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

The Spaceballs – Self-Titled

Recently when covering the new album from Bad Luck Gamblers we pondered how big and potent the psychobilly scene was in their native Brazil. Investigation revealed it is pretty good and growing and so it appears, going by the new album from fellow countrymen The Spaceballs, is the region’s rockabilly scene.  Hailing from São Paulo, the band also recently released a new album in the shape of a self-titled debut which quickly had ears hooked and bodies bouncing.

Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Ale Marinho, double bassist/vocalist Marcelo Zarra, and drummer Jeff Billy, The Spaceballs have a sound seeded in and proudly showing inspirations from the likes of Stray Cats, Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley, The Rhythm Shakers, Bill Haley, and Billy Lee Riley, essences all providing strong flavouring which added with the bands own craft and imagination makes for a refreshing romp. It is a proposition which mixes the familiar and new with tenacious enterprise and an open passion for the genre it embraces; an invention and energy openly fuelling their first attention grabbing album.

The album opens up with I Have Fallen In Love and quickly has ears relishing a classic rockabilly melody but one with its own magnetic nature as rhythms stroll and vocals add a harmonic caress to the senses. That Bill Haley essence is alive within the song, Cochran’s too but equally there is something of The Reverend Horton Heat to the swiftly magnetic shuffle and enticement of the song. In saying that, it also reveals plenty which is distinct to The Spaceballs, in tone and character which continues in the following Be My Valentine. With the clipping lure of beats and the vibrant throb of Zarra’s bass, the song quickly has feet involved and hips swinging, Marinho’s chords equally potent while entangling the song’s melodic boisterousness and country scented smile.

Showing an Elvis thrust of its hips, next up Rockabilly Ghost soon eclipses its predecessors, the song a mischievous tempting of melodic hooks, angular riffs, and lively rhythms as vocals play. As with those around them, you feel you know the song at heart but it never has expectations met as the song with a touch of UK band The Stargazers to it, flirts and swings with body and imagination.

There is a meatier air to Never Enough straight after, the track bringing a psychobilly edge to its bold stroll, a lining which expands The Spaceballs sound and invention as well as their imagination as the track twists and turns along its captivating length with sultry melodies wrapped in further sonic heat. That broader adventure of sound continues with Just Go Away, its mix of surf inspired melodic strands and old school rock ‘n’ roll flavours a magnetic enticement matched by vocals and the flirtatious rhythmic lure of Zarra and Billy.

Good times continue to insist and impress as I Will Always Rock, with more than a hue of The Shakin’ Pyramids to it, has the listener swiftly hooked on its compelling canter. Once more there is no stopping physical participation with the excellent track which is as fresh as it is familiar, traits and success employed and found as potently by Lost in The Desert with a resourceful and almost mischievous appetite. The closing track alone has all the qualities which make The Spaceballs sound and album a highly appealing opportunity for rockabilly fans to discover and explore something new. It also makes for another thoroughly inviting gateway into what seems a very promising and exciting not forgetting varied Brazilian rock ‘n’ roll scene.

The Spaceballs album is out now @ https://thespaceballs.bandcamp.com/album/the-spaceballs

http://www.thespaceballs.com.br/    https://www.facebook.com/thespaceballs/

Pete RingMaster 28/06/2017

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

The Black Waterside – Self Titled EP

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Like a bottle of fire breathing bourbon which as soon as you take a taste you are addictively hooked, the sound of UK rockers The Black Waterside instantly grabs the balls and passions to create a lustful understanding and hunger. Fusing the richest spices of blues, psychobilly, Americana, and vintage rock ‘n’ roll then fuelling it with a modern attitude and aggression, the Kent band has created a unique and ridiculously flavoursome proposition in sound and their self-titled debut EP. It is a masterful blaze of dirt encrusted and grouchy rock ‘n’ roll with irresistible drama and pure devilry to its every note and syllable, and simply irresistible.

Formed in the latter stages of 2011, The Black Waterside draws on inspirations from the likes of Tom Waits, Sun House, Kill It Kid, The Cramps, The Clash, The Black Keys, and Led Zeppelin to create a fascinating and explosively provocative sound as evidenced by their thoroughly impressive EP. Imagination and passions drips off of every skilful chord and rhythmic swipe emulated by the great grizzled tones of vocalist Adam Bray and the riveting canvases of the songs themselves. They are dark adventures which are as unpredictable as they are imposingly dramatic and incendiary to the imagination, and all irreversibly compelling.

