Miss Black America
Clive Drew 01/02/2004
Spitting vitriol and angst in a way not seen since the days of Generation Terrorists-era Manics, Miss Black America are a band that do give a shit. Clive Drew caught up with their highly opinionated frontman Seymour Glass after their explosive show at the London Astoria in aid of the Love Music Hate Racism campaign. He predicts “maximum optimism” yet “minimal good fortune” for 2004...
CD: How did you feel the LMHR gig went? Cooper (drummer) said that some problems with the drum kit limited the songs that you could play, what happened there?
SG: The gig was fantastic, - the first London gig I ever went to was at the Astoria, 10 years ago, and I thought, “I want to be in a band that plays here”. It's one of those things, like getting played on Peel or having a single on vinyl, that makes you feel like a proper band, rather than a bunch of chancers from some backwater town who snuck their way in past security to drink the real bands' beer. The best thing was fighting with Barney, and trying to make a speech, and standing 4 feet away from Morrissey thinking, “I AM STANDING FOUR FEET AWAY FROM MORRISSEY.” It was far, far beyond surreal. What do you do? It's like seeing a Unicorn; you don't just run over and offer it crisps. I don't know what Cooper was whingeing about, there was fuck all wrong with his drum kit. He just hates admitting that he's excited and/or pleased about anything, and we only had 20 minutes regardless. He met Mick Jones, though, and thus came about the greatest rock 'n' roll meeting of our time: Cooper just walked up and went, “So you're Mick Jones. Not a fan of the Clash, myself. I'm into metal. I am the Metal King.” Mick Jones just laughed and went, “Yeah, I can see that.” Cooper was well chuffed, and decreed that Mick Jones was “top banana”.
CD: How did you originally get involved in the Love Music Hate Racism campaign?
SG: The Clash are the reason I got in this band in the first place - me and Mike, our old bassist, would sit and watch their film Rude Boy and the Sex Pistols movie The Filth And The Fury and they both had terrifying scenes from the late seventies of ordinary, decent people spouting wildly racist views, on street corners, to the cameras, on soap boxes, all drummed up and made to dance like puppets by the National Front. And then The Clash did that massive outdoor Rock Against Racism gig in London with X-Ray Specs and Sham 69, and 100,000 people turned up. When we did our first tour, with Antihero in late 2001, we took ANL leaflets and stickers with us and handed them out. I just figured, it's no hassle and worth spreading the word about.
CD: What other things apart from racism really get your goat?
SG: It's a really difficult question to answer, 'cause for one thing where do you start? It's like trying to answer, what do you like? I think I got a reputation, in as far as schmindie nobodies ever do, for being REALLY ANGRY 'cause I always used to shout at Mark Beaumont from the NME whenever I saw him, and then he reviewed the Infinite Chinese Box single and said it was about being REALLY ANGRY about television, when it was about killing yourself to get revenge on someone who's ruined your life. But I'm not angry in an angry way, not really, just baffled more than anything, by everything, and everyone, all the time. But I shouted a bit, and that's it now - we're an ANGRY BAND, or an emo band. It kind of sums up one of our biggest problems in this country - we're obsessed with boxes, from the moment we're born we're conditioned to feel that everything has to fit neatly, has to be clear cut, this or that, and to this end, in the absence of any real guidance or faith we try to put ourselves in boxes, to define ourselves by what we obviously are - a Baker, an Astronaut, good, bad, angel, devil, bitch, junkie, whore - when the truth is that there are no jobs for life, uncertainty is rife and you can never define anyone or anything that simply. The only type of human being you can fit in a box is a corpse. But we stumble about, blind and Godless, desperate to know what we are, why we're here. And then the tabloids start screaming that we're all going to hell because everyone's drinking too much and taking drugs and smoking and fucking strangers bareback in doorways, and OF COURSE WE FUCKING ARE - the only certain things we ever have are the fleeting moments of pleasure and pain, the things we can feel physically, inside us and around us, even if they're only here for a second then gone. Yes. That's what gets my goat. That, and Jennifer Aniston STILL hogging Brad. Leave some for the rest of us, bitch!
