Sit Down Series: Ryan Neff of Miss May I

In part one of my Warped Tour series, I interviewed the bassist for Miss May I, Ryan Neff. Miss May I is no stranger to Journey of a Frontman as the band’s frontman, Levi Benton was interviewed at last year’s Mayhem Festival. Ryan filled me in on his Warped Tour experience and what the touring experience means to him.

Alex Obert: How is Warped Tour going for you so far?

Ryan Neff: Believe it or not, this is actually the last day of the twelve day stretch with no days off. Tomorrow will be the first day off we’ve had in two weeks. And we’ve played eight shows in a row before 2 PM. It’s been East Coast with late drives. You’re just staying out and drinking with your friends, then you wake up and have to go again at eight or nine in the morning.

Alex Obert: What’s your day off going to consist of?

Ryan Neff: Sleep! Maybe a new tour bus, I heard. We’ve been having bus trouble the whole time. I heard we might get a new bus tomorrow, so it could be a pretty good day for us tomorrow. Chipotle is going down!

Alex Obert: What’s your order there?

Ryan Neff: I get a bowl with white rice, fajitas, chicken, hot salsa, corn salsa, some sour cream, a little bit of cheese, guac and a whole bunch of the smoked tabasco.

Alex Obert: How do you feel about Moe’s?

Ryan Neff: I’m alright with it. I got a homie who swears by it and likes to send me texts when he’s eating Moe’s instead of Chipotle. We basically have a shit-talking battle going back and forth about which is better. I like Chipotle the most, but if somebody asks if I want to get Moe’s, I’m not gonna be bummed.

Alex Obert: So last year, Miss May I was on the lineup for Mayhem Fest. How did that whole experience go for you?

Ryan Neff: It was really fun. It’s definitely a lot different from this tour. You’re outside, it’s hot as hell and all your fans are hot as hell. But the outdoor stage thing was pretty cool. And it’s just a little bit of a different crowd last year, a little bit older of a crowd. It was like being on tour with Avenged Sevenfold, since they were the headliner. And of course Korn was on it too. We have a much bigger draw of our own fans on this tour. But the crazy thing is that Levi’s asking people to put their hands up everyday for who has never seen us before, it’s surprising that more people have not seen us on this tour than have. But both tours are pretty cool, I don’t know which one I like more.

Alex Obert: Have you found Miss May I on an unusual lineup that made you question it?

Ryan Neff: We’ve done a few of those. (laughs) I think the hardest one we ever did was when we were in Germany and we got on a super, super heavy metal festival. It was just a little bit outside of our grasp, fan wise. We were very unknown. It was Opeth, Meshuggah and Devin Townsend as the headliners. That one was a little tough for us. Obviously everybody in the band was fucking stoked because we were on the show and got to watch those bands, but it was a little bit of a tough crowd for us. We had a Five Finger Death Punch tour and that was crazy. We figured it’d be really hard for us, but it turned out to be good. Sometimes those weird lineups turn out to be more fun than the lineups that makes sense for us. You go into it and think it’s gonna be bad, but then you’re ready to roll with it and have a good time when it goes well.

Alex Obert: What are some crazy sights you’ve seen through people watching on this tour?

Ryan Neff: Dude, I was gonna tweet about it today! We were at our AP signing about an hour ago and I watched a couple make out in the sun for about a minute, minute and a half straight. And that right there is not weird, but then a bell went off in their heads and their make out session ended. They both got their phones out and for like five minutes, they just chilled beside each other on their phones. It was the weirdest thing. A minute and a half of hot, steamy make out and then five minutes of no contact, just phone world. So weird. We people watch a lot.

Alex Obert: How about some shirts you’ve seen?

Ryan Neff: There’s a lot of shirts that say bitch on them this year. We were counting ’em one day at our signing. I always think it’s really weird when a fourteen year old girl walks up to the table wearing a shirt that says bitch on it. And there were six or seven at that one signing and some were little girls. What the hell’s going on? Why are these little girls buying these damn t-shirts that say bitch on them? I think the weirdest thing that happened at a signing at all so far this tour is when we signed some stuff for a girl and before she would take it back, she asked us if we would rub it on our balls and the sweatiest part of our body before we give it back. I was like “I don’t know about that. I don’t know if I’m gonna do that.”

Alex Obert: How much of a hand you have in your band’s merchandise?

