The Dallas-based quintet Memphis May Fire delivers heavy-hitting, energetic metal fused with soaring choruses and electronic, orchestral sections. The band released its fourth full-length studio album, “Unconditional,” last month. Guitarist Anthony Sepe, guitarist Kellin McGregor and bass guitarist Cory Elder sat down with Folio Weekly just before their set April 26 at Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville.
F.W.: You’re most recent release, “Unconditional,” came out last month. Did you take any different approach to writing/recording this album?
K.M: Yeah, a little bit. The last two records we did all in one studio. On this one, we came straight out of Warped Tour, finished writing and went into my home studio. We knocked it out quickly.
F.W.: So you did a good amount of writing on the road?
K.M. You kind of have to. This last year particularly, we were out a lot.
F.W.: It seems like on some of your first releases, "Memphis May Fire" EP and "Sleepwalking," there was a pretty pronounced Southern tone, especially with the guitars … not so much on the new stuff. Is there a reason for the shift?
K.M.: All I knew was the pentatonic scale when we wrote the first two CDs. That’s really what it is. With every CD – I wouldn’t say that I’ve gotten better – but I’ve like learned a little bit here and there. I still can’t solo to save my life. That first EP man, we wrote that in fall 2006, that was forever ago. You just grow and change, you know?
F.W.: Do you prefer festival-sized shows like this when you’re touring, or do you prefer the smaller intimate shows in local venues?
A.S.: I say the bigger the better. The amount of energy you get from the crowd and the vibe of the festival just seems a lot better.
K.M: You don’t have to worry about getting smacked in the face with a bass, either.
A.S.: Yeah, there’s always plenty of room on stage, and the sound's always good.
C.E.: I think we all enjoy both a lot. In small club shows, there may not be as many people there, but the energy is closer to you, and you can really feel it. But even at a festival, there may be a barricade 15 feet between you and the crowd, but there’s that much more people so you still really feel the energy. It’s just a different vibe with each.
F.W.: Particularly on “Unconditional," there’s a positive, uplifting message in your music. Why do you feel that message resonates with your audience?
K.M.: I feel like music has been so negative for so long, which is fine. Some people say they write their best music when their depressed or when they come out of a breakup or whatever. I feel like, with the human experience, you can only do that so many times before you really need to have something positive to pull you out of the funk or inspire you in a different way. With the past couple albums, we’ve tried to have as much of a positive message as we can, especially with Matt’s faith.
A.S.: We’re also people who don’t like to glorify negative things. That’s good if writing a song about an experience can get you through a negative experience. We’re just trying to glorify a different message of love, positivity and hope.
C.E.: A lot of Matt’s lyrics in some of our songs start out in a negative way and are very angry, but always resolve into a bigger message. There’s always something to take away.