For their sixth album, Memphis May Fire frontman Matty Mullins found himself digging deep into his psyche and journey for inspiration. ‘Broken' was completed the best part of a year ago, but with their US tour with Atreyu fast coming around, now's the time for Memphis May Fire to make their way back into the world, and for the record to finally fulfil its purpose.
"It's never been about anything but what we can do to help people with our music," Matty begins over the phone from his home in Nashville. "There's the bare bones part of being a band; that you've got to go out and make a living and sell merchandise and stuff like that, but we've always had a strong team that's handled things like that for us. Our focus has always been to write music that can genuinely help people."
Building ‘Broken' from the ground up while tucked away in the studio, Memphis May Fire wanted to pull out all the honesty they could muster. What they've walked out with is an album that is most certainly fit to help those in their time of need.
"It's not that we feel we have some special gift, or ability to do that, it's just something that we're trying to do," he admits. "And it does happen to feel lucky, and blessed, to be a part of that story in somebody life. It's not very complicated; it's me sitting down and writing a song and saying, ‘you know, I'm exactly like you'. We are all human beings, and we're all struggling with the same things, you know? This is what I'm going through. Life's not easy, and life's not perfect but there is a beauty in the brokenness, and there is healing when you want it."
Even the album sat gestating for the last twelve months or so offered itself a unique opportunity for Matty in the form of recognising his journey.
"It's amazing to think about all of the healing that has happened in my life and everything that I've learned since," he says brightly. "I think it's therapeutic to tell my story. The whole idea behind the record is that I wanted to share my story honestly so that people would feel like they're not alone; that's the first step of healing for anybody."
Matty's journey is the centre around which Memphis May Fire have constructed 'Broken'. Touring, recording and having what can feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders takes its toll, sometimes amplifying underlying personal issues.
"[Touring has] been a vital part of the last ten years of my life, just being on the road - it's tough!" He exclaims. "It's tough to be away from friends and family. We've all settled in as much as we can into the life of touring; where me and the rest of the guys are like family, and we do enjoy travelling together. What makes it worth it, [is] every single show that we've ever played, there's been at least one or two people that have walked up to me to tell me about what our music means to them, and how it's helped them through something, and you can't put a price on that.
"It doesn't matter if we go out and make a million dollars, or if we go out and lose money and we go home broke, at the end of the day, that's a legacy. That's something that really, genuinely matters. Human lives, you know? People that are struggling with things and are being helped by something that we got to create, that we were lucky enough to create - that's always been it for us. That's always been the focus and drive behind what we do."
Musically for Memphis May Fire, 'Broken' offers itself as an evolution, touching upon a new groundwork for the metalcore four-piece. "The last two records that we've put out have been a natural progression of us moving into this new season and re-birth of the band. This record is the furthest that we've ever gone away from our original sound that people came to know the band with. We had an idea of where we wanted to go, but we didn't know how it was going to turn out."
More importantly for the band; "There was never any moment during creating this record that we were like, ‘Oh man, what are we doing? Where are we going with this? How is this going to work?'"
"It's time in our career for us to redefine who we are as a band," Matty declares. "To start branching out; performing for people who've never heard of the band before and going on tours with bands that we've never toured with before. For us to continue being excited about being in a band, we knew we had to do something - a new vision and a new direction, so that's what this record is.
"It's a new Memphis May Fire, and anybody that's ever listened to us," he continues. "When you hear our new record, it's still us; it's still my voice, and Kellen [McGregor]'s southern-influenced guitar riffs, but we wanted to do something that's new and fresh and exciting to us, and hopefully it translates that way to our fans as well."
It's aided by the musical smorgasbord of Nashville, the place that Matty has decided to call home.
"I've got such a wide variety of music that I listen to these days," he enthuses. "Nashville is the songwriting capital of the world; there's so much songwriting of all different genres happens here. I bounce around all over the place, I'm not so much focused on genres these days, like I used to be as a kid - ‘Oh man, that's not heavy, I'm not listening to it!' These days I want to hear great songs. I want to listen to the craft of songwriting and appreciate it for what it is. So, I listen to everyone from Ed Sheeran to Killswitch Engage!"
It's resulted in a record that has a timeless message, Matty explains. "Even if it were two years from now, it would be the right time to put the record out," he asserts. "At the end of the day, the records aren't about me. If it was about me, I would just write a blog and write emails to family and share my story that way, but we're writing music not for us, but other people. For the people that benefit. Our listeners who hear our songs and hear our stories and it helps them during their healing process and the journey that they're on. I don't think it really would've mattered when this record came out, no matter what I'd been enlightened with. It's just genuine honest stories, and hopefully, they'll withstand the test of time."
Does Matty feel like he's made progress in understanding himself?
"I do, yeah. Throughout your life, you're going to peel back different layers of things that have caused issues within your life. Every time you peel back a new layer, you feel something else that needs to be worked on.
"I'm a work in progress, like anybody else, but I do feel like I am healed from the worst of it. From the worst of my panic attacks and anxiety to the deep dark hole of depression that I lived in for two years straight. It's been a learning process and something, but it's been such an amazing thing for me to understand continually. It's allowed me to help so many of my friends and my family, and a lot of our fans through our music kind of walk through that process with them, so I'm different now, and I think I'll be different in two years, you know?"
Taken from the December 2018 / January 2019 issue of Upset. Memphis May Fire's album 'Broken' is out now.
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