Metalcore superstars Miss May I are back at it once again. Actually, I take that back… The band never went anywhere, except EVERYWHERE, since the first time I spoke with them a few years back in Syracuse, NY. Europe, Asia, The States, they’ve done all of it. And wouldn’t you know it, they’re about to get right back out there and do it again.
Amazingly, MMI found just enough time in between their non-stop travel schedule to write and record their latest Terry Date (Pantera/Slipknot/Limp Bizkit) produced monster album, Rise Of The Lion, on Rise Records. Armed with an explosive new album and certain to be a huge draw on this year’s installment of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, the MMI Machine is pumped for one of the most popular touring metal festivals of the year.
For Live High Five’s second interview with the band, I caught up with Ryan Neff just after the release of Rise Of The Lion to talk about the record, working with Terry Date in the studio, the upcoming monster tour they’ll be a part of in Mayhem Fest, and how it feels to have fans who will literally tattoo themselves silly for your band.
G- What’s going on and thank you for speaking with Live High Five today! How’s everything going?
R- Everything is good! That was a great intro! That was one for the books.
G- I appreciate it, man. I dig you guys and I want to make sure people know how I feel about the bands I’m taking my time to speak with because you’re taking the time to speak with me, and I appreciate it.
R- Thank you!
G- My pleasure.
So, last time I spoke with Levi back in 2012, and you just finishing up the Up Close and Personal Tour. I think you were in Philly last night, right?
R- Yeah last night we were in Philly. We did Japan, followed by a day off, followed by a week of American bar shows like last night for the Up Close and Personal Tour. So I am officially at the end of 4-weeks straight, I believe.
G- Do you get to go home and get a little bit of rest, I hope?
R- We literally went straight from the venue and drove to Ohio, so I’m in my living room right now. A rare thing, but it’s happening right now.
G- Dig it, and did you play anyplace new this time around or did any place in particular blow your minds this time around?
R- Pretty much every venue we have played at one time or another, or at least the city.
Some of the venues were pretty small. Last night (Philly) stands out the most… It was crazy! But it was cool and it made for some super exciting shows.
G- Alright. So, we’ve gotta talk about the record. Rise Of The Lion was just released a few days back, and the record is another sonically and compositionally explosive album… How do you personally feel about the finished product?
R- We are all excited about it… We’re excited to finally get it out there and start playing. We’ve been waiting for everyone to get a hold of it.
G- Nice. And we also must mention that the release was produced by none other that Terry Date, undoubtedly the most credentialed producer MMI has worked with up to this point. What, pray tell, was it like in the studio with a magician like Terry behind the boards?
R- Yeah he is a magician, for sure. The coolest thing about Terry was how well we got along with him right off the bat. We never met him before we go there, but we came really well prepared with all the songs complete and ready to roll for him to start working. It made for a really great working relationship.
It was also cool working with him because it allowed us to live in Seattle. It gave us a chance to hang out and check out the area around there. The whole recording experience with him was positive. No stress and a lot of fun. And of course you get some great stories about all our favorite bands, because he’s recorded all of them at some point.
G- No doubt. And how long were you in the studio with Terry for this record?
R- The first chunk was about 35 days, and then we went back again for one more after, so probably about 40 or so days in total.
G- Wow. Well, it shows. You guys put in a lot of time on the record and it sounds great, so that’s what it is.
Now, in addition to the album, we have to talk about Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest, which boasts an incredible lineup this year. MMI is no doubt a big draw for the festival. Before that, you will spend a month touring around Europe… Is Rockstar Energy Drink how you guys manage to log so many miles or what?
R- (laughing) If we were driving ourselves, I don’t think we’d make it. Luckily, when we play outside of American, we legally can’t drive anywhere, and that’s about the only thing that saves us. We just did the same thing again… We went straight from Japan into America, through Europe, and into America once again.
I guess we’ve just gotten used to it, you know? It gets you pretty pumped up to size the sized show we get the opportunity to play right now, but we’ll probably have a little bit of jet lag.
G- Right on. And give the tour and the amount of acts on that, what do you guys expect out of the big festival tour like that, and who are you most excited to see and hang out with everyday on the tour?
R- We’re pretty experienced with the outdoor tour festival thing. We’ve done 2 years on Warped Tour, 1 of them on the main stage. We consider it teaching us the ropes to the outdoor tours and we’re going to go into this one knowing what to do on these hot, outside shows.
We love the outdoor festivals! We look forward to them and it’s pretty much what we’re going to do all summer. We’re expecting big crowds full of metal heads and big, giant circle pits, so I’m looking forward to it.
G- You’ll get those, I’m sure. Any plans to dig into some older tracks for the fans?
R- We’re gonna get some new ones out there, of course, but we always try to fit in some old ones because we enjoyed writing those just as much as the new ones. They’re just as fun for us and they are for the fans, so we’ll get some in there. It’s a festival, so we’ve gotta be quick to cram in as much as we can in a short amount of time.
G Right on. And as you guys are always in “GO” mode, have you started looking into tours for the Fall/Winter months yet?
R- Yeah we’ve already locked in some already. The show continues! That’s what we signed up for and that’s what we like to do.
G- Beautiful! Good attitude to have, man!
And just to finish up today, again Miss May I is one of the hardest working bands I have ever seen, and it’s a tough job to be out there on the road all the time and away from home. What advice can you give some of your fans out here who want to hit the road and studio and try to do what you do?
R- We did it the hard way and worked our way up from the bottom and made some friends along the way, and most importantly just having a great time. If we weren’t having fun, we wouldn’t do it. For every good day, there is going to be a tough one and you have to get through that stuff positive and with a good attitude, enjoying what you do.
G- For sure. Well that’s all I’ve got for you today, Ryan. I know you’re tired, so go take a nice long nap before you go right back on the road. I want to say thank you again for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. I’m looking forward to the tours coming up!
R- Thank you very much and I’ll see you there.
Prayers to the friends and family of Alberto Scott. Rest In Peace.