Miss May I Interview with Levi Benton
The new wave of American Hardcore and Metal… Sometimes I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m just aged out, but the whole tight pants, dyed black hair, whiny-singing-to-growled-vocal- changeup just isn’t really my bag. I always liked my Metal and Hardcore angry, and my Emo sad enough to slit a wrist. A lot of the bands out now should do some pushups or something. Eat a burger. Join a kickball league. Anything besides what they’re doing.
But some of these groups out here play some mighty jams, and Miss May I is one of them… These guys are solid, and easily one of the hardest working bands on the circuit right now. Formed in 2006, the Ohio based group has been actively recording new music and touring like mad to get it out there to their fans. Recently tapped to perform on this year’s Warped Tour (again), the group will be directly supporting their latest release, “At Heart,” set to drop in June.
Syracuse Live Music mainstay Lost Horizon, still hosting as much metal as they can get their hands on (kudos), brought the group to town on May 19th, and I sat down with vocalist Levi Benton prior to their set to discuss the new album, the touring life, and their take on the modern day hardcore metal scene.
G- So what’s going Levi, and thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five. I’m very new to you guys, but I’ve heard a few of the songs and I really dig it. Can you introduce Miss May I to our readers, and you look very young… How old are you guys?
LB- I’m Levi Benton and I’m the vocalist for Miss May I. We’re out of Dayton, Ohio, and pretty much all from the ages of 20-22.
We’ve been doing this for a long time, actually… We got signed when we were in high school and we’ve been touring ever since we graduated.
G- That’s wild! What was it like to get signed in high school?
LB- It was crazy cuz all our friends were listening to the bands we liked, and we got signed by Rise Records. At the time, that was, like, the biggest thing. There were points when I was going to class and telling everyone I sat around that we’re on the label, and no one believed us. I was like ‘We got an email from them on Myspace!’ It was so not legit.
G- It’s been a little kick in the pants for all your friends out there, huh?
LB- It’s been crazy, especially when we go back home. All our friends are still doing local shows, which is awesome, and we try to help them out as much as possible… It’s just been a crazy 3 years… Such a ride! And the rest of our year is insane, so…
G- Yea Steven (tour manager) told me that this is the last date of the current tour in the states, and then you fly to Asia, and then you fly right back and jump on Warped Tour. How have the shows been on this tour?
LB- Yea we fly back straight to Warped Tour. This tour has been pretty good. This is actually a one-off… White Chapel is not on this show. This is a show on the way home. The White Chapel tour was pretty fun. We played really tiny cities and small markets, so it was fun to play those cities we never get to go to. It was fun to go to the suburbs and play some shows!
G- So, you guys literally jump right on a flight to go to Southeast Asia in a few days.
LB- Yea, Singapore, Thailand… Everything. It’s crazy!
G- Since you’re an international band at this point, can you discuss a couple of the social and scene differences between the United States, the Far East, and Europe?
LB- I feel like kids are more respectful when we play in Europe and Australia and stuff. In the US, we tour so much… There’s kids that see us more than once a year, and it’s cool for them, but we’d like to make it more of a special occasion. In Europe, we go there once or twice a year, so when we go there they give it 100%… They’re really happy to be there. Same with Australia.
G- Nice. So your latest release, “At Heart,” is set to drop June 12th. What can your fans expect of the new output, and are you guys happy with how the record turned out?
LB- It’s cool you said that, because it’s the first time we’ve been happy front to back. All our other records, when we played them for friends, we’d skip some songs. We are really happy with this cd front to back. It’s the first cd we did any pre-production on, so we got to write it and listen to it before we put it on cd. It was our first time with a real producer (Machine), and he was awesome! It was really fun!
Then, a bee attacks us.
LB- Ahhhh! Sorry… I’m a wuss when it comes to bees.
G- It’s all good! So Miss May I will be featured on this year’s Warped Tour, and this is your second year in a row doing it. What is the difference between playing your own headlining gigs and taking part in a festival environment? Which do you prefer?
LB- They both have their pros and cons. For festivals, there are obviously a lot more people, and it’s nice to play in front of all these people. I like winning over new fans at Warped Tour. When we headline in venues, we’ll pack a room with just Miss May I Kids. You’ll get some kids for the support bands, but we’re the band on top of the flyer.
G- What’s the craziest show you’ve played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
LB- Man… Craziest show we’ve had so far? The last day of the ‘Back To The Roots’ tour, we were playing small venues all Summer for multiple days. We played in Cleveland, which was already crazy because us and The Devil Wears Prada are from Cleveland, so the room was oversold. It was packed and sold out way in advance.
The opening band, Your Demise, got completely butt ass naked, and when I called for 100 stage dives… There were 300 kids, and a third of the crowd was butt naked stage diving. And then other kids were getting naked… They were doing it as a tour prank, and kids thought it was just normal at the show! So these kids are getting naked and stage diving, and security just gave up. They didn’t know what was going on (laughs). We’re onstage, PA’s are going down, and we just kept playing until the end of the set. Naked dudes running around, underwear everywhere… It was definitely crazy!
G- Wow, dude… sounds like a hardcore orgy Vivid Video take note!
So anyways, lastly, you guys are really young, and you’ve been doing this for quite a long time. Maybe you can give a little advice to some of the young, up and coming bands out here in who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
LB- Focus on what’s happening now. Focus on the local stuff. There are so many local bands that want to tour and do big stuff right away, but there is so much more that you have to conquer before you can take that step forward.
I just feel that people get ahead of themselves. We did this as a fun hobby and conquered the local scene, and the only reason we took a step forward is because the opportunity came to us… We weren’t looking for it. If people just focus on what’s going on and focus on being the best they can, then the next steps will come to them. Be the best local band, be the biggest local draw, and opportunities will come to you.
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