Wednesday 11 April 2012

Miss May I // The Ghost Inside - Interview

Miss May I [top] and The Ghost inside have just embarked on a huge European tour supporting Byron Bay's finest Parkway Drive
Both MMI and TGI are set to play The Warped Tour this summer and that's just a small part of a huge year ahead! Est.1987 headed to Manchester to catch up with Levi Benton [MMI] and Aaron Brooks [TGI] to chat recording, pre-show rituals and lions!

First up, we sit down with Miss May I front-man Levi Benton...

Hi Levi, you’re on tour with three other bands; it’s quite a hefty line-up. How is it being on the road with the other guys?
It’s crazy yeah. I like travelling so enjoy it. It’s awesome; we toured with Parkway Drive and Confession before and we’re getting ready to tour with The Ghost Inside on The Warped Tour this year, so it’s cool to meet them before that.

Levi Benton on stage at Manchester Academy
Do you get much downtime to hang out and do touristy stuff?
No, not really; [laughing] I usually sleep in until we’re here and I get up at like four in the afternoon. Today I woke up early though in Manchester so went for a walk around. I went to a museum just near the venue. I didn’t know it was here but someone told me. Usually there’s like a mall or shopping centre but there aren’t any around here so was like “yeah, the museum it’s something to do”. 

So, your new album “At Heart” comes out June 12th. What can fans expect from that and how will it differ and evolve from “Monument”?
It’s a lot more real, that’s why we called it “At Heart”. I don’t really listen to a lot of metal, I listen to hip-hop, so the lyrics are more real I guess. It’s not cheesy “I hate everything” metal stuff; it’s real. There are a lot of songs that are about nothing that other metal bands have written about before, so we’re really excited about it. We actually just got the finished version today, so it sounds awesome and we finally did real instruments. It’s not all digital like our other CDs.

So, as well as the new album you guys have a new band logo and new symbol- a lion. You’ve always used a lion but now you have an official image for the band. What does that mean to Miss May I and why have you decided lock it down now?
Well, with the new CD it’s our first time with a producer and we’re trying to break away from the scene; the younger scene kids, not that we don’t want to play with them anymore, but we’ve done all we can. We thought it would be cool that on our fifth album instead of having five different lions, we would have one now. We wanted to build it up and not just start off with a symbol, so we thought now was the perfect time; the lion was our thing and now it’s like, this is our lion. It’s cool; there are hundreds of tattoos already. It’s only been on YouTube for like fifteen seconds, but there are kids that have it tattooed; one kid has it on his throat, it’s everywhere now.

At Heart- released June 12th
You’ve released the album artwork too- quite a sinister looking little boy on the front. How did that image come about?
Yeah, it’s a little different. The packaging is the cool thing about it. We actually got bashed a lot for the new album artwork. But yeah, the kid has the heart and if you have it in your hand there’s actually a hole through the booklet and there are hearts actually printed on the CD so you can rotate the CD and when you close the case you have a different colour heart. The kid represents us and when you open the booklet there are pictures of us with holes cut, so it’s pretty cool. It’s definitely different because it’s not the lion like we always have but it’s cool because it’s like a story that we’re doing. The lyrics have nothing to do with a lion so it would have been pointless

You worked with producer “Machine” on “At Heart” who’s worked with such a diverse range of bands from Lamb of God to Gym Class Heroes. How was that experience?
He’s crazy! He never sleeps! He has a mainstream attitude which is why we went to him, and we didn’t want to go to a metal producer because we’re a metal band. So, it was cool to go to him. “Hey this is metal music, this is how you make it catchy”. It was really fun and he pushed us really hard. All the lyrics, even me doing vocals he was like “do it again, think about you’re singing”. We’re hoping he’s going to be the sixth member; we don’t want to go to anyone else now.

If you weren’t in Miss May I what would you be doing?
We were all lined up for college and then we got our record deal in high school. So, I would be in school studying advertising right now. That’s what the cool thing is about Miss May I. Like the new CD, I come up with most of the ideas for the stuff so I get to do the advertising and music.

And finally, which bands should our readers be checking out?
letlive; I know they’re huge already over here, but in the US they’re not as big yet. Can I do a hip-hop one? Machine Gun Kelly; he just signed to Bad Boy, Diddy’s record label. He’s from Ohio and he’s awesome.

Next, we chat to lead guitarist, Aaron Brooks from The Ghost Inside...

Hey Aaron, how’s the tour been going so far?
We’ve played in Amsterdam and then came over here, but it’s been great! We were just here a few months back with “A Day To Remember” and are playing a lot of the same venues, but it’s just as good, if not better. We’re with a bunch of bands that we’ve known previously, so it’s just a big group of friends travelling around playing great shows.

Aaron on stage in Manchester
What can we expect from your live show?
Manchester is our favourite city to play in England, hands down! All the cities are great but here is a little something special. We always have great shows and it makes us more excited, so everything we can do, we’ll be doing it that’s for sure; full effort tonight.

You’re playing Manchester Academy 1 tonight which is the biggest of 3. Do you prefer bigger venues like this or smaller ones?
It depends; when you play a giant room it’s fun because when people know your songs that’s like thousands of people singing along, but it’s also really cool to play in a small place with no barrier. Both have their plusses and minuses, but this is a big room tour so I’m kind of in that mode; tonight’s going to be great. 

Do you have any rituals you have to do before going on stage?
[Laughing] Stretch, because I’m old! And the only thing that we ever do is right before we all go on we do the hands in thing and go “1,2,3” and we just pick something different every single night. Sometimes we’ll say someone’s name or sometimes something to do with the city; I don’t know, it depends, but I won’t find out right until we go on.

TGI's 2010 album "Returners"
Your last album “Returners” was about life on the road and how things change so much back home when you’re not there. Does it ever get easier being away from home and are you used to it?
It’s not necessarily easier, but we are more used to it because after five to ten years it becomes normal. But, I don’t know, I mean personally I am a lot more stable at home than I was before. The first five years we were touring I didn’t have a place to live back home, so would sleep on a friend’s couch or sleep in the van. But I have an apartment now and love going home because it’s very comfortable; best of both worlds, finally.

You’re working on a new record with Andrew Wade and “A Day To Remember” vocalist Jeremy McKinnon. How was that?
Yeah, we tracked the whole record with Andrew in September/ October and a little bit more in January. Jeremy from A Day To Remember was there through the entire process and it was great because it was the first time that anyone outside our band has had an influence on our music. At first I was nervous, but it was really good. Both those guys think really similar to us when it comes to song ideas so we wrote the whole record in the studio. They kept us moving and had a lot of great ideas to contribute. It wouldn’t be the same record without them.
It’s become apparent that bands like yourselves are becoming more widely recognised and popular. Would you say that the overall face and future of mainstream music is becoming heavier? Is that good?
It’s definitely more accessible now than what it used to be; bands like A Day To Remember are on the radio and stuff now. They’re the most popular band with heavy parts I think ever, so it’s bands like that whohave something to offer everybody that opens the door to bands like us. It could go that direction; I mean there’s always going to be pop music and mainstream music, but I think slowly but surely we’ll find our place.  

A lot of hardcore bands say that they don’t really listen to hardcore stuff in their free time- what do you like to listen to?
That’s pretty true for the most part; you get your fair dose of it on tour. When I go home it depends. I like a lot of pop music and listen to bands like Paramore and pop-rock music that’s easier on the ears. Everyone in our band listens to really different stuff, but I’d say that for a band that’s been on tour for five years or more that’s pretty true. 

And to read what happened when Miss May I, the Ghost Inside and Parkway Drive took to the stage click HERE for the live review!

Catch Miss May I and The Ghost Inside on tour with Parkway Drive...