The Fill Ins Fills Us In with a Timeless Discussion

Rock n' rollers The Fill In's are one of Charlotte, North Carolina's most high octane acts around. Since starting back in 2010, the band has experienced countless troubles, but they is all behind them now, with an all new release underway, plans to play some showcases with much more on the way! The whole band got together to discuss these matters!

1. Can you introduce yourselves and tell me what you do in The Fill Ins?

ALEX: I'm Alex Stiff; fearless leader and vocalist of this crazy ride
ADAM: Hi my name is Adam Patterson and I play the drums.
MIKEY: My name is Mikey Black and I am the lead guitar player and heavy attacker. I write the leads and take out stage bosses
JAMES: My name is James Nunn, and I play the role of the bass player.

2. Why go with a name like The Fill Ins? Who is the one to do The Fill Ins?

ALEX: It's funny, we really don't have a good reason for the band name. It basically came from the original lineup all being Fill Ins for another band locally. Once we all got together and started making our own music, someone (can't remember who) said something along the lines of "we're just a bunch of fill ins aren't we?". I remember that having a cool ring to it and working up a logo later that night. There wasn't any sort of meeting, or brainstorming session after that. It honestly just stuck, so I haven't questioned it. As for who "does" the fill ins; I'm lucky to have a group of guys that really understand musical dynamics, so everyone has their own groovy fills to an extent.

3. When and why did you start playing?

MIKEY: I started playing when was 13 years old. My brother had gotten a guitar one year and it collected dust more than anything. So I would constantly grab it from his room and noodle around on it until I finally claimed it as my own. Once I found some friends who also played it was all downhill from there.

ADAM: I have been playing a musical instrument since I was about 6 years old. My mother has been the pianist and organist for our church for 41 years and taught me at a young age. I was always beating on stuff though trying to make beats. My parents wouldn't get me a drum set so I made a drum kit out of buckets and got a couple cracked cymbals from the drummer of my brother’s band and beat on those things for about a year and a half. My parents realized I wasn't going to give it up so they finally broke down and bought me a kit.

JAMES: I started playing playing guitar when I was 16, because nothing looked cooler than that for me at the time.

ALEX: For me when I was younger, I really didn't fit in my hometown. A bunch of car guys and outside friendly people, and I wasn't really like that. I would have much rather stay inside and play video games and listen to music. So one year for Christmas I got a guitar and after ignoring it for a year or so, finally picked it up and started trying to play.. and I loved it!! haha! I initially started the band because there was no good rock 'n' roll in the town I was in which living in at the time; Roanoke, Virginia. It was more or less out of necessity, I couldn't stay in a band long enough to actually help write music, and no one played the music I wanted to play. So in May of 2010, I grabbed a bunch of ex members of those bands I'd played with before and just started writing and just never gave up.. here we are about 7 years later; completely different set of guys, long periods of inactivity between lineup changes between 2011-2013, and new town to start fresh and just now getting our footing with the right lineup. That's what's fun about this, we're still a "new" band in everyone's eyes, but we're coming up on 5 years of a fairly consistent lineup.. we've got a good thing going between us and that also makes me excited.

4.  What was the first tune(s) you learned?

ALEX: I honestly don't remember. When I got that guitar, I really didn't take it seriously for a long time.. though I do believe it was "SOD" by ANTiSEEN. Or a Ramones song, I honestly don’t fully remember.

JAMES: Highway to Hell by AC/DC

MIKEY: Iron Man, Black Sabbath

ADAM: First song I learned was Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” on the piano but the first song I learned on the drums was a song by my brothers band called Peace By Peace.

5. Is your family musical? Describe your family member's musical interests and abilities.

ALEX: No one in my blood family was musically inclined; though my mother and father were rather popular folks in the Charlotte NC punk scene of the late 80s.. Though with present day affairs, my step father is actually Jeff Clayton of ANTiSEEN as of last year... so that's pretty badass in my opinion.

JAMES: My mom knew how to play piano, but it was an extended relative that taught me my musical chops

ADAM: My entire family are musicians. My sister and dad don't play much anymore but my mother, brother and I still play. My brother and I actually play in a band together called DEADLOCK NCHC.

MIKEY: Not so much.

6. Which famous musicians do you admire and which have you learned from and why?

JAMES: When I started to play guitar, I wanted to be Jimmy Page and Joe Walsh. When I started to learn bass, I wanted to be Lemmy and Dee Dee Ramone

ALEX: Probably the person that had the most impact on me even before I fully realized it was Joe Young of ANTiSEEN. I know it sounds like I’m bringing them up a lot, but they are all like family to me and Joe and his brother Jeff Young really pushed me to start learning guitar. After that, people like Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley of KISS.. But I don’t oddly “admire” one main band or performer in the usual sense. Many have had an impact on me and have helped show me what a true frontman is. Johnny Ramone and Joe Young all the way on guitar though.

MIKEY: I admire a lot of musicians and learn from many. When I was younger I was a huge Avenged Sevenfold fan and strived to learn all their songs and write similar music. My mom is a fan of 80s metal and glam rock so a lot of artist like Van Halen, Billy Idol, Scorpions and so on influenced most of my childhood.

