Miss May I

author PP date 25/05/12

Levi Benton is the singer in Miss May I, one of the hottest modern metalcore bands at least when it comes to chart success and popularity within the younger crowds following scene music. They were part of a tour with Parkway Drive and The Ghost Inside, which stopped at Pumpehuset in mid April for a night of metalcore madness. We caught up with the guy in their tour bus to discuss their upcoming album "At Heart" among other things. Check out the interview below.

RF.net: Thanks for the interview, please introduce yourself to the tape please?
Levi: What's up I'm Levi Benton, I'm the singer of Miss May I

RF.net: So how's the tour going?

Levi: It's awesome. It's huge. It's the biggest tour we've done in Europe.

RF.net: How are the Parkway Drive fans treating you guys?

Levi: They're awesome. They definitely love Parkway Drive, but they're being good to us. It's going to be good next time we come back because there's a lot of people that we've never played to before.

RF.net: What's new in the band right now?
Levi: We're just waiting for the CD to drop. We're impatient, we're showing everybody on tour the new CD and everything, so we're excited to get it out.

RF.net:The new album is called "At Heart", out on June 12th. Can you tell me a little bit about the album?

Levi: We went to a new producer this time. We went with Machine, he did Lamb of God, Gym Class Heroes and bands like that. It's the longest time we've ever spent on an album, and I really love it. We did a lot of pre-production, worked really heard. We called it "At Heart" because lyricwise it's about really deep stuff we never really wanted to write about but we were just like let's do it and see what it turns out to be, and it came out awesome.

RF.net: So what is it about lyricwise?

Levi: There's a bunch of stuff. It's just songs that a lot of people don't write about. There's stuff straight from the heart. We weren't trying to be like a big badass scary metal band, we're just trying to be real. So there's a song about growing up, there are songs about money, songs about friends... just real stuff.

RF.net: So you just made sure just there to separate yourself from the metal scene. So you don't identify yourself as a metal band more than as a post-hardcore or a metalcore or?

Levi: It gets all mixed up. I think that we're like a real metalcore band. Like As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, those bands. Actual metalcore.

RF.net: What should the fans of Miss May I expect from this album compared to "Monument" or "Apologies For The Weak?
Levi: The sound's definitely a lot better. It's real. It's all real instruments, there's no digital stuff. I think the songs are just better. We had time to pre-produce it. All the other songs we used to do, we just wrote them and put them on CD. This time we got to sit down and listen to them, and change some stuff around. Vocals, just everything is a lot more real and there's way more feeling in it.

RF.net: So did the producer then have a lot of input into it?

Levi: Oh yeah, he helped a lot. He pushed us just to make it real and to have more feeling. Because it wasn't just like 'this is what the song is, record it'. It was more like 'what are you trying to say in this song'?

RF.net: Would you say it's a heavier or a lighter record, or more melodic?

Levi: It varies. There's a couple of really heavy songs for old Miss May I fans. There's a lot of melodic songs for the newer Miss May I fans. And then there's some new sound stuff we're doing. It's got everything; it has a lot of old Miss May I, new Miss May I, and the new, new Miss May I, I guess.

RF.net: So "Monument", the previous album, it charted pretty high on Billboard for a heavy album. Do you expect "At Heart" to equal or maybe even surpass that record?
Levi: We're hoping it surpasses. There's a record actually on Rise Records holding the biggest first week, and we're trying to smash it this year.

RF.net: Who's holding that record?

Levi: It was Of Mice(? 3:30), then Attack! Attack! has it right now. We're trying to smash Attack! Attack!'s. We have to do over 18,5k. We're hoping we can do that. We have some crazy pre-order ideas that are coming out. We have denim jackets and stuff, so.

RF.net: So how much does chart success mean to you guys then?

Levi: The charting? It's really big business-wise, like when you get tours and how much you get paid and all that stuff, it all depends on what you do the first week. I don't think kids understand that, that's why we're always trying to say "please buy our CD first week, we don't care if you buy it next week, but buy it this day".

