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Interview: Miss May I lead vocalist, Levi
The perseverance of Northeastern Ohio’s young thrash metal band Miss May I
continues to land them success. Forming six years ago, the quintet is now
preparing to release their third full-length album
At Heart (Rise Records) on
June 19. In addition, the guys will continue relentless touring: some more
dates with Whitechapel, After The Burial, The Plot In You and Within The
Ruins as part of “The Recorruptour;” this year’s Bamboozle Festival and
mainstage at Vans Warped Tour. Tired yet? Between tour dates, while
finishing up recording the band’s new music video for “Hey, Mister,” lead
vocalist Levi Benton paused to talk.

When do you expect the new music video to be released?
Levi: I’m not sure. We’ve shot three days for it and it’s pretty crazy, so I’m
hoping soon. Depending on how long it takes to edit.

The new album At Heart got pushed back a bit from a May to June
release, but how was it recording the album?
Levi: We went to a new producer and this is the longest time we’ve spend on
an album, spent like two months on it. It was our first time doing pre-
production so that was cool. It definitely made a huge difference with this one.
We recorded it for a couple weeks and wrote it with a machine and we
actually got to sit back and listen to the album. Which is nice because on our
last records we basically just wrote them and finished it on the CD and never
really got to sit back and listen to them. I think that was the biggest difference
on the CD and I think that’s why the songs came out as well as they did.

The album artwork is different from previous albums.
Levi: Kids seemed a little bummed about it at first, but it all turned out good.

What has been the biggest challenge for you guys as a band together?
Levi: The biggest challenge is touring and learning to live on the road. We all
miss our girlfriends and being at home with family. That was always a really
hard thing. We’re finally slowly getting the hang of it, figuring out how to live on
the road. Since we got signed we’ve been touring basically nonstop.

How do you prevent things from being routine with all the touring?
Levi: I’m just like a quite, pretty chill guy so playing is like my only time to get
out and go crazy and have no limit. I feel like doing that every night, it never
gets repetitive. The crowds are always different and I love talking to the crowd.

You mentioned you’re kind of a shy and reserved person until you step
on stage and then you take on a different persona, so when writing your
lyrics do you purposely try to be vague so they’re not as personal?
Levi: Yes, I actually do try to be as vague as possible. I like to make them
vague too because I like to not have kids listen to it one time and know what
the songs about. I also like to be vague because it’s cool that I would write a
song about one thing, then a kid would tell me how it helped him and he would
tell me his explanation of the song and it would be something completely
different from why I wrote it. It’s pretty cool.

Have you had any vocal training or was it all self taught?
Levi: It was really all self-taught until last year actually. We were touring about
10 months a year, so it was really doing a toll on me and I finally went to a
vocal trainer in New York and ever since then it’s been awesome, better than
before. I’m excited because this CD is the first CD I’ve done since after vocal
training.

How exactly did the vocal training help you?
Levi: Definitely stamina and range for sure and I definitely control a lot more.

Is it a group effort to write songs?
Levi: We do it sort of backwards. Everyone in our band writes. We write all the
instruments and get that out of the way then I sit and listen to the songs like
hundreds of times and write lyrics to them. I like to get the feeling of the music
and feel what the song would be best about and start writing.

In what forms will At Heart be released June 19?
Levi: We have three different ones: the store version; the pre-order has it’s
own artwork and card, so you get something special; the digital copy you get a
bonus remix song and two music videos with it that aren’t seen yet. We try to
mix it up and make it special for everybody. Any way you buy it, you get your
own experience.

Any pre-show rituals before taking the stage?
Levi: We all stretch together. That’s our nerdiest thing, we all do our stretches
together and jam all our favorite bands.

If you weren’t in a band, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
Levi: I’d probably be in school for advertising. That’s what I was lined up to do
before we got our record deal at the end of high school.

What is one band or one person that you would love to work with and
collaborate with?
Levi: I would like to do a collaboration with As I Lay Dying. It’s our favorite band
we nerd out on and it’d be cool to do something crazy with them.

What’s something fans don’t really know about you?
Levi: I’m a big chick-flick fan and I listen to a lot of hip-hop and R&B, more than
I do metal, so that’s definitely my guilty pleasures.

What was the first concert you ever went to?
Levi: Ted Nugent, I was like four or five years old. It’s sort of a haze, but I do
have pictures from when I was there.

Last words?
Levi: Stay metal!

Troy, Ohio's Miss May I will be at Newport Music Hall in Columbus on
Saturday, May 18 at 6 p.m. Advance tickets are $16.50 and $18 day of show.
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For The Fans, By The Fans.  Look Beyond The Mainstream.
Levin Benton, Miss May I vocalist, performing at Vans Warped Tour.
Photo by Jared Perkins, OOTB.
Miss May I return to Columbus at Newport this Saturday. Publicity photo.
Benton cites Machine Gun Kelly and Yealwolf as two hip-hop artists he likes.
Photo by Jared Perkins, OOTB.
Miss May I release At Heart on Rise Records June 19 with three versions..
MISS MAY I
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