Interview: MISS MAY I’s Ryan Neff

by I.O. Kirkwood on September 6, 2014

click to see more awesome photos by Jazmin Monet

Miss May I | Photo credit: Jazmin Monet Photography

MISS MAY I, a metal band out of Troy, Ohio, began their crazy trip in 2007. They’ve played over 900 shows since 2009, including large festivals like Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Festival 2014 (where I had the opportunity to see why they are considered “The Next Big Thing” in metal by their die-hard fans – for that review, go HERE). The general consensus is that MISS MAY I is a Metalcore band with extreme metal elements, clean and harsh vocals, and with their most recent release, Rise of the Lion, lyrical themes about the human condition pulled from fan letters. I had the opportunity to catch up with Ryan Neff, bassist and vocalist, and ask him a few questions.

I.O.: Don’t these genres and subgenres drive you crazy?

Ryan: I definitely dislike dealing with subgenres titles and categorizing of the band, but it’s just part of the metal community. Overall the metal world is very tight knit and close, but metal fans LOVE their music and want to keep it exclusive and pure to form. I think it’s just a piece of the pride of heavy metal. You want YOUR favorite genre, and YOUR favorite bands to feel like they are yours. In the end though, if you ask a metal head what their favorite type of music is, and they will say METAAAAAL!

I.O.: I’ve read a number of reviews of your latest release Rise of the Lion and it’s a mixed bag. Do you read the reviews? How do you feel about them?

Ryan: I do read the reviews. It took me a while to get used to reading shit talking for a living haha. Rise of the Lion is very different from everything else we’ve done, and we knew going into it that a lot of people would look at it differently. The first 2 records had a similar formula using the same producer, and we grew really quickly in the Warped Tour world on those. Then naturally, as we recorded drastically different sounding records the next two times it brings in the fans who hate everything you do that’s different. I think that’s the hardest part of being a band on the 3rd-4th record. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t at times. That goes with media and fans alike.

I.O.: What element(s) are you most proud of on Rise of the Lion? How did those elements(s) evolve into your music? What element(s) do you want to revisit and rework?

Rise of the Lion was about as far outside of the box as we could have gone. We wrote everything on our own from a different perspective. The songs were all topics from fans so writing the lyrical content from the other side was really challenging. It’s also a super stripped down record in all aspects. Next time around will be a very exciting time for us. The new sounds and skills we introduced this last time will be mixed with the modern qualities of the first 2 records and we may have a riff explosion on our hands. The biggest thing we’ve learned off this short time touring the record is you can’t make everyone happy all the time. Especially when you are lucky enough to have so many fans like we do who all know what they want out of the band. You have to balance that with what it is that you enjoy and want to write and play. It’s like a complicated game of chess at times.

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Photo credit:

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That Guy Photography

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Timothy Reese

I.O.: Tell me about the scene in Troy, Ohio. What was it like being a musician there? It looks like MMI signed within a year of forming. How did it happen so fast and what were you thinking as you went into the studio to record Apologies Are for the Weak (AAFTW)?

Ryan: Troy was a great local scene. I migrated there to play gigs with my local bands and that’s where my friendship with MMI began back in 2007. The band signed about 2-3 years after forming, and all that happened while I was touring with another signed band at the time. I returned to the band on the AAFTW touring cycle, on the 3rd show of tour ever actually. I was 21 and clueless but was ready to hit the road. It was a wild time, being an average age of 18 in the van.

I.O.: You have a reputation as a hard-working band. What is your favorite thing about touring? Why? What is the thing you despise most about touring?

Ryan: My favorite thing about tour is interacting with people. New friends in amazing bands, fans, you name it. Human interaction is what makes touring the life that I want. I despise the travel at times depending on how much the road is affecting me. Touring in a van in the winter and things like that scare the hell out of me compared to my younger, less experienced days. We toured in a van on the east coast in April/May for a week and I refused to sit anywhere but the driver’s seat because of my newfound van crash fear. It’s a weird thing to develop now, but I guess it’s just another piece of the puzzle.

I.O.: What are your thoughts on the state of heavy metal music? Is it in decline? What is the biggest obstacle that faces metal music today and how would you solve it?

Ryan: Music in general is in decline in terms of crowd numbers and cd sales but the question is, is this an issue or just a change? I’ve been touring for 6 years now and have played gigs all over the world, in every size room from 30 capacity pubs to arenas. Metal and its fans are strong. I think the industry is still just learning how to recover from the loss of CD/Music sales, and how to make up that revenue to keep bands on the road doing cool things. For my band it’s always been self funded, work hard and earn your keep and I like it that way, and think the metal fans appreciate that as well, because the fans are doing the same. Working 40 hours a week and then coming to shows as a release and seeing their fav bands.

I.O.: Read any good books lately?

Ryan: I’m reading a lot of books about nutrition lately. I’ve become obsessed with my voice after learning from so many awesome artists the past year or so that I’m trying to learn about it from every aspect, and right now nutrition is a big one for me.

MISS MAY I will be performing at the following festivals:
09/20 – KOI Music Fest | Kitchener, CA
10/04 – Louder than Life Fesitival | Louisville, KY
10/25 – KNOTFEST | San Bernadino, CA

You can get tickets and future touring information HERE.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MissMayIMusic

Buy MISS MAY I music here:

See MISS MAY I videos here:

ioI.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. You can visit her personal blog at iokirkwood.com.

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