Interview : Memphis May Fire
To see Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins on stage, one could assume he has a certain persona.
He comes across as passionate, confident and fierce as his deep roar fills the room but then changes things up as his beautiful, clean vocals break in to reveal a softer, more emotional side. This so called ‘persona’ is exactly what he is like in person. The enthusiasm and belief he has in Memphis May Fire, together with his genuine interest in their fans, is astounding. Through stopping the interview, to chat to fans and taking the time to ask their names, he proved himself to be a real rarity within the music industry and someone who deserves New Beats Media’s utmost respect.
We caught up with Matty to find out how their European tour has been going and ask why Memphis May Fire’s sound has changed so dramatically over the years.
How’s the tour going so far? Are you pleased with the reception from the UK?
Yeah, it has been really good. The past couple of days have been awesome –London was amazing and yesterday in Glasgow was unbelievable. We didn’t really know what to expect as it is our first time over here, so the crowds have been amazing, the kids have been really cool, it’s been nice.
Had you met / heard of The Colour Morale and Dream on Dreamer before the start of this tour?
Yeah, we toured with The Colour Morale, last year with The Chariot, and Dream On Dreamer are a fairly new band from Australia so, we knew of them but we hadn’t met them until we got here. They are cool.
The tour is pretty epic in length. Do you not get fed up of each other?
Oh no. Well, Memphis May Fire have their own van, whereas the other two bands have to ride together in the other van. So we have our own van and we have our own hotel rooms every night, but even if we had to be together all the time, they are really cool dudes, nobody causes any trouble and everyone is really respectful. That is like the main thing that we always want when we are on tour, we just want to be on tour with bands that are respectful because we don’t really party that hard.
Within the band we have been touring together for years so we all know how to not p*ss each other off, I guess.
Your EP ‘Sleepwalking’ had a sort of southern rock feel to it but your latest release ‘The Hollow’ definitely has a more mature post-hardcore sound. Was it a natural progression or did you guys make a conscious decision to change things up a bit?
It was definitely natural and I think progression is definitely the word that you are looking for. Basically what happened was the band was kind of doing the southern rock thing, like 4 years ago. They tracked the EP Sleepwalking in Seattle, where I am from, and then their singer quit. They went through a bunch of auditions, I think like over 180 auditions, and they didn’t really find the person that they wanted. Then they finally contacted me and we hit it off, right off the bat. I moved to Texas and I had about two weeks to write all the lyrics and record everything for Sleepwalking, so I guess when I jumped in with the band, I was somewhat influenced by what they had already been doing, kind of the southern rock thing. But over time, touring and what with me being from Washington (like I’m not from the South I don’t have any southern roots at all), together with being in the band for a while and feeling like I could express myself more and that I could be me, I started to play more of a part in the writing process, as me and not just as someone in Memphis May Fire. The music got heavier, my vocals became more like something that I wanted to do and naturally we got better. We wrote an album that we are really proud of. Sleepwalking, we were happy with but it was really rushed and the EP we did by ourselves, whereas The Hollow is definitely the album that we have always wanted to do and from now on we are going to continue to progress and it is going to sound like that.
Were you nervous about changing your sound?
Yeah I mean, I guess it wasn’t even really a conscious decision. It was like ‘this is what we wrote, this is how it sounds and if some of our fans don’t like it, then they don’t like us because this is us now’. This is Memphis May Fire 2.0, I guess you could call it, and this is how we are always going to be.
Do you have a favourite track from ‘The Hollow’?
Oh Jeez… I don’t know, it’s my favourite record that I have ever done in my life and I am pretty happy with every song. That’s what is cool about the record, we get tweets and Facebook messages from fans all the time, saying ‘play this song’ and nobody has one favourite song. I can’t pick a favourite song.
Who came up with all the track names on ‘The Hollow’ and do they relate to the song?
The lyrical content on The Hollow is something different for me as I wrote it in a different way to what I have done before. From track 1 all the way to track 10, it’s like each song tells a story from the perspective of somebody different, not me and something that they went through, whether it’s divorce or being cheated on or war. One song is from our guitarist’s perspective on our previous interactions with the music industry. I wanted to write songs for other people, and songs that they could relate to because if I just wrote about myself, I didn’t feel like everyone could always relate. So I wrote this record for the fans and I think everybody has a favourite track. The song The Abandoned is about growing up without a Father, but I grew up with a really great Dad and my Dad and I have a great relationship, but I have seen so many of my friends grow up without a Father, and I have seen how it affected their life, so I wrote that song for them and it turned out really well.
What does the rest of 2011 hold for Memphis May Fire?
We have been on tour non-stop and we will have done 9 months in total this year. We finish this tour and then fly back to the States on October 9th. Then we basically get off the plane, into our van and start another tour. It is called the Rock Yourself To Sleep Tour and it is sponsored by Motel 6, so they give us a free hotel every night, which is really cool. It is us, Attila, A Skylit Drive, Sleeping With Sirens and Alesana. It will be a good tour, we are really happy about it.
For people who are foolish enough not to have seen Memphis May Fire live, what can someone expect from your set?
Our live show is what defines us as a band and it always has been. We will never write a record that we cannot pull off live. It’s funny ‘cos once a week we get questions from Alternative Press Magazine and we send answers over to them. One time they asked us ‘Do you think that bands are in it more for the music or in it more for the fame?’ and honestly, in 2011, I have seen more bands that will just play to back tracks, lip-sync and do it for the fame. That is not what we are all about, we always write a record that we can pull off, and we do. With our live shows, we always put in 100%, whether there are 10 kids in the room or 1,000 kids in the room, it doesn’t matter to us so I guess you could always say it is always worth the ticket price!
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