By MIKE CHAIKEN
Typically, you wouldn’t expect to consider metalcore band Miss May I and teen pop sensation Justin Bieber in the same thought.
But Levi Benton did just that when he called from his home in Cincinnati and began to talk about the Ohio band’s trip south of the Texas border where it opened for Asking Alexandria.
“It was insane,” Levi said, “I felt like Justin Bieber.”
Levi said kids in Latin America and Brazil were camping outside of the band’s hotel. They surrounded the tour bus and started rocking it, he said. And the kids followed the band wherever they went , said Levi.
Miss May I plays Toad’s Place in New Haven on Oct. 16 as it headlines the AP Tour, which also includes The Ghost Inside, Like Moths To Flames, The Amity Affliction, and Glass Cloud.
In September, Miss May I played places like Sao Paolo, Brazil, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bogota, Colombia, and Santiago, Chile.
Levi said this was the band’s first trip south of Texas. And he said friends had told him “it was crazy.” He said he saw videos of what it was like. However, he said none of it compared to the reality of the experience. “It’s weird seeing the video and then seeing what we saw.”
Levi was asked what was the craziest thing that happened in Latin America.
Levi explained the band had resorted to wearing disguises on tour. They would pull their hair up under a hat, he said. They would put on sunglasses. And they didn’t talk to anyone to make sure they didn’t reveal their true identity.
Levi said at one point in the tour, they decided to walk to a nearby gas station for some supplies. Their disguises worked because they were able to walk anonymously through the crowd that surrounded the hotel.
Or, they thought they managed to keep anonymous.
Someone in the crowd must have recognized them and they told their friends, said Levi.
Levi said the band wasn’t in the gas station more than two minutes when they turned around.
There they were.
There were more than 500 fans surrounding the store, pounding on the glass.
Levi said it took an hour to get Miss May I out of there.
Since Miss May I is American, and they don’t speak Spanish, there were some language barriers as it traveled south of the border. He said the fans weren’t a problem. They could speak some simple phrases in English to communicate with the band. The band, on the other hand, had some struggles, he said. For instance, ordering food was difficult. So they made sure they were accompanied by someone who spoke Spanish or Portuguese (in Brazil) when they needed something.
Miss May I is coming to Toad’s Place in New Haven as headliners for the AP Tour, and Levi said, “We’re just flattered (to be asked on the package). Metal bands don’t always get the opportunity (to headline the AP tour).”
Since they were the headliners, Levi said Miss May I had the chance to pick the bands on the tour. And everyone one of the bands is someone Miss May I has toured with before, with the exception of Glass Cloud. (That band was recommended by AP for the tour.) Levi said it’s always exciting to be out on the road with bands they are friends with. And it’s great to make new friends on the road as well.
The band is touring behind its third album, “At Heart.” When the band sat down in the studio for the album, Levi said their goal was to create an old school metal album. And they gave themselves no limits and intended to hold nothing back.
When Miss May I recorded its second album, “Monument,” Levi said the band tried to be more structured. But the album was probably less successful because the band tried to limit itself, said Levi.
For “At Heart,” Levi said, “We just pulled down all the walls and went crazy… We played what we thought sounded good to us.”
And the band’s instincts were on target.
“We can’t believe the response people have had (to ‘At Heart’),” said Levi. “It’s our best selling record.”
As for the songwriting, said Levi, the band tried something different for its third release. He said the songs were less about epic metal themes and more about his own experiences. “Real stuff.”
The approach was easier than he expected, said Levi. “It’s the most expressive thing we had ever done… We didn’t have to fake it. That’s why it’s called, ‘At Heart.’”
Levi said Miss May I—which also includes Justin Aufdemkampe on lead guitar, Jerod Boyd on drums, Ryan Neff on bass guitar, and B.J. Stead on rhythm guitar— is just beginning the process of prepping for the follow up to “At Heart.” He said Justin has been playing around with some recording. And after the AP tour is finished, the band will dive headlong into the recording process.
And when fans come out to the AP tour, Levi said they can expect “an old school metal band with long hair and tattoos.” He likened Miss May I to Pantera. “It’s just five guys and their instruments… and no keyboards.”
“We try to be a better live band than we are on CD,” said Levi. And, he said, Miss May I strives to pull the crowd into the performance.
“Be prepared to be part of the show,” said Levi. “It gets really crazy.”
Miss May I and the AP Tour play Toad’s Place, 300 York St., New Haven on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Doors open at 6 p.m. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, go to ToadsPlace.com or http://www.facebook.com/MissMayIMusic
By MIKE CHAIKEN