Miss Black America
Taking their name from the Curtis Mayfield Song, Miss Black America are the most important band to come out of Britain in the past 10 years. Building their fan base up the traditional way of gigging the length and breadth of the country until people stand up and take notice - rest assured that even if you haven't heard one of the tunes just about anybody with a slight interest in alternative music will know know their name.
We caught up with frontman Seymour Glass to discuss why it's not time to give up and how you can change your life if you just realize your capable of it. Tellingly as we speak to him as he supports Chumbawamba at an Anti-Nazi League benefit fit gig in Burnley. Miss Black America really are a band who do the walk.
Q: To try and pin down the whole ethos of Miss Black
America to one sentence. Its basically, kicking against the apathy and
blowing away the blandness which our culture seems steeped in nowadays.
Is that how you see it?
A: It's not just a small town thing, I think there is apathy everywhere. Cynicism and apathy as a joint combination and I think it's just the way were brought up. You get to a certain age at school and you feel obliged to just chuck away any dreams or aspiration you could have and that's where the rot set in.
So by the time you leave school at 16 you're already middle
aged and thinking about what career you're going to have. You don't even
feel in charge of your own life so it's understandable you don't feel in
charge of anything else and you don't bother doing anything. It's part
of our mission to make people feel they are capable of doing something
- its just realizing you're capable of it!!!
Q: When you talk about the single "Talk Hard" you keep
ramming home the point that no-one is useless. Surely deep down there is
this aspect of you that thinks well I can read, do something and enlighten
myself to a certain degree - why doesn't the next man do the same instead
of watching Big Brother or one of the numerous reality TV shows on TV?
A: You can't just turn round and just say that someone who lives that kind of lifestyle is useless or they are useless to act that way. My mum until she was 25 had a dead end job and she thought she was happy with it...and then one day she realized she wasn't. So she went out and trained to be Mid-Wife even though people turned round and called her mad - you can change you life whenever you want!!!
At any point in your life you can realize that you're unhappy. Everybody's unhappy, that's why we whinge about everything. Because whingeing's the only we way we know how to deal with it, cos' there's no real satisfaction or fulfilment in the lifestyle were supposed to swallow. Were chasing the bigger house and the bigger car and the bigger Television in the hope that the things we buy will make us feel less empty inside.
When I got in this band it was the first time i'd ever
felt worth something. And like an evangelist I want to share it.
Q: When you're young you can appreciate exactly what
you're saying - were living it now each and every day. Do you find it hard
taking the message over to the older generation?
A: I think were more likely to the younger generation because the older you get the more cynical you get - but we just want to grab everyone. I've had fan letters from people in their 40s saying that they're glad someone is saying what were saying because it hasn't been said in a long time. I don't think were a punk band per say - but the whole attitude of punk was it doesn't matter who you were, where you come from, what you've done up until now. Just do something brilliant, because you can and no one can stop you!!!
Q: Every young angry band that comes out of Britain
has to suffer the usual Manic's comparisons. Do you see it yourself?
A: It's understandable, but I don't entirely agree. The thing I disagreed with most about the Manic's, other then the fact they turned into a big pile of Bryan Adams flavoured cack, was their total nihilism. I'm not a fan of nihilism, because nihilism is basically uselessness. And in the same way Conservatives hold selfishness as an ideology, nihilism is the same for uselessness. "There's no where I wanna see, there's no where I wanna go" - if you believe that just stay in your bedroom!!!
But I do admire them because at the end of the day they
had a lot of political rhetoric and they did come from nothing and achieve
something. At the same time I don't think they've ever really known what
they were really talking about. And now they're just rich men with nothing
more to say - I hate them more that I hate the Sex Pistols!!!
Q: People listen to people in bands more than they
do to politicians nowadays and I think it's important for bands to show
they're doing something positive rather than just mouthing off. Miss Black
America are always playing benefit shows and directing people to the likes
of the Anti-Nazi League website. Would you like to tell us a bit about
the benefit show tonight with Chumbawamba?
A: The BNP in Burnley got a worrying high percentage of the vote in the last election. I don't think people have quite realized what a danger the British National Party. And now we've had councillors voted in and there's been a worrying amount of support at the polls. What they do is play on peoples ignorance and fears and if people feel are being fucked over and the BNP tells them it's the fault of the n**gers or the P*ki's and there's nothing to tell them otherwise, people believe it.
And that's where the real danger lies and you have to
combat ignorance with information, discussion and argument. That's why
I've come up to Burnley on the train on my own. Because I believe that
the Anti-Nazi League are really important and I think it's quite sad that
more bands don't come out and do these shows.
Q: What do you think of a band like Primal Scream,
who have come back after being extremely political, and are now saying
were just doing a party album this time?
A: That really gutted me actually. I'm thinking you've made a lot of headway and now you're turning round and saying were not going to be political anymore. What does that mean? That you've decided you're not going to have opinions anymore. I don't know what they mean and it's tragic really because they were one of the few bands that openly did give a shit. Bobby chained himself to the railings for the Saptal Ram campaign so I am hoping they're talking shit.
Q: Finishing off with The New Wave of New Angry. What
does it mean to you?
A: The NME invented this No Name thing, but the thing with a lot of these bands is that they deliberately don't say anything. You read that they're a really angry sounding outfit, but then they don't want to talk about anything in depth - it's like you've just shot your load before you've even got me wet!!!
It's not a case of being political. People seem to think that if you say this is what I think, that's being being political - it's stating an opinion. And feeling that having in an opinion is somehow wrong is one of the most dangerous things in the world.
"Talk Hard" is out now on Integrity Records
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