Before their show at Leeds Key Club the other night, I was given the amazing opportunity to hang out and interview Matty Mullins, lead vocalist for Memphis May Fire. During our interview we spoke about a plethora of subjects including: 10 year anniversaries, religion and most important of all…kebabs.
Keep reading below to hear what else we spoke about!
Before the interview even began Matty was excitedly showing me the weather app on his phone, pointing at how the temperature was getting warmer throughout the night, saying it was the craziest thing ever and how he’d never seen anything like that before. And from that moment I knew this was going to be a good interview.
So I began.
So, you’ve had six albums out so far, it’s actually been 10 years since your first one ‘sleepwalking’, we noticed you didn’t do any 10 year celebrations was there any reason for that?
That first record we put out didn’t connect with fans the way ‘The Hollow’ did so we’ll probably do a ten year anniversary celebration for that. It was also a different time for the band as well, it had more of a ‘southern rock’ feel, it doesn’t feel much like us today at all. So I feel like it would have been a really strange thing to do, to centre a whole album around it and I’m not sure if enough fans would be interested in that.
So would you say it hasn’t aged the best?
Yeah I guess, I mean it’s an important album to us and a lot of people loved it but not the majority of our fan base. Y’know?
Yeah of course, so would you say that it’s not relevant to yourselves anymore?
I don’t think so at all, I think there’s a core fan base that loved it and still love it but that group would only be about 5% of each crowd, so not enough for a full tour.
That makes sense.
10 years is a long time in the industry, what would you say has been the most challenging part of your career, has it been staying relevant, being true to yourself or what?
I thinks it’s been a lot of highs and lows. You’ve gotta find a balance y’know? You have to stay grounded and continuously remind yourself what’s important and why you’re here. Like, if you’re in it for money or in it for fame then those things are fleeting and you’ve gotta make sure that it’s about the music and it’s about the fans and its about a genuine connection and writing stories that hopefully inspire and change people’s lives and that’s really what it’s all about. As long as that’s what it’s about, for you, I think you can do it forever.
“Starting January we’re going to be working on a new record”
On your new album, well, new for us as we haven’d it played here before, you have two music videos out for songs off of it, is there talk of anymore?
Probably not, I think this tour is going to be the end of the cycle for that record. We’re wanting to put out music more often these days and so starting January we’re going to be working on a new record.
We’ve found that, although your style changes with each album, you are still very consistent, like you could play a song from ‘The Hollow’ next to a song from ‘Broken’ and although they are different, you can still tell that they’re the same artist. Have you find that challenging to stay ‘yourselves’?
Broken is significantly different to any other records we have put out, but it still feels like the songs fit and mesh well with the set. We’ll play songs from Broken tonight, we’ll play songs from The Hollow tonight, we’ll do a bunch of stuff. I think it would be harder to be not us than it is to be us.
I think that’s a great thing that you have stayed mostly on the same level so your audience will enjoy most of the set, there won’t be that much of a segmented audience where you will have people who prefer the ‘old’ music vs. the ‘new’ music,
Yeah, I think there’s pro’s and cons to not changing styles per album but for us we just write what we write, we’re not trying to do anything specific we just roll with what comes out.
There is only one feature on your album, and it’s a rap/hip-hop artist, what made you want to work with that kind of artist, as it’s so different to your style?
I really like hip-hop, I listen to a lot of hip-hop and especially that rapper on the record, his name is Andy Mineo and he’s one of my favourites. He’s an incredible lyricist, so it was more for me than anything, I just wanted to collaborate with him and I think it turned out pretty cool.
I love it, how it’s really unexpected and catches you off guard, I think it could be really fun live.
“We want to prioritise the UK & Europe in future”
How different was it, or was it not different at all, working with a rap artist vs. another artist of the same genre?
Wildly different because I didn’t have any advice to give him. I didn’t have any input on his part, I just said ‘take it and do what you want with it’. Whereas for any other vocalist, for example Jacoby from Papa Roach, I would write their parts for them but with this it was more of a ‘hope for the best’ situation where he had full control.
It’s your headline tour in two years, with December 2016 being your last headline tour in England,
Yeah it’s been a really long time since we’ve been back we missed it
Is there any reason it has been so long?