RF.net: I read in a previous interview that you were doing part-time college, I think it was in 2009, is that still the case, or have you transformed into a full-time band?

Levi: We're a full-time metal band now. Well, we tour probably almost 10 months every year. We tour every day. Like after this tour, we go home for three days, we do a music video, and then we go straight back on tour.

RF.net: Based on the previous two albums, I would say that, like you mentioned earlier, that As I Lay Dying and Darkest Hour have been huge inspirations to you guys. Is that correct or accurate at all?
Levi: Oh yeah. All That Remains, lot of In Flames too. Just like the bands that we grew up listening to that are real metal bands. They don't have...like when you listen to them, it doesn't sound like computers or something that no-one can really do. It sounds real.

RF.net: So then isn't that a bit of a strange thing that you are actually on Rise Records, because they are known to have a lot of bands like that?
Levi: I know, yeah, it is weird. But it's cool. They respect us too because they know that we're definitely the black sheep on Rise, but it's nice.

RF.net: So what would you say to the critics? I've read somewhere that people have compared "Monument" as... they haven't directly called it an As I Lay Dying rip off, but they've said that it's been very heavily influenced by them?
Levi: Yeah, I know, we get that a lot. I think it's just because we look up to them a lot, and that's what we listen to a lot. I know we get that, but it's just us playing what we think sounds good. If it sounds like our favorite band, then I guess it does, so.

RF.net: Back to Rise Records a little bit. How is it to work with the label for a band like you guys?
Levi: They're awesome. They picked us up out of high school, so they watched us grow up, watched us get cars and houses, watched us do grown up stuff. They're basically like a second family. They've always been there for us when we need help. We call them even for personal problems, and they're really awesome people.

RF.net: So like we mentioned before, they have a lot of those really polished and overproduced bands, and like you said not 'real' metal bands so to say. I guess that it kind of carries a certain stigma being on the label, I mean among even people here in Denmark, who know that it's a Rise Records release. So people have even compared the label to maybe like a modern Victory Records sort of thing. Does that sort of thing ever worry you at all?

Levi: It sort of does. But this is our last release on Rise, so even if people feel that way, so hopefully our next release will be on another label, so it should be different. It's our third CD with them and our contract is expiring.

RF.net: What's your opinion on the metalcore 'scene' music in 2012?
Levi: I don't think there are a lot of actual metal bands out there. That's what cool about this tour. Every band is like an actual metal band. There aren't any crazy backing tracks, keyboard players, or people trying to just go with the times. Every band in especially this package are metal bands. They're all good with their instruments and they are all talented. I just feel like that's lacking on a lot tours that we've been on. There are a lot of bands who are just young and like...I don't know, just those Rise Records bands I guess. And we're just trying to get away from that. It's cool doing this tour over here, because it's the first time we've actually done a tour where every band is a real band.

RF.net: I can also see that you guys are heading to China this summer. What are your expectations?
Levi: It's going to be crazy. We're doing that and then we're going to Indonesia, Thailand and stuff. It's definitely going to be crazy. We're excited. We were supposed to go a couple of years ago, we got snowed in and we couldn't go. That's at least Facebook and internet-wise, that's our second biggest fan base. China and Asia in general. RF.net: So how do you expect the crowds to differ. Not too many bands go over there.

Levi: I'm hoping it's crazy. They hit us up literally every day like "when are you coming? when are you coming?" for years, and now finally we're heading over there.

RF.net: I also see you guys are playing Groezrock this week. The festival is stacked with absolutely amazing bands left and right. So why should people go see Miss May I instead of whatever other band is playing at the same time slot?

Levi: Umm... I don't know. Well, yeah, I always make the crowd do crazy stuff so that's something to watch for. And if you just wanna watch an old school metal band and you wanna head bang and go crazy, just come see us.

RF.net: Are you planning to check out any other bands over there?

Levi: There's a lot of friends. I'll probably hang out with my friends I know in For Today, The Ghost Inside dudes obviously on this tour. I'm excited to see Rancid.

RF.net: Well, that was my last question. Thanks for the interview. Do you have anything to add?
Levi: Stay metal.

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