Refreshing up with The Fill Ins

Since talking to  The Fill Ins last year, the US rockers has dropped one treat of a new album which is really beginning to stir attention the way of the Charlotte, North Carolina outfit. It reinforces their reputation of being a rising force on the rock ‘n’ roll scene earned through previous encounters and a live presence which has seen them share stages with the likes of The Reverend Horton Heat, Koffin Kats, GBH, Total Chaos, Joe Buckyourself, Wednesday 13 and numerous more. We had the pleasure to catch up again with the band to talk about their new release and more…

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us again! When we last spoke, you all were releasing a vinyl 7” and gearing up for a new record. How did it all turn out?

ADAM: Thanks for having us, and it’s going great! The writing and recording process was really easy and fun, and I’m really happy with these tunes.

ALEX: We were so happy to get the Hit The Gas single pressed on vinyl. I personally think it was a hit, at least in my eyes! We’ve finally had a new record come out on June 30th titled The Time Is Now and it’s released through No Profit Records. 6 brand new tracks, plus 2 bonus tracks; Hit The Gas and a remix / re-master of Saturday Night (our other digital single from 2016). It really speaks for itself; it’s just raw rock n roll in many forms.

Taking a recap, was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and in what you wanted your sound to offer?

ALEX: Pure and simple, I wanted to form the band I wasn’t seeing around town; a straight forward rock n roll band. That town was Roanoke VA and that version of the band didn’t last long only playing about 3 or 4 shows before splitting up. Once I moved to Charlotte NC, it was the same attitude and mind-set; make a killer rock n roll band. It took a while and the right group of musicians by my side, but I think we’ve got something special right now and I’m so grateful to be part of it.

Since its early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

MIKEY: Our sound is definitely starting to really show what each individual has brought to the table. We have a unique blend of punk rock and rock ‘n’ roll with a little bit of country twang coming from Alex and Capp, with just a touch of metal and aggressiveness coming from Adam and myself. It makes for a unique sound that is fast, loud and powerful.

JAMES: We’ve all gotten better as musicians and we always strive to make our songs better as our creative juices get flowing.

ALEX: The Fill Ins have always had a rock core with a punk edge, especially once reformed in 2013 and started writing the Hipster Killers album. When 5th Time’s The Charm came around, we found a new studio and collectively decided to move forward in a more aggressive rock sound. I think that album has a lot more hooks than Hipster Killers and more thought through song writing. Once we lost our long time drummer, Adam joined us and it was a whole new dynamic sonically; really giving me a window to kick the group into high gear. Out of that came a new logo, sound and Hit The Gas, that was the most well received song yet so I felt we had hit something good. This new record just expands on that.

Do you deliberately go out to push your sound into new areas or let it organically evolve?

ALEX: If I’m being honest, it might be a little of both. Whenever you get a new band member in the fold, things will change. Thankfully it’s so far been for the better! Out of that, naturally you’ll start writing songs with this new member’s strengths and styles in mind. That’s why I say it’s organic and a bit of a deliberate act by nature.

MIKEY: I’d say it’s been a little bit of organic evolution of the band as well as deliberately writing in a different style. I like to push my metal influence over the songs as much as I can until the guys pull me back into “our sound.” We have also acquired new gear over the years. We started out playing single speaker lunch box sized amps and have progressed to 150 watt half stacks. We’ve also grown a lot as musicians, especially myself. There’s always practice to be done, new things to learn and developing a better sense of time, rhythm, phrasing and overall song structure.

JAMES: I’d agree with that! We’ll get in a room and hash out songs relatively quickly, but every now and then, a “what if?” scenario will present itself. Sometimes those work, and sometimes they don’t, but we’re never scared to try different things.

Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they too evolved over time?

ALEX: Oh for sure, in many aspects even more now than then. It’s never been about money, it’s never been about “making it big”; it’s always been about making an impact with our music. It could be that be the guy that picked up a record and he has a new favorite song, or a live show that made someone forget about work or whatever could be weighing them down. I don’t care if there are 5 or 500, or even 5,000 people in front of me, the passion I have for this band and the music we make pushes me harder and harder to be the best we can be. Whatever comes out of that is the icing on the cake.

JAMES: For me, playing music is always a blessing, but as more opportunities arrive, certain goals occur along the way, but we always approach everything within reason.

MIKEY: can’t speak for everyone as to what moves the band. I just want to have fun and play music with my friends and as many other people as possible. It’s a huge community and family I’d like to think I’m a part of.

Tells us about the inspirations for the members of the band, presumably a wide range with your different backgrounds?

JAMES: We all come from different backgrounds, so where I’m sitting, as far as the creative process goes, I base my creative impulses on something somebody else in the band leads off with, whether it’s a riff or a beat. We’ve gotten so comfortable and reliable as a unit, that knowing what they’re going to do next is pretty inspiring.

ALEX: I wouldn’t say one single artist or group has heavily influenced us more than the other. We really are a blender full of so many different inspirations and influences; I can’t really put a finger on one specifically.

MIKEY: My inspirations for playing and writing change as I get older and more experienced. That’s not to say that my old influences no longer influence me, just that new things pop up that I dive into head first and spend a while deconstructing it and learning from it. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of video game soundtracks and writing similar sounding riffs and melodies. Mainly from the Dragon Ball Z franchise or old school Megaman and Final Fantasy melodies.

How does the songwriting work within the band?

MIKEY: Usually songs are born from jam sessions or by building off of a riff or tune that someone brings to the table

ALEX: Starting out, I wrote the bulk of the songs to set a baseline of style and form. Songs would be brought up and it would be a great tune, but it just didn’t really fit the rest of the set at all; and not in a cool way either. Once we recorded Hipster Killers, everyone had a better understanding of the style and Mikey started really shining as a songwriter for “5th Time’s The Charm”. With this new record, everyone has had their fingers in the cookie jar in one way or another and it’s really created a cool collection of songs.

