Mayhem Pit Diary 2014: Islander, Miss May I, Texas Hippie Coalition and Upon a Burning Body Interviews


Audio Ink checks in backstage at the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Tour

By Anne Erickson

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival is a hot, sweaty, in-your-face breed of a tour, featuring metal bands young and classic playing alongside each other across the festival’s three stages. This year’s lineup features a mix of new and veteran talent, including Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Trivium, Asking Alexandria, Mushroomhead, Miss May I, Islander, Texas Hippie Coalition, Upon a Burning Body, Emmure, Veil of Maya, Darkest Hour, Ill Nino, Wretched, King 810, Erimha and more.

Audio Ink caught up with four Mayhem 2014 bands during the Detroit stop of the trek: Islander, Miss May I, Texas Hippie Coalition and Upon a Burning Body. Check out the interviews right here, including a video recap above.

Islander – Mikey Carvajal

Islander - Mikey Carvajal

Q: What’s your favorite thing about Mayhem this year?

Carvajal: I like the catering a lot. I like food. (Laughs) Also, the bands. Meeting other musicians, hanging out and seeing them kill it every night. Of course, playing and meeting our fans. That’s always a blast.

Q: I see you’re wearing a Whosoevers shirt. Tell us about your involvement with the organization.

Carvajal: All of us in the band have our own beliefs, and we don’t pressure anybody else to have these beliefs. For me, personally, I claim Christ. There are a few of us out here that are a part of the Whosoevers. It’s just a group of dudes that believe in loving on people and are thankful to be here each day. We’re trying to do good in this crazy world, and it’s really difficult to do that.

Q: Islander have a new album out called “Violence and Destruction.” What can you tell us about the album?

Carvajal: Our new record, “Violence and Destruction,” came out July 8. We’ve had a good response so far, and we’re kind of blown away by it. We worked with Cameron Webb as out producer in Orange County, Calif., and he killed it. He didn’t try to change who we were or anything like that. He just took what we were already doing and helped up be a better version of who we are, and we’re really proud of it, and we hope people continue to listen. Our first single, “Coconut Dracula,” is doing really well on radio right now, so we’re going to ride that one out for a minute.

Miss May I – Levi Benton

Miss May I – Levi Benton

Q: What makes Mayhem a unique festival for Miss May I?

Benton: We’ve done Warped Tour and all these summer festivals before, but for Mayhem, the coolest thing is that it’s all metal-heads. So, it’s just as big as all these other festivals, but it’s not such a mixed jukebox of fans. Everyone comes here for metal, and it’s just been insane. It’s been my favorite part of it.

Q: You guys are out of Ohio. What’s the metal scene like there?

Benton: Oh, man, see, we haven’t been home in so long. We’ve been touring for five years. There are always new metal bands when we come home, and there are always bands that broke up. The metal scene, when we were younger, it was awesome. A lot of bands like the Devil Wears Prada and Chimera– a lot of metal bands came out of there. When we were younger, it was crazy. Back when we were playing, local shows were 200 to 500 kids, so it was a phenomenon. The best time of my life when I was a kid. It was awesome.

Q: How would you say Miss May I’s new album, “Rise of the Lion,” differs from past releases?

Benton: We recorded it with Terry Date, who worked with Pantera, White Zombie. It’s definitely our most diverse record. There are s all left-field songs. It’s all over the board. The coolest thing is it’s the longest we’ve ever had to write. We had three months to write the new record, and it charted the highest and has been selling crazy. Mayhem is actually our first tour to tour on it. It’s been awesome. We’ve had a bunch of music videos for it. And, it’s all fan-based. The biggest thing is that the lyrics really aren’t personal. They’re from all the boxes of letters we’ve had over the years. We wrote back to the fans, and they’re all inspired by the fans.

Texas Hippie Coalition – Richard “Big Dad Ritch”

Texas Hippie Coalition - Cord Pool and Big Dad Ritch

Q: What’s been the most exciting aspect of Mayhem so far?

Big Dad Ritch: Just getting to see all the fans, take the stage with a big audience. I’m from Texas, and I like a good fight, and the good thing about these Mayhem fans is that they aren’t afraid to take some whipping.

Q: The Texas Hippie Coalition are known for making “red dirt metal.” What is “red dirt metal?”

Big Dad Ritch: Red dirt metal is from back where we live in the Texas and Oklahoma area, dirty, dirty red. When you go swimming in the red river with a white outfit and come out red, it’s that bad. (Laughs) It’s a genre of music down there started by Cross Canadian Ragweed, Pat Green, Stoney LaRue, Johnny Cooper- I could name all of them. We do shows with a lot of country bands down there, and they dubbed us “red dirt metal,” because we have that same style of storytelling cowboy type of music. They tote pistols, and we tote shot guns! (Laughs)

Q: What can you tell us about the new album, “Ride On?”

Big Dad Ritch: New album comes out 9/9/14. The title of this one is just a little statement that my dad used to say when I was a little kid. If there was trouble in town, so we’re going to ride on out of town. Me and the guys were surrounded one day and wrote this song called “Ride On,” and the album is really just our way – we’ve been around for a decade now – so it’s our way of letting the world know that you’ve got your great ones, you’ve got your champions and you’ve got your legends, but now you’re going to get one more. THC’s going to be one more, baby.

Upon a Burning Body – Danny Leal and Ruben Alvarez

Upon a Burning Body – Danny Leal and Ruben Alvarez

Q: What makes Mayhem different from other tours you’ve played?

Leal: The size of it, for one. It’s ginormous.

Alvarez: The fans here, too. They’re a little extra metal, so it’s awesome. You get to see those super metal-heads come out of the caves and come rock out.

Q: Are there any new bands you’ve discovered on Mayhem?

Alvarez: Wretched. I think they’re great. They’re very metal and super technical. I was surprised. I was like, “Who is this band?”

Q: Who’s been your favorite band to watch every night?

Alvarez: Body Count and Korn. Korn is amazing.

Q: What’s next for Upon a Burning Body after Mayhem wraps up?

Leal: It’s busy! Tours that haven’t been announced yet, so we can’t really say, but we have a lot of tours lined up, so we’re really excited.

Alvarez: It’s a jam-packed year. The new record, actually, that’s the biggest thing for us.

Leal: That’s what’s in store. Aug. 12, “The World is My Enemy Now,” the new record is out. Pre-orders are up now.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Interviews, Metal, Music