A ‘vintage’ radio introduction to the band sets the opening shot of Four Minute Warning! in motion, before ragged riffs and beats instantly ignites senses and appetite with their rockabilly snarl. The gravelled tones of Bray soon covercountdown the full force of the song from within its initial addictive bait, the guitars of Holly Kinnear and Dan Lucas dancing feistily across ears as the throaty lure of Joe Whalen’s bass adds another delicious texture and enticement to the swiftly enslaving song. A blues swagger and breath cloaks the bouncy stride of the song, similarly spicing up the flames of enterprise and sultry designs of the guitars. It is an anthemic treat; feet governed and urged on by the thumping beats of drummer Jim Davies whilst body and passions are led into salacious endeavours by the swinging groove of the song.

The sensational start is matched by Whorehouse Down On The Southeast, another immediately fascinating and enthralling proposition. The track makes its own captivating start, though this time there is grouchiness to the vocals and rhythmic enticing which is no less inviting than the more embracing start of its predecessor. A hungry scything of electrified riffs ignite on the senses from virtually its first breath whilst rhythms tumble relentlessly to incite another wave of hunger in the passions. There is no escaping the trap for thoughts and emotions, especially with the entrance of the increasingly potent roars of Bray backed this time by the just as potent and gripping vocals of Kinnear. It is a powerful mix matched by the increasingly thrilling blues vapours and contagious twang which breeds its own temptation within the explosive track. Like Seasick Steve meets Tom Waits at the instigation of The Reverend Horton Heat, it is another striking and virulent contagion to devour greedily.

   Brand New Cadillac has that psychobilly tang and swagger which never gets tiring, a confident rebellious stride entwined in guitar and bass grooves which flirt with every note of their wonderfully toxic tempting. There is much more to the song though, a surf wash of acidity and an imposing cloud of garage punk bringing dramatic textures and diversity to the stunning track. As hot and heavy as a vat of blazing liquor and passionately intensive, the track is pure infectiousness and wholly enthralling, especially in its closing twist where Bray shows the qualities of his clean delivery in a simmering bed of emotive seduction.

The release closes with Wrong Side Of The Track, a slow crawl of blues fire which croons as it wraps a sizzling sonic and lyrical narrative across the imagination. A real slow burner in comparison to the previous tracks, it evolves and increases its potency over its length and time, showing further creative depth and musical invention in the band which can only lead to excitement and demanding anticipation for their subsequent adventures.

A must for every fan of blues and psychobilly too quite simply rock ‘n’ roll, The Black Waterside is a lustful addiction just waiting to offer you its first inescapable lure.

The Black Waterside EP is available now @ http://www.theblackwaterside.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/theblackwaterside

9/10

RingMaster 02/09/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Brains – The Monster Within

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Room for one more on the list of Album Of The Year candidates?

It may be full already but there is always a place for albums as irresistible and explosively potent as The Monster Within, the latest album from Canadian rockers The Brains. Fusing insatiable encounters of psychobilly and horror punk with straight down the line rock ‘n’ roll, the fourteen track release is one determined and virulently contagious ride before which resistance is futile, especially if the genre ignites furnaces of fire deep inside like for us.

The Monster Within is the band’s sixth album and stands before the ear to prove once again that The Brains just continue to get better and musically they are full bodied like vintage wine with each passing record. The band has lit up every corner of the world through their breath-taking live performances, which haves seen them play with the likes of Mad Sin, The Offspring, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Real McKenzies, The Creepshow and many more, no continent safe from their epidemic toxin of sound, but it might just be that their new album is their finest moment yet. Released via Sailors Grave Records and Stomp Records in Canada, its towering presence can be best described as Rezurex meets Grumpynators with Volbeat, Calabrese, and Tiger Army adding their juices to the mix. What emerges is a sound and release which is truly distinctive to The Brains and an incendiary device for the heart.

The trio of vocalist/guitarist Renè De La Muerte, bassist Collin The Dead, and drummer Pat Cadaver do not hold anything back from the Press_Cover_01opening note of the first up title track. Energy and riffs are immediately enslaving the ear with relish and hunger as a storm of rockabilly and heavy rock, from which you almost expect Lemmy to step out of, absorb the senses with the outstanding tones of De La Muerte holding court. The music embraces him in powerful and melodic enterprise, everything feeding the awakened passions before them. It is a storming mix of light and dark wrapped in an infection to which escape is impossible from song and subsequently the album as it unleashes more individual but just the same addictive alchemy.

Give It All takes over with a slightly more restrained attack though no less lethal for resistance, its anthemic chorus and full on rhythmic temptation just one of its many lures. The varied and textured mix of sound and flavours across the album ensures that every moment is ridiculously compelling and this track is no exception, in fact one of the most intensively submission ripping triumphs.

A Stray Cats tonic sprays out as Misery unveils its frenetic dance within a blaze of vibrant melodic flames, a cage of frenetic rhythms trapping the passions in a state of ardour whilst the swagger which drives the track home only lights stronger rabidity for what is to come, something which the likes of The Damned and Bleed only encourage further with their devilish teasing. The first of the pair is a smouldering melodic caress hanging onto a rapidly coursing rhythmic and energetic gait whilst its successor lays down a trail of schizophrenic beats and riffs for the melodic breeze of vocals and guitar seduction to light deeper far reaching flames. There is a heat to the song which transports the imagination to climes where sweat on the brow is a given, the same result as achieved by the driving predation of the excellent Stay Back, its uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll passion igniting another anthemic union.