How about inspirations for the lyrical side of your songs?

ALEX: I’m one of those people that cannot sit and decide I’m going to write lyrics. I could be sitting at work and all of a sudden think of a cool line and start expanding on it in my head. I have to write it down almost immediately or I’ll forget it later on. Same thing with guitar riffs; I one time was out running errands and a riff popped in my head, so in the middle of the store, I had to do a voice recording of me humming the riff so I could figure it out later. I may start with a concept, a Point A to Point B idea of where I want it to go, but that’s sometimes the most I can get out of it until later. I’ve been known to re-write verses minutes before cutting the track in the studio… haha

I’d say the only lyrical theme I actively try to avoid is politics. Some of my favorite bands made an impact without being preachy, and I want our music to be a release and not have a political message behind it. I think bands should stick to making music and leave the political talk to people that are smarter than us.

Could you give us some background to your latest release; The Time Is Now.

ALEX: The Time Is Now was recorded at Fithman Studios under the guide of Steve Coleman, Jeff Thrice, and Justin Campbell. It was recorded over the span of a week or so and another few weeks of mixing and mastering before it was complete. We actually held on to these recordings for a while before releasing them, mainly because we wanted to make sure we did it right and not just toss it out there for folks to consume and digest. It really is a perfect storm of killer songs at the right time in our musical endeavor.

MIKEY: The Time is Now is also our first full release with our drummer Adam. It’s definitely a powerhouse of songs meant to be louder, crunchier and riffier than our normal tunes. We spent more time on the recording process this time around and came out with a product we’re all pretty stoked about.

How about its themes and premise behind its songs.

MIKEY: Just keeping rock ‘n’ roll alive in a word of Biebers and Kanyes.

ALEX: The same thing that has driven us from the start; it’s just rock n roll baby. We sing about love, hate, fun, troubled times, just no politics as I mentioned before. We rarely have a running “theme” for our records; just pure, punch you in the face hits.

Do you attack the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

ADAM: When writing songs typically there’s a root idea and we just get in the room and start bouncing off ideas and trying stuff.  Typically the first couple run-throughs go great and the songs usually 90% done, then we go into the studio with pretty much 98% of the songs ready. We might tweak things a little here and there but we pretty much know what we’re going to do.

JAMES: Normally, we go in with songs complete for the most part, but if there are minor suggestions here and there that make the songs better, we take advantage of that.

MIKEY: Everyone in the band goes into the studio with the motive to get the songs knocked out asap… except for me. It’s annoying for the rest of the guys, but I’m too much of a perfectionist and my own worst critic. I’m never happy with anything I do and eventually settle on a best take. I also enjoy the studio atmosphere much more than writing by myself at home with subpar equipment. We’re very fortunate to have a studio producer who allows us to take as much time as we need to make sure we get what we want out of the song.

ALEX: For me personally, I hate not being prepared heading into the studio. We usually practice our asses off the weeks leading up to it so everyone can have a firm grasp on the songs we’re doing. Though with as much prep as we seem to do, there is always a song or part of a song that ends up making us slow down a bit and really take a look at what we’re doing. Over the years, I’ve become a bit less high-strung when it comes to “get in there and knock it out”, but I also hate wasting time because my favorite part of the process is mixing and mastering…That is the part I don’t mind obsessing over.

Tell us about the live side to the band?

ALEX: I like the fact that we don’t just stand there and play our instruments; we move around and give you a show. We also love audience participation even if it’s just yelling when instructed.. We want to make an impact; what that impact is I’m not sure, but you’ll sure remember us at the end of the night.

MIKEY: We try to be as loud as possible when we play live. Loud enough to get people’s attention without sacrificing tone. We’re used to playing in Charlotte where people would rather pay entry to stand outside the venue, smoke cigarettes and talk. Gotta crank it up so they can hear us out there!

JAMES: It’s just a big party. We have fun playing and encourage our audience to have fun with us while leaving whatever agenda they may or may not have at the door.

ADAM: I would say that live we very energetic, loud good ole in your face high octane rock n roll.  We put 100% into our live presence.

We asked you this the last time but interested to see if anything has changed in the opportunities for new bands to make an impact on your local scene let alone nationally and further afield.

JAMES: A lot of factors have provided opportunities that work well for us, but may not for others, so there really are no right answers to that. All I can say is that as long as you have a strong support around you, opportunities will present themselves, no matter where you are.

ALEX: We’re still a “spit and duct tape” band and we’ll probably always be that band in most aspects. The most important thing a band like us can do is market yourselves the best way possible; good graphics, great live show and the music to back it up. It’s not just about writing and playing music, there is so much more to it than that. The odd thing is that people outside our Charlotte NC bubble seem to dig us more than some of the clubs we’ve played since the start. The rock scene in NC and SC seems to be rather exclusive, and we don’t fit in any sort of “category” or specific “genera”, so we kinda float around the different “scenes” until we find the people for us.

The internet and social media is still a big part of pushing The Fill Ins forward?

MIKEY: These days it’s all about the social media outlets and using them as tools to get yourself out there and recognized. That goes for any kind of business, music based or not. You gotta sell not only your music but yourself. People have to want to know you and trust you before they become loyal fans of what you’re doing. It takes time to build that up and you just gotta keep pounding away at it. All of which I have no patience for, I stray away from any screen as much as possible. That’s why Alex handles all that for us.. haha!

