Raised on Marilyn Manson, A Perfect Circle and Nine Inch Nails, Ryan Neff first picked up a bass guitar while still in high school. His concentration was considerable—with no other goals or even hobbies, bass was the one constant for him, and his sole desire was to be able to play along with all his favorite metal tracks.
As with his studies (he was a straight-A student), Neff showed dedication and focus in learning the instrument. He quickly progressed from picking out the notes of the first song he ever learned (Nirvana’s “Breed”) to joining his first band.
With Jeordie White and Sean Yseult as his heroes, it’s no surprise that his first band, which he joined in late 2005, was a metal outfit. Neff was obsessively involved in every aspect of it—from songwriting and creative to booking to logistics—but his love for industrial and alternative metal eventually put him at odds with the band’s metalcore stylings. His second band, which he’d joined by 2007, was a much more technical group that spurred him to take bass lessons in order to reach the higher standard he sought.This second band didn't bring fame and fortune—not directly, anyway—but it did lead Neff to meet Levi Benton and the other members of what would become Miss May I. He managed all of one week at college before Benton convinced him to quit and the Troy, Ohio-based band.His first stint was short-lived, however; Neff bailed after only a short while when things didn’t appear to be working out. He then watched as Miss May I’s star ascended as he struggled to get by, working in a pet store. A year of cleaning cages later, Neff had sold almost everything to make ends meet and was down to his bass guitar and little else. At that lowest point, Benton called to persuade him to re-join Miss May I. Neff needed little convincing and was on a flight to Houston almost immediately for his first show back in the fold.Everything then started moving quickly for Miss May I and the group’s “new” bassist. 2009 debut album Apologies Are for the Weak was accompanied by countless U.S. tours that steadily attracted buzz and fans. Neff knuckled down and, as always, became more than just the bass player, learning many industry ins and outs.
After much touring, the band started work on second album Monument (2010). It sold well in its first week that summer and cemented Miss May I’s position as an exciting and relevant new U.S. metal band. As with Apologies, the band threw itself into a constant touring schedule, sharing stages with the Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel and Pierce the Veil in North America and abroad. A now-legendary stint with the summer 2011 Warped Tour saw the band laying waste to the festival daily and creating what the band affectionately called “marathon pits” (Google it).Third album At Heart was released in June 2012 and earned Miss May I a new level of even higher acclaim, reaching number 30 on the U.S. Billboard chart. The band continued to tour relentlessly, with more Warped Tour appearances and the Alternative Press 2012 Tour. 2013 saw the band make their first appearance on Australia's Soundwave Festival, along with performances alongside Bullet For My Valentine , and Killswitch Engage. Miss May I and Neff have ridden many of the highs and lows that all great bands experience, and yet they share the sense that there’s much more to come; that their story is just beginning.
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