With breaking-neck double kick and riffs on speed, Miss May I have developed a recognisable sound over the course of their career, which resonated with fans the world over. However, more of the same was simply not enough for the groups impending album Shadows Inside. ‘Good enough’ simply was not going to be good enough.
Given the gift of the most amount of studio time they’ve had for an album yet, Miss May I found the time to peak under the hood of their own sound, a task simply impossible with their previous tight touring schedule. The result is an intricate assembly of parts that touches on everything from the souring heights of Bon Jovi stadium core, to the shrieking depths of Gojira.
With the albums Friday, 2nd June release date mere moments away, we caught up with the bands vocalist Levi Benton to gain some insight into the bands new found direction
The Neversphere: I know you’ve just walked of rehearsal. How are the new songs coming along so far?
Levi Benton: Oh they’re great. I was pretty confident with the songs on the record but they’re so much better live – it’s so awesome. It’s the biggest production we’ve ever had so I’m really excited to have all these bells and whistles it’s going to be a good time.
The Neversphere: Having experienced the magnitude of Shadows Inside in full now, I feel that’s only appropriate
Levi: [Laughs] Yeah! I’m so happy you said that. That’s what I’ve been saying in all these interviews. They’re like ‘How’s the tour going‘ and I’m like ‘We the most crap we could fit on the stage because we want you to not only hear the record, but really hear the record‘. We have so many lights – we’ve always been a band that had a lot of crap on stage – but we went above and beyond. We definitely have too much for what we’re doing but it’s going to be good.
The Neversphere: You told me in an interview for another publication that Lost In The Grey wasn’t even your favourite part of the album. Now that I’ve heard the whole thing, I see what you mean-
Levi: [Laughs] Oh man, I appreciate that!
The Neversphere: There are some crazy moments. Personally, my favourite is My Sorrow–
Levi: Everyone is saying that! I’m so glad you like it.
The Neversphere: It’s basically everything the album does within one song. I figured you were going hell-for-leather in the final minutes of the album.
Levi: It’s crazy because you don’t ever think about it until the record’s done, and once it was done, we were just just like whoa…this is next-level what we wanted. My Sorrow was cool because to me, I know Hey Mister is a sad song and everyone’s like ‘Oh man, it really hits home‘ I’m like ‘Man… just wait until you hear this one. Talk about sad…we have a heartbreak song at the end of this record‘.
The Neversphere: So what is your favourite moment on the album?
Levi: The weird ones excite me a lot. Never Let Me Stay, I think it’s really fun. I feel like I’m in Korn or something. I could name the whole record but the other exciting thing would have to be casualties. It’s heavy but, I don’t know…it’s like a thrash metal heavy. I think our inner-Gorjia came out in that song.
The Neversphere: It feels like you cut back on a lot of the double-kick, speed-riffage from your previous albums. Instead implementing it strategically almost…
Levi: I think a lot of that comes with having so much time in the studio to polish it up and really get our equation down. But, I’m happy you said that because I feel like it’s a digestible metal record. If you’re not a metal fan, this will be the one of our albums you can listen to and it’s not going to hurt your ear drums.
The Neversphere: There are even some moments of pure Bon Jovi-esque epic stadium riffs. Lost In The Grey starts off with one also. It must have been fun to rock out to those sections.
Levi: When we write those parts, we all look at each other and we’re like ‘Is this too much…? Did we beyond the length of it?’ But we we’re like No. We should keep pushing the limit, and go weird. Having Drew [Fulk, producer] pushing us to feel uncomfortable; he hated it if we were ever doing something that was comfy, so when those Bon Jovi riffs came in we were laughing that it they were cool but probably over the top but he said ‘Nope, we’re putting it on the record.’
The Neversphere: The lion motif is awesome too. With the new album, you’ve kind of brought it beyond the album title and into the third dimension…
Levi: The goal for this release was to make it a physical object. It’s been tattooed, it’s been drawn, everyone brings it with them and all are fans are really attached to the lion. We wanted to bring it back in a new way so people could actually touch it; feel it and know it’s an actual object. We never gave it a physical being, so we worked on a bunch of sculpting for the mask as a merch item. We brought it to life so not only is it going to stick around more, but it’s going to be something that fans can now just draw but grab and be a part of.
We’re done playing games; doing little hype things left and right, trying to do something different and crazy. We wanted to go back to the lion, back to our identity and do the best Miss May I record we can.
The Neversphere: After this process, what’s exciting you the most about implementing? You did a lot of experimenting with Shadows Inside; the Bon Jovi riffs, intricate shred, lots of clean – which direction will you go for?
Levi: We’re really excited. I think we’re like 5 songs in already; we write all the time. There’s one song and I’m like ‘Ok, we can top Shadows Inside.’ BJ [Stead], our guitar player basically writes everything, he sends me demos all the time even if it’s like 20 seconds. He sent me this one and at first I thought it should have been on the record, but then I thought wait a second…no, because this will top shadows inside a couple of years from now.
We just want to go bigger and crazier. We’ve always had the DVDs of the bands with fire, and arena anthems with everyone singing. Now we’re so driven and amped up on our new surroundings, we’re just running with it. Keep it going and see how far we can take it.
The Neversphere: With all the touring that’s going on, has there been any talk of plans to send you guys back to Australia? It’s certainly been a minute.
Levi: I think it’s going to do something really big for it. I can’t say any timeframes – I don’t even know timeframes, there’s three tentative months it could happen. And that’s spaced out between here and the end of 2018. In two days, we start headlining around the world for two years straight. We want people to listen to Shadows Inside in the right setting…
…So we’re going all out for this one.