It’s just the way that things happened, like we get offers in America and they’re good offers and we want to do them, like the Disrupt tour and the tour with Atreyu and we did all of those things, which ended up making it so we didn’t have time to come over here. We regret it slightly, we really do want to prioritise the UK and Europe, but it was harder this season for us to get over here and so moving forward you’ll see us here a lot more.
What do you think sets the UK apart from other shows you’ve played around the world?
Everyone has their own flavour it’s like, England has got it’s own thing, the way that you guys do food, and how you interact with people, the way the crowds feel, it’s all different and we love that about it. Last night in London was one of my favourite shows that we’ve had in a long time, out of anywhere in the world. It was amazing, and there’s just something really special about playing in England.
“People hear the singles on the radio and the rest of the album doesn’t seem to matter”
One of your fans wanted to know, have you heard the ‘Yorkshire’ chant at any of your shows yet?
What does it sound like?
It’s printed on the front door of the venue, it’s basically just the word ‘Yorkshire’ chanted repeatedly en masse. It’s quite a regional thing.
oh no way! No I haven’t heard it yet, hopefully they’ll do it tonight. That kind of thing doesn’t really happen in America.
I’ve noticed that too, but in England many places have their own chants, Leeds have a chant, Newcastle have a chant, Glasgow have their own chant too, as you tour I hope you hear at least one of them.
Thats very cool! Normally we wear in-ears so we don’t really hear too much from the crowd but I will definitely pay attention for that tonight and through the tour.
If you play Reading and Leeds festival again, their crowds are quite competitive, both trying to be louder and bigger than the other, so you might be able to hear it better there with larger amounts of people.
I love that! I can’t believe I didn’t know, thats amazing, I really hope I hear one tonight now, don’t let me down.
Speaking of tonight, looking at your setlist, how do you plan it?
We have noticed that you play a lot more of the ‘Challenger’ album than ‘Broken’ even though it’s the first time you’re here since ‘Broken”s release
Yeah we are, I fell like, nowadays albums aren’t really about albums anymore. They’re more about singles, people hear singles on Spotify playlists or on the radio and the rest of the record doesn’t matter really and doesn’t get a lot of attention and that’s just the way it works.
So it doesn’t make sense for us to put songs in the set that people aren’t super familiar with, and we’ve put out so many albums now that it makes sense for us to play a bit of every record rather than focusing on the newer one so much.
Maybe it’ll be different with future songs and albums, but we only have an hour to play songs from six albums so it’s tough.
When some bands have changed up their sets to make way for new songs there has been uproar from fans, like Paramore removing Misery Business, have you ever experienced that where the fans have just not agreed with a set change?
Totally, yeah all the time. We’re always trying to appease people, we’re always adding songs back in and taking other songs out and you can never please everybody but we can do our best. We have to give the fans what they want because the show is for them but we also have to play what we want to play.
How did you select your support act for the tour, and what’s it been like touring with them so far?
We had a long submission list of bands that wanted to come out on this run and I personally chose Walkways on purpose. They’re from Israel and are incredibly talented, they haven’t had many opportunities yet and we wanted to give them one. Their vocalist is incredible, definitely check them out. We wanted to bring out a band that was a great band and whose music we enjoy and they are that band.
We also have a local band on each date too, tonight is Defining Lines.
What else have you got planned for the future? You mentioned more albums earlier, have you started working on anything yet?
We’ve started working on songs but it’s going to be a few months before anybody hears anything. We don’t have anything solidly planned at the moment we’re just letting everything stay dormant till we get the new record finished and then we can start planning touring again.
“If I can’t be honest and true to myself then I don’t want a platform at all”
A lot of fans were enquiring about your solo music, asking if there will be any more of that any time soon?
Cool! Oh yeah, there will be, yeah. I’ve got another single coming in the next few months actually.
Fans were also asking that, because you’re very open and unapologetic about your faith, if you think that has affected your career or not at all?
Oh totally, it totally has. I think it can be a turn off to people that don’t know me personally, they might feel like I’m trying to pressure my belief onto them or something like that. I’m not in control of their response. If I believe in something and think that has genuinely benefited my life, then I think it would be selfish of me to not be honest and open about it, so I love to talk about my faith to those that want to hear it. If people don’t want to hear it then that’s totally fine too. I respect everybody and everyones beliefs.