ALEX: Social media has been the one thing keeping us alive and going today. I’m always thinking of new stuff we can do online that can set us apart from the rest or to provide something fun for everyone that checks it out. Music doesn’t sell like it once did, so you have to find new ways to reach your audience. We will always make music because we have to, it’s in our blood and I will personally not be the same person if I didn’t have music to play…but for the public, the music is just the soundtrack to the “brand” they support. We’ve sold more shirts this year than we have CDs and that is the first time for us. There is a definite shift in musical consumption and a lot of indie artists like ourselves that do not have money being thrown at us to really promote our music to the world; we have to become a lot more creative in promoting. Part of that is making sure your physical music is packaged and looking great; which is why we opted to get digipacks for the new record since it’s a lot better packaging than the traditional plastic cases. One thing I see people doing is rebelling against streaming services because of the small royalty pay out and to me as a fan; that is a really shitty move. I have a Spotify account and I use it for all my on-the-go music and then my vinyl when I get home, if an artist wants to take their music off the service, more than likely I’m not going to make an effort to go and get it another way, instead they just lose out on people learning the music and sharing it with their friends. In no way do we want people stealing the music from us, but I’d rather 1,000,000 hear it for free than only accept payment for every download. Pick your battles and find new ways to keep the band growing.

https://www.facebook.com/TheFillIns    https://twitter.com/TheFillIns    https://www.instagram.com/thefillins/

Pete RingMaster 24/08/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Uncaging the snarl: exploring the roar of The Fill Ins

the-fill-ins_RingMasterReview

Officially breaking out in 2013 after three years in the building, US rockers The Fill Ins is one of those anthemic rock incitements built on an instinctive creative roar. Their journey has been as lively as their sound as they worked towards the line-up which has drawn potent acclaim through recent singles alone. With an explosive live show which has seen them open for the likes of The Reverend Horton Heat, Koffin Kats, GBH, Total Chaos, Joe Buckyourself, and Wednesday 13, The Fill Ins is a coming force and we had the pleasure of getting to the heart of things with the band, exploring its origins and journey to date, those tenacious singles, and much more….

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?

ALEX: For me personally, I always wanted to create the ultimate Rock n Roll band and I feel with each passing year, we get a little closer to that goal as we find band members that also share that same vision. The band today consists of Mikey Black on lead guitar, James “Captain” Nunn on bass, newcomer Adam Patterson on drums, and myself (Alex Stiff) on lead vocal and rhythm guitar. We’ve come a long way in the 5 or so years we’ve been going at it, but in many ways it still feels like “Day 1” with our new sound and image.

Have you been involved in other bands before and if so has that had any impact on what you are doing now?

ALEX: Alongside of The Fill Ins; I also play bass in a punk band called Biggy Stardust And His Wretched Hive. I’ve always grown up with punk and rock music around me, so that is always my main inspiration. Whenever we have to get a new band member (for whatever reason), it will change the flavor of the band a bit and I think that is a good thing. Though I wouldn’t say the things we do outside the band have much influence; we’re a very driven band and have a clear view of who we are and what we are.

ADAM:  I’ve been playing in bands since I was 14 years old but as far as relevant bands go that I’ve played in was a band called HEADSNAP that I played in from 2002-2009, I also play in a band called DEADLOCK with my brother, and I play in another local cover band called The Dead Ins.

JAMES: I had several bands in TN before I moved to Charlotte, and I was always a guitar player. This was my first band that I ever played bass in, and I took what I knew about playing with more than one guitar player and applied it to my bass playing. Since then, I have continued to build my craft as a bass player, and have been recording and performing with another band in Charlotte called No Power No Crown as their bassist when I’m not working with The Fill Ins.

What inspired the band name?

ALEX: The original line-up that started in Roanoke VA consisted of a bunch of different members from bands I had played with up ‘til that time. All of them had been let go by the bands they were a part of and decided we’d start our own band. Someone threw out the comment; “We’re all just a bunch of fill ins, aren’t we?” and it just stuck. Even though (aside from myself) none of those members are in the band today, we still hold true to the “fill in” mentality. We’re a little bit of the black sheep in our town, so we just fill in the missing gaps with our brand of rock-n-roll, and people are starting to pay attention, which is awesome!

tfi3_RingMasterReviewDid the band have a specific idea it what you wanted your sound to offer?

ALEX: The 4 of us that started it in Roanoke just wanted to play music, regardless of what it was. Once Jason (ex-vocalist / guitarist) and I started writing more, it became very clear where our heads were at; stripped down hard rock with some punk and metal flair here and there. Over the years and with the addition of Mikey Black on lead guitar really bringing the songs to the next level, the band has only gotten better the longer we do this. I would say we still hold the same mission statement: knock em’ dead.

We’re also not a political band; we’re not going to tell you who to vote for or how you should live your life, we just want you to enjoy the life you have and have great tunes to go along with it.

Are you driven by that same original spark?

ALEX: I still get all happy and excited when I see new plays on Soundcloud or see that someone we don’t know shares our music video; I don’t think that could ever go away. I still get excited when we finish a band practice and we have the workings of a great new song, get photos back from a shoot; regardless of what it is, it all still makes me happy and excited.

JAMES: The drive and the excitement have only gotten stronger for me, because I think we’re getting better and better, and we’re so comfortable with each other as performers as well.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

ALEX: Early on, songs would eventually have more of a punk edge to it because of my songwriting style; and because the VA line-up never officially recorded any demos, I had all the time in the world (about 2 years) to re-work and tweak those songs to my exact liking before bringing them to a new line-up of the band once I relocated to Charlotte NC. All those songs became the groundwork for our 1st album Hipster Killers (released summer 2014) and they really do have a punk edge to them simply because a good 3/4ths of the album was written before that line-up recorded it. That line-up consisted of Mikey, James and long-time drummer Matt McCoy. Shortly after recording that album, we went hard to work writing the follow-up record 5th Time’s The Charm in which Mikey and James had a lot more songwriting contributions due to the fact we were working with a blank slate. Now with our new singles Saturday Night and Hit The Gas, we are a lot more of a collaborative effort and I love where we are right now.

