Ohio-based metalcore band Miss May I are certified veterans, now ten years in the game and stronger than ever. As a band of close friends since high school who took all the great advantages of the MySpace days, they’ve been able to grow into an explosive metal band that always pushes their own boundaries and are hell-bent on challenging the metal status quo. Now signed to Sharptone Records, the band’s latest album, “Shadows Inside‟ is a boundary-crushing tour de force combining modern metalcore with melodic death and thrash elements. Krank’d Up 2018 featuring Miss May I and SikTh takes place on Saturday, 29 September at Sundowners, Alberton. 19 spectacular South African rock and metal acts will be rounding off the line-up. Krank’d Up 2018 ticket info: Full price tickets are R600 each. Limited VIP tickets are available through www.krankdupfestival.co.za at R700 each. With that said, I had a chat with Miss May I bassist, Ryan Neff. First off, it is a massive pleasure to have you guys perform in our part of the world for the first time in September. Having been a fan since I heard the intro riff to ‘Hey Mister’ I can’t wait for Krank’d Up. Miss May I was started when the members were still attending high school. Having gone through a lot of changes from teenagers to adults in the last decade, do you find it difficult to maintain the lifestyle of being an internationally touring band? Thank you, we’re excited to finally be performing there. Certain aspects are more difficult than they were before. Just as any other job as you grow older new obstacles come along and have to be tackled. Thankfully all five of us get along so that hasn’t been the issue for us like it is for a lot of bands after over a decade in small spaces together. For us lately, it’s finding a balance of home time and road time. That didn’t matter to us at the beginning as we hadn’t built lives at home. The road was all we had, so it’s a bit of a balance but we are rolling with the punches and learning as we go. You have maintained the same, original lineup since your debut release, Apologies Are For The Weak, in 2009. What do you attribute this to, considering how often bands change and replace members in the modern scene? We’ve all grow together in this process. We’ve always tried to make it equal opportunity between the five of us: helping each other along if someone is struggling, and encouraging each other’s new projects outside of music and so on. Time apart from each other off the road is crucial as well. We do about 7-8 months a year where we are the only people each other see. The band is a very important piece of our friendship. You recently released your sixth album, Shadows Inside. A lot of bands in the metalcore scene have moved closer to the mainstream by incorporating softer instrumentals or electronic instruments, while you have stuck to your roots and put out another punishing album. Even the ‘softer’ songs like Never Let Me Stay and Death Knows My Name are still proper metalcore. Was this intended or was it merely a reflection of where you are as a band? We’ve always said we are a metalcore band. We write it because we like it, and we’ve rode the wave of the genres popularity through peaks and valleys and will continue to. We know that our fans look to Miss May I for a metalcore sound. That’s why they show up, and if they are still with us that’s the reason why. Lucky for us …. we all enjoy making this form of music so it’s a win-win in our eyes. Genres mean very little in the music scene today, with bands transcending genres from release to release. It can, however, place a hold on bands and refuse them the space to grow for fear of alienating their fanbase. With your fourth release, Rise of The Lion, you approached a more metal sound compared to the purely metalcore releases you put out before. How do you approach diversifying your sound while still keeping the sound you’re famous for? Rise Of The Lion was a strange time. In my opinion, it’s not the sound we wanted in regards to the songwriting. It is the result of many moving pieces not coming together the way we anticipated, and by the time the record was done there was no turning back and BOOM it’s on the shelves of stores and we are out there touring it. That record alienated many people but opened doors to many new fans who without the organic metal sound that Terry Date was able to provide, probably wouldn’t have jumped on board with us. Looking back though it’s a learning experience, and taught us that there is some good and bad in every record cycle. Without that album, we wouldn’t have gotten our foot in the door with bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Trivium, etc. You left Rise Records to join newly-founded SharpTone Records in 2016, along with a handful of other established acts in the rock and metal scene. Having started off with the roster that SharpTone did is unheard of, and quite impressive. What made Miss May I make the change? Our time at Rise was great. We are not one of those bands with a horror story about a bad split with our label. In a nutshell: five albums were already done with Rise and we felt like we needed a change in pace. The releases all felt the same with the same strategies behind them and we also were struggling overseas a bit, so Sharptone offered a new focused attention on us, as well as a partnership with Nuclear Blast worldwide to help us in foreign markets. We’ve always toured overseas but this cycle, in particular, has been our biggest success outside of the US. Sharptone has let us do some outside the box processes with writing, and recording setups as well, giving us what we needed for the Shadows Inside sound to really bloom. Spencer Chamberlain from Underoath recently had an interview with Music Feeds were he cited the pressure of being in a Christian band. While Miss May I is not a Christian band, some of the members are Christian. Do you feel any of the pressure referred to by Spencer, even though you are not deemed a ‘Christian’ band? No, absolutely not. I’ve never been a Christian, and to be honest I couldn’t really tell you who is what in regards to religious beliefs in our band. We grew up in rural Ohio where many bands labeled themselves Christians. We played loads of church gigs on our way up but that’s never been a piece of the puzzle for us or even a subject we discuss as it’s not a piece of our art or direction. I hear what Spencer is saying though. I’m sure as a cornerstone of the Christian metal community they have taken a lot of backlash for choosing to believe something different down the road, and that’s gotta be tough on them, especially with how fantastic their new album is. The pressure to deliver exactly what those fans wanted was probably very heavy on them. Miss May I has released six albums in a space of nine years, which is an astounding feat in itself. While Shadows Inside was released just more than a year ago, this means you guys will most probably have been thinking to the future already. What does the near future hold for Miss May I? We began in June of 2016, and completed the recording of Shadows Inside in December of 2016, so we are closing in on the two-year mark of the recording period already. No new songs are written, and no studio time is booked at the moment. For once we don’t feel rushed to make a decision and pump a record out, so we are just biding our time. We hit the road this fall with Gwar and Hatebreed in the US, our first full tour at home since last fall with Motionless in White. Not sure what the future holds yet, but fair to say there will be lots of tour dates involved. We would like to thank Ryan for his time. Keep an eye on our page, we will be posting more interviews soon… and be sure to get your hands on tickets for this amazing festival!