There is not one moment of weakness or a lull in the flow of the album’s quality and glory, the scintillating Electrik Shock with its underlying teasing Cajun twang and the demonically tempting Rest In Pieces with its venomous narrative simply sucking greater rapture from the heart whilst the glorious surf rock instrumental Cucaracha In Leather  finds a somewhat carnivorous fascination for the senses and imagination to work with. The track is a shoe-in for a Tarantino movie somewhere surely.

Suddenly the album seems to lose focus and control…yeah as if. Both Kill Kill and Suffering And Pain seize their moment to ravage and simultaneously exhilarate the ear, their different but kindred charge of rhythmic rapacity and melodic paintwork adding another unique gloss to the emotions. The first finds a low whisper of Eastern mystique to its body whilst the second strolls confidently with a wily enchantment of those ever persuasive vocal harmonies and twisted mischievous guitar invention.

Devil In Disguise and Lies combine to ensure the album does not leave until a visit to their blood drenched sinister hop is taken, their exceptional control of the listeners limbs, voice, and energy surely meaning they are on the most wanted list of perpetrators. They leave Rolling Down to mop up the sweat soaked floor with its melodic, almost pop like croon, though all it wants to do is dance which it does successfully with guitar and drums expanding on the bass led potent diablerie.

The Monster Within is just magnificent, an album with all the majesty to be looked at as one of the true rock ‘n’ roll classics. The Brains has just become the new lust for the site, come join us.

https://www.facebook.com/TheBrainsMTL

10/10

RingMaster 06/09/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Barnyard Stompers: The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of …

Barnyard stompers

    We have always had a tendency here, more a mission to be honest, to stay away from barn dances but that resistance could be seriously challenged if such events offered up the same riveting heart igniting sounds which make the Barnyard Stompers album, The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of … such a magnificent dance of devilment and fun. The release is a storm of diverse and insatiably mischievous songs which leave no rockabilly, cowpunk, and country blues stone unturned and equally ensure there is no passion or form of musical seduction untouched.

Barnyard Stompers consists of Casey Miller (guitar, vocals, kazoo) and Megan Go-Go Wise (percussion and backing vocals), two musicians who over the years have brought invigorating sounds in such bands as The Hillbilly Hellcats, The Bop Kings, Vibes on Velvet, The Kozmik Kowboyz, and Buckwild. In their new venture of around a year old, the pair fuses a mix of outlaw country, Texas stomp, blues, and rockabilly into their own distinct romp of irresistibility, self-tagged as backwoods twang. Since forming the band has played in excess of one hundred shows and performed before audiences within over fourteen states as well as releasing this riotous treat, so obviously they are a duo that is unrelenting in their work ethic and desire to thrill their fans, something the album does with dirty ease.

The album instantly brawls with the senses and heart through the opening intro Let’s Go Stompers, a short call to arms for Record Coverpassions and feet through a raw and unbridled energy. From its raucous challenge the following Devil On My Shoulder lays a smouldering bluesy arm around the shoulders and serenades the ear with guitar mystique before steeping into an invigorating rockabilly stomp of firm beats, eager guitar, and inviting vocals veined with sonic flames which shimmer in the heat of the song. Across its stroll the song darkens its shadows with vocal effects and a sinister glaze to its compelling charge. It is a mighty full start to the album as it holds court over the passions steps forward as one of the major highlights, of which there are many, upon the release,.

Bad Tattoo offers up a character drenched narrative wrapped in a Waylon Jennings/The Reverend Horton Heat like glaze to further the set in satisfaction but is soon overwhelmed by the delicious blues croon of Love Long Gone, a song which plays like the love child of Elvis track That’s All Right and Say Mama from Gene Vincent. It has a familiarity about it which only endears and is brought with a craft and passion which leaves the listener mutually involved. Across the album many artists and flavours are provoked thought wise as with next up If You Want Me, a Buddy Holly/Carl Perkins spiced gem, though none settle into a recognisable stance due to the invention and devilry of the band and the songwriting.

Consisting of seventeen prime slices of varied temptation the album is a bumper crop of pleasure from start to finish which arguably in a release of this size is unexpected but wholly welcomed. Other notable moments of extended satisfaction comes in the more eclectic songs such as the version of traditional Irish song, Whiskey In The Jar, made most notable from the Thin Lizzy take on it. As with a later song on the album, Danny Boy Stomp, the Denver pair delivers the tracks with a caustic allure which is best described as Dropkick Murphys meets The Pogues, and a gravelly treat it is.