JAMES: We’ve played together for long enough now so we know what skill set works the best for certain parts of songs. But we’re also not scared to throw some curveballs at rehearsals and find out what comes out of it, because more often than not, that’s what leads to some our best material.

Has it been more of an organic movement of sound or more the band deliberately wanting to try new things?

ALEX: I think every band wants to do better than their last release; but you have to want it the correct way. If we were to come out and do a complete 180 of what we have done before, it wouldn’t seem genuine and fans can see right through that. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the longer you play in a band, the better you get at your craft at the same time, so if you use that to your advantage smartly, you’ll start doing “new things” that fit in with what you’ve done before, helping you build your craft even more.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal ideas to creating music?

ALEX: I take things I hear from artists I admire and find ways to apply them to myself and the band; whether that is in songwriting, how to conduct yourself professionally, how to market yourself and the band, etc. I’d like to think that The Fill Ins are a Frankenstein of all things good about rock n roll and punk rock all rolled into one.

JAMES: Going to live shows for me is always inspiring because sometimes I’ll be impressed with a local show, and it’ll just further my desire to make our band the best live group that it can possibly be.

Is there a particular process to the songwriting?

ALEX: Early on, I wrote a good 90% of the finished product you hear on Hipster Killers; but after that, I had the confidence in the band to hand over songwriting credits to the other guys since we had a good clear-cut path of our sound and attack. One of Mikey’s early contributions eventually turned into our first hit, Spit In My Face which I could have not been more proud of.

Today; the songwriting process isn’t too different than it was before. James could come in with part of a riff that could eventually be used for something, Mikey could bring in a semi-complete demo for us to take and refine a bit…Or we could be riffing on something at practice and by the end of the day have the blueprints for a new song. I prefer it when it happens like that; the more organic, the better.

Where do you draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

ALEX: For me, lyrics are the hardest thing for me to write and usually it’s the last thing finalized before hitting the studio (or during recording). It’s easier to write political songs because they just flow, but I almost see that as a cop-out. I’d rather spend months or weeks writing lyrics for something that resonates on a larger platform than spend a few days writing some politically charged message that only a few may get behind. I usually write about what I know; partying, drinking, love, hate, heartbreak, the annoyances of social media, etc.

Would you give us some background to your latest release?tfi4_RingMasterReview

ALEX: Our new singles Hit The Gas and Saturday Night have been a long time coming, making it through setbacks and line-up changes in the process. We started working on new songs shortly after the release of 5th Time’s The Charm in 2015 for a 6 song EP to be released in mid-2016. Going through some old demos we had but never used, I heard this one riff Mikey was playing and I cut just that portion out and sent it to him asking him to refine the riff and see what he can come up with. During that time, James was working on another project with drummer at the time Matt McCoy and our producer for 5th Time’s The Charm (Steve Coleman) and came up with a rough demo cut of Saturday Night. Mikey finished coming up with the groundwork for what would soon be called Hit The Gas and we were off to the races. We started working on a few more new ones and booked studio time in early 2016 to record the 6 songs.

After a few pre-production sessions and some demos, we had to put the band on hold as our drummer’s personal life was eating up his time that would be used to work with the band. After a few months of inactivity and suggested by Matt; we got long-time friend Adam Patterson on drums and abandoned our plans for an EP release this year.

Our main focus with Adam was to make sure he was tight on our old material before trying to write with him so he had a good grasp on our sound and how the song structures work; though I did send him all the demos we had recorded just to make sure he had them and to show we are ready to start writing again. After the 3rd practice, he asked if we wanted to work on any of the new songs we had been writing and suggested we try out Saturday Night. After a few run throughs, we realized this guy picks up on stuff like he had been playing it all his life; so we started working on that and Hit The Gas.

After that, the stars aligned just right and we were able to get both of the songs recorded and released this year just by the skin of our teeth.

Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind the single Hit The Gas in particular.

ALEX: Hit The Gas is a rebirth for us. The band kept with a certain look and sound for the first few years in VA and NC, then once the full band was fully reformed in Charlotte NC in 2014, we redesigned our logo and image to reflect the next chapter unfolding. With the release of Hit The Gas in November of this year and the addition of a new drummer, it was clear that The Fill Ins have matured a lot within the last year and with that, it felt that a new look and logo was needed. This logo is the first one to completely break the usual mould /redesigns we’ve had for the last 4 or so years, but so does the music. Hit The Gas really displays each member’s strengths; full of groovy bass lines, heavy drumming, one of the best solos Mikey has written to date and I feel it’s probably my best vocal performance in a long time recorded. The song has a message everyone can rally behind; “Just turn it up, and get it loud! It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, just back it up with attitude, and hit the gas, cause it’s going down!”; everyone loves to have a good time and that’s what we’re all about!

Do you hit the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

ALEX: Up until Hit The Gas, everything was written in full before going to the studio. This time, we had about 90% of it written and just hopped right in the studio and started playing around. We had all the drums, bass and rhythm guitar written but Mikey’s leads and some of my lyrics needed working on. Our producer Jeff Long (TrapDoor Recordings) could tell where we wanted to go with the song and he offered up some great ideas and insights into how we could make the track better; helping guide Mikey in giving the best performance possible and really pushing me on my vocals. I think both have their place in writing music, it just really depends on what works best for the group as a whole (and if you can afford to write in the studio).

tfi2_RingMasterReviewTell us about the live side to the band, presumably the band’s favourite place to be?

ALEX: The stage is my home. If I’m not playing live music, I’ll go crazy. I crave the stage, regardless if 2 people are watching or 2,000. We are also a very high energy band; we don’t stand still when we play, we run around and act a fool and I think that sets us apart a little bit more than most bands we see live locally… No one can put on a live show like THE FILL INS can. During the time earlier this year when The Fill Ins could not perform or practice, James and I started a side project called The Felons which consists of the 2 of us playing old country tunes and a few Fill Ins songs re-worked. It’s a fun way to fill in the gaps when we as a full band can’t play during the week. Anything that gets me playing music is a good thing.

