How ‘fill-in’ musicians keep major tours and band rolling

Matt Soram was sitting by the pool with his wife when he received a text on his phone from legendary motorhead bassist / singer Lemmy Kilmister. Lemmy was asking Soram to fill the drums to run the motorhead show. In the current of consciousness, Soram sent a text to Lemmy again, asking me why. “And Lemmy wrote again, ‘Because Dave Grohl isn’t available,'” Soram says Spin Zoom in on a smile late.

Soram is known for its Colossus Grove কসদন্র Gun N ‘Roses of the era and Scott Wayland-fronted supergroup Velvet revolver in the early 2000s. But in 2009, Soram was admitted to the drum for about 14 shows with the “S of Speeds” speed-rock trio motorhead. The band’s regular drummer Mickey D signed up to be part of the Swedish version I’m a celebrity, get me out of here, And was not available.

Credit: Joe Hale / Getty Images

When a show or an entire tour is in jeopardy because a band member is out of commission, a set of “fill-in” musicians is called in to learn and gig. Bringing a fill-in helps a band meet contractual obligations and keep money from live performances.

Face guitarist Ron Wood was one of the first high-profile fill-ins, after Turing zoomed into big business in the 70s. The Rolling Stones initially brought Wood as a temporary fill-in for the 1975 Stones Tour after lead guitarist Mick Taylor resigned. After that tour, The Stones made Wood a permanent member. But it doesn’t usually work that way. Unlike “replacement” members, fill-ins are intended to be a full-time addition to a band’s lineup (think Sammy Hager with Van Helen or Jason Newstead with Metallica). A short-term correction that keeps the show going.

After singer Brian Johnson was sidelined due to hearing problems and temporarily retired from the road, Axel Rose, the frontman of Song N ‘Roses, famously enrolled on the 2016 tour of AC / DC. Anger Against Machine Guitarist Steven Van Jantt stepped in for Bruce Springsteen in 2014 while filming Van Jante’s TV show Lilyhammer.

There are many more examples, past and present. Countless Turing bands now consist of musicians from their 50s, 60s and 70s – not to mention the COVID case that arose between the bands, as well as the financial challenges from the 2020 Turing shutdown – fill-ins are likely to be more complex going forward.

Even The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band tends to fill-in again. The Stones brought in drummer Steve Jordan to sub on their 2021 tour for the late great Charlie Watts. Initially, Watts was brought in before he died and was recovering from recent medical procedures. Jordan came up on the show. His proprietary precise drumming The Stones Rocking Stadiums is better than the age of half-static singer-songwriter Mick Jagger.

Talent, chops, travel experience and musical adjustment are clearly essential for a fill-in. But a personal connection with the band also helps. Jordan, for example, collaborated with Stones guitarist Keith Richards on a solo project for decades, and Jordan and Watts were mutual music fans. Before running his motorhead, Soram was friends with Lemmy for many years. Lemi was a guest on stage with Soram’s all-star Hollywood cover band Camp Freddy.

In the mid-90s, The Bengals guitarist Vicky Peterson played the lead guitar on the on-tour of the new wave hitmaker The Go-Go while her friend Go-Go’s guitarist Charlotte Cafe was pregnant. “I mean, Charlotte was pregnant with my ex-boyfriend’s baby, which is true,” Peterson said. Spin With a good natured smile since all sides were in a good position. Adding to the acquaintance, The Bangles performed with The Go-Go early in their careers.

The dates of the Go-Gore 1994-1995 tour match Peterson’s schedule. Bangles were made at the time and she is performing with The Continental Drifters. Playing “We Got the Beat” and “This Town” with The Go-Go seemed fun, and Peterson jumped at the chance.

In 2013, guitarist Steve Brown, who enjoyed some MTV-powered success with the band “Give It to Me Good” with Trixter, landed a fill-in gig with melodic-hard rock Titan Def Leopard, whom he had known since 1988. Back at the stage a Deaf Leopard show, Brown and the band’s guitarist Phil Collen tied the knot on gear. “We became instant friends,” Brown says Spin.

Over the years, Brown and Cullen have jammed together several times, including on stage with Trixter, behind the show, at Cullen’s home, and in the early 2010s on a Fox News TV show hosted by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. After the Huckabee segment aired, Brown said that Colin was excited about “what a wonderful mix of our voices.”

Strong melodic voices are often a desired feature for a fill-in musician. Harmony Vox is a key sonic aspect of many band hits, including The Go-Go’s and Def Leopard. In his own band, Brown was the “trickster version of Richie Sambora,” he said, referring to Bon Jovi guitarist’s backing vocalist skills.

