Metalcore band Miss May I, started -- like most bands -- in a basement, just a bunch of high school kids jamming out to cover songs. This fivesome from Troy, Ohio, never expected anything to come from it. But when they caught the attention of the Devil Wears Prada guitarist Chris Rubey, a fellow Ohio band hailing from nearby Dayton, that things really took off.
A record deal, and a few tours later, brought success to a whole new level for the band, excited to be among the first underground metal acts to headline this year's AP Tour, which has typically chosen alt-rock bands to receive the coveted front cover of Alternative Press.
But it's OK, because Miss May isn't just another fad, and they don't want to be just another "scene" metalcore band. They want to endure, and are working hard to sculpt their unique sound to be even more metal than the rest. New Times caught up with Miss May I lead singer Levi Benton during the band's brief hiatus from the tail end of the 2012 Warped Tour, and before the October start of the AP Tour.
New Times: So, you grew up in Dayton, Ohio, along with all the band members. Tell me about how you guys first started playing.
Levi Benton: I moved into Troy [Ohio] in 8th grade, and that's when I met all the guys. All of them have been playing for years, but we didn't officially start playing until our freshman year of high school. We never played shows, we just did covers stuff -- we'd play Hawthorne Heights and Underoath -- sitting in the basement for hours just jamming. We never recorded, we just did it for fun.
And fun turned into actual gigs?
We eventually got to the point where we were writing our own stuff. After years and years of jamming, we had our first official "show" our junior year of high school. It was horrible. There was no there -- it was like 30 people. The lighting sucked. The acoustics weren't that great. People hated us. It was horrible.
But that didn't stop you, obviously...
It got crazy, because we kept at it every weekend, and we started to get better and better, practicing more. And, a year later, in our senior year, we had become a local phenomenon. And that's when it all started to happen.
You mean getting signed to Rise Records?
That, and just making a name for ourselves. We never stopped playing, we kept at it, kept practicing, kept doing shows.
Do you think that's been the key to your success as a band so far?
I tell my friends now that are just starting bands, or in bands, just keep at it because you love it. We never, ever wanted to get signed. We never had a goal to go on tour, or put together an album. Even when we went out and played a show and there were only a few people there, we didn't care. That's not why we were there. We were having fun, and we never stopped enjoying what we do. And I think a lot of local bands give up too fast -- they get discouraged when a few show don't go too well, and then they start a new band, or change their music up.
But you didn't do that...
We never changed, no. We never did something new because we thought that would make other people happy. And this is still my first band -- this is all our first band. And I think that's what got us out there today, where we're playing songs now, in front of thousands of people, that I wrote when I was a freshman in high school in a basement, before anyone had ever heard us live.
Here it comes, the usual band interview question: Is there a story behind your name? I haven't read anything about that.
You haven't heard anything because there is no story! We named ourselves that around freshman year, right when grindcore was big. It was like a stupid name that made no sense, which was what all band names seemed to be around that time. We thought it was weird, and that it would stick out on a flyer. And we've stuck with it, and now we're stuck with a goofy name that has no story.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.