Causing Mayhem with Ryan Neff of Miss May I

MissMayI070514It was Day One of the notorious Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, unleashed within the wilds of San Bernardino, CA.  One of the many bands on the bill was none other than Miss May I, spending a long hot summer on the road with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold and Asking Alexandria.  Promoting their brand new album Rise Of The Lion now available from Rise Records, Miss May I was certainly causing their own intriguing brand of Mayhem on the Coldcock American Herbal Whisky Stage.  Right after their set, we caught up with bassist Ryan Neff to discuss their new album, what to expect from their summer of Mayhem, an announcement of a very major event they’ll be participating in after the tour, and other topics of interest.  Read on…

missmayijl2Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Miss May I.
My name’s Ryan, I play bass and sing in Miss May I.

What can we expect from your performance today?
Judging after today, a lot of sweat and a lot of dirt. It was wild man, completely packed, huge circle pits, big dust storms. It should be a nice interactive one, seems like we’re going to play right in the sun everyday too, so expect a hot one for us this summer. We’ll have dirt boogers for a month.

Let’s talk about the new album Rise Of The Lion, is there an overall story or concept?
Yeah we wanted to do something a little closer to the fans, something where they had a little more to do with it. So, the lyrical content was chosen based upon topics that come from fans and letters and conversations on tour when you meet em. So we tried to use a lot of topics that we knew would play close to home for the fans, which is a completely backwards way of doing it from how we’ve always done it cause, the first three records were 100% about things that we were going through personally not looking at anything through anyone else’s eyes. This time around it was like writing the 10 songs on the record and the 4 bonus songs, so 14 tracks through someone else’s eyes which was a difficult way for us to write lyrics at first, but in the end it opened things up and it allowed us to do something a lot different. Yeah, it was definitely a challenge you know, there were times when we were part of the way into it that we were like man, this is not as easy and not coming out as easily as we thought it would but, we worked hard at it and in the end we liked the final product.

missmayijl1Who decides what bonus songs go on the Best Buy version and Target version?
That was just a band member discussion, it was tough because there were 11 that we thought should make it and 3 that we thought were bonus track material. So, there was one that we had to cut that we were like, really going back and forth on. So, its a band decision collective effort on that one, depending on who you talk to we still haven’t made the right decision, so (laughs).

What did Terry Date (Avenged Sevefold, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Rob Zombie, etc.) contribute to the recording process, his credits are massive.
When we worked with Machine, we wrote a lot of the record with him, where as when we came in with Terry we had the record pretty much done. The big thing we did with Terry was he let the band be the band, there wasn’t so much rewriting, reworking things in the studio with him, as much as taking whatever we gave him and making it sound the best that it possibly could so, everything you hear on this record is very realistic and straight to the point of the band and what we would write, rather than us writing with the producer who is swaying us one way or the other on certain things.

missmayjl3Has Jay Z or Kanye heard your version of Run This Town?
No. I doubt it. If they have, they probably skipped over it and kept going. (laughs) We haven’t heard from ’em.

If Miss May I could open for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Its going to be Slipknot and its going to happen right here in October when we do KnotFest. Yeah, it’s an absolutely wild, wild gig that we’re going to be apart of. So, that should be pretty cool, we always wanted to play with White Zombie, we’ve always wanted to play…you know thats not gonna happen. We got to play with Rob Zombie at some festivals. We got to do a Five Finger Death Punch thing which was neat. You know, there’s a lot of really cool stuff going on, we’re pretty excited about it. But, Slipknot is always on that list, I think it might actually happen for us now, which will be really cool.

Since you did clean vocals, have you thought about doing anything solo or acoustic?
I would love to, I would love to challenge myself, do something a little more fun. But, you know, I’m a little more of a background guy in this band, it’d be fun to take the forefront, but we’re such a busy group right now that it’s so hard to find the time to do anything like that. And I say more fun in the means of just something different. You know, we’ve got a pretty good working formula in the band that, I think until we have some free time open up, we’re pretty much stuck on that right now.

Do you have anything else for your fans reading this right now?
Yeah! Thanks for coming to see us in Mayhem if you have, or if you are. Thanks for picking up Rise of the Lion. Just like always, we’ll be on the road, nonstop be here until next record, so keep an eye on the schedule and come hang out with us.

Miss May I is:
Levi Benton – vocals/lyrics
Justin Aufdemkampe – guitar
BJ Stead – guitar
Ryan Neff – bass/vocals
Jerod Boyd – drums

(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

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