Interview: Miss May I

Metalcore monsters Miss May I have embedded a sound of fury in the hearts and minds of masses with their loyal fans. Diversity and difference are key elements in the band and when each band member comes together and connects, the results are something truly wonderful. With a combination of brutality, passion and melody, the five-piece powerhouse from Ohio have made a massive mark on the metal world. Coming out this June, the bands brand new album, Shadows Inside, is an absolute riff-fest and it undoubtedly their best release to date. With a powerful and progressed vocal performance, frontman Levi Benton tell us about working on this new release, as well as change, touring and being in a successful band for almost a decade.

How’s everything going for you with the build up to the new album?

It’s been great. The response has been miles greater than we ever thought it would be, so we’re really excited. I’m just ready for everyone to hear the whole record, I’m tired of waiting.

From what I’ve heard so far, it sounds heavier with a bit more progression, what kind of mindset and mission did you enter the studio with this time around?

We didn’t really have a set goal, we just had a lot of time to sit and do the record, which was really nice. We had a lot of time to get a lot of weird stuff out of us and we weren’t really rushed, but I think, going into this record, we wanted to think about the songs a little bit more. Sort of think not so much about getting them done and putting them on a record that sounds really cool, but trying to make those timeless songs. We weren’t really letting anything sub-par pass on this record, which was really cool because we had producers do this record with us that were really, really hard on us and I think we really needed that to make sure we were putting the best of the best on the record.

For sure. We see the lion image return on the cover, what made you guys decide to bring that back?

We just really missed it, we wanted to bring it back and I think doing it this way, it was really cool to have it be a physical object. That was the hardest part – taking a 2D image and 2D symbol that we’ve always had and really make it something physical that you could touch and have with you. But I think it came out really great, it was definitely a struggle to get it to work. It took months with an artist and a sculptor to get that to actually look the way we wanted, but it came out great. It stands for a lot for the band and for what the records about, so I think it came at a great time.

Yeah, I think it looks very cool. It’s like a representation of the band, pretty much. How do you feel about your vocals on this new album? Personally I think they’re the best they’ve ever sounded and the production is absolutely awesome, but how do you think they turned out personally?

Thank you, I appreciate that. I think they came out great. We went to a vocal producer for the first time on this record and his big thing was to make me sort of feel uncomfortable and outside of the box. So with that being said, every time we’d record something and I’d be like ‘oh, I know the vocals that we should put over this part’ and I’d do it, and he would be like ‘that’s too comfortable’ or ‘that was too easy, I want you to make me feel like this’ and it was weird, because I had to make myself feel uncomfortable the whole time but by doing that, it really pushed me to find different parts and find different ways of doing things. I think he did it to bring the best out of me, and I think that’s what came through on the record.

Definitely. How’s it been with your new label Sharptone so far? They’ve been responsible for some great releases this year, and yours will be added to that list very soon. Are you all happy with the treatment from them so far?

Yeah, it’s been great. They really gave us as much time as we wanted and I think that’s what made the record sound like it does. Not that Rise never did give us time or breathed down our neck, but it has always just been ‘go, go, go’ and ‘tour, tour, tour’ and ‘oh, we have a break between these two tours, let’s finish this record’ and just go and do all of this stuff, but this time, we played our last show in July and just didn’t book anything. We talked to Sharptone and they said ‘take as much time as you need to make this record’ and it ended up taking nine months. We finally finished it though! Yeah, they’ve been great, and I think if we didn’t have them, this record wouldn’t have come out how it did.

Who are you guys out on tour with at the moment?

We’re out with Thy Art Is Murder, Being As An Ocean and Casey.

Do you get along with the guys in Thy Art? They’re Aussie as well.

Oh yeah, I was showing them the list of press I had today and I was asking them about all of the outlets. They’re awesome.

After you finish that up, you guys are headed out in May to do a lengthy tour of the states and Canada with some really cool bands like Upon The Burning Body and Obey The Brave, are there any plans to potentially come across to Australia later in the year or early next year?

Oh yeah, the talks are already in the works and in emails. We’ll probably be there a lot more than we used to because we have Nuclear Blast and Sharptone pushing this record, which is great. We’re really focusing a lot more internationally for Miss May I from here on out, so we should be there more often than not. I was going an interview with CJ from Thy Art yesterday and it’s crazy because the last time we were there was Soundwave with Metallica which was so, so long ago.

You guys have been around for nearly a decade now, so that in itself is an achievement. What’s been your absolute favourite moment, and what do you want for the future of Miss May I?

Oh man, I think my favourite moment would be on tour – my favourite show would have to be when we did mainstage at Download festival. That was like, the pinnacle for me, not only because it was a big show, but, it sounds so dumb, I used to have this DVD from As I Lay Dying and there’s this part where they’re walking on the stage and they’d play this guitar riff and you’d hear this giant crowd cheer and the camera shows the crowd and it’s them on the mainstage at Download, that’s how the DVD opens up, and I used to watch that DVD like it was my bible. I remember watching it and being like ‘that’s what I want to do’. Then we got to do, and I was like ‘oh my god, this is all I wanted to do, was play this stage’ and we got to do it. It was amazing. It was pretty crazy.

That would be so surreal. Back to the new album, it’s out June 2nd, so there’s still some waiting to do for keen fans, in your own words, what would you say is the highlight of the album and what can people look forward to hearing that might be different to previous albums?

I think, this record, it’s big shoes to fill because of Apologies For The Weak and Monument and At Heart are big, timeless records for us, and those were always big heavy weights to carry with us, I think this one tops that. I’ve heard from a lot of magazines, and pretty much everyone who has heard it, has said the same thing and I think that’s really exciting for fans. I think that’s why I’m so anxious for everyone to hear it, because all of these outlets and all of these critics are saying that it’s the best thing we’ve put out and it tops our old legacy, and that’s all we’ve ever wanted to do. So for that to come out ten years later, I couldn’t be happier.

For sure. Do you ever get a bit sick of people comparing new stuff to your old stuff when you’re trying to move forward?

Oh my gosh, it’s the worst. I usually tune it out, and it’s normally in one ear and out the other, and I usually never pay attention to it. It honestly never bothers me, but for people to compliment a new record on that…it’s funny, because I can see the honesty when I do these phoners and magazine interviews, every year it’s all ‘it’s a good record, I like this song’ and I say thanks, but now everyone is coming into the interviews saying ‘this is the best thing you guys have done’ and I think OK, last year you said that was a good record, now you’re saying it’s the best. I really appreciate that. I can sort of hear the honesty through the phoners, and that just gets me excited because I guess that I’m just so anxious for everybody to hear the rest, and the response from the first single was insane. I’m thinking this isn’t the best part of the record, the record gets so much better.

Definitely. I actually genuinely believe it is your best album and people are going to be so happy when they hear it.

Thank you very much.

No problem. Well, that’s pretty much it. Thanks for taking the time to chat, all the best with the current tour and upcoming tour and the album release. I hope to see you guys here again very soon.

I appreciate that man, thank you.

Shadows Inside hits stores June 2nd. Check out the new single 'Lost In The Grey' below:


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