Miss May I are just wrapping up their UK tour and we got to sit down and talk to Levi (centre) and Ryan (left) about Justin Bieber, Facebook and how everyone fucking loves Nando’s.
How has 2012 been for you guys?
Levi: Busy. Very busy. We’ve been touring non-stop, released our new record, At Heart, and that’s basically every day.
Ryan: We recorded. Toured. Toured. Toured. Released a record. Toured. Then kept touring and now we’re here. We’ve had a month and a half off so far this year. We’re done with this tour 21 December. Then it’s back out on tour in February!
You released your first album while you were still in high school, wasn’t that really weird?
Levi: It was both a dream come true and a crazy movie story. We recorded it after school every day. Get out of school at 2pm, drive for two hours to the studio, record all night, drive back to school at 4am, get to school at 6am and pass out. Then go and do it again!
Ryan: I watched the whole thing from the outside, I wasn’t even back in the band yet, and it was unbelievable. I’d already graduated high school, and it was crazy watching these dudes I was friends with go back-and-forth between two different states at the age of 17. I didn’t even drive on the highway when I was 17, let alone drive between two different states every night to record an album.
Metal bands keep going forever and ever. How is it being a part of a scene where some bands you meet were touring the world before you were even born?
Levi: It’s great being grouped in with those bands because that’s everything we ever wanted. When we started we wanted to sound like other bands, but we really just wanted to be a metal band. And for people to accept us like we are now, and to be grouped with the bands we want to be like, it’s like ‘Wow!’. We’ve toured with some legendary bands, it’s like ‘Oh hey, I listened to you when I was 12-years-old and now we’re on tour together.’
Ryan: It gives you high hopes, too. This is what we want to do, obviously, so it’s cool to see people who have accomplished all these things and be put in with them it gives you high hopes. It makes you think that when you’re an old man you can still be up there riffing.
Did you expect your rise to fame to go so quickly?
Levi: I think we exceeded our expectations in first three months of being in a band. Every day since then it’s like ‘Holy crap, this is actually happening.’ For my 22nd birthday next year, we’re with Metallica in Australia. It’s so crazy. We used to be in a little mom van doing our first tour and now we’re flying to Australia playing with Metallica and Linkin Park.
Before Australia though, you’re on tour in the UK…
Levi: The UK fans go 110% all the time. In the US shows are pretty awesome, but Texas is the cream of the crop. The UK and Europe is like one big Texas. Everyone is like ‘Go big or go home’.
What do you need on your tour bus?
Levi: Here? A bunch of adaptors. Cell phone. Toothbrush. I feel like the worst person in the world when I walk out of the bus, and there’s kids that have got there early who want a picture. And I’m like ‘Oh my God, my breath smells like I just ate shit.’ Great, this kid’s gonna think I’m a slob.
Speaking of fans, you’re about to hit 1 million fans on Facebook. How are you guys so popular on the internet?
Ryan: We’re one of those bands that have risen up through the social network era. Myspace got us our start. I remember thinking back then ‘Oh my God, we’re about to hit such-and-such friends,’ then when Myspace started falling off and Facebook turned around we just totally forgot about it. And now Facebook is slowly fading away, you need to have your shit together for Instagram and Twitter or whatever the next thing is. And it’s a crazy fact to hear somebody else tell you that that many people that care.
Levi: There’s not that many spammers on Facebook, either. Even though there are stupid Facebook ones, it’s not as bad as Myspace was. From the million likes there’s probably 50,000 weirdos out there. That’s still 950,000 people, it’s nuts.
Ryan: Where are these 950,000 people?
Levi: Yeah, why aren’t they coming to our shows or buying our records?
For your the video of your latest record, Day By Day, you’re getting dragged away by police. Has this ever happened?
Levi: My only run-in with the law was when I was seven years old, and I stole some Gummi Bears. My mom found out, she made me take them back to the store, then she called the cops and made the cop come and talk to me. Since then I haven’t done anything, I guess it whipped me into shape.
Imagine what could have happened if you kept the Gummi Bears!
Levi: I’d have killed people and blown up buildings.
You recorded your latest album with Machine, who is known to be an intense character. What was it like working with him?
Levi: He made us a better band. He gets the real artist out of whoever he works with. We thought we were good but he opened us up to realise there’s so much more to the band than actually being there. I don’t think anyone could have gotten that out of us if they weren’t as intense or crazy as Machine. For example, doing vocals I would sing a line that would be perfect, exactly what we want on the record. But he would be in face like ‘What are you even saying? I don’t believe you. You have to get mad!’ I get back into the studio but he’s still like ‘Get pissed! I still don’t believe you!’ Now I really feel what I say and it sounds real. It’s really cool.
Ryan: When I was in the vocal booth, I would sing a hook and hit the pitch, it would be musically correct. But it just wouldn’t have the emotion he was looking for. He always finds a way to explain to you how you should be portraying this particular phrase. Before he was there to tell us you can portray emotion in a screamer, you can portray emotion in this heavy chest-singing party, we would just get in there, spit our part out as good as we could, but now performing with him it’s about getting emotion into each song. There’s no such thing as the perfect scream, it’s all about the mood and the atmosphere around that part. That’s what hooks the listener in. You could listen to a million dudes who scream but you love your favourite band because you can connect with the song.
Do you think Machine made you more metal?
Ryan: We put ourselves in a box on the record before, this time he was like ‘No-one has ever written a good metal record by trying their hardest to be someone else.’ He pulled our interpretation of metal out of us.
Levi: He let us find our niche. We would be doing stuff but he was like ‘That’s cool but it’s not metal, we can’t put that on the record.’ He knew we wanted to be a metal band and the new album is almost as metal as we could possibly be. We held back in case people didn’t accept it, but since people accepted At Heart so much, the next record is ‘We are a metal band.’
Ryan: This album was a single-foot dropkick to the face, we’re going to dual-foot dropkick next time.
Levi: We sprinkled metal on it, now it’s full on.
Ryan: If At Heart was Nando’s, we did a mild.
Levi: We might have even done lime and mango this time, it could get way hotter.
Are you fans of Nando’s?
Ryan: I’ve already picked up a bottle of sauce to take back home with me. I love it, it’s so good. There’s a Nando’s on the East Coast but it’s six to eight hours away from us, they’re in like the Washington DC and Baltimore area. Our tattoo artist is from Baltimore so we’re in the area now and then, but I can’t leave my apartment, drive five minutes and pick up some Nando’s.
Levi, you’re also really into pop music. What pop music are you listening to right now?
Levi: I’m a little late on the bandwagon, but the Believe record by Justin Bieber… I know, I know. I’m a big Justin Timberlake fan, but we ended up following Bieber on tour. He was playing all the cities we were playing, so I Googled him to see the production, I heard his new record and I can’t stop listening to it. Everyone is listening to Killswitch and stuff but I’m blasting this before we get on stage.
Miss May I are just finishing their UK now. Go see them, quick!