INTERVIEW: Ryan Neff, bassist for Miss May I
SoCalMusicToday.com recently talked with Ryan Neff, bassist and clean singer for the politely-named metal band Miss May I. We talked about their upcoming South American tour and their latest record, as well as a round of answering some of my rather personal “this or that” questions. You can catch Miss May I on tour as part of the AP Tour which rolls into town on November 4, 2012 at the House of Blues – San Diego, November 6, 2012 at the House of Blues – Sunset Strip, and November 7, 2012 at the House of Blues – Anaheim, tickets are available via Live Nation.
How’s your day going?
Good I’m driving to Cincinatti to go hang out with Levi and our manager because another band our manager manages is on tour, so we’re gonna go watch for free I guess.
Is Miss May I gearing up for more shows soon?
Yeah we actually leave tomorrow night to go to Minnesota for a music video shoot, and from there we go straight to South America to a ten-date tour with Chelsea Grin and Asking Alexandria.
How long is that tour going for?
The whole trip from the first flight to the last flight is about two weeks. We’re kind of counting the music video as part of the whole trip because we leave straight from there to the first show in South America. I think we’re actually in South America for ten days with eight shows or something like that.
That’ll be cool to get a day off while you’re there so you can see some of South America.
Yeah I think there are two or three days off total and they’re all in big cities. So, it should be pretty cool.
Have you ever been to South America before?
No, no. The only place we’ve ever been south of the US is…we did one show in Mexico City. Every country we visit on this tour should be completely new.
Did you plan this tour knowing you have a ton of fans in South America or are you trying to build your fan base down there?
I don’t know, I think it’s kind of an unknown. I think there are a lot of bands that go there and have a lot of success. I think this time it’s pretty much about doing a good job and winning people over. I’m sure there will be a lot of people there. The majority of people will probably know who we are but haven’t made the decision on if they’d want to come see the band again live. There might be a lot of people that like to listen to the band’s music but they’ve never seen us. I think the goal will be to not mess up and try to make sure we do a good job in front of all of them.
Do you guys do anything special with your show aside from rocking out and playing your music?
Not in South America. It’s a shoe-string budget kind of tour for us, being our first time there and seeing that there’s so much cost for travel to get there and get home. We’ll be playing on whatever gear the rental companies can supply that day, and just going up there and hoping to make the best out of the situation. I think down the road if we got bigger then we’d be able to bring production and stuff like that.
What kind of produciton do you have for a show in the states?
Well we just finished Warped Tour, and obviously you can’t do lights because you’re outside, so there’s really no point. But we did 18 guitar cabinets on that tour with a backdrop and some risers. On the AP Tour I think we’re doing 18 cabintets and we got a whole lighting rig that we’ll have with us on that one. I think it’s three or four blinders and four sets of strobes as well, so it should be a pretty crazy light show on top of having the guitar cabinets and backdrop and all that good stuff.
You have an album that just came out?
At Heart came out right at the beginning of Warped Tour, like June 19th I believe. It’s doing pretty well. We went up to New Jersey and recorded that and we were there for a month and a half from January to February.
You weren’t a part of the band’s first incarnation were you?
Yeah the band started as a cover band kinda, because they were all super young when they started; three of them. And it was down to dudes who just started learning how to play with other people. Before I was even in the picture, they progressed and turned into a band that was writing originals. And when they turned into a band that was writing originals, the style kind of changed. Their name stuck but the style changed. They picked B.J. along the way and didn’t actually meet me until I left my second local band. I went to school for like a week, then Levi gave me a call and said they needed a bass player. So I hopped on then and that was like late 2007 up until late 2008. Then I left the band when I got offered to go out with a Metal Blade Records band and I did touring with that band for about nine months. A guy named Josh who replaced me when I left Miss May I, he went and recorded Apologies [Are for the Weak], the first record, and he basically only lasted like three shows on tour before he bailed. He just couldn’t hack it, and then he quit. Then I flew out. Technically in the band touring history I only missed…let’s see…like two shows. It was funny how it worked out, because in that nine months in between is when they did most of the business stuff. They got picked up by a label when I was out on tour, they got picked up by mangaement, booking agent and all this stuff while I was gone. So it was like I left the band and we were just a big name local that would play in the tri-state area. But all of a sudden when I rejoined the band it was a national touring band with a record out and yadda yadda yadda, but it was a compeltely different atmosphere. Just insane.
Is there any bad blood between you and the old bassist?
No, there’s really no blood. I just don’t care enough to have a conversation.
So you haven’t seen him at all or run into him at a party.
No, no. He’s got a habit of claiming he’s done a lot of things he has nothing to do with, so I just don’t…the best way to handle people like that is to just keep doing cooler things than them.
Then they’re just watching you do all the things they could have done if they didn’t bail.
So I also wanted to do this random game that I like to do where I give you two words, like a “this” or “that” and you have to choose one.
It’s kind of cheesy I know, but I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. Alright, well Ketchup or mustard?
Beer or liquor?
Morning or evening?
Taking Back Sunday or Brand New?
Good choice. Coffee or tea?
Outdoor show or indoor show?
Um, I can’t answer that one. I’ll just say if it’s outdoors, it’d better not be an ampitheatre haha and it’s the best show ever. But I think I’m more partial to indoor. Our whole career has been indoor aside from Warped Tour and it’s just a closer atmosphere.
Cool, CD or vinyl?
I have to say CD. I’ve never even owned vinyl I don’t think. I’m just a little bit too young for that.
Family Guy or Simpsons?
Sing or scream?
Man I can’t scream for shit so I gotta say sing.
Boxers or briefs?
Briefs. Well, boxer-briefs. We’ll go with the middle because I won’t wear either of the two.
Sky diving or bungee jumping?
I would probably bungee jump before I would sky dive. I wussed out on sky diving this summer.
Hehe, right on. High five or a hug?
You kind of answered this before, but…reason with or punch?
Uh…Yeah I would reason with…I can’t fight, haha. I’d get my butt kicked.
Do you use a pick or do you use fingers?
I use a pick. I’m working on using my fingers, but I won’t do it live until I’m every bit as good as using a pick.
And last but not least, James Bond or Austin Powers?
Ah man. When I was younger I loved James Bond, but Austin Powers is hilarious. I guess we’ll just go with Austin Powers.
I hope you guys have a lot of fun on the road, it seems like you have a lot of great things going on.
Yeah dude, thank you very much, I appreciate it. We’ll be having a good time. The Asking [Alexandria] dudes and the Chelsea Grin dudes are good friends of ours. It’s like the fourth time we’ve toured with each of them so it should be a blast.