Miss May I Interview

Posted: April 24, 2015 | the scene, tobacco | interview, levi benton, melodic metalcore, miss may i, smoking, tobacco | 0 Comments

Interview conducted on January 20th 2015.


Where are you from?

We are a metal band from Troy, Ohio.

How did the band form?

Levi -Miss May I formed in high school. We were just a jam band and we started playing shows. We met Ryan and stole him from another band. We got our record deal when we were seniors in high school and we’ve been doing this ever since

What makes Miss May I stand out from other bands in the metal genre?

Jerod -We’re younger.

Ryan – We’re about to do our 5th record and none of us are 27 yet.

Levi – Most of the time we’re the youngest band out there and we’ve already accomplished a lot.

How important is image? How do you feel the look of your band has affected your career?

Ryan – If we hadn’t have looked like all the kids coming to our shows in the beginning, we probably wouldn’t have gotten as popular as fast. If we looked like we did when we were 17 and 18 now, a lot of the people we play shows for now would look at us like we were idiots. It changes for whom you play for.

Levi – Image is important, especially to us. We’ve changed a lot over the years. We try to change with the times, so what you see now isn’t necessarily going to be what we look like years from now. We try to always do the next best thing for us, and we’ll see where it leads us.

Who or what inspires you/your music? Favorite bands growing up? Favorite bands now?

Levi – My favorite influences would have to be As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Lamb Of God. Even growing up I loved those bands, and to this day I still listen to their records. We’re fortunate enough that we got to play with them a lot on festivals.

Your latest release, ‘Rise Of The Lion’, is just under a year old.

What was the writing process like?

Ryan – When we wrote ‘Rise Of The Lion,’ we all crammed into a studio as a group and loudly jammed together until we had a whole album.

Levi – The writing process for our new record ‘Rise Of The Lion’ was probably the most hectic. We had a lot of on and off schedules. I think total we did 3 or 4 weeks. The nice thing was that we got to write at home and go to a local studio and jam in a circle like the good old days. That’s how we’ve done all of our records, but this was nice because we had a little bit more time.


What was the inspiration behind it?

Levi – The message for this record was a little different than most of our older ones. Instead of being so personal we decided to change it up a little bit. It’s all sort of letters back to fans lyric-wise. We sort of wrote from their point of view. It was pretty fun. It was interesting to sit and put yourself in that point of view and have a fresh breath of air to write from. An example is our song we just released a music video for, “A Hero With No Name.” It’s from a military aspect because we’ve met a lot of soldiers over the years. They tell us that they listen to us on patrol and that it helps them get through the days. It’s something that I’ll probably never experience so it’s nice to give them an anthem and something to jam to.

What do you want people to take away from it?

Levi – For this record, I’d like our fans to know that we read all of the letters that they give us, even though we don’t respond to all of them. We do read them and we do take note of them, and I hope this record shows that to our close fans. This is our big flag to show you.

How does this album compare to your previous work?

Ryan – It’s more raw. We wrote it from a live performance aspect, too. We had every song performed as a group before we ever went to show anyone.

Levi – This is sort of our first record that’s diverse from beginning to end. We really tried to make a point to make each song have its own Easter egg and be a little different.

Can you give us a brief history of using the lion as the band’s symbol? What is the meaning behind it?

Levi – We used the lion as our symbol for Miss May I for the last couple records, and the reason that we do that is because the lion is fierce. It has a king of the jungle vibe, and we feel like that’s us in the music industry trying to get where we’re at and our fans can relate and take our songs and be inspired by that in the world they’re in. There’s also little hidden stuff, like there are five points in his hair because there are five of us, and he has seven teeth because it’s an odd number and we started in 2007.

How has technology positively or negatively affected the band?

Levi – Technology has affected our band in a positive and negative way. We were one of the last MySpace bands. That’s how we got our start. Negatively, everyone steals records by downloading them or ripping Youtube videos, so we don’t really see those royalties like bands in the past used to that helped fund tours, so we have to tour more and sell more t-shirts to make up for people stealing music, so it’s a lot harder.

What are your thoughts on downloading music?

Levi – When people download music it means that bands have to be more creative and work twice as hard because they have to make up for what they’re missing out on.

Ryan – I think that because there’s not enough money to go around, it is making it so that bands that work really hard have a chance to get to the top now. We’ve got a lot of friends whose bands have broken up, and a lot of friends who have a ton of heart and they’re still in it, and they’re big now.

You’re 70 years old, telling your grandkids about MMI. What story would you tell?

Levi – I would tell my kids about opening up for the main stage at Download Festival. That’s probably the craziest thing we’ve ever done.

You’re about to embark on the Frozen Flame Tour with ABR.

What is your favorite part about touring?

BJ – Food!

Justin – My favorite thing about touring is traveling and going to different places. A lot of people we went to high school with don’t get to do those things.

Ryan – My favorite part is still the performance aspect. Especially after all this time off, I still appreciate the opportunity to play shows. Getting able to play 200 shows a year like we do now when we’re young is my favorite part.

Levi – My favorite part about touring on top of those things is meeting new people, like the people that build the stage, and the crew, and the people behind the cameras. There are so many new people that we meet every day and that never gets old, because we’ve met really crazy people and we’ve met really chill people, and we’ve met people with crazy backgrounds. That’s never going to end, and that’s really exciting.

How do you prepare to go on tour?

Levi – Usually when we prepare for tour, we make sure that all the monitors and gear are working. We also clean everything because at the end of the tour it’s dirty and trashed, and we don’t clean anything at the end of a tour.

How do you balance tour and family life?

Levi – I think balancing family and tour life can be hard on some people and easy on others. The family and significant others have to know what they’re getting into. We can be gone for a tour and something comes up and we have to be gone longer. It’s not easy and it never gets easier.

Can you give us a behind-the-scenes look at a MMI tour?

If you could give an up-&-coming metal band one piece of advice, what would it be?

Ryan – It’s all about budgeting and having a good time at the same time. It’s an industry where there’s not a lot of income and you have to find a way to have a great time, do really tough work, and make a little bit of money to go along with it.

Jerod – Being humble is a huge part of it too. We’ve been on tour with bands that get really big egos right away and they break up within the next year because they hit one bump in the road and no one can take it. We’ve hit bumps for seven years and we’ve been fine.

Levi – One thing that I always tell bands is to focus on what they’re doing now. There are a lot of people that see something happening and then they get in over their head because they take ten steps forward instead of one step forward and they end up tripping over their own feet and it’s a downward spiral from there. Take it one step at a time.

As your band continues to become more well-known, more people look up to you. How does it feel to be a role model? Does being in the spotlight add pressure to act a certain way/do certain things?

Ryan – When we first started, none of us thought that what we did was a reflection of us, but it hit us when we got older.

Levi – You definitely have to know where you’re at. When we first started we definitely weren’t role models but now we get letters that say how people look up to us. You have to make sure you’re level-headed.

Has being in MMI helped you grow?

Levi – This is sort of all we know. We’ve been doing it for so long. For most of us we used to go to school every day and then right after we’ve lived on tour. This is all we’ve known, so we’ve grown up a lot faster than most.

Has anyone in the band quit smoking?

BJ – I started smoking when I was 16 for the same reason a lot of people did – I thought it was cool. I smoked for seven years. Thirteen months ago was when I had my last cigarette and I’ve never felt better. I chose a life of fitness. I smell better, taste better, breathe better, and just live better overall.


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