The jungle-pop hits of the Bengals, such as “Walk Like an Egyptian”, make extensive use of harmony voices, “which is one of my favorite things to do in a band,” says Peterson. He also likes to sing with The Go-Go. She prepared the house for the tour by singing and playing songs on her own Go-Go albums to fully learn the guitar parts. “It was teaching my hand to play things that my brain already knew,” Peterson said. Spin, “Because I was particularly familiar with their early things.”

Vicky Peterson
Vicky Peterson performing in Munich, Germany 1986. (Photo by Friedrich Gabovich / Getty Images)

Although the backing vocals were also part of Soram’s skill, they were not part of the motorhead gig. Soram texted Lemmy when they were going to rehearse before the show. Lemmy texts again, “We’re not.” Management sent him a Motorhead Live DVD to learn the set. Lemmy and motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell will meet Soram at the 930 Club in Washington, where they will do a soundcheck before their first show that night.

Soram flew to DC and his kit was all set up when he arrived at the venue. In the soundcheck, “We started and ended,” Soram says, “and in the middle (of the song) we stopped because we didn’t want to be there for two hours.” In 1991, Soram played his first song, N’Roges, in front of a sea-sized crowd at the Rock in Rio Festival in Brazil. Nevertheless, before his motorhead debut, he was “fairly nervous”.

That first gig was “really like a rehearsal for me,” Soram says. Things really got crowded during a subsequent motorhead gig at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, “a great sounding room,” resulting in a transcendent show, Soram says.

Sometimes fill-in preparation can take a long time. About 18 months after Steve Brown and Phil Coleman jammed together on TV, Def Leopard guitarist Vivian Campbell, unfortunately, was diagnosed with cancer. Colin called Brown and asked him to learn parts of Campbell’s live guitar, many of which began with classic-era leopard guitarist Steve Clark, and if Campbell couldn’t go, he would go with Def Leopard on their 2013 summer tour.

The band sends him a hard drive with a live version of the Leopard set. He wrote lots of notes, including chord changes, songs, etc., in a spiral-bound notebook. The band took him to the streets in 2013 if Campbell took a turn for the worse. Brown waited on the wings until 2014, when he was sound-checking with the Leopard, but has not yet performed live. Brown’s time finally comes in September 2014. His first show with Def Leopard was at Wembley Stadium in London. Brown says he was more excited than nervous to finally play the song that took him so many hours and miles.

Steve Brown
Phil-in guitarist Steve Brown, left, and Deaf Leopard guitarist Phil Collen performing at the 2014 Deaf Leopard concert in Palm Springs, California. (Credit: Adam River / FU-Tone)

After meeting for Campbell on the show in 2014 and 2015, Brown stepped in again in 2018, this time on just one day’s notice for Colin, who was dealing with a family emergency. This means learning a completely different set of guitars and melodies in time for Deaf Leopard’s concert at Hershey Park Stadium. The “pinch-me” moment of that show: Brown is walking the catwalk to play Colin’s solo in the leopard anthem “Photograph”. “You’re finally getting what you deserve for all your work,” he says. To date, Brown has played 15 or more shows with the Def Leopard.

In addition to the thrill on stage, one gets a fill-in perspective that sticks with them long after the gig ends. For example, Peterson – whom Go-Go’s rhythm guitarist Jane Widlin affectionately calls “Vic-Vic Side Chick” – says, “It’s a completely different approach to work. I wasn’t worried about selling tickets or doing anything with the business. My focus was just playing shows and having a good time. “

Asked how his time with Motorhead had changed him, Soram said, “I am more truthful to myself now. Don’t go down any road or path because the world is doing it. Lemmy wasn’t that guy. “

Soram says Motorhead was very helpful during his time with the band. He recalls a time with love when Lemmy included him in a magazine interview. Motorhead stunts gave Soram a lot of memories, some of which can be seen in his upcoming film Double talking tongue Memoirs where there is a different stay than some fill-in bands, Def Leopard kept Brown in similar elite hotels, such as Hollywood’s Sunset Marquis. She also shared a dressing room with them.

Brown and Soram both say Spin Other major rock bands have contacted them individually about fill-in work. Due to non-disclosure agreements, although they will not disclose names. With Def Leppard set to co-head stadium with Motley Crue in 2022, has Brown cleared his schedule just in case? He declined to comment other than saying, “I’m always ready to go if the boys need me.”

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