JAMES: This band and my other group that I mentioned, No Power No Crown, are easily the most exhausting groups I’ve ever performed with, but they are also the most rewarding at the same time. With this band, the chemistry and dynamic between all of us that we share on stage is just as fun as anything I have ever experienced.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods?

ALEX: If I’m being completely honest; we’ve had some trouble getting our footing locally, people outside our town seem to have understood us and supported us stronger early on rather than the immediate locals. Mainly because we have very strong personalities and don’t play the political games that other bands can be found guilty of. It may have hindered us a little, but integrity and passion drives this band; and unless we can support it fully, we won’t do it. That’s not to say we don’t have a strong and loyal fan-base, because we do; but I would say we’ve gotten a much slower start in comparison to our peers.

We also have trouble building a fan-base in a town that is more geared towards liking metal and crust punk bands; not many people I know support “rock” anymore… partly spanning the inspiration for the song Save The Rock (Hipster Killers).

JAMES: I am thankful for the support that we have gotten here so far, though while it may not be very huge locally, certain people have mattered the most in our development and have supported us since day one have played a big part in providing some great opportunities here as well.

How has the internet and social media impacted on and helped the band to date? Do you see it as something always destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success or is it more that bands struggling with it are lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage?

ALEX: I think social media as an idea is a fantastic thing; being able to connect with people all around the world at the click of a button, you know the bands of yesteryear would have killed for this sort of technology when booking tours or promoting albums! The problem lies with the programmers and what they feel is best for the platform as a whole, sometimes forgetting that there are people still trying to use places (like Facebook) to promote their own businesses / companies and their algorithms prevent those posts from showing up in people’s timelines unless you pay for the post to be seen; dubbing it as a “Sponsored Post”. I’m not a big fan of stuff like that, but it’s pretty unavoidable at times…

It’s also no mystery that the internet has killed physical album sales tremendously; which does sadden me a bit because I still get excited when a band releases something on vinyl; so maybe groups should re-evaluate their product packaging and find ways to draw in the new generation that prefers a download to a CD. We still love being able to chat with our fans all over the world, so I would say all in all it’s a great thing…At least for right now.

JAMES: It’s definitely a double edged sword, but part of the excitement for me IS the fact that it is the Wild West for new bands like us, which allows us to get very creative with different marketing and promotional ideas.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add?

ALEX: Just want to pass on a big thank you to The RingMaster Review for having us on! Our new single Hit The Gas can be found on iTunes, Amazon Music, and our online store (http://store.thefillins.com/ ). We’ll be releasing a split 7in vinyl of Hit The Gas sometime in the Spring of 2017 (through No Profit Records) as we lead into getting ready for our next release for late 2017!

https://www.facebook.com/TheFillIns   https://twitter.com/TheFillIns   https://www.instagram.com/thefillins/

Pete RingMaster 16/12/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Brassick – Self Titled

Brassick band_RingMaster Review

Building on a reputation earned from their first release and a live presence which has venues aggressively rocking, UK punks Brassick have released their self-titled debut album and fair to say whatever acclaim already garnered should be outshone by all offered this anthemic snarl. Raw and uncompromising yet loaded with a hardcore roar and fierce inescapable hooks to drool over, the release is poised to put the Birmingham quartet of the broadest punk maps.

Formed in 2012, Brassick quickly sparked local attention and support with their fusion of punk, ska, and metal essences. That presence soon gripped wider recognition through the band’s unrelenting live presence which has seen them play with the likes of GBH, Cock Sparrer, UK Subs, and Subhumans amongst many, and the release of the Broke And Restless EP in 2013. Last year saw the foursome continue to ignite the UK live scene, venues and festivals coming under their fiery growl and culminating in a highly successful spot at Rebellion alongside bands such as NOFX, Street Dogs, Stiff Little Fingers, Killing Joke, and The Duel. Already charging through Britain and Europe again this year with festivals and another Rebellion appearance on the schedule, Brassick have made 2015 their biggest year yet with the release of their rousing album.

Produced by bassist Jake Cunningham and guitarist Peter Macbeth, the album opens with Hollow Cries and sirens infusing cold portentous air. Punchy rhythms splinter the scenery next, all embroiled in a sonic mist before the song strides clear with anthemic riffs and rhythms sparked further by the instantly gripping vocals of Nicola Hardy. There is a great essence of attitude and snarl to her tones to match and incite the sounds around her, a pulsating bassline and inflammatory guitar enterprise colluding with the healthy swipes of drummer Jay Jay Khaos open evidence in two riveting and highly persuasive opening minutes.

Brassick cover_RingMaster Review     The punchy exploits of Same Sound bound in next, riffs and beats a feisty lure reinforced by the vocal defiance of Hardy. The metallic edge and texture of the track reminds of US punk metallers Mongrel, whilst the scything expulsions breaking up the song midway are the trigger to adventurous twists before the assault returns to its initial confrontation and sets ears up perfectly for the outstanding tempting of Media Faces. Like early The Duel with a Ruts like reggae predation, the track prowls and roars, forcibly stirring up appetite and imagination through the magnetic guitar craft of Macbeth and the irritable infection of sound and vocals.

Fall Because They’re Blind backs up the potent start to the album though it does not have that extra spark to match its predecessors. Nevertheless with Cunningham’s alluring bass enterprise and an old school punk leaning around Hardy’s ever inciting delivery, the track hits the spot before Drown takes over to stalk the senses. Bass and riffs are a deviously intimidating nudge whilst the beats of Khaos refuse to hold back on their provocation but it is the inventive atmospheric twists and varied vocal persuasion that gives the track an extra impressing potency.

