing they ask about is a CD.
Cap: We’ve been consistently playing live shows once or twice a month and have been getting some radio play on some college radio stations as a result, so we’ve gotten some decent exposure with it.
EX: You have a new track being released from your second up and coming album, what’s it been like working on a sophomore album since you’ve already completed one before?
Mikey: We’re actually in a new studio recording this time with our good friend Steve Coleman, so it’s actually been very different. We’ve taken a lot more time in recording the songs and trying to make it sound a little more professional, but at the same time not too polished up. This is also the first album where every song was written by this lineup of the band, so it’s really brings out every members creativity and influence.
Cap: It’s been completely different this time, because we have a different producer, and these new songs have more depth that needed to be showcased. I’m really excited about it.
Alex: this next album (5th Time’s The Charm) has been 100% different from the start compared to the first album; Hipster Killers. With HK, most all tracks were recorded live (drums, my guitar and bass) with no punching in and no click tracks. Because of that, it has a very unique and vintage sound. This time around we went to a new studio (Fithman Studios) and it kinda flipped us on our heads… Dealing with click tracks, punch ins, extra effects; just stuff I personally was not used to. I objected to click tracks for a good while, but once we gave that route a try, we knew it was what we needed to make this album the best yet.
I think each band tries to out-do themselves with their newest recordings, but we didn’t set out to do that, it just happened organically.
Matt: It just reminds me of how much I love being in the studio, I’d love to do it more often. It’s only been a year since we recorded the last one, but it feels like an eternity.
EX: Is it harder recording the first ever album or the second now that there are expectations?
Cap: There’s been expectations? Again, completely different experience. The process with album has definitely more tedious, but it’s been more rewarding, as far as I think the results are going to be.
Matt: Every album is tough, the 1st one is tough because you don’t really know what to expect. The 2nd album is easier than the first in some respects because you know what to expect from everyone, but it can get harder because a whole new set of problems arise, especially since we are trying to make a better record.
Alex: it’s never not stressful. I almost feel that HK was a more stressful album to make because it was our “debut” album. This is our fist chance at the market. People will love it or hate it, so it had to be good. This time around, people know who we are and know what to expect from us. Hopefully we will give them what they want and even more.
Mikey: Definitely the second. I’m not sure if there’s expectations from our fans, but I personally have big expectations. The first album we were just like “fuck it, let’s just record this and get it mastered”. This time around we have been very meticulous in making sure every single drum hit, guitar notes and what have you are on point. We even got Alex to play to a click track, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.
EX: A lot of bands are either make or break by their second album but you guys just seem to be growing and getting an even bigger fan base, what’s it been like watching yourselves get more popular?
Alex: it’s kinda hard to gauge that sort of thing. We haven’t really had the chance to tour yet, so we are stuck in NC and SC playing shows. Apparently we are doing something right though, looking at all the people we have had the privilege to open for us very sobering. We are just thankful we get to do what we do and people enjoy it.
Cap: Well, we’re a really hard working band. Like anything, hard work gets noticed, and our passion behind it is genuine too. If we love it, chances are somebody else will too.
Matt: When a band starts to create a buzz, it slowly begins to take on a life of its own, and I find that magical.
Mikey: Personally I am one of the most arrogant people you will ever meet, (which is why I play lead guitar) so I really got to keep myself in check. Some days I’m like “yes, we’re the best band in the QC!” But then you’ve got other Charlotte bands like Tattermask and Shadow of Myself with amazing musicians just tearing it up, so it brings me down a few levels, and I realize that though we’re gaining some recognition, we still have quit a climb to the top.
EX: You’re a band that’s constantly playing new live shows, what are your favorite parts of playing live?
Alex: The audience. Maybe that’s just my narcissistic tendencies showing, but I get the biggest rush out of seeing new faces in the crowd and they are singing along to our songs. I love it.
Matt: I like the spontaneity you get from playing live. We don’t play what you hear on the album note for note. When we play live, we just let the moment happen and see where it takes us. Some songs stay relatively the same, but others can really take on a life of their own.
Mikey: Being a young, single, college guy, there’s one thing I love more than anything, and that’s a party! I LOVE when we get a crowd that’s just super rowdy, loud, and ready to rock’n’roll!
Cap: The adrenaline!
EX: Have you had a favorite band you have played along side?
Alex: we love playing shows with our good friends No Power No Crown for sure. They have great stage presence and killer songs and we try to play with them as much as we can. I’m most looking forward to sharing the stage with GBH soon though!
Cap: I play with our producer Steve’s band No Power No Crown as well, so any time I wind up pulling double duty on a bill with them and The Fill Ins, that’s always a blast. My other favorite locals to play with are The Body Bags, DSR, and Aloha Broha, just to name a few
Mikey: It would be impossible to list just one, so I’ll name a few. (In no order. And if I forget some, sorry guys): No Power No Crown, The Bodybags, No Anger Control, The Commonwealth, South Side Punx, DSR, AM/FMs, Antiseen, and so on…
Matt: The Reverend Horton Heat!
EX: If you could open for any band in the world, who would it be?
Cap: The loftiest dream gig for me would be to open for Motörhead. I would really like to get us on a bill with an awesome band out of Knoxville called The Bad Dudes. That would be so much fun.
Alex: Well, if we are talking about realistic options; I’d love to open for Supersuckers or Doyle (both almost happened) but we are actually opening for GBH in about 2 months. That for me is a dream come true. If we are just shooting for the stars and choosing any band we want, I’d love to open for Airbourne!
Matt: Danko Jones.
Mikey: Playing with this band, I would love to open for bands like Airbourne, Silvertide, Adrenaline Mob. Just really big, powerful rock’n’roll acts.
EX: And finally, what can the fans expect from The Fill Ins in the future?
Mikey: Bigger and better shows, opening up for some very recognized artists. Also the same old stuff. Wrastling shows, songs about drinkin, songs about chicks, songs about drinking and chicks, and songs about chicks drinking. Yeah, the good stuff.
Matt: More rock’n’roll to melt your face and make your mom cry.
Cap: Hopefully some live shows outside of Charlotte, and to continue to be inspired to make some more great music
Alex: you never know what the future holds! We have some stuff we are working on that may be a big help to us, but in the end; you can expect us to keep churning out some kick ass tunes and doing our thing. We are The Fill Ins and we are here to stay!