The Rise of Miss May I
Miss May I has been travelling across the country ever since their fourth album Rise Of The Lion was unleashed via Rise Records. They have played the entire Mayhem Festival run, found themselves on Knotfest opening for the iconic Slipknot – and recently completed a cross country tour in direct support of August Burns Red. Dubbed The Frozen Flame Tour, Miss May I found themselves at The Glass House in Pomona, CA, performing to a sold out crowd. Right after their explosive set, we caught up with front man Levi Benton to discuss the current tour, Miss May I tattoos, working with legendary producer Terry Date, and a whole lot of other rip-roaring topics. Read on…
Levi, How was the tour been going so far? What are some of the highlights for you?
It has been awesome. Oh, highlights – The tour has been selling out left and right which is definitely a huge highlight because we haven’t been on a tour like that in a while. But I think playing Showbox in Seattle was probably my biggest highlight. It is the biggest venue for our type of genre and it sold out and it was crazy. We had never played that room before so it was nice to play basically the biggest room in Seattle and selling it out.
Compare a tour like this to playing Mayhem.
It is not as hot. It’s not hot sticky and gross. This is pretty cool because it is sort of a younger fan base and it is sort of like our foundation fan base so it is nice to come back and play to them. They didn’t forget about us. It has been crazy this whole time. We haven’t played this fan base in probably two years so it is nice to finally come back. That is probably the biggest difference. Mayhem is a completely different basis of fans. It has been good thought.
Playing in the middle of the day in the heat.
Yeah, I get to sleep in now and actually not get sunburnt and eat what I want to eat. It is nice.
What was the experience playing Knotfest? Did you get to meet Slipknot?
Oh, man. I did not get to meet Slipknot but some of our guys got to meet them. We did Knotfest and we did Knotfest Japan. Both were awesome.
Yeah, it was crazy. It was cool. It was cool to see a band that size have an entire festival dedicated to them. It was real inspiring. That was probably my favorite part.
I interviewed Ryan Neff at Mayhem and I asked him what is your dream band to open for and he said Slipknot. Now you did it.
Yeah, we did it. We’re knocking our bucket list out left and right.
So overall how does Rise of the Lion compare to the other releases?
Rise of the Lion we wrote it to sort of stick on with a new base. Not to push off our foundation but to expose us to whole new fans and a whole new world. We sort of wrote it not really knowing that it wasn’t going to be the biggest record but something that sort of let people know our dynamic. I think it worked. We have- even on this tour- we were bringing in a lot of fans from the Mayhem and Five Finger Death Punch and Killswitch tours that we have done. We wouldn’t be able to do those tours if it wasn’t for that record. It is nice to be able to dip our toes in both worlds.
A lot of the songs on this record were inspired by letters. Where did you come up with that idea to use fan letters?
Yeah, I didn’t want to write a personal, personal record because we had just wrote one with At Heart and I didn’t want to be repetitive and I didn’t want to write a concept record about castles and dragons and stuff. I wanted to change it up so I figured we would do that. I think that it worked out pretty well. It was really cool because I got to sit with a whole new base and a whole new mindset writing the songs. I think it came out great.
Terry Date has worked with so many famous people. What was it like working with him?
It was really awesome. The coolest thing was that since he is a legend he told us so many stories. Other than the record sounding awesome and us doing a lot of cool recording ways, it was sort of like campfire stories every time we finished tracking. He would tell us stories about Pantera and Deftones. It was awesome.
How many Miss May I tattoos have you seen?
Man, this tour I see at least five a day. It is crazy. I still have yet to get mine because I am lazy and I’m a wuss. I am trying to get one on my wrist before the end of tour. Yeah, I see about five a day and that is just including real life not including online. It’s been on hyperdrive lately.
Where did you see your first Miss May I tattoo and what did you think?
Man, first tattoo it was probably on our first tour and I think maybe someone got our logo and it blew my mind. It was blue and just crazy. Yeah, I was probably eighteen or seventeen at the time and it was definitely wild to see that.
When you look back on the debut album Apologies are for the Weak what do you think of it now?
I don’t know what the songs are about. They were so long ago and I was writing such weird, crazy stuff. Just going with the times, sort of writing – I don’t know. It is really just all over the place. There is not really a structure and we have really grown up a lot as musicians. It is still nostalgic for me because I haven’t heard it in a long time. It’s fast, it is really really fast.
I believe with the exception of one member you have had the same line up ever since the beginning. Except for one member.
What do you think has kept everyone together for eight years?
I think it’s because we are all friends. We haven’t split up on stuff because we are just best friends. We are still the same guys that played in basements and garages back in the day. We don’t look at it as a job, we look at it as just five dudes hanging out. I think that is just what keeps it coming.
One of your songs “Forgive or Forget” was in Saw 6. Are you a fan of the Saw franchise?
I love the Saw movies. That was actually the craziest email because I was not expecting that. It was an honor to be apart of that. I love horror movies.
What is your favorite horror movie of all time and why?
LB: Wow, that is a hard one. It would probably be the first Hellraiser. My mom, that is her favorite movie. I think I have watched it a million times as a kid growing up. It was really cool. Yeah, that is probably my favorite one. I just know that by heart, that movie.
Well, now you’ve done a show with Slipknot. If you could tour with any other band who you haven’t toured with yet. Who would it be and why?
In Flames because they are my favorite band. They are getting ready to tour West Coast and I am so jealous that I’m not on that tour.
Dude, they are playing tonight. They are playing tonight in Agoura Hills.
Is it far? It is about an hour away I heard.
Yeah, it is about an hour away.
Ah, breaks my heart. That would be my band to tour with.
That would be awesome. What is up next for you guys once this next tour is over?
I can’t tell you, it is top secret. But, we are doing a lot of US. That is about all I can say.
Anywhere in the world you would like to go that you haven’t gone to yet?
I would like to go to Russia. We haven’t been to Russia. We haven’t to South America- wait no- we have been to South America. We haven’t been to South Africa. Those are the only two places we haven’t been and I would love to play there.
Have you guys done any writing for a new album yet?
Yeah, we were home for the holidays and we wrote a ton of new stuff.
Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
Thank you guys for freaking still supporting us. Stay metal and hopefully we will see you guys this summer.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Edward Brandon)
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