Miss May I show ‘Heart’ to Warped Tour
By Tim Anderl
In 2008, a group of high school friends from Troy, whose loftiest goals went no further than playing cover songs after a day of skateboarding, found themselves with a growing local fan base and management by The Devil Wears Prada’s Chris Ruby. Three months later, the band had a table full of record deals, and after graduating high school six months later, embarked on their first tour.
With a growing reputation for metalcore goodness, young guns Miss May I have sold thousands of records, graced the covers of magazines, and in 2012, find themselves with a spot on Warped Tour’s main stage. Their latest album, At Heart, was released via Rise Records on June 12 and was produced by mega-producer Machine, whose credits include Clutch and Lamb of God.
Dayton City Paper caught up with singer Levi Benton a few days after At Heart’s release (it debuted at #32 on Billboard’s Top 200), as he prepared for another summer on Warped Tour. What we found was a surprisingly grounded dude, who is just as interested in pursuing an education in advertising some day as he is in putting on a killer show, and who frets about avoiding sunburn in the high-temperatures at this year’s touring punk summer camp. Here’s what he had to say…
Did you always know that you’d like to have a career as a performer?
No, I wasn’t actually into the whole band thing until I met these guys. Even then, I only wanted to play covers and not really play shows. We just played cover songs for fun after a long day of skateboarding. It was just to kill time and have something to do after school. But then we started writing music. The first show I ever went to was one I was playing. I didn’t realize that there was a local band culture. Anyway, we played our first show and it was pretty fun. As we continued to play, more and more people were coming out. It’s pretty strange that it all fell in our hands like this. –Levi Benton
How did Rise find you and become interested in putting out your records?
We were playing this venue in Springfield, Ohio. And we were drawing like 400 to 500 kids to a show. We were as surprised as anyone. The guitar player from The Devil Wears Prada, Chris Ruby, actually came to that show, saw us play and asked if he could manage us. Three months later we had a table full of record deals. We ended up signing with Rise. -LB
You were writing and recording At Heart during last year’s Warped Tour, right?
Yes. We did that with Chris Ruby. We had a little makeshift studio in the back of our bus. Every other day we’d schedule time to record back there. We only ended up getting about three and half songs done and spent the rest of the time playing video games. It was still the most we ever pre-produced. -LB
How did you end up working with Machine for At Heart?
Machine is more of a dude who would help us really swing for the fence. We needed someone who wasn’t just all about metal. We felt like we should probably veer away from a metal guy. We needed someone to tell us how to make heavy music for people who may not necessarily like metal. The label thought we were crazy. I knew it would be different, but really thought it would be a good change. We are very happy with that decision. – LB
So are you finding that this material is resonating with fans in ways that your earlier material didn’t?
Yeah, there have been a lot less kids saying “Whoa, that is brutal,” and a lot more kids saying, “Man, I really love this song.” I would rather have that. It lends the material more longevity than just putting together a sweet riff and adding a break down. I wanted kids to say, “I totally know what you are talking about with this song.” -LB
Are there lessons you learned on last year’s Warped Tour that you want to apply this year?
I guess I’ve probably learned that I don’t have to go out of the bus and be in the heat unless I have to. I’ll watch the bands I like a few times, sit in the bus, do interviews and try not to mess up my show by being sunburned and tired. -LB
What do you have packed to listen to on the bus?
I listen to a lot of hip hop. I love the Machine Gun Kelly EP. He’s on the Warped Tour and I’m really excited to see him. He’s from Cleveland. I’m a super fan of that guy. -LB
You are probably too young to remember this, but back in the 90s the Judgment Night Soundtrack had collaborations between metal bands with hip hop artists and rappers. Are you interested in collaborating that way…
I’d be all about that. I’d love to do that. -LB
Can we expect you to hook up with Machine Gun Kelly for something like that?
I will try my hardest. If it goes through you will definitely hear about it. -LB
Miss May I will perform at the Vans Warped Tour on July 31 at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. For more information, visit: http://www.vanswarpedtour.com or myspace.com/missmayi.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@daytoncitypaper.com.