Band of the Week: Miss May I

Ohio-based metalcore band has upped the production for its latest tour

Miss May I. - Courtesy of Adrenaline PR
Courtesy of Adrenaline PR
Miss May I.
Meet the Band: Levi Benton (vocals), B.J. Stead (guitar), Justin Aufdemkampe (guitar),
Ryan Neff (bass, vocals), Jerod Boyd (drums)

MOTHER KNOWS BEST: Benton, who grew up in Troy, OH, says his mom was a metalhead, but he initially didn’t like anything his mom liked. “I was anti-whatever my mom was into,” he says. “I didn’t think metal was cool until I found it.” He formed Miss May I when he was still in high school; the group would draw from a variety of metal acts for its heralded 2009 debut, Apologies Are for the Weak. “We all liked Underoath and that led to As I Lay Dying and that got us into Killswitch Engage and All Shall Perish,” he says. “We were not trying to be in a band and make it a career,” says Benton. “We were skater kids and honestly just punk-ass kids. We would just go to our friend’s house where there were instruments, and we could play until our parents could pick us up. It was our after-dark activity. If it didn’t work out on our first tour, we all had college lined up.”

MAKING THE MOST OF LOCKDOWN: The band wrote the music for its new album, Curse of Existence, during the height of the pandemic. “We had ideas prior to the pandemic because we were supposed to go into the studio during the summer of the pandemic, and then the world stopped,” says Benton. “We were in the longest album cycle. This album represents five years between albums. It was a difficult album to make. Our songs are never complete until we get to vibe out [during a performance]. We don’t know where the kinks are until we play it together. We don’t have a rehearsal space because we tour all the time. Only a couple of guys could come into the studio at a time. It took like a year to workshop the album. I didn’t want to write the pandemic album. When we were writing it, we were dealing with real life stuff.  It was almost like going from 14 years old to 30 years old. Life just hit us like a freight train. There are a bunch of layers. It’s very deep and cool because it’s so truthful.”

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: With their highly technical guitar solos, “Into Oblivion” and “A Smile Does Not Exist” come off as thrash classics. "Unconquered" serves as an anthem and even features a melodic chorus that offsets the growing vocals and snarling guitars. “I think every album, our musicianship goes up," says Benton. "It comes with us being comfortable with each other. We got to showcase some of our influences. The longer we are a band, the more we study metal.  All our songs start with the guitars. They just let it go. It was exciting because with this album we wanted to show our deep, deep influences. The most current metal albums are going futuristic compared to us. We’re going into the roots of guys who turn up the distortion.” Benton says the live show will feature the most significant amount of production ever. The group has also added a separate VIP performance that will feature an intimate set that focuses on deep tracks. “We would just do sound checks back in the day,” he says. “Now, we want the shows to be better than ever. [The VIP performance] features songs that we would love to play that have been requested for years but just don’t make sense in the set. It’s fun for both the fans and for us. We get to play these crazy songs we always wanted to play. It’s a hodgepodge and a free-for-all. The production will be there too.”


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Miss May I performs with Currents, Kingdom of Giants and LANDMVRKS at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Beachland Ballroom.
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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