By ANDREW McKAYSMITH
MISS May I are a North American metalcore outfit fronted by the talents of one Levi Benton. The band’s new album is titled Shadows Inside, which fans can expect to hear after its release on the June 2.
I had read about Benton prior to the interview. From what I had read he struck me as an endearing fellow with a genuine sense of affection for the band’s fans, which certainly came across during the interview. One of the more interesting topics we discussed was the influence of his wonderful mother over his career and love of all things heavy music.
It was also distressing to learn that she was also wounded sharing her love of the genre.
“(My mother) is more metal than I’ll ever be,” Benton tells us. “I don’t think I have said this story yet but the left side of her face, her eye socket is metal and reconstructed. Because a couple of years ago she got it completely crushed while she was in a Meshuggah (mosh) pit and that is like somewhere I would never be. She called me to the hospital and she was like, ‘Yes I was in the pit at Meshuggah and I’m getting surgery right now’ and I’m like ‘you are too old to be in a pit’! That is why I try not to be scary because she already beat me, so there is no use in trying’
So, that’s a heck of a way to start a feature! (HM also sends sincere wishes to Benton’s mother)
Miss May I formed in 2007 and have released six albums, including the upcoming Shadows Inside. They quickly achieved a following, primarily on the back of the strength of the first full length album, Apologies Are for the Weak (’09). Fans can expect a continuation of the band’s aural legacy on the new album.
Benton and his merry horde have the attention of Australian fans in particular. “It’s one of our best markets, which is really crazy because we don’t go down there that much. But every time we have been down there it has been crazy. I think a big part has to do with we were sort of spoiled on our first tour and our introduction to the country. We got to do a Parkway Drive tour and it was great. We got spoiled, it was like direct support which we really shouldn’t have been. It was just because bands dropped out, so it was just right place, right time.” (continued below)
How does Australia rate compared to the rest of the world relative to the amount of album sales and attention the band garners? “It has really been one of our best places. We do really great there. Definitely doesn’t hurt that it is one of the best, most beautiful places on earth. So that is great. It just sucks you guys are so far because that is why it is so hard to get down there sometimes. With the international support with the new label I think we are going to be down there more often than we have ever been.”
If only life in Miss May I was as easy elsewhere as it is for the band when it comes to Australian audiences. We hear a lot from bands who experience trial and tribulation at the hands of unscrupulous industry types. Benton’s next statement is in response to my enquiry into the challenges that the band faces. “I think the big challenge is just the behind the scenes stuff really. It is not playing shows or writing music, it is the crazy politics and how everything works… the crooked people. Because you read these magazines and you watch these documentaries and you are like, ‘Wow that happened and that will never happen’ and it is all real. People are ruthless in the (music) business. I think that is the biggest challenge. Which sucks because I wish I could say it was music and writing and touring but that comes easy, it is all the politics and fighting for your band behind the scenes than it is anything else.”
Another Benton famous for speaking his mind and shooting straight is Glen Benton from Deicide. Glen Benton has endured line-up changes, industry shifts and I have no doubt he has encountered and dealt with many of the same challenges that our Benton alludes to. I almost wonder out loud if the two share anything other than a surname. “Justin (Aufdemkampehe- bassist) is influenced by death metal. He loves that. It’s not that I’m not influenced, it’s not that I don’t jam on it, it’s just that when I go in to do vocals to go create something for Miss May I that is not the first thing that comes to mind. But I do appreciate it (Deicide and death metal)”
Benton uses the question about the other Benton and Deicide to make a broader point about his band’s sound. “Justin’s contribution and my vocals will be different- we almost act like a tremolo death metal riff and it’s cool to cross those together. That sort of makes the Miss May I sound. So, we all have different backgrounds and if you blend it together you get Miss May I.”
My own take on the band’s music is that they ply an extraordinarily mature take on metalcore. The genre’s core values and strengths are present across all of their releases which makes Shadows Inside an album I am sure looking forward to listening to upon its release.
If you like The Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, I Killed the Prom Queen and the already mentioned Parkway Drive, then you will no doubt love what the band offers.
Shadows Inside is available from 2nd June through Sharptone Records