MEB staffer Rebecca Kravetz recently caught up on tour with Levi Benton, lead vocalist of the metalcore group Miss May I. They discussed the tour’s lineup changes due to Tim Lambesis’ recent charges, the band’s recent Golden Gods award nomination, their hopes of further transitioning into the world of metal, and the production of an album unlike any they have done before.
MEB: Tonight’s performance was amazing. How does it feel to be on tour with Killswitch Engage, The Word Alive, Darkest Hour and Affiance?
Levi Benton: Thank you. It’s pretty crazy. We’ve toured with The Word Alive before, and Affiance is from Ohio, and The Darkest Hour I’ve been a super huge fan of forever. Touring with Killswitch is definitely the craziest one because the first heavy song I ever heard was a Killswitch song and now I play right before them every night.
When did you hear your first Killswitch Engage song?
Oh my gosh. I was probably in fifth grade.
How has the tour been treating you so far? Any highlights or challenges?
It’s been really awesome. Probably the easiest tour ever. This is our first time playing to just metal heads, like thousands of metal heads so the reaction has just been perfect every night. Killswitch is bringing so many older metal fans and it’s cool because there are a lot of new fans too.
On your twitter you messaged that your tour bus was shot at. What happened?
I have no idea. We woke up and there was a hole through the window and it was all shattered and it looked like a bullet hole. We were like “there’s no way.” Our bus driver was already in the hotel, but when 11 o’clock rolled around and the bus driver came back, we asked him what happened and he said we were driving through Texas around 3am and he just heard a big slam. It’s crazy because if it was just an inch over to the left, it would have went right through and almost hit him, but it hit the metal and shattered the window. It must have been a stray bullet or something. I guess that happens a lot in Texas. People just out in the country shooting around and we got hit with a bullet. That’s crazy.
You are also playing additional shows on your days off from the Killswitch Engage tour. Can you tell me a little about why you’re doing that?
We’re doing it to fill time instead of just sitting around and hanging out on days off. We always love playing shows so we’re trying to play as many as possible. The days we have off are so we can drive, and we play in the little cities on the way. We have fun.
The Affliction clothing line sponsors it if I am correct?
And how is your clothing line, Versa Limited, going by the way?
We just built our first store in Cincinnati and it opens in July. It’s been giving me the biggest headache ever, I’m ripping my hair out, but I’m really excited to launch it. It’s more GQ and there’s a lot more girl stuff. It’s the real deal. It’s just weird because I have employees now… and that’s just weird. But I’m excited. Everything has been really good. We’ve been laying low because we’re waiting for the big store opening. That’s why we really haven’t posted anything in awhile.
You were originally supposed to be on tour with As I Lay Dying. What are your thoughts on Tim Lambesis’ recent charges? What complications did this cause for the tour?
I still can’t believe it. I know it’s true and that it’s been proven true and everything, but it’s just crazy to me because we’re friends with all those guys. We’ve been out to eat with them, we’ve hung out with them so many times. They took us to Mexico. I can’t personally believe what happened, but I guess it’s the truth. I know the guys are doing well and Tim is doing well, everything is resolved, I’m just hoping the clouds clear. As for the tour, there was a big spot to fill. That’s why not one band filled the spot, but two. As I Lay Dying are such legends that Killswitch had to bring in two bands to fill their spot. The bands really worked out. We like The Word Alive, we know those guys. We had never toured with Darkest Hour before but we love those guys too.
Your last album At Heart was released about a year ago. Looking back, do you think it has been a successful year?
It’s been a really successful year. It’s been a little bit different because it’s a really big transition. And it’s cool because the transition actually worked. Like we’re touring with Killswitch now and we’ve got some other tours coming up that are just really crazy. We’re excited to do a new record. Since people accepted this one so much, we can go all out for the next one.
What do you mean by a transition?
It’s really hard to explain. I guess we’re trying to go into an older, more mature metal world, like Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch. We’re moving away from what we used to sound like to be more grown up I guess, and it’s really hard because maybe people won’t like that. So when we released our last record it was a huge change and people ended up liking it and it opened up a big door for us. We’re getting older now and thinking more career-wise. I mean we’re still doing it for fun. We’re happy that we’re here. We never tried to get signed or tried to be on a record label or anything, it just happened. But since we love doing this so much, we’re trying to set it up as a career so we can do it for the rest of our lives. The biggest thing is we have to transition and move with the times. It’s just scary moving with the times because sometimes people don’t like it. It’s like a “cross your fingers” every time we release a new record.
What was it like being nominated for Best New Talent and walking down the gold carpet at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards?
That was crazy because I would have never thought that we’d be nominated for anything like that. Especially being recognized in that world, like that’s the transition again. That’s a whole new metal world and they finally recognized us this year. It’s funny that they said “new talent,” we’ve been around forever, but it was cool because it just shows how the transition is working. Just to be nominated, I felt like we won. I know we didn’t win the award, but we lost to the guys in Disturbed, which is totally fine because they’re in Disturbed, which is way cooler. I had a suit because I just got married and since I got a tux they gave me a free suit. It was funny because before we were nominated I was like “Aw sweet, I can wear my tux at Golden Gods” like as a joke because I never thought I’d go. Then when we got nominated I was like, “Yeah! I’ve got a suit!” It all worked out in the end.
Rumor is that you’re going to be releasing a new album this year. What should we be expecting? Any word on a release date?
We don’t know a release date. We’re hoping for this year. We’re shooting really hard for this year but it might be early next year. We’re going to a really big producer this time, which we’re really excited about, and changing up the team again. We’re trying to change it every record just to see what we can do. I guess since we got a lot of acceptance on our last record, we have a more open door to doing crazier stuff. We were like dumbing it down a little bit before and now we can go full out. We’re working with Terry Date, he did Pantera, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, the new Bring Me The Horizon record. We’re going to go 100 percent new Miss May I. We’re bringing the lion back as the art cover and we have some really cool new ideas.
Levi, I know one of your favorite phrases is “stay metal.” So what are some other musicians or groups that influence your band?
Killswitch and As I Lay Dying are some of the biggest ones actually. It always changes because we are getting older like I said. In Flames right now, Five Finger Death Punch, All That Remains, Lamb of God. Those are really the ones that we’ve been jamming to a lot lately. But I’s say the biggest one is Killswitch and we get to see them every night.
Lastly, what is one fun or interesting thing that you think your fans do not know about you?
Okay, this is really gross and it might be fun, whatever. So I’ve never had a wart in my entire life and I have my first wart on my elbow and I’m very embarrassed about it. So if you hear about this interview and you look for it, don’t make fun of me. I’m trying to get it removed. I got it like a month ago and I didn’t touch a frog or nothin’. I don’t know how it happened, but I have an old man wart. I feel like I’m getting old and I’m freaking out.
Thank you so much for the interview. Do you have anything you want to add or say to the fans?