Interview: Miss May I’s Levi Benton Talks Texas Brawls and Warped-Tour Riots
As part of our coverage of this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Revolver caught up with many of this year’s performing bands for our June/July 2014 issue, on newsstands now, to ask about the occupation hazards that go along with touring. Here, writer Jon Wiederhorn interviews Miss May I about all the mayhem.
With the Vans Warped Tour already under their belt, Ohioan metalcore upstarts Miss May I are raring to take on the summer’s other big heavy-music festival tour, Mayhem, and do so in support of their most crushing album yet, Rise of the Lion, which was released in April. The record plays out the group’s influences—from Pantera to As I Lay Dying—but also the band members’ experiences over the eight year since Miss May I’s formation. These experiences have, of course, included plenty of mayhem. Here, frontman Levi Benton shares just a few examples.
REVOLVER What is one of the most insane situations you guys have found yourselves in while on the road?
LEVI BENTON Back in 2009, the second time we were ever out on tour, we went to California for the first time, and on our way back, we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, Tex Arcana, Texas. It looked like something from The Hills Have Eyes. We were all wearing tight clothes and had long hair and there were some older local redneck dudes in their ’30s blasting AC/DC at 3 o’clock in the morning. They started calling us names. We were fresh out of high school and there were a lot more of them than us, but one of our guys talked back to them and they all jumped us. We got in a huge fight and got our asses kicked. We all looked like little girls flapping our arms around. Me and our drummer made it back to our van, but our guitars players, our merch guy, and tour manager were stuck in the fight outside with seven other guys. Our bass player was in the bathroom the entire time and missed the whole thing. These locals had our guys on the ground and were knocking them around. Our merch guy was a little older and he was the only one who had any muscle, so he was out there in the fight swinging and getting some blows in. These older guys had their wives with them in the truck and they were yelling for them and that stopped them. But they took this huge bull skull that we had had for years on the front of our van, which sucked. The crazy thing is the store clerk saw the whole thing and called the cops and the police didn’t answer.
What the worst act of mayhem you’ve seen from a crowd?
In 2012, we were closing out Warped Tour on the main stage in Hartford, Connecticut. I told everyone that since we were the last band and everyone had to leave after we played, they should break all the rules. Right when I said that, the crowd pulled all the merchandise tents into the pit and picked up all the trash cans and dumped them on security guards and crowd surfed them though the pit. I thought we’d be kicked off the tour, for sure.