Miss May I were fully expecting to be forgotten after their debut album
It’s been nearly 10 years since Miss May I released their breakthrough record, Monument, but the band didn’t even expect to make it past their debut album. Vocalist Levi Benton tells AP that the band were fully expecting to be forgotten after they stepped on to the scene with their first album, Apologies Are For The Weak, but once they rolled out Monument, their career felt solidified.
“I don’t think anyone in our band expected anything that has happened, especially then,” Benton reveals. “I think we knew a little bit when our album was happening that something was special and something was going on because of how [we] were getting treated with that record. I think all of our bucket lists were checked off within the first few days of being on tour. Now 10 years later, it’s more like adding to the bucket list.”
The process of creating their debut follow-up felt like a restart after doing everything they could to make an impression. Benton explains that a band’s first album feels like a culmination of their entire life coming together. However, once they move on to their sophomore release, things get real.
“Your second album is like a clean slate because you just got everything out,” he says. “You waited so long to get signed and make this record. You finally get to do it, and this second album is a clean slate. It solidified that this is what we were going to do. Our first album was a shot in the dark and a coin flip to see if we were going to keep doing this. When we got to get back to the studio, it was like this is the album that really started everything for Miss May I.”
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While the band are getting ready for a joint tour with the Word Alive where they’ll be performing Monument in its entirety, they’ve been listening to it nonstop. Given there are songs they’ve never played live before, a lot of practice was required, but Benton says they don’t mind because of how much they love it. The vocalist feels the album still holds its weight today, though there is one thing he wishes were stronger about the record.
“For me, the only thing—and this is being honest—is some of the vocal stuff, and the only reason it doesn’t stand is because we were so young when we recorded it,” he shares. “Ryan [Neff, bassist]’s voice and my voice is just naturally lower because we’re not 17 and 19 anymore. We’ve drank some whiskey and smoked some cigarettes, so your voice is just naturally lower.”.
The vocalist recalls one of his favorite memories from the album cycle at a time when the band were flat broke. They hadn’t been working jobs while operating as a full-time touring band and made no money because they were just starting out, so they hit up social media for help. The band, who were the first artist on Rise Records to hit a million likes on Facebook, posted looking for someone to order pizza to the studio, but they received a lot more than expected.
“Not knowing that we were posting to a million people for real, we just did it and started getting pizzas all day, every day for two weeks,” Benton explains. “The pizza delivery guys would be showing up two at a time. It would be like Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, [and] those guys would show up with multiple pizzas, and we started a mountain of pizzas. It got to the point where they would be denying our orders.”
Since releasing Monument, Benton has shifted from begging for pizzas online to becoming a real estate agent. His interest in real estate began early in the band’s career. Now that they’re taking more time off between tours and albums, he’s been able to dedicate himself to the craft, though it didn’t feel like a massive change for him.
“I decided to start working in it because I don’t want to sell T-shirts anymore,” he says. “I wanted to tame my perspective and do different things. To me, it was just turning up the caliber of what I was doing. You did this when you were a kid selling shirts and albums. Now let’s sell houses and learn about real estate because that’s something I want to do long term when I’m an old gray man and have a family. It’s still a hobby, and nothing in my life has changed. But in my downtime instead of selling T-shirts, I put on a nice shirt and go sell some houses.”
Benton admits people occasionally recognize him as a member of Miss May I at his other job. However, the experiences have all been positive. While initially nervous about letting the world know about his second gig, it’s provided another opportunity to inspire people to work hard and make their dreams come true.
“Every band person has a hobby when they’re home,” Benton explains. “Whether they post it or not, they can’t just play shows for 365 days because you’re a human being. When I was posting this hobby online, I was nervous because all of my fans would think I wasn’t in Miss May I anymore, and I don’t want to do the band, but it’s totally not that. You can do everything you want to do. You don’t have to be stuck in a lane.”
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Miss May I and the Word Alive kick off their tour next month. Tickets are on sale now, and you can get them here. Check out the full list of dates below.
07/11 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
07/12 – Columbus, OH @ Skully’s
07/13 – Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls
07/14 – Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
07/16 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Place
07/17 – Montreal, QC @ Foufounes
07/18 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
07/19 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry
07/20 – New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
07/21 – Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
07/23 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
07/24 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
07/26 – Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
07/27 – San Antonio, TX @ The Rock Box
07/28 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar
07/30 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater
07/31 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
08/01 – Las Vegas, NV @ Vinyl
08/02 – Pomona, CA @ Glasshouse
08/03 – Mesa, AZ @ Club Red