Young metalcore band Miss May I are proof that your upbringing doesn’t cap your potential. Coming from a small town of around 25,000 in the heartland of Ohio, the quintet took hold of their future as teenagers while still attending high school. Rise Records signed the band in 2008 a year after their formation and they’ve shared the stage with bands including Of Mice & Men, Pierce the Veil, and Whitechapel, while making their way on to Vans Warped Tour and now Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Festival. Miss May I will perform on the Coldcock American Herbal Whiskey stage with Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence, Mushroomhead and more starting at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, Calif. this Saturday, July 5. While driving across Germany to hit European festivals Nova Rock, Hellfest, Rock am Ring and Download a few weeks ago, Miss May I vocalist Levi Benton discussed getting signed to a record label in high school, their positive mentality in their music and what to expect at Mayhem.
What has been going on with Miss May I in the last few weeks and months?
We just got to Europe to tour and play a few festivals to support the new record Rise of the Lion and prepare for Mayhem. Everything is really booked for the rest of the year and very busy.
Since Rise of the Lion was produced by Terry Date, I’m sure you were talking to him about White Zombie, Prong and Pantera a lot?
Bringing him into the equation was a big deal for us and we’re really excited with how it turned out. We definitely fanned out and it’s cool that he wanted to be involved with this record. Everything that he has done in the past have all been defining records in rock and heavy metal like Pantera and White Zombie so it’s nice to be part of that.
You were first signed to a record label when you were in high school, but all still graduated. How did everyone treat you at school after you accomplished what so many young bands dream of doing their whole music careers? Especially being from Ohio and not in a major music mecca like Los Angeles.
It was definitely crazy. It was cool to go to school and our local shows got a lot bigger until we started touring. It was really fun that everyone was supporting it and excited for what was to come and the support was solid.
I’ve heard you say before that your band really tries to focus on inspiring fans and be on the positive side of mentality instead of the opposite. Where does this stem from? Do you think your band will always try and hold up to that even as your lives change?
I think it’s naturally the guys we are. We’re the positive guys. The other thing that really makes us stick out from a lot of the other bands in our genre is the negative and hateful, so it’s nice to throw in some positive inspiration in there. Even when something does turn out for the worst, we still address that in the album. We make sure that the next track makes up for that tenfold to make sure it comes back to the positive side that we want.
What sets you apart from other metal bands in your subgenre?
We like the old school roots and the old-school sound a little more than some of the other bands our age. I think it really sticks out that we have the older thrash roots and heavy roots; we’re not really into all of the gimmicks and what’s new all the time and stick to what we really like to play.
Side stage sets are usually about 30 minutes long on Mayhem. How many songs are we going to see from Rise of the Lion during your set this summer?
From the new record we’ll be playing at least four, maybe more. At any show, but especially festival shows, the crowd participation is extremely important because we want them to have a lot of fun. From the first song to the last song, there’s something individually special and we make the crowd do something crazy.
What are you looking forward to most about Mayhem?
We’ve been on Warped Tour the last few years so it’s cool for us to be on an entire metal tour festival. Warped Tour is usually just a handful of metal bands so it’s going to be nice to be surrounded by metal heads at Mayhem. We’re really excited.