The lyrical and emotional charge of the band pulls no punches on political and social commentary, and breeds a strong and impacting landscape in Sirens where authority wails and anarchic ambience wash over ears as bass and guitar spin their evocative and dramatic web around Hardy’s spoken and accusing narrative. It is a powerful proposal which stands alone or works as the turbulent lead in to the brawling antagonism of Free For All and its UK Subs/Angelic Upstarts like old school growl. The song in turn allows no breath to be taken as it seeds the beginnings of the outstanding Cynical Ties and another stock of gripping irritancy, sharp hooks, and anthemic defiance. There is a great street punk dirtiness to the album and especially accentuates the power and addictiveness of this track and in turn its successor Let Us Go. There is a touch of The Objex to the heart and fire of the second of the two but equally a seventies breeding and modern fury come together to ensure another stirring up on the body and passions.

The grouchy tone and belligerence of Leeches nags and grumbles next, its angry belly bound in more of the unpredictable and striking imagination shaping songwriting and sound which to be honest the band does not use quite enough across the album. When they do it turns great songs into venomous enslavements as here, richly emphasizing the potential coursing through the whole of the album.

The fun and enjoyment comes to a close with the mighty Vagabond Smile. Instantly its rhythmic shuffle traps ears, the song is in control, tightening its grip and lure as vocals across the band come together in a middle finger raised defiance complete with virulent grooves, sharp hooks, and incendiary attitude. It is a riotous end to an invigorating and refreshing album. Brassick use their inspirations and the seeds of punk rock to create their own, not majorly unique, but seriously enjoyable rock ‘n’ roll. Already anticipation of bigger and bolder things from the band is ripe and right now thick pleasure full thanks to their first album.

Brassick is available now @ http://www.brassick.bigcartel.com/ and through STP Records @ http://www.stprecords.co.uk/page4.htm with CD version out September 18th.

https://www.facebook.com/brassickmusic

RingMaster 09/07/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Foreign Legion/The Shame – Split 7”

reb1038_front_RingMaster Review

Courtesy of a co-release between Aggrobeat and Rebel Sound Music, punk from both sides of the pond links up in a 7” split which just ignites the appetite. On one side stands Welsh oi/punks Foreign Legion and on the other Tulsa Street punks The Shame, both offering two tracks of highly satisfying incitements. There have been a few potent punk splits over recent times and this stands right up there as one of the best.

Foreign Legion_RingMaster Review     Emerging from the ashes of Dead On Arrival, Foreign Legion began in 1984 infusing an oi seeding with varied essences of punk rock. The years have come and gone, line-up changed but the band has never slowed down or taken the heat out of their creative and lyrical rage as shown by the new release. Recent years has seen Foreign Legion share stages with the likes of Cockney Rejects, Guitar Gangsters, Control, The Warriors, GBH, The Ruts, and Stiff Little Fingers and play festivals such as Back On The Streets, Punk & Disorderly and Rebellion, whilst over time they have played in 15 different countries and remained the only Welsh band to ever play at the legendary CBGB’s in New York. With four albums under their belt, including the Mick Jones produced What Goes Around Comes Around, as well as a split full-length with Major Accident and numerous other splits and compilation appearances, the band instantly show they are as stirringly confrontational as ever with their first contribution to this new encounter.

Nowhere Left To Hide strides in straight away with commanding rhythms and attention seizing riffs, their mix a potent lure which the grizzly tones of Marcus stand astride. An air of Angelic Upstarts lines the attitude and presence of the track whilst backing vocals are as anthemic as the core hook repetitiously fuelling the infectious challenge. With guitarist Simon and bassist Dave colluding to grip ears and appetite with their creative bait as the rhythmic swings of Sid thumps them, the track stirs up air and emotions with its old school tones and a modern attitude driven on by the lyrical attack on the state of the world, a premise continued in its successor.

Our World Today is even more addictive with its central hook incessant in nagging repetition and inescapable virulence. Around this the guitar flames with sonic enterprise whilst the throaty bass belligerence snarls with antipathy to match the thick accusation of the lyrics, again anthemically and intimidatingly delivered by Marcus. As its predecessor, the track is not trying to stretch boundaries and venture into unique landscapes but for a thrilling and provocative slab of honest punk rock it is prime incitement.

The other side of the release belongs to Tulsa’s The Shame, another band breeding their attacks from old school punk this time with maybe more US heritage though there are undoubtedly The Shame_RingMaster Reviewsome essences of British punk found within their sound. Their potent history has seen the band play with bands such as Queers, Downtown Struts, Noi!se, Bishops Green, The Templars, Fatskins, Concrete, and Those Unknown whilst their discography includes an album and a 7”. With a new EP scheduled for later this year, the band launch their part with Crossing the Line first of all and quickly gets down to being musically and vocally grouchy and thrilling ears straight away.

Riffs and rhythms rise as one and are soon taking the listener on a feisty attitude driven ride. A thick bass lure easily grips the appetite as does the group calls around the chorus, but from start to finish with a whisper of bands like NOFX to it as well as a UK influence of bands like The Business, the song is a rousing stomp led by pungent hooks and beats around the stirring influence of the lead vocals.

Its successor is just as contagiously imposing and bullish, Faded Glory emerging as a thick anthem of nostalgia and rebel rousing inspired by beer and sonic rioting. A little more reserved in energy compared to their first, song and band still raise the passions and spark the defiance in us all with accomplished and galvanic posture.

