Miss May I have just released the already critically acclaimed new album At Heart, so we decided to hit up lead singer Levi Benton to talk about what the album is about, the meaning behind the music video for “Hey Mister,” and about the current trend of metalcore today.
MAA: I’ve heard the latest album At Heart, and I actually really liked it. With your blend of metalcore and thrash music, it appeals to two different demographics. How did you come about incorporating this kind of genre crossover?
LB: We’re all fans of older metal bands like ALL THAT REMAINS, IN FLAMES, SLAYER, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, and we would be listening to them while writing our albums. Out of us five guys, none of us listen to the same metal bands. So there’s some ’Oh, I like this but will they?’
MAA: So you guys are able to throw in a bunch of different metal influences all in one package!
LB: Exactly. There’s not a lot of metal bands nowadays that are influenced by the newer stuff. We grew up listening to this type of metal, so we incorporate the best out of it and write something new.
MAA: What exactly is the song “Hey Mister” about and how does the music video tie in with the songs meaning?
LB: Well “Hey, Mister” is about growing up with no father figure. It was difficult writing that because I felt that no one has ever really wrote a song about that and I know people can relate to it. The video was cool, the script was written by the directors. The whole story is about how I’m looking for a father figure, but it’s obviously dramatic with the island and stuff. The island is supposed to represent a dream and when I follow those two people, they are supposed to be angel-ish. The big, robed guy at the end is supposed to be the father figure. At the end of the song, I talk about it doesn’t matter that I didn’t grow up with one and that I didn’t need him to be the person I am now.
MAA: Who was it that directed it?
MAA: On top of that song, by the album title I would think that At Heart is a very personal album. What sort of other life experiences did you draw upon when writing for this album?
LB: It was really cool to write this because it was the first time I wrote from the heart. I just felt like a lot of metal bands exaggerate too much and a lot of their lyrics are overwritten about the same things like “Oh I hate this.” It was nice to go approach this record and think “This is stuff I actually went through.” It was easier to write about, like there’s parts about how I grew up and problems with money, friends, and all real stuff.
MAA: What are some of your personal influences that make you want to keep recording and touring extensively like you do?
LB: I’m really influenced by AS I LAY DYING. I like that they never really did anything different, they’re just a really good metalcore band and they focus on being good live. Now that’s what we focus on within the MISS MAY I camp. No matter if we don’t sell a lot of merch or a lot of kids don’t come to our shows, as long as we’re good live and keep playing, that’s all that really matters.
MAA: What was is like recording with legendary producer Machine (LAMB OF GOD, CHIODOS, PROTEST THE HERO, IMPENDING DOOM)?
LB: It was awesome, he’s a crazy guy. He made us all better musicians by pushing us really hard, opened my mind up, and broke through a lot of barriers I didn’t know I had. His whole thing with me was that to not just put lyrics on a CD, but to make people feel it. That really kicked my butt, but the finished product came out awesome.
MAA: In the future, would you consider re-releasing the Vows For A Massacre EP and the 2008 Demo?
LB: I would actually like to do that! We get a lot of feedback from people wanting to hear that older stuff. We wrote those when I was in junior high. Listening back, I always think ‘Man, that part sounds way cooler than the more recent version.’ It would be nice to do a throwback like that.
MAA: So let’s say you guys were approached by the Punk Goes guys to cover a song. What would you do?
LB: I would do “Call Me Maybe.” I love that song hahaha.
MAA: As popular as that song is, I’m a little surprised that no one has covered it yet.
LB: No one has done it and MISS MAY I wants to be the first to do it!
MAA: When you guys are on the road, what is the road fuel of choice?
LB: I like Subway. Everyone likes Mexican food. I get heartburn because I’m a baby. I know Subway sounds cliché but there’s so many options you can never have the same thing twice.
MAA: What sort of advice could you give other bands in terms of preparing for extensive touring like you guys do and to keep it all together?
LB: You have to stay level headed. You can’t go out there thinking you’re the best band out there because you’re not. There’s so many other bands out there that are going for the same thing. I think people get so big headed about it and it just comes back and bites them in the ass. Be happy with who you are because, well, you got the best job in the world.
MAA: Any last words for the fans who came out here to Warped Tour to see MISS MAY I and to the people who haven’t heard At Heart yet?
LB: It’s the first album we’re actually proud of all the way through. There’s no barriers on it, it’s just metalcore all throughout the album. Old school hair whips and circle pits.
By: Ridge “Deadite” Briel