CD: MBA has had some major line-up changes over the past couple of years. Why did the original band break up, and how were the new members recruited?
SG: If you can't write songs anymore then you're not a band. Mike had to leave to do his own thing, and Neil went with him 'cause they're bestest of best mates. It was a bit daunting trying to replace them, and I spent a couple of weeks umming and aahing about whether to carry on or not, but then I saw Mat and Cooper playing in their RAWK band and they were having such a laugh I really wanted to be in a band with them, plus I knew them fairly well 'cause it's Bury St Edmunds and everyone knows everyone else because we're all probably related. Mike and Neil are in My HiFi Sister now, we're still mates, they're always trying to drag me down the pub and ply me with booze. Evil cunts.
CD: Has the band's sound changed with the addition of the new members?
SG: I think we sound like a happy band. I play guitar and write stuff all the time now, Mat's really encouraged me to stretch myself, plus he plays guitar like a God and isn't bogged down by some bullshit indie notion that he should be ashamed to be really really good. Cooper's like the Daddy of the band, he keeps us all in line. Plus, he is the Metal King.
CD: Have the new members mastered all of MBA's previous songs? Personally I would love to hear 'Don't Speak My Mind' or 'Car Crash For a Soul' live!
SG: We were going to re-learn both of those for the last tour, but I keep writing songs and it's much more fun to fuck around with new ideas than old ones. It's like your parents saying, this year for your holiday you can go to Great Yarmouth again, or to a mystery location. You know that you'll have fun in Great Yarmouth, but the mystery location might be Scarborough, and that's miles better. Or it could be Cromer. But you have to take the risk. Admittedly, this comparison falls down in that no-one ever has a good time in Great Yarmouth; everyone thinks it's shit, even Jim Davidson, and he owns it. Hmmm… Perhaps I should have said, “you'll have fun in Disneyland Paris, but it might be Universal Studios. Or Cromer.”
CD: In 'Talk Hard' you talk about your disenchantment with the education system. What in particular made your own education such a bad experience?
SG: In hindsight, I think my teachers probably wanted me to do well, and maybe they even believed I had ability, but their way of encouraging me was to tell me I was failing and that if I didn't get this right or get this mark or grade then I'd never have a job, never get into University, blah blah blah blah blah. And as I truly believed I was noxious human waste, destined for the scrapheap at best, falling apart under the loudmouth surface, riddled with a blinding self-hatred that resulted in 5 years of serious eating disorders, a series of breakdowns and several suicide bids, I hardly needed any convincing of my total lack of worth. It was probably half my fault, but there's plenty of time for songs about that.
CD: Who are your heroes be it musically, politically or otherwise?
SG: Joe Strummer, Tori Amos, Bono, dEUS, Simon Pegg, Chris Morris, Lee Miller, Lester Bangs, Julian Cope, Andrew Mueller, Julie Burchill, Alec Empire, Gandhi, my mate Per, who's a fireman, and my Mum.
CD: Are there any bands that you can't get enough of at the moment, and similarly are there any you can't stand? What do you think of The Darkness and The Strokes etc.?
SG: All I've been listening to recently is The Walker Brothers, Beck's Seachange and The Disconnection by Carina Round. I'm obsessed with end-of-album type songs. I want every song I hear to sound like the end of the album. I think our third album'll be like that. I've found the artwork for it, it'll be our glory album; I want to call it Joyful Everlasting Sing. All I have to do first is record and release the second album, and I'm laughing. The Darkness are good.
CD: Are there any plans for more MBA releases in the near future?
SG: I've got plans for two albums and 6 singles. We've got the whole second album written, all the artwork, ideas for videos and where to tour. The only problem is, we don't have a record deal, so me and my mate Matt Biss are working extra hours to fund studio time and our label, Sonic Midwife, which is the BEST NAME FOR A LABEL, EVER.
CD: What can we expect from the band in 2004?
SG: Maximum optimism, minimum good fortune. Business as usual. It's my fault for being Irish. Sorry, if that's the right thing to say.