By Aaron James. Published on 3/28/2014.
Lambgoat's Aaron "no coast" James spent a little time Memphis May Fire with vocalist Matty Mullins and guitarist Kellen McGregor prior the band's March 16h show at the Summit Music Hall in Denver, CO (live photos).
You've got your new album, Unconditional. What was the process like in recording that album and what can MMF fans expect to hear on it?
Matty: Yeah it was a little different this time around. Our producer that does our vocals and has tracked our past couple records was living in Orlando and then moved to Phoenix, so we had to go to Phoenix for me to track vocals on this record. I cannot stand Phoenix; the people and the areas are not bad but the weather on my throat as a singer is terrible. It was so dry, so it was challenging, but Cameron [Mizell, producer] has always been a really accommodating and a really cool dude to do vocals with.
Kellen did the instrumental tracking aside from drums at home so we kind of just split the recording process up between Dallas and Phoenix, and then the final mixing and mastering was done in Phoenix at the studio that Cameron's at.
With the changes MMF has over the years (thirteen different members), what are the challenges and obstacles you face and how does it help the band move forward?
Matty: Yeah, obviously every lineup change we have made has been for the better thus far, and that's why this lineup we have currently has lasted as long as it has. Kellen writes all of our instrumentals when it comes to the music and I write all of our vocals. so the direction of the music never really changes with a member change because Kellen and I have both been in the band for the long haul. But when it comes to touring and personalities and stuff like that, that's what really makes the difference... talent and just everybody keeping up has been perfect with the current lineup.
As Memphis May Fire, you've been around since 2007 and have been on Trustkill, Bullet Tooth, and now Rise Records. How has moving on to different labels affected the band?
We started with Trustkill, which is Bullet Tooth now, and now Rise. At the end of the day, a label is a label, but when it comes to labels, Rise is really hands on, especially Sean [Heydorn], our head of A&R. He's just one of the kindest hearted dudes who has done touring himself so he gets the grind. He checks up with me on a daily basis, so we're just really thankful for him and everything that he's added to our team as a band. And Craig Ericson, who owns Rise, is really cool too, so we're happy with Rise as it stands.
Is it true that the original name was Oh Captain, My Captain? And if so, why the change to Memphis May Fire?
Kellen: For about a week. I don't know how people still remember that. I think somebody just put it on our Wikipedia page. We recorded the very first EP and we're like Oh Captain, My Captain and about two weeks later realized there was some metal band from Minnesota that was like, "hey, you can't use our name," so that lasted about a whole week.
The song "Miles Away" from Challenger, the video is done in a very low key, more intimate way. Does the song hold personal meaning for anyone in the band?
Matty: The song is just about my life in general. When I was 18, I got married and when I was 19 we started touring rigorously, so the extensive amount of time away from the one person I care about the most has taken a toll on me and I know that it does that for so many other band members and military families all across the world. So just writing a song about that, I knew it would be relatable. I knew it would help a lot of people kind of cope and it has, so it's been great.
"The Ghost In The Mirror" was for the Saw 6 soundtrack. Did you want to be on that soundtrack or did they ask you?
Matty: Josh who owned Trustkill at the time had some sort of connection with Lionsgate, who is the production company on that film, and who was seeking artists for the soundtrack and had submitted us for it. And they just really liked the song.
In current events, we have all seen Tim Lambesis's situation. Was As I Lay Dying an influence for MMF and how do you feel about the situation?
Matty: Just completely blindsided. We had just toured with As I Lay Dying. Tim is a great dude. He and Kellen work out together. It's still hard to process. All the dudes in that band are awesome, including Tim. I don't really have anything else to say.
Has anyone ever shown up at one of your gigs expecting to see Miss May I? (bonus points if said show occurred during the month of May)
Matty: No. We get called Memphis Mayflower, Memphis May Flies or Memphis Mayhem more than anything.
Why do you think Rise Records has been so successful?
Sean Heydorn. He's the man behind the curtain and he's so personable. Obviously Craig Ericson had the foundation, building the label from the ground up when he was young. That's what he wanted to do, so obviously he had the vision. Without Craig the label wouldn't be a label, but bringing Sean into the picture, somebody who is just so kindhearted and relatable with artists on that level, is I think the reason why a lot of artists are willing to re-sign to Rise.
In recent months, we've seen a number of artists sharing pictures of surprisingly miniscule royalty checks. Do the guys in MMF get inundated with 53 cent checks?
Matty: When we were on Trustkill it was kind of bunk, but since we've been on Rise, not only are they honest and standup dudes, but at the same time we have a great lawyer so that just wouldn't happen.
Kellen: We also don't take a huge lump sum advance from them, so when we have to recoup that money back it happens pretty quickly.
Do you guys earn enough from the band to get by, or do you all have other jobs?
Matty: This is it, I mean Kellen records bands, so if we had more time at home he would do more of that, but we just don't.
Kellen: I don't have a label or anything. I just like to find local young bands to work with.
Matty: Jake [Garland, drums] was engineering and producing at the studio we used to record at, so he also did that as well. And back in the day Cory [Elder, bass] and I used to be professional taste testers. We actually taste-tested the new Doritos Loco Taco like six months before it came out.
Last year there was some drama between you guys and The Amity Affliction. What's the current status of your relationship with them?
Matty: Actually, we didn't even know who that band was when we were on Warped Tour. We had never had any personal contact with them, like any interaction, and I think some things that got misconstrued without them or anybody ever talking to us directly. And so things got blown way out of proportion. The whole thing is really pointless and ridiculous, and if I'm correct, what I was told on Warped Tour was that after they had said that on stage, they immediately went to production and apologized.