I have been a fan of Memphis May Fire for quite some time, and I’ve always pictured them to have a positive outlook and understanding of the music scene. Well, just as I thought, that is exactly what they are in a nutshell.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Kellen McGregor, lead guitarist for MMF, and we chatted about everything including new music, the ups and downs of social media, their upcoming tour and more! Check it out below:
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Kellen. You guys have been in the studio for a while now. How has the process has been so far?
Yeah, of course, thanks for having me. It’s actually pretty much all done, finally! The record is just in the mixing [process]. Once we get it all mixed and mastered, the world will have it in their hands!
Awesome, I cannot wait. With this being your fourth full-length (third on Rise), where do you find yourselves pulling inspiration from on this one?
It’s really odd, we’ve been asked that a bunch of times. And I always have a cool answer! We find inspiration in really random things and really purposeful things. For example, here’s a good one: I was at a pool party once at Jake’s [Garland, drummer] place and The Brian Setzer Orchestra came on. So random, right? I heard it and stopped, and I thought it was the coolest chord progression ever! I wrote a note down in my phone, wrote it down and jammed it. It worked—and it worked perfectly! See, that’s once of the things that woke me up to always keep my ears open up for anything. I really can find inspiration anywhere if I just open my mind—in a movie, social media, at a party, anywhere!
It’s been really cool seeing your studio updates on Alternative Press. You are always very interactive with your fans. Has everything been getting a good reaction?
Oh yeah, for sure! Everything has been great. Our fans seem really excited for our new music. The funny thing is, we really aren’t a funny band. And, I mean, to each other we are hilarious, but that’s like every group of friends. So when we try to be funny in our videos, we just come across lame (laughs). However, that being said, the teasers allow our fans to see what’s really going on in our lives.
Now, I have to ask a question that may be a little hard for you to answer, but I need to know. From a band’s perspective, what are your thoughts on social media? Is it good or bad for us?
Good question. Well, I think just like with everything, it’s good in moderation. The positive side of social media is it’s a powerful tool to spread positive messages. You could really impact a lot of people with something cool and motivational. Then, at the same time, there are so many people that dwell in negativity. It’s almost like our parents used to say, like, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.” We try to only abuse the positive side of social media to talk to our fans, because it’s important.
Back in the day, it was all about Myspace. [Now] that Facebook and Twitter have taken over, it’s a lot easier for people to complain about things (laughs). But we’ll never be those guys—only positive stuff from us! Use it right, everyone!
In your personal opinion, would you say you enjoy the studio or the stage more?
That’s a tough one, Maria! I really enjoy writing music. That’s a really tough one, though.
Over the past few years in my downtime, I try to work with local bands as much as I can and record with them. That’s really important to me. I guess if I had to choose, I’d probably say I like the stage more; reason being, the chance to play for people and inspire people and give them a break from their everyday lives. That’s what this is all about.
You are about to embark on a nice tour with a sick lineup, coming our way to the Starland Ballroom on March 6. How did the lineup come about for this one?
Awesome, we are really looking forward to that show—have been getting a ton of response from our fans out in Jersey, too. This lineup is really just a bunch of our friends that were available that we’re going to have one big musical party with. Plus, it’s a fresh lineup for us, which is always important. We have fun with every band we tour with. It’s going to be a great one!
Agreed. The fans have been giving a good reaction to the Starland date. It should be great!
Perfect, we’re excited too!
Working with a lot of local bands in the area, a lot of young acts cite you as an inspiration. How would you say that makes you feel?
You know, it took me a year or two to realize that was one of the things that kept me going the majority of career. We never made, like, a ton of money; we spent our whole careers struggling to do what we love. However, looking back on it, I would do it all over again as long as I could make an impact on other people, including local bands, mostly.
When I think about what got me into music, like Nirvana and Dave Grohl—he’s literally what got me into playing drums, then guitar—to where I am now, it honestly makes me feel great when I hear that.
Well, you are looked up to, and rightfully so! What would you say has changed the most in the music industry since you first started out?
Well, other than the distribution? Even though there is more competition as far as the number of bands, I feel like it’s easier to make it nowadays as long as you have one of the key ingredients. Not to sound negative, but nowadays you can be a band who is super talented and the most popular in your area, work hard, and make it. Or you can be not one of the best bands and buy your way into it. You know, with videos, buying on to tours, having your parents buy you nice equipment, you know what I mean. And, hey, not knocking it; if you have it, go for it.
For me, though, I look back at the past seven years and for so many of the bands that got big, we were in the group that really had to hustle, and we still do! I mean, we know of no other way to do it. I guess what I would say the thing I have seen the most is the drive of the business. I still believe it’s all about the hustle, but like everything, things change!
Well, I love that answer, and I couldn’t agree with you more! Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me, Kellen. I look forward to seeing you at the Starland Ballroom on March 6! It’s going to be great.
Thanks, Maria. See you at Starland!
You can catch Memphis May Fire at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on March 6. For more information, go to facebook.com/memphismayfire and starlandballroom.com.