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Miss May I’s Levi Benton Talks Mayhem Festival, ‘Rise of the Lion’ + His Very Metal Mom

Charles Epting for Loudwire

Miss May I vocalist Levi Benton is one of the most energetic and charismatic frontman in metal. And he owes a lot of it to his mom. As Benton told Loudwire recently at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival kickoff in San Bernardino, Calif., his mother even him took him to his first show way back when he was just a knee-high headbanger. He also discusses the Mayhem Fest, the band’s ‘Rise of the Lion’ album + more. Check out our interview with Levi Benton below:

Levi, how do you compare the Mayhem tour with Warped?

Well the main thing, is how heavy the music is on the Mayhem tour. I mean, from black metal to the hard-core bands, fans that come out to this tour, totally get the heaviness. Warped is more about kids and pop punk. Which is cool. But there is a definite difference and as somebody that likes things heavier, being on Mayhem is amazing.

Did you go to heavy music festivals as kid?

I remember going to see Ozzfest and it was crazy. I saw Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Black Label Society — I mean Slipknot was planning on the small stage! This was in Columbus, Ohio, and I think I was in the fourth grade and it was my birthday present from my mom. My mom went out and got me a VIP pass so I got to meet all of the bands and to this day I still have all of the pictures posing with those guys. It was a wild day.

Your mom has become sort of famous for really being into metal.

My mom is more metal than I will ever be. She’s covered with tattoos, she’s much stronger than I’ll ever be and she’s really tough. I’m a big pushover but she doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s just like metal guys should be. That’s my mom. She’s our number one fan. I save all of the T-shirts from every tour and she has all of the flags our band has ever flown. My mom is my best friend in the world and I can’t wait to see her when this tour hits the Midwest. Her name is Stephanie and I know she’ll be reading this right now — I love you, mom! See you soon!

And she raised you as a single parent, right?

Right. And she did amazing job with all of us. She’s just always been into the music. I remember her taking me to see Ted Nugent when I was really little and I totally remember the very first show I ever saw in my life. My mom took me to see Hootie & the Blowfish along with the Black Crowes. She put me up on her shoulders so I could see everything and it’s one of the best memories that I have.

Levi, the Mayhem tour is really your first American outing to support the new record, ‘Rise of the Lion.’

That’s right! It was so cool how insane the kids got on the very first show of the tour. They were singing along to everything and really understood where we were coming from with the new record. They just never let us down. They’re always right there for us.

The new song ‘Gone’ seems to have a special connection with the fans.

Yeah, that was our intention. We get so many letters from fans and that song is written from their point of view. It’s a heartbreak song that comes from lots of heartbreak letters. It’s all about how people have got to move on and get through life, all told from the point of view of a fan. It’s a very personal song and it means a lot to us that the fans are embracing it the way they are. I think that’s a song that’s really going to grow for this band as the years go on because there’s a lot of emotion there to hang onto.

Thanks to Levi Benton for taking the time to chat. Pick up Miss May I’s new album, ‘Rise of the Lion,’ at iTunes, and see the remaining Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tour dates here.

Watch Miss May I’s ‘Gone’ Video

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