Ryan Neff: We still choose everything. I usually am the behind the scenes/business guy, Levi and I. But I usually do not touch much of the merch planning because if I had my way, everything would be a black t-shirt with a skull on it. Lord knows we’ve had plenty of black t-shirts with skulls on it at this point! (laughs) Levi is the mastermind behind our merch stuff like that Stay Metal thing that kicked off for us a couple years ago. It was just a random idea that he had. After popped up, he asked if we thought it would be cool. It was and so we decided to do it.

Alex Obert: So you’re on Warped Tour this year and not only were you on Mayhem last year, but you also appeared at the APMAs. How did that go?

Ryan Neff: I was nominated for Best Bass Player. It was a crazy event. We’re gonna go again this year, it should be pretty cool. It was wild though. There were even more bands then you see at Warped Tour, more bands than that together at the same time.

Alex Obert: Did you get a chance to say hello to CM Punk?

Ryan Neff: I did! I got to do an interview with him. He’s fucking gigantic. A tiny guy like myself standing near him, I was like “Wow…this dude would whoop some ass!” I believe I did a red carpet interview with him and Juliet Simms. The whole day was kind of a blur because it was in the middle of the tour for us. It was Mayhem the day before. Then it was a day off. That was basically park the bus, get off the bus, do the awards show thing, get back on the bus and then the next morning, we woke up to do another show. So it was pretty crazy.

Alex Obert: What do you consume to wake up and get you going in the morning?

Ryan Neff: I love coffee. I love coffee so much. They have fresh brewed iced coffee. I believe it’s the bass player of Man Overboard who rolls around and brews his own coffee every morning. Dude, he’s the fucking bomb. No shortage of coffee, that’s for sure.

Alex Obert: Saves you a trip to Starbucks.

Ryan Neff: Around here, it’s pretty rare to get outside of the Warped grounds. That’s unless it’s an off day. With the random schedule and not having a car, you’re stuck in the fences. For cool stuff like that, everybody’s gotta make it happen within the tour.

Alex Obert: Have you really gotten to know some bands on this year’s Warped Tour that you didn’t really know before?

Ryan Neff: Oh yeah. We’re getting really tight with Citizen. The guys from While She Sleeps are pretty cool. I think I’m hanging out with a lot of older friends because we are one of those bands that about thirty percent of the lineup has been on tour with. I met Transit this year, they’re pretty cool. Man Overboard are on our stage, so we see them all the time. But we got a lot of old friends. I could probably name ten bands that we’ve toured with on this tour alone. So it’s been a pretty cool year. Lot of rekindled friendships.

Alex Obert: Which band would you love to see on a future Warped Tour lineup?

Ryan Neff: We’re usually carrying the torch as one of the few metalcore bands. There’s a lot of metal on the tour, but there aren’t a lot of bands that sound the way we do. Maybe three or four this year. I think it’d be cool to have Atreyu, now that they’re playing gigs again. Or to see the Killswitch Engage guys doing it, that would be pretty cool.

Alex Obert: Who did you hang out with when you were on Mayhem?

Ryan Neff: So that one was interesting because we had not toured with very many bands at all on that. I think Emmure was the only band that we really toured with. We became really tight with Upon a Burning Body and split a bus with them. But the crazy thing about that tour was that there were only sixteen bands, so you knew at least two people in every band. So one day I might meet somebody from Il Nino and another day I might meet some guys from Body Count. We hung out with Ice-T’s son Little Ice all the time, he’s the man. We got to meet Avenged and became tight with them towards the end, that was cool. I hung with Trivium a lot, we had just done a tour with them. Mushroomhead, Suicide Silence, Cannibal Corpse. It’s crazy.

Alex Obert: In closing, what’s the plan after Warped Tour comes to an end?

Ryan Neff: We’re gonna be doing a bunch of touring. The record drops right before the end of Warped Tour, so we’ll be launching it with some big Fall tours and stuff. They’re coming, they’re already booked and everything, we just haven’t announced it yet. We’ve got some really cool stuff coming up. Deathless is out on August 7th. We’ll finish up the Warped Tour and hopefully get a couple weeks off, then we’ll probably be back on the road for the rest of the year.

Alex Obert: I wish you the best ahead with the new album and tour. And hope you get catch up on sleep tomorrow! I’d love to thank you for your time and a great interview.

Ryan Neff: Thank you very much!

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Photo Credit: Travis Shinn

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