Songs such as the high octane dusty road cruiser Got Me A Trailer and the excellent garage rockabilly horror Nazi Zombies spark further riots of lustful passion for their unpolished instinctive rock n roll, whilst ’59 Black Cadillac is simply the highway to tarmac ardour with its smoking riffs and rumble strip rhythms. Other personal favourite moments where the album finds additional areas of pleasure to molest come with what can only be called mariachi ska in the song Rudeboy On The Highway, where the kazoo of Miller is impish upon the quite sizzling vaunt, and the Mexican punk fiesta El Carretero, not forgetting also the equally punk coated Question.

Every second and note of The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of … is the instigator to a hunger for much more from release and band, something which will be answered when the band release their follow-up album later this year. It is a stomp with no demands but to have fun, something which is as mentioned before is criminally easy.

www.barnyardstompers.com

8/10

RingMaster 01/03/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre: Arockalypse Now

There is a persistent mystery when it comes to US band Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre of why when country music is as unwelcome and noxious to the RR as salt to snails this band lights our fires each and every time. To be fair the Memphis trio cannot merely be called a country rock band, their thick and eager roots borne of not only that genre but from punk, rock, and metal. There is no one like Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre and with new album Arockalypse Now they have returned stronger, hungrier, and with more mischief than ever, their cowpunk hillbilly rock sounds as insatiable as ever.

Consistently tagged as “a cross between Motorhead and Merle Haggard” it only gives a glimpse of the diversity of band, as the new album shows they are at ease and skilled at mixing in styles and diverse flavours to tease, taunt and ignite the deepest pleasures. Led by vocalist/guitarist Joe Killingsworth, the band has already left the deepest marks and scars with previous releases and the sharing of stages with the likes of Shooter Jennings, David Allan Coe, Jesco White The Dancing Outlaw, Jim Dickinson, Green Jello, H. R. of the legendary Bad Brains, and The Reverend Horton Heat to name a few. They have also had songs on many movie soundtracks like The Importance of Being Russell and Grim Sweeper plus numerous CD compilations.

Following 2010 album Hell or High Water, the new release sees the band riling up the ear with a heavier rock intent and invention without losing the essences and essential influences which makes them so unique. It successfully offers up sixteen diverse and distinctive tracks all fuelled by the need to make the time spent in their company a provocative riot of dirty irresistible fun. Maybe in the past their albums have had a slight inconsistency to them though the previous release made moves to change that, but with Arockalypse Now that is never in doubt, its course a persistent high.

The ear is thrilled from the start with the punk fury which is Get Away. Eager and raw it is an attitude drenched bomb of energy littered with inciteful riffs and a snarling bass from Brian Costner. Anthemic and uncomplicated, it recalls seventies punk drawn through a combative garage rock distillery.

The psychobilly tinged Love Song 666 rips up the air next with blistering beats from Daryl Stevens sending knees buckling alongside a greedy infection in the shape of riffs. Across its voracious length the song takes the senses on a reckless ride of pleasure through a great unexpected diversion before throwing one back into the maelstrom of contagion veined with scorched guitars and feisty vocals. As is the norm for them the song and album is a brought with the tongue of the band deep in their cheek and at times in yours too.

The irresistible feasts of limb jerking joy come at the ear at breakneck speed as song after song unleashes its own varied brew of rock n roll. Through the likes of the punk rock juiced Just Another Day, the incisively melodic Tomorrow, and the stunning RX Saviour with its warped rockabilly/country rock air complete with excellent female vocals, the album simply grows into an even greater beast of joyous wickedness. Every track offers something openly different and perpetually incendiary to ignite the heart and the urge to let loose.

As Arockalypse Now progresses it quite simply gets better and better with multiple loftier highlights. The ignition for these comes with the spectacular Six String Samurai, a song to take top dog honour. Whether associated to the track or not it plays like the bastard cousin of band classic WWLD? (What Would Lemmy Do), bursting out at points from similar riffs to forge its own mighty status. With a wonderful brooding jazz bass presence and near demonic offshoots within the electrified and blistered air the song is just immense. The brilliance found in that song is immediately continued in the rabid instrumental Pawtrick. A growling rampage of spiteful sonic conjuring and relentlessly jabbing beats the piece is an imaginative and unpredictable storm of what seems like improve based on a mutated jazz theme.

The dirtily sexy Pimpworth, another salacious slice of wantonness plus the excellent cover of the George Jones classic The Race Is On add to the toe tapping and senses firing party to further the adoration growing towards the album. Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre to be fair is a band which clicks with you or not but when they do it is for life and with the brilliant Arockalypse Now one can only expect many more willing victims succumbing to their amped-up unbridled and inventive rock n roll frenzy.

http://www.jk47.com

RingMaster 08/07/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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