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Miss May I's Levi Benton discusses his Cincinnati
based clothing line Vursa Limited, reflects on
Mayhem Fest touring and Rise Of The Lion album
Levi Benton (Lead Vocals)
B.J. Stead (Lead Guitar)
Justin Aufdemkampe (Rhythm Guitar)
Ryan Neff (Bass)
Jerod Boyd (Drums)
Hometown: Troy, Ohio
Genre: Metal, Melodic Metalcore Formation: 2007
Last summer I was able to catch up with Ryan at Mayhem Fest. In your opinion, how was the 2014 Mayhem Fest
touring experience for you?
Mayhem was awesome. I know it sounds super farfetched, but it’s the best tour I’ve ever done. My favorite tour. It was
insane, it was a completely different crowd. It was just a bunch of metalheads and we’re not really used to playing in
front of that crowd and it was really great. We were the only band not on mainstage that sang, so we definitely stuck
out like a sore thumb, but the crowd liked it. It’s nice to say that we shared the stage with Cannibal Corpse every day.
Your band’s most recent album Rise Of The Lion has been the most successful release by numbers.
We did it with Terry Date [Pantera, Deftones], it’s our fourth record. He’s a legend. We wanted to go to him so we
could really find our sound with our old school roots. It was a cool experiment and the record turned out great. It’s been
out since April and we have four singles from it. It’s the first time we wrote a diverse record and we’ve never really tried
to do that before. There’s all the way from solo songs to thrash songs to slow songs, so that sort of melted our brains
a little bit, but we finally figured it out and got it going.
You also had more time to work on that record.
Yeah, usually we write a record in under two weeks because we tour nonstop, but have a whole new team behind us
now and we had like three months off to write this one, so it was great and now we’re even writing for our next record
which won’t even come out until 2016. It’s nice to actually have time off and write.
So, you are already writing for the next album that’s due out next year?
Anytime we’re not playing a show and we’re at home, we’re always writing. We probably have like five years worth of
songs, because we just write and write and write.
With that many songs, how do you decide and narrow things down?
That’s sort of like a hand vote with the band, but that’s definitely when the band’s like cutthroat because somebody’s
cutting your favorite song and you’re cutting their favorite song. That’s the hardest part about being in the band, but
other than that it’s just fun being able to write, it’s a good outlet.
You also have a clothing line in the Cincinnati area. How’s that going and how do you balance everything between that
and the band?
My clothing line is Vursa. I do all the artwork, so it’s kind of a nice gallery that people support. It’s all positive, which is
random nowadays, because most clothing lines are pentagrams and upside down crosses, so it’s a positive line.
We’re out of Cincinnati and we have a store on campus. It can be a headache. Like today, I’ve had four hours of sleep
for today’s show because we had to order our fall stuff and I was up all night finishing it up. I’m excited to get coffee!
But, other than that it’s cool to balance out. I like to keep busy, if I’m not busy then I feel like I’m not doing something.
Considering your art background, do you also have a part in Miss May I’s album art?
Yeah, the whole branding, the whole lion thing; I do all that stuff. I didn’t make it, but that’s all my visions. That’s my
favorite part, other than being in the band and playing shows, my favorite part is like expressing the band through that
For your art and design, what are some of your influences? Are you self taught?
I was self-taught. I never did homework in high school really, I just got on my mom’s computer because she did a lot of
art and I would just zone out and do that instead of video games. I like to do what’s modern, it’s cool to just go with the
times and still be outside the box. My motivation is just to try to be weird, it definitely fails sometimes, but I like to do
weird stuff. Bandwise, it’s always different, I like to not stick to the same influences because I don’t want every record
to just be about me and my things. Every record sort of changes. The last record [At Heart] was about fan’s letters and
nothing was really personal. We had boxes of letters and we just wrote back to fans throughout the record. We always
try to change it up. I already have cool ideas for the new record to try and keep interesting. I feel like stuff can get
monotonous so we try to change it up.
As an artist, it can probably be difficult to breakthrough and be open to more creative input. Inspiration comes
unexpectedly, you can’t really plan it or put a time frame on it.
Yeah, there’s been many times I’ve been in the shower, soaking wet and I ran into my computer room and I’m like,
“I’ve got to write this down!” I hate being forced into doing art just for the sake of being told to do it.
I’m sure there might be some days that you’re like “man, this is rough!" What is it that makes you or inspires you to
My biggest thing is that I’ve came from a really low income family and I didn’t really come from much, none of my
family has even really left Ohio and I’ve already been around the world countless times and just traveling. I’m happy
to be able to do this. Right now I have little brothers that are in high school and I’m just like telling them to work really
hard and that they don’t have to be stuck in this lifestyle, there’s so much more you can do. We obviously have
crappy days, even on tour. It’s nice to say you went out and did something from this area because we just started
in high school and went on to do this. That’s what keeps me going, I’m just happy where we’re at. Even if we’re
playing in front of ten people, I’m just happy to be playing and that this became a solace.
Miss May I perform a hometown show tomorrow in Cincinnati at Bogarts as part of August Burns Red's "The Frozen
Flame Tour" with Northlane, Fit For A King, and ERRA. Tickets available for $22.50. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
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|Out Of The Blue
Publications Association, LLC
Rise Of The Lion (Rise Records, 2014)
At Heart (Rise Records, 2012)
Monument (Rise Records, 2010)
Apologies Are For The Weak (Rise Records, 2009)