Dallas band Memphis May Fire are rapidly emerging in the metalcore scene and blew away many fans and critics alike with latest release ‘Challenger’. This autumn the band headed over to our shores with Of Mice and Men for a fully sold out Rise Records tour. We sent Emma to catch up with singer Matty Mullins backstage at the London date. Although Matty has been reported as coming across with arrogant swagger on stage, the Memphis May Fire front man is actually impeccably polite and full of honest truths about the scene and his band. Here’s what he had to say…
Your older brother is also a musician, do you think his example has influenced you?
Of course, 100%. When I was growing up, his band was doing really well in the Christian scene, and they were touring in a bus just a few months into their career, so seeing that was like ‘Wow’. I also found his live show really inspirational, it wasn’t just his success that motivated me.
My sister dated a lot of musicians, so I got to meet lots of interesting people through her. My whole family has influenced me really, my mum took me to contemporary Christian concerts! I went to DC Talk as one of my first shows, my mum used to take me to Creation Fest, so musically I think I had a privileged upbringing.
My brother was living it and my mum and sister also got me involved, so I guess I was involved musically from a very young age. I’ve always known how the game works, I thank my family for that.
Which songs are you most proud of lyrically?
Jeez… I know it’s not really a proper answer, but I guess all of them. I can’t say a specific song as the albums are all different from each other.
If you listen to all our albums back to back you can see that my lyrical style changes. ‘Sleepwalking’ was more poetry and philosophically influenced, ‘Between The Lies’ was more me writing politically and morally. From then on we went to ‘The Hollow’ and that was a significant change, it was written about people that I know and experiences that people go through. Not necessarily things I have personally experienced but events people close to me have. Death, divorce and other issues are mentioned there. I think it gives our fans an outlet to relate to. ‘Challenger’ is different again. It’s about us as a band and who we are as people, and it reveals some things we struggle with.
As every album is different, my lyrics don’t stand alone. It’s more like a journey. I love that some people are touched by my lyrics, but I’m not hugely proud of them currently. I don’t think I have peaked. There is still a long way to go and I perceive myself to write much better lyrics in the future.
Do you think your personality comes across differently in the media and on stage to what is actually is like?
Yes. For sure. Our music is somewhat heavy and wild. This isn’t my personality. I’m not a manly man. I don’t drink massive amounts or like tough sports. I don’t live a ‘heavy’ lifestyle. A little bit of my personality comes out through my music, but the bold image I display on stage is quite different to who I really am. I’m quite quiet and through our music I can release emotions that I can’t release day to day. I feel I can articulate myself and get my point across in a louder fashion through music than I can through any other means.
Who would you consider to be the best front man in history?
Oh my gosh! That is a difficult question. I’m going to have to really think about this one. I reckon some people might hate me for my answers, as my musical upbringing was very different from many others. I reckon everyone would be like ‘Iggy Pop’ or ‘Mick Jagger’, but for me, it’d be Toby Mac from DC Talk. Despite being in his late 40s he still goes wild on stage and he does a hip-hop project on the side that’s really cool. There are some great front men in the heavier world currently. Jake from August Burns Red is amazing. In our genre, he’s hands down the best. I also want to mention Anthony Green, he’s amazing too.
If we are talking about stage presence, I think Christian from Blindside is so different, but in a good way. His moves are like no other. He doesn’t do metal stomps or hardcore hand movements. He just does flowing dance moves, it’s like he really connects with the music.
You’re on tour with Of Mice & Men at the moment, Austin Carlile is another much loved front man, what do you think it is that makes him so popular?
I think it’s because he’s developed so much over the past few years that he’s been touring. I saw videos from the Attack Attack! days and he’s made massive steps since then. And what’s more, it’s really inspiring that he’s doing this, and so well, with such a serious heart condition.
He has to be careful on tour because of his condition, but it doesn’t stop him being awesome on stage. He’s a real passionate dude as well, he loves his fans and he always tries to give the best performance he can which is really important when you are fronting a band.
What qualities make up a good front man?
To be original anymore is impossible. Everything has been done. So taking something that’s not original and putting your own twist on it is really important. Showing individuality is the key I suppose.
So Memphis May Fire are on the latest Punk Goes Pop album, how did you get involved and why did you chose ‘Grenade’?
Well, we were approached, there was a huge list of songs, and ‘Grenade’ looked like it suited us best.
You see, we’ve never been a funny band. We don’t try and be popular by acting stupid, so we wanted to pick something that still reflected our style. Lyrically, I think it transcends the sort of thing we write rather than being a more stupid style of pop song. On ‘The Hollow’ there are a lot of songs about heartache and ‘Grenade’ is sort of similar. It was fun to sing it. I’m not the biggest Bruno Mars fan but I think his voice is really cool, I respect him. Although I’m pleased with the song, and I think the whole album is great, its not something we are looking to perform live. We don’t want to be a band that rides off someone else success.
What are you planning for the rest of 2012 and 2013?
Literally two days after we get off this tour we will be heading out with Asking Alexandria, As I Lay Dying and Suicide Silence in America. That’s going to be massive- maybe the biggest tour we’ve done as a band. I’m so stoked to be going out with As I Lay Dying, they are iconic. Then after that tour we are off to Soundwave Festival in Australia, then there are two more US tours that haven’t been announced yet.
It sounds very full on! Will you be back over in the UK at all?
Yes. That I can confirm. The details are still a secret at the moment, but it’s going to be awesome!