The four tracks on the release all hit the spot with ease in a reminder that punk on both sides of the big water is still roaring as strongly as ever. ‘

The Foreign Legion/The Shame 7″ Split EP is available now on exclusive US red vinyl version (250 copies) via Rebel Sound Music and European blue vinyl version (250 copies) via Aggrobeat http://rebelsoundmusic.limitedrun.com/products/541545-foreign-legion-the-shame-split-7-ep

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Foreign-Legion/149893361856696    https://www.facebook.com/oitheshame

RingMaster 04/07/2015

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Ligaments – Ligaments (Eat Pizza EP)

Ligaments Online Promo Shot

As soon as learning that the armament within punk ‘n’ rollers Ligaments involved a double bass, intrigue and excitement, as we are suckers for the throaty seduction of said instrument, was rife. It was an anticipation swiftly satisfied by the London based trio’s excellent Ligaments (Eat Pizza EP). With throaty bass slaps in tandem with roaring vocals and voracious riffs, the four-song encounter proved itself to be an imposing and impressive introduction to the band.

Formed in 2012 after Napoli hailing Nicola Itro (double bass, vocals) and Londoner Jake Maxwell (guitar, vocals) met at the 12 Bar Club in Soho, Ligaments create a sound which is part ’77 punk, part old school rock ‘n’ roll, part rockabilly rapacity, and all 21st Century ferocity. Last year saw former Pettybone member Zel Kaute join the band on drums, bringing a passion for pizza with her which humorously themes the visual side of the new release. Already Ligaments have supported the likes of Pure Graft, The Meteors, The Vibrators, and GBH, and made Europe a regular playground for their thumping live presence, but it is with their debut EP that it is easy to expect a new spotlight shining on the creative bellow and potential of this exciting band.

Recorded with Wayne Adams (USA Nails, Death Pedals), the EP takes little time grabbing attention as opener Precinct 13 brews up an immediate dirty hard rock coaxing. Initially held in a Ligaments covermore distant embrace, it is soon bursting loud and anthemically upon the senses, and straight away Itro’s moody basslines are claiming an eager appetite. Equally the blaze of riff causticity and swinging punchy rhythms from Kaute are stealing their share of the focus. Minor Threat has been offered as a reference to the band’s sound but similarly here essences of Living End and AFI make a potent flavouring to the riotous proposition.

The great start is right away eclipsed by 4th, and again bass slaps and tenacious beats provide inescapable bait for the guitar of Maxwell to blaze over. Into its stride, the track marries a melodic ferociousness with a whiff of The Bronx to it, to a bruising yet captivating Peacocks like punk rumble. It is raw, unfussy, and magnetically anthemic but just an appetiser itself for the closing pair of treats starting with the Tiger Army like swing of Turn To Acid. Sultry in air and contagious in rhythmic enterprise, Itro again laying down virulent temptation, the track is stripped down rock ‘n’ roll providing an unpolished but craftily lean musical narrative almost revelling in its addictive nature.

Final song In The Black Lodge emerges as the favourite, again the dark charms on Tiger Army and AFI seeping into the psychobilly kissed landscape of the song. An anthem for feet and voice to instantly consume, the track stomps through ears, jabbing the senses with every swing of its epidemic energy. With thick basslines and insatiable melodies adding further primal tempting, it is a roaring blaze of the song.

Whether a fan of punk or rockabilly, in fact for anyone with a taste for any shade of rock ‘n’ roll, there is great pleasure to be found in Ligaments first release, and a ripe potential fuelling their impressive debut which suggests the band is going places.

The Ligaments (Eat Pizza EP) is available through all digital platforms from Monday 16th February and on ltd edition (250 pressed) CD @ http://theligaments.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheLigaments

RingMaster 16/02/2015

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Panzerbastard/Tenebrae Split – Sons Of Belial

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Record Store Day is seeing some rigorously compelling releases this year including the mouth-watering Sons Of Belial split featuring Bostonians Panzerbastard and Tenebrae. Consisting of six tracks forged from an animosity driven union of hardcore and imposing dark metal, the release is a rugged and bruising slab of uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll. Fierce sounds collude with lyrical and vocal antagonism as the two protagonists unleash not the year’s greatest moment but certainly one of its imposingly memorable propositions.

The first three songs on the split come from Panzerbastard, the quartet acclaimed for their impressive Gods, Thugs and Madmen album which came out in 2012 via Patac Records. They open things up with a cover of the GBH track Drugs Party In 526, a track instantly prowling ears and imagination with scorching hooks and a thick throaty bassline. It is a potent lure leading into a brawl of punk rock infused with metallic sinews and incitement. As the raw vocals engagingly court the antagonism fuelling every corner of sound, the band unveils a web of melodic temptation and sonic enterprise which simply lights up ears and appetite. It all adds up for a bracing and anthemic captivation getting the release off to a thrilling and intimidating start.

Workhorse is next and flies from the blocks with sonic turbulence behind voracious rhythms and ferocious riffery. Vocals virtually brawl with the senses from its first breath yet there is a swagger and virulence to the encounter which for not much over a minute drags the passions to their feet with ravenous tenacity. Whereas its predecessor enticed, especially towards its end, with a hostile dance of beats, the second song is an unbridled onslaught and just as irresistible.

The band’s offering is completed by another cover, this time of Motorhead’s Iron Fist. Severely caustic merciless rock ‘n’ roll from the first rub of sound, the track roars with the power and snarl of the song’s creators but is given a contagious punk make-over veined with spicy Panzerbastard invention. The song might not quite rival the original but certainly it gives it a run for its money.

Tenebrae steps up next, the quintet the striking union of hardcore talent including vocalist Mark Civitarese (The Unseen), drummer Rob Falzano (Ramallah, Blood for Blood), and guitarist Craig Silverman (Blood for Blood, Agnostic Front, Ramallah, Slapshot). Completed by Dominic Dibenedetto (guitar/vocals) and Ryan Packer (bass), Tenebrae come to the split fresh from the recent release of their self-titled EP, which is also available on Jailhouse Records. First track Wake Up swiftly fills ears with muscle driven beats and turbulent intensity encased in punk blooded riff aggression and squalling vocals. The track is a gripping blend of punk and metal, the former providing the heart and the latter the hostility. Threatening and openly infectious, the track has ears and appetite hungry, a want fed resourcefully by the heavy metal bred Ways Of The Black next. The track is the reverse of the previous in many ways, classic metal its canvas and punk its colourful chorus and addictive nature, which body and voice cannot resist engaging in.