I definitely think it’s hindered my career in some ways, but definitely benefitted my career in more ways than it has hindered. Not in a way to ‘gain’ anything, but moreso that if I can’t be honest and true to myself then I don’t want a platform at all. It’s been a blessing to be able to be open about it all.
The genre that you play has always had a stigma around it regarding faith, with a lot of faiths not liking or supporting that kind of music and a lot of musicians not supporting many faiths, so a lot of people are saying it’s very refreshing and comforting to have someone with a platform be so open about it to help beat that stigma
Yeah you don’t exactly hear a lot of this kind of music at a church, but by being open about it I hope to help other people realise that they don’t have to choose between their faith and what they like to do, it’s perfectly okay to have both.
“Kebab is our absolute favourite”
One of our fans online asked ‘Being an artist, how do you balance work, family, friends and fans?’
It’s really hard man, it’s really hard. It’s a constant back and forth. You get too involved in one thing so take a step back and then you get too involved in another thing so take a step back again. I try to make sure that my family and my wife always take priority and sadly they often don’t get the majority of my time with me writing, recording and touring. It’s really challenging and I still haven’t figured it out.
There’s things too that people don’t think about, like the more I talk throughout the day, the more I’m hurting my voice, and I have to protect that because that’s how I’m here so I try to spend time with fans as much as possible at the end of the night when I can. When I can’t I just hope they know I still love them.
With all of your travelling, how do you not get bored during flights and bus journeys?
I’m pretty good at sleeping on flights, and as far as from show to show it’s usually overnight so we sleep then too. There’s actually not a lot of downtime, if I’m not performing or doing something in that realm, or not hanging around with the guys in the band, I’m actually running my own company. I own my own hair product company called ‘On Point Pomade’ (check it out here) and that takes a lot of my time. Running that from afar can be challenging so any time I get to focus on that I make the most of it.
With you travelling all over the world you must have tried lots of food, what is your favourite local food you’ve tried?
Kebab is our absolute favourite.
It’s the best, we all actually have kebab tattoos. It’s a big deal for us. Here let me show you-
[ Matty proceeds to show me said tattoo on his leg as I continue to talk to him, and it is glorious. Full on, meat on a spit with a guy carving it. It’s amazing ]
What kind of kebab though?
But any kind of kebab really, Donner, Shawarma, it’s all good.
We got this these years ago [showing tattoo] because we don’t get them in America, so it’s the guy like shaving the meat-
That is absolutely amazing, so you’ve travelled the world, tried so many different types of food and Kebab is your favourite, that’s insane. Is there any specific place you get your kebabs from when you’re here?
Glasgow for sure.
There’s a venue there called ‘The Garage’ and directly next to it is the best shawarma in the world, it’s so good.
Berlin also has really good donner, like, amazing donner.
Their shawarma is really good too but amazing donner.
“The weather is always cloudy and cold here, I love it”
Moving on from the kebab praising. You’ve travelled all over the world, where would you say is the best place to travel besides America? It can be for shows, food, culture, anything.
In the world?
Man, that’s tough. We love to go to places we would never have been otherwise, y’know?
Like we’ve played in South Africa, Israel, Bangkok all these crazy amazing places. It feels like a blessing to be able to go to all of these great places that our grandparents have never seen and never will see in their lifetime so that’s been really cool.
I would say England is definitely in our top five.
I grew up in the North-West in the United States so the weather and the culture feels really familiar to me, the weather is kind of like cloudy and cold I love it.
Show wise, everywhere feels very similar though, like I mentioned earlier every place has it’s own flavour, like chants, but it’s still for the most part the same. We have the same equipment, same stage set up most nights, it not wildly different. I love playing shows no matter where we are.
That is all of the questions we have, thank you for your time and have an amazing show tonight, I’m sure you’ll smash it.
Thank you, thank you for chatting with me I hope you enjoy the show.
So there it is!
That is what be and Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire chatted about, what was your favourite part?
Do you agree about his comment on the best place for kebab? If not, be sure to let us know where he should try it from!