Toby Fournier spoke to Matty Mullins of MEMPHIS MAY FIRE about the band's latest album, faith and fish and chips
Metalheads everywhere will know about Memphis May Fire (MMF), the Nashville-based tunesmiths who can bash out melodic hardcore as well as parting your hair with a riff or two. Formed 13 years ago, the current line-up consists of Matty Mullins (vocals), Kellen McGregor (guitar), Cory Elder (bass) and Jake Garland (drums) and Samuel Penner (touring guitar). MMF's output has measured just under one album every two years, their most recent being 2018s 'Broken', so it would be fair to expect a new instalment in 2020. Cross Rhythm's Toby Fournier caught up with their singer Matty Mullins for a chat just before MMF's recent show at the Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent, part of a recent short UK tour.
Toby: MMF's latest album is 'Broken', released in 2018. I read somewhere that you were sitting on the album for some time before releasing it. You recorded it and were waiting for the right time to drop it. Was that frustrating at all?
Matty: It was. You know, the entire creation of that album was pretty frustrating to be honest. It was our biggest budget, biggest producer experience as a band, ever, and a lot of things about it seemed to fall through the cracks. We had high expectation for one thing and it didn't add up and we wanted this one thing to happen this way and it didn't happen. Our label was great to us and we were happy with the recording process but all in all, the way that it came together and the way that it was released just wasn't what we wanted and so it was a year that we sat on it before releasing it and I think in that year we could probably have written and recorded an even better record.
Toby: Are you pleased with the finished product?
Matty: Yeah, it's good, we did what we wanted to do with that album. We got introduced to active rock radio for the first time in our careers, which was a huge blessing because that's what we've always wanted as a band: to reach people not only in the underground scene and through the Warp tour crowd and everything but also through the radio waves. It's such an incredible tool to reach a wider audience. So being a band for 11 years and having this be our first radio experience was kind of crazy and we got to do that with this record, which was awesome. But I think that this tour that we're on right now will be the end of the cycle and we'll start working on new music right away.
Toby: How does 'Broken' differ from your earlier albums?
Matty: It's significantly different. We went into it knowing that it was going to be a rock record through and through and so this is the first time that Kellen and I have written with someone else. It's the first time we've written a record that has no screaming in it and there are some slower tempos than usual. All around we wanted to make something that was more commercial and we learned a lot through the process about who we are as a band, what we can execute well and what we can't execute well.
Toby: I really enjoyed the album. I reviewed it for Cross Rhythms. I heard a few different things in it. There was one track that had a sort of Artic Monkeys thing in it. It has this English flavour to it. You're quite influenced by UK bands aren't you?
Matty: Yeah, a little bit. We like bands from all over the world. I wouldn't say that I'm predominantly influenced by British bands. There have definitely been some British bands that have had a huge impact on us, for sure.
Toby: Can you name a few of those?
Matty: We were watching the Oasis documentary the other day and we were like "Man!" We didn't know, there's hits after hits after hits. We had no idea how many massive songs they had until you really sit down and explore all of it. So Oasis is huge, and then obviously in our realm of music we came up at the same time as Bring Me The Horizon and they've obviously had a huge impact over here and we toured with a handful of other British bands as well, some cool bands.
Toby: How does your faith influence your lyrics?
Matty: 100 per cent of it. The biggest difference between the way that I write and active rock radio is that it feels like a lot of times in rock and heavy metal, the darkness is not just seen and heard, the darkness is almost glorified. It's like, "I'm depressed", "I'm at my worst", "I'm at the end of my rope" and then the song is over. I think that's OK. I think it's OK to talk about the worst parts of our lives and the things that we struggle with the most but if you're going to write songs about failures, if you're going to write songs about heartbreak and depression, then please also write songs about victories. Write songs about the times in your life when you learned something and changed, when you enjoyed something, whatever it is about life that you wake up for every day. Also write about that. My faith has always been part of my lyrics. If we write about something dark I also like to write about the light at the end of the tunnel as well.
Toby: How does a lyric pop into your mind? Do you wake up in the morning where you have just dreamt this fantastic lyric?