Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins + Cory Elder Talk ‘Unconditional’ Album, Touring + More
Memphis May Fire are back with one of their most personal albums to date. The band issued their ‘Unconditional’ album earlier this spring and Loudwire spoke with the group’s frontman Matty Mullins and bassist Cory Elder about the new album, some of the personal themes of the disc and their favorite tracks in the live setting. Check out the chat below:
Congrats on the new record. Did you had any ideas going into it and how close did you come to what ended up being the final product?
Matty Mullins: Yeah. Going into the record instrumentally we knew exactly what it was going to be like because as soon as we finish one record, Kellen [McGregor] starts writing another one. You know, drums, bass, guitar, he does it all. But it wasn’t until I actually started tracking vocals that I knew what the record was going to be about.
I had an idea going into it. I had gone through a really rough patch in my life struggling with anxiety and depression for the first time ever and it was totally new to me. I really had no idea what was going on and it was all I could think about, so it was all I could write about. I just really started to dive deeper and deeper into my relationship with Jesus and just finding out how much he really loves us and also God’s love for humanity in general. I read this book called ‘Jesus Is’ and it just changed my life, man. That ended up being what the record being about — God’s unconditional love for humanity and it is just so cool.
You know day-to-day I would write a song in the studio and that is just how it turned out and now that it is done, I can’t imagine it being any other way. I think it is exactly the way it was supposed to be.
Matty just talked about these ideas and lyrics. Cory, can you talk about your reaction the first time hearing some of the things that Matty wanted to get out there on the record?
Cory Elder: Yeah. Honestly, I could relate with a lot of things that he had been through, maybe not to some of the extremes that he had been through them at but it definitely made me feel good to be able to relate to that. It felt good overall to be an outlet for kids who are going through that too. Overall, I was just stoked to be a part of it as usual.
Matty, can you discuss what it means to share something this personal with audiences and get their reactions with what is coming across?
MM: I mean God had a plan for sure and that is just becoming more evident every day. The two songs that we have played live off of the new record are ‘No Ordinary Love’ and ‘Sleepless Nights.’ This record isn’t even out yet and those are by far the two songs that kids are just going insane and it is just like this record is supernatural. It was written through me and not by me and I am just so stoked about it. It is definitely showing true that this is the record that no only we needed to put out but the record that the scene really needed and I just thankful to be apart of it.
You mentioned ‘No Ordinary Love.’ Talk a bit more about that song.
MM: (to Cory) Do you remember what the working title for that was? I’m trying to think. The working title was something totally different when it was only instrumental and ‘No Ordinary Love’ is just a very blatant honest song in my point of view on what it feels like to have a relationship with God. His love is unconditional and it is incredible. Like the story in the bible about the prodigal son and just what that means to me in a modern day fashion.
We as humans are so imperfect. We are always looking for something more and always going astray from Jesus. Whether you believe in him or not but he is always there with open arms. God never abandons you. He is always waiting for you to come back and when you do you won’t be scolded you will be embraced. That is the best part. That is what that is about.
You’re also playing the song ‘Sleepless Nights’ live. Can you talk about that song, as well?
MM: That song is step one through four of what it is like to have a panic attack. It was the worst experience of my entire life. I didn’t know what it was. I thought I was dying. I thought I was having a heart attack. Now that I have experienced it I can relate so much more to a lot of the fan mail that we get. It just breaks my heart on a whole new level to know what kids are going through. Yeah, it is about anxiety. The actual working title for that song was ‘Anxiety’ and so ‘Sleepless Nights’ is a little more universal. More people can relate. That is what the song is about. It is not necessarily that the song is a positive thing but I think what is a positive this is letting other people know that you are experiencing the same things you are and that is the first step to recovery, knowing that you are not alone.
It’s really cool that you have the string sections on the new album.
MM: It is like we have a full orchestra. The record is insane in depth with the way that Kellen wrote all the instrumentals. It is unreal how many things are implemented in every single song. I think we are all just blessed and we feel extremely to be a part of Kellen’s writing process. He is brilliant.
CE: I can’t wait for the day that we can actually have maybe a small set of strings playing with us live.
MM: Yeah, in the background. That would be super cool.
When you’re performing live, what’s the feeling like when your making a connection with the crowd.
CE: Man, it is unreal. I know Matt and I share the same feeling of almost feeling like we almost black out on stage because of all of the insane amount of adrenaline pumping through your body. Afterwards it all hits you at once and it is so gratifying to be able to do what we do every night and have so many kids come out just to hear our songs and sing along with us and stuff. It is unreal. It is just an amazing amount of energy in one room for a night. It is crazy.
MM: Absolutely. For it to be a job doesn’t even seem real to me these days. It is amazing.
What are some of the craziest things you have seen in an audience?
MM: A couple of times we have had people hoist up people in wheelchairs and they have crowd surfed in their wheelchair all the way up to the stage. That is so inspiring to us. That is so cool. There are some kids that come out and get in the pit that obviously have a background in gymnastics because at Warped Tour and stuff like that they’ll launch these kids up and they will do like fifteen flips before they come back down. It is just wild. Being onstage and seeing it you are just like ‘aaah’. It is really cool. It is pretty amazing.
I have to ask this because I thought it was hilarious. Matty, I love your drum skills in the teaser video from the studio.
MM: Yeah, I think, actually I know that I am without a doubt the world’s worst drummer. Jake [Garland] has been graceful enough to put in earplugs and let me play on his drums every once in a while. We thought that studio update would be kind of funny. My family didn’t understand the humor in it. They were really disappointed in it. They thought that I was being cocky and actually talking about the drums. That was the funniest part for me. But if Jake is the kind of guy that can take that kind humor he is amazing. We without a doubt, in my opinion, and I think everyone else’s we have the best drummer in the scene right now. He is unreal and we are really thankful for him.
You’re part of the ‘Punk Goes ’90s’ compilation and covered Stone Temple Pilots’ ‘Interstate Love Song.’ If you want to talk a little bit about how you ended that up as your choice.
CE: Kellen is a huge Stone Temple Pilots fan, he is a few years older than all of us. That was more or less his idea to cover that song. I think he did a fantastic job on it. We were all fans of the song too so it worked out too. It was cool.
What were your favorite bands growing up — the ones that got you into wanting to play music?
CE: My dad brought me up on a lot of classic rock. Anything from Aerosmith to Lynyrd Skynyrd and even more obscure stuff and then as I grew into my teenage years I started listening to bands like He is Legend, I am from the South so I listen to a lot of southern rock/metal bands like He is Legend and The Showdown. Maylene and the Sons of Disaster and bands like that. Underoath is like that. They are really the ones who got me into this specific kind of genre. I listened to so much growing up it is unreal. My dad had a very eclectic record collection. Lots and lots of stuff.
MM: I was pretty sheltered growing up. I just started getting into heavier music with the Tooth & Nail / Solid State era, which really kind of brought this whole thing to life for me so I am really thankful for that label.
Our thanks to Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins and Cory Elder for the interview. Pick up the band’s ‘Unconditional’ album at iTunes and Amazon. Find out where you can see Memphis May Fire on tour here.
Watch Memphis May Fire’s ‘No Ordinary Love’ Video