ADAM: Man that's a tough question. As far as drums go I would say Abe from the Deftones because he is such a solid drummer that makes hard stuff sound easy. There's a lot of depth in his playing style.

7. What are your fondest musical memories of playing music? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?

MIKEY: My fondest music playing memories take place in my friend Cody Ward's room. This is where we (my friends and I) would all jam back in the day and fuel off of each other to get better and play harder.

ALEX: Oh wow. I’ve been truly blessed and have gotten to do a few things that really stick with me and point to a “best moment ever”, both in The Fill Ins and with other bands I’ve been a part of.. And between opening for Supersuckers, Slash, GBH, running up and down the east coast, even playing Uproar Fest; the best moment I’ve ever felt was the first time I had a full crowd chanting and singing along to songs you wrote / helped write. No amount of money can buy that feeling.

JAMES: Just these past couple of years, consistently recording and putting out material that people seem to attach themselves to.

ADAM: My fondest memory would have to be when my brothers band let me get up on stage behind the drums and play a song when I was probably 14 or 15 years old.

8. Why did you want to write and record the song "Lock and Load"? Will there be a video to accompany it? (video attached here:

ALEX: In early 2016, our long time drummer left the group and kinda leaving us to figure out what to do next. He did recommend a drummer, Adam Patterson (of DEADLOCK NCHC) and we gave him a shot and within a practice, we could tell he was the one and a perfect fit. Due to all that, our writing went stagnate for a while as we worked with Adam to get him show ready. So our planned EP had to be shelved, but did manage to release a digital single (Saturday Night) and a 7in vinyl record (Hit The Gas) with Adam on drums.

For 2017, we wanted to come out screaming, so while evaluating the new songs we had, we really didn’t have a “punch you in the face” rock song.. So I started re-working a rejected song from those sessions and adding more and more to it each time I would play it. Eventually I stumbled on the main hook of the song and the rest really fell into place pretty fast. I got a rough idea together and hammered it out with the guys, though we were still making small changes and re-writes as we were recording it. Going into this record, we had the mindset that “It’s A Blast” would have been the single; we had artwork and everything ready for it… Then we started mixing and this new song “Lock and Load” was just making a lot more sense to release as a single rather than let it go unnoticed.

The lyrical content is just a word vomit of everything that has pissed me off the past few years. It’s just a pissed off song.. I took everything that was weighing me down and staying silent on and just wrapped it into a pretty good narrative of my day-to-day thoughts and emotions.

9. Where can we find "Lock and Load"? Does it come off an EP or full-length album you have released or will it be included on a future release?

ALEX: We have a new record coming out on June 30th titled “THE TIME IS NOW”, being released through No Profit Records; “Lock and Load” is the lead single off the record and can be found on iTunes, Spotify and anywhere else you consume digital music!

10. Do you have any other new music in the works? When can we expect to hear said music if there is anything to hear?

ALEX: It’s actually been pretty hard to get back into the rhythm of writing again. This year, we’ve been really focused on making this recording sound the best it can and playing more live shows, so that’s what happened. With this record coming out at the end of the month, naturally we are starting to feel the push to write new stuff. I’ve always got a plethora of riffs in the back of my head ready to be put to use, so we’ll just have to see what happens. Hopefully it won’t be another 2 years between albums! If I had to make a super-stretch answer; I’d say to expect some new tunes late 2018.

11. How do you balance your music with other obligations - mate, children, job?

ADAM: That's the hard part. I am married, work a full time job, do jobs on the side and play in 3 different bands so I have no free time but I like it that way. It is hard to juggle all those things but if you love to play music you'll find a way to make it happen.

MIKEY: It's important to date someone who understands the music lifestyle right off the bat, and if they don't make sure they do before you get too serious. It means not every Saturday is date night, and sometimes practice is more important than Sunday lunch. No children, ever. Hahaha Best job for this lifestyle is a standard 9-5 mon-fri. Own/operate your own business. Or have a boss who isn't lame and will late you take off for shows.

ALEX: That really is tough. I’m very thankful to have a wife that fully supports what I do and understands if I can’t be there some days because of band business.. That in no way means that it’s easy; it takes communication and understanding of both sides to make a relationship with someone in the preforming sector to work. There is a fine line between preforming and taking it home. As for a job; Mikey said it best.. Gotta find a 9-5 Monday – Friday job in order to do anything easily with the band. Or at least a place that doesn’t care if you need to take off a Friday or Saturday once or twice a month.

12. What do you guys have planned for the rest of this year?

ALEX: I’ve learned my lesson about speaking before anything is set in stone, but I also do hate just saying “cool stuff coming soon”.. SO I will say that we’ve been granted the opportunity to open for THE DWARVES and RICHIE RAMONE on his solo tour on July 8th in Chapel Hill NC at the Local 506 Club! That is a huge deal to me and regardless of what else happens this year, between the 7in vinyl, new record and opening for THE DWARVES and RICHIE RAMONE, I’d say we had a great year. We’ve always got new shows posting, so just keep an eye out on our website or Facebook page to stay updated!


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