"Music is my crack!":
by Ben Yates, August 2006
Today, is an important day for me: Im meeting Seymour Glass
vocalist and guitarist for Miss Black America, and most recently, Open
Mouth. You see, as those that know me will testify, I love Miss Black
America. This is the band that Ive felt a connection with
be it a shared sense of disapproval with the town we live in, or a concerted
drive to be somebody, regardless of academic success. This is the band
that has made the hour-and-a-half on the bus each day that little bit
more bearable listening to the quiet warmth of Reborn
or the punk-rock fury of Dot Dot Dot was always a pleasure
during those endless winter mornings. Perhaps most importantly, this
is the band that got me into writing, thus enabling me to conduct the
The last couple of years have been a rough ride for Miss Black America. The band hasnt been able to hold down a full time bassist and drummer, and certain sections of the press decided theyd have nothing to do with the band. When the album (Terminal) came out last year I bumped into the NME, and they basically told me that if we didnt change the name of the band, then they wouldnt write about us ever again. To change the name of the band for certain sections of the press would be pointless, as Seymour explains:
If I changed the name, it would be saying that I was wrong and that I never believed in anything weve done. Why give a fuck what they think! I care about the band so much that I wouldnt change the name anyway, and even if we did decide to, they still might not like us.
Touring, by Seymours own admission, is hard. Even though Miss Black America are a great live band, life on the road can be hard: The problem with going on tour is that if anyone doesnt get on, then being in the back of the van can be really stressful. Theres no going home, or to your bedroom, and little wars break out if people dont like each other. I can get really ill on tour. Everything happens very quickly. I become angry, and I can be really difficult. Last year we came halfway through a tour, and I had a total mental breakdown, and went missing for a week. He continues: Im just not strong enough to do it.
Despite the problems that have plagued the band over the years, Seymour has no regrets, and is proud of his artistic accomplishment. I really think Terminal is fucking amazing. Im still surprised though to find