The band’s final track Norse Tribe is their best, though all leave greed for more rampant. Predatory and savage in equal measure, with bludgeoning rhythms punctuating a scarring riff coloured fury, the track stalks and stomps with bestial intent and vitriolic charm as it brings the whole release to an incendiary and exhilarating close.

Sons Of Belial is a treat and the perfect way to celebrate Record Store Day but also in gaining entry into the intimidating and exhilarating confrontations of both Panzerbastard and Tenebrae.

The Sons Of Belial Split is available from November 28th via Jailhouse Records as a limited to 500 12” vinyl @ http://jailhouserecords3.bandcamp.com/album/sons-of-belial-panzerbastard-tenebrae-split

https://www.facebook.com/panzerbastardboston

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tenebrae/279454968783253

RingMaster 28/11/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

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Foreign Legion – Light At The End Of The Tunnel

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}

    As shown by their new album Light At The End Of The Tunnel, Welsh punks Foreign Legion has never strayed too far away from their roots but continue to invigorate and push their core sound with a passion and energy which never becomes tiresome. The band’s latest riot bridges their old school punk/oi background with a modern punk ‘n’ roll confrontation resulting in twelve songs which make swift anthemic stabs with contagious endeavour aligned to antagonistic intent.

     Formed in 1984, Foreign Legion has built an attention grabbing presence which has endured and widened over the years. A trio of full-length releases continued to set the band apart from the pack, especially the acclaimed Mick Jones produced What Goes Around Comes Around of 2002, whilst split releases with Major Accident in 2000 and Sledgeback in 2010 amidst their own EPs and compilation gracing songs, have proved the band a potent encounter within the modern era of punk rock. On stage again the quartet has forged a formidable reputation, the band playing across over 15 countries and sharing stages with bands such as Cockney Rejects, Guitar Gangsters, Control, The Warriors, GBH, The Ruts, Stiff Little Fingers and many more. They are also the only Welsh band to play the legendary CBGB’s in New York which makes an additional potent mark on their career’s CV alongside their numerous festival appearances including the likes of Back On The Streets, Punk & Disorderly and the Rebellion Festival, where the band is set to ignite the crowd again in 2014. Released via Aggro Beat in Europe as a Green With Red Splatter vinyl and Rebel Sound in the US as an equivalent in Mint Green with both issues limited to 250, Light At The End Of The Tunnel provides another feisty and tasty morsel from Foreign Legion to enthuse over.

     Light At The End Of The Tunnel makes a strong and appealing start with opener Jenny and its successor What A Place To Be, if neither really inspires a greedy appetite in the emotions. Both tracks still grab attention easily to set things off promisingly, the opening song entangling ears with welcoming guitar strands of melody from Simon Bendon punctured by the firm beats of drummer Glyn Bendon. Soon into its stride with the track’s narrative unveiled by founding band member and vocalist Marcus Howells, the restrained and easy to access stroll makes a simple and catchy romp before the second song on the album similarly has feet and voice in tandem with its infectious if undemanding beckoning, the bass of Steve Zuki the most irresistible lure.

    The album catches fire from here on in with firstly the excellent Regenerations (Council list. Riffs and rhythms bring an instant entrapment of the imagination before soon being reinforced by the swiping vocals as the song looks g at local governments and the decline of British towns and all that inspires. The track is a contagious two minutes plus of uncomplicated but thoroughly inciting social commentary in the renowned Foreign Legion style, though again maybe there is a spark missing in comparison to the following tracks. There is an undeniable greater potency to the song which the band and album expands further through songs like My Radio. A great bass intro from Zuki sets the track off in compelling style, its swagger and groove matched by the hooks of the guitars and the effect rubbed vocals. Infection again wraps the song, its virulence at new heights for the release with riffs and rhythms an additional thrilling toxic bait.

   Both Hey Girl and George Best continue and elevate the new plateau of the album, the first a Peter and the Test Tube Babies meets The Clash like provocation which takes mere seconds to seduce senses and passions whilst the similarly bred second creates a terraces like anthemic quality for an Serious Drinking mixed with Angelic Upstarts eyeballing, both songs enlisting full physical and emotional participation to its recruitment drive. As probably recognised, Light At The End Of The Tunnel just gets stronger and more impressive the further into its body you delve, the likes of Stalker with its deviously addictive bass hook, another striking offering from Zuki who adds something extra to the album arguably lacking on earlier releases, and the excellent Market Trader adding to the weight and bait of the release. The second of the pair again deals with the decline of towns, this through the intervention of supermarket chains and the likes, whilst raging and infecting with resourceful invention. #

     The uncompromising Three Years, and its unbridled assault on child abuse and feeble punishments, scars and provokes with greater venom and passion within the album before Miners and Drunken Heroes uncages a raw, caustic sonic grazing and belligerent defiance respectively. All three songs stalk and coax with spite and energy before the closing song covers them with its shadow. Phoenix from the Flame is a pure punk rock anthem, a band banner which alone places Foreign Legion band amongst the highest echelons of British punk, its body holding all the cards and bait to ignite crowds and recruit new hearts.

   Closing on its finest moment Light At The End Of The Tunnel is an outstanding punk quarrel and maybe the best thing Foreign Legion has set loose to date, certainly the rival to past glories. Punk right now feels like it is moving to a new heyday and records like this only reinforce that notion.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Foreign-Legion/149893361856696

8.5/10

RingMaster 03/03/2014

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