MISS MAY I – A Sit-Down with Levi Benton

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Miss May I’s Levi Benton

Born and bred in the heart of 2000’s metalcore, Troy, Ohio natives Miss May I have made a triumphant return with their new release, Curse Of Existence.  Put on the map because of their incredible musicianship, the lineup consisting of vocalist Levi Benton, lead guitarist B.J. Stead, rhythm guitarist Justin Aufdemkampe, bassist and clean vocalist Ryan Neff, and drummer Jerod Boyd, have proven once again why they have been a genre-defining act since 2007.  Ten songs of pure action and in-your-face heaviness show that MMI will not be slowing down anytime soon.  Screamer Magazine recently sat down with Benton to let him tell the story behind the writing, recording, and reception of Curse Of Existence

The humble and soft-spoken soon-to-be father of two that also happens to have a scream that rivals that of demons, detailed the copious amount of work they put into the recent album.  Having been five years since they put out Shadows Inside, the world has changed tremendously, especially for Benton, as he and his wife welcomed their first child, Jaxx, into the world and navigated life while trying to simultaneously write a new record and raise a child during a pandemic.  The pandemic’s challenges and restrictions were a thorn in the band’s side, with Benton explaining, “[This album cycle] was supposed to be just like our normal schedule of one to two years.  We were actually getting ready to head into the studio right before the pandemic started.”  Elaborating further, he shared that “it was a little nerve-racking cause we’ve never taken this much time off from our fans.”  It turns out that this was a much-needed break for the band, as it has given fans time to anticipate the new album and has made the release what Benton believed to be “the best reaction we’ve had” and said, “the newer songs are just destroying the older songs live.”  Although the reception was great, Benton shared, “We’re not going to do that next time, but it is nice to know that we can take our time on the album.”  Based on what he said about the reception, it is certain that MMI fans wouldn’t mind waiting if the band can continue to put out material that is the same caliber as Curse Of Existence.

Overall, Benton said that the album was about “really letting our inspiration show more and musicianship just being like more vulnerable.” Specifically, In Flames and Darkest Hour were cited as the biggest influences for the guys while writing Curse Of Existence.  Those influences can be heard through songs like A Smile That Does Not Exist  and Bloodshed, in which Benton shares a distinct vocal similarity to Anders Friden.  Lyrically, Benton informed that “our albums are always like a bookmark of time and of what we are going through at that time.”  He also said that the album title perfectly sums up the themes and thoughts that went through their minds while writing.  Drawing from a line in Bleed Together, Curse Of Existence is the epitome of “a lot of positive perspectives and a lot of negative perspectives.” 

Diving deeper into the individual songs, the topic of the band’s new favorite track was brought up.  Benton almost immediately responded that “the all-around favorite would be Into Oblivion” and shared, ”it’s a real personal song for me, and I just think instrumentally, and just sonically, it’s my favorite as well.”  Those opinions are unequivocally shared by fans, as the song is an excellent showcase of the MMI sound, with its streaking melodies and crisp vocals soaring through the four minutes of pure metal that make it a highlight of the album.  Another song that Benton holds a very personal relationship to is Bleed Together.  He explains, “[it’s] a follow up to Hey Mister and is a song for my daughter.”  Going along with the idea of the best reaction the band has ever had, Benton said Bleed Together is “the loudest song we’ve ever had our fans sing live.”  In addition to those mentioned above, Benton said tracks like the lead single Unconquered and Free Fall are honorable mentions for some of the best writing the band completed on the album.  He also shared, “There’s a couple [songs] that didn’t make it.  There is one I think people will really like and enjoy; it’s going to come out somehow later on.”  This was followed by Benton confirming, “there will for sure be a cool deluxe thing that we’re working on and done some stuff with, especially since everyone’s already having such a good time with it.”  The confirmation of a deluxe album with even more MMI content coming out very soon will be a welcome treat for fans who can’t get their fix. 

 

Those same fans will be delighted to know that a new Miss May I album also means a new set of tours.  Currently, MMI, with help from Currents, Kingdom of Giants, and Landmvrks, is letting every part of the US experience Curse Of Existence, and according to Benton, “Half our set is new songs.”  Older fans may be disappointed at this revelation with the cutting off of some of their favorites, but rest assured, Benton feels the same, saying, “It is hard to fit everything, more and more [we] chop off songs that we really miss playing.”  Although, the band did devise a way to counter the loss of such great tunes from their set.  Benton said, “we play like a VIP set now, so we play an entire set before the show, and a lot of the songs we play are ones that didn’t make it to the main show,” which sounds like a lot of fun!  The band will continue to be on the road through the early part of October.  After this current run, MMI will be heading across the Atlantic with August Burns Red and Bury Tomorrow at the end of October for a string of shows in the UK.  Benton expressed his excitement for the upcoming trek, saying, “That was a pipe dream since the world stopped.  I can’t wait to play for that crowd with this new music.”  Although he couldn’t share too much of what the band’s touring plans were after the UK, other than joke about possibly playing with As I Lay Dying due to Neff playing with them, but quickly brushing it off because of the strain it would possibly place on Neff’s voice.  He also expressed a desire to maybe bring out Dallas Hardcore band UnityTX and Australian Deathcore band Alpha Wolf, whose lead singer Lochie Keogh’s crazy stage presence is very similar to Benton, as support for the band, which would make for a crazy lineup and even crazier set of shows. Benton ended the interview by thanking everyone for their love, support, and interest in everything that the band does.  He also guaranteed that Miss May I would continue to put out music and play shows as long as their fans continued packing shows and buying records.  It looks like there will be no shortage of this, though, as fans have managed to sell out numerous venues along this tour.  If they play their cards right with the amount of love they receive in the community, they could be putting out great music for years to come, which would be outstanding for everyone.  The future looks very bright for them, with many exciting things to come, especially for Benton, who just recently announced that he would have a new addition to the family soon. 

Miss May I

As Benton said, the new album’s reception has been crazy, and the shows have been even crazier.  If you don’t believe him, you might just need to go check out the Miss May I social media links below.  Better yet, there are still some opportunities to rock with them on their current run and plenty more overseas.  So, go out, have some fun, and experience the Curse Of Existence live!

Miss May I Online:

www.missmayimusic.com

www.facebook.com/missmayi

twitter.com/missmayiband

www.instagram.com/missmayiband

 

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