Interview with Miss May I Vocalist,
As day 24 of Mayhem Festival 2014 brought the tour to Aaron’s Amphitheater in Atlanta, Georgia, I was presented with the opportunity for an interview with Miss May I vocalist, Levi Benton. Although I had not planned to take on any interviews for this show, I gladly jumped at the last minute chance. Having several of their albums, I had heard many of Miss May I’s songs, but I had never seen them live. I had high expectations of the band’s live show. I was not disappointed. With a mid-afternoon set time on a Tuesday afternoon in early August in Georgia, the crowd grew noticeably larger as Miss May I took the stage. From the very first note, the boys from Ohio took control of the masses and made them forget the insanely hot summer sun they were sweltering under.
After Rise of the Lion was released in April 2014, Mayhem Festival was Miss May I’s first opportunity to tour in support of the new album. With a set that included surprise guest vocals and crowd surfing by a large blue elephant and a circle pit that went around half of the festival site, Miss May I gave the Atlanta crowd something to remember and as I would find out later, hopefully something to look forward to later this year or early next year.
HHM: The first question I’ve got to ask is: Have you ever shared the stage with a blue elephant before?
Levi: No, (laughs) that was our friend in the blue elephant suit, he’s the tour manager for King 810. We’ve been friends with him for years. He was like, just wait until Atlanta, I’m doing something. The whole tour he’s been saying this and I was like what is he talking about. My wife texted me earlier today asking; “are you ready for the stage?” I kept thinking what are they talking about. So when we started that song and he came out and I was like “aww here we go”. He was singing in the mike so I could hear him in my monitor. All I could think was oh my gosh….
HHM: It was crazy. I was standing right in front of him when he came out.
Levi: I’m happy we made him crowd surf in an elephant suit.
HHM: Yeah, did you see the guy in the banana suit? A banana and a blue elephant crowd surfing, now that’s metal!
Levi: Oh yeah
HHM: I’ve read a lot on the influences behind Miss May I’s music. Who is your biggest influence?
Levi: For me vocal wise it would have to be All Shall Perish and In Flames. I am still trying to be at that par, but they are so good at what they do.
HHM: Rise of the Lion has been out for a little over 3 months now and Mayhem has been your first tour in support of its release, how has fan reaction been?
Levi: It’s been awesome. I’d say it’s been the fastest reaction we have had with people singing along during the show. We are happy to see that. It usually takes a little bit to step it in there. We came back from Europe and this is the first tour in the U.S. on the new album and people are singing along as loud as they can. It’s been awesome.
HHM: It was a great show today. The circle pit was insane. I actually got caught up in that when they kicked us out of the pit.
Levi: That was fun.
HHM: Rise of the Lion is said to have been written about and for the fans, what was the most compelling story that influenced one of its songs?
Levi: Oh man… That’s a tough one. We’ve always wrote vague songs. This time around we wanted to write more specific songs and we got a lot of letters from fans about losing parents, best friends and a song that I wrote about god knows what will help them get through it. To write a specific song, we wrote Echoes which is about losing someone close to you. We re-wrote that song like twenty times to make it really hit. That’s probably the deepest song we have.
HHM: You know that’s the thing about music, every song means something different to every fan. It could remind them of their brightest hour or get them through their darkest day all in one song.
Levi: Yeah, it’s crazy. I love that.
HHM: What is your favorite song to perform live?
Levi: My favorite has to be Hey Mister. That is the song that people cry, they sing loud, and beat the crap out of each other all at the same time.
HHM: You have a very intense vocal style, what if anything do you do to preserve your voice on long runs like Mayhem Festival?
Levi: The biggest thing, I drink a ridiculous amount, probably an unhealthy amount of water, especially before we play and I warm up and stretch for a really long time before we play.
HHM: You’d have to. My hats off to you brother, if I tried that for just one song I be like (whispering) “Hey Atlanta”. You have an amazing vocal style and I love the mix with the harmonies along with the contrast of your vocals.
Levi: Thank you. I appreciate that.
HHM: How do you decide what songs you are going to play during festival sets? Do you make changes to the set list during the tour?
Levi: For this tour we knew there were going to be a lot of new fans so we played a lot from the new record and the singles we knew were going to come off of the new record. The songs aren’t singles yet, but they are planned to be. This has been a very new album heavy set list, but we did change it up when we went to Canada because we haven’t played there in a while, so we played some songs from our first album for the old fans there. We actually played a slow song at the beginning of the tour and then we realized it’s 4pm and it’s 100 degrees outside, nobody wants to listen to a slow song, so we changed it up and people are throwing beers and having a great time now.
HHM: You have 5 days left on Mayhem Festival. After it is done, you have a few more festivals to go ending with Knotfest, what does Miss May I have planned after that?
Levi: We have a lot of U.S. tour dates and Canadian tour dates which we are all real excited about because the last album we toured a lot world-wide and didn’t really do a lot of U.S. stuff, so we are really excited to hit the U.S. and Canada really hard this time around. I can’t tell you with who but it’s a lot of bands that we have never toured with. It’s going to be good.
HHM: You have already achieved a great level of success playing Warped Tour, Mayhem, and Download Festivals, what is something you haven’t done that you are striving to achieve?
Levi: Man, I really want to headline and I want pyro!! One time at least, I just want fire so bad. Especially watching Avenged, I’m just like man I would love to have that. I have really long hair though, so fire sort of scares me, but I think it would be awesome.
HHM: I was kind of expecting to hear the word Wachen come out with that one.
Levi: Oh, see, that’s already in our emails. We’re already talking about that. Pyro we’re not even talking about. I really want pyro. One day I will have Pyro!
HHM: If you were able take the stage with any artist, living or dead, for just one performance who would it be?
HHM: Oh yeah.
Levi: It’d be insane and I’d probably jump in the crowd afterward and just watch them.
HHM: You said you were shooting a video here today with veterans, what song will that video be for?
Levi: Hero with No Name
HHM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Levi: Stay metal. Our new album Rise of the Lion is out. It’s in Target, Best Buy, and FYE, go pick it up if you like it and we’ll see you next time around.
Check out the full set of MMI photos Gary shot at the festival HERE
- Interview with Miss May I front man Levi Benton
- photos: Miss May I live in Heaven at the Masquerade in Atlanta photo credit Gary Flinn
- Miss May I release 'Rise Of The Lion' track by track video preview
- photos: Miss May I live at Mayhem Festival in Atlanta shot by Gary Flinn
- The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival announces Official 2014 artist line-up including headliners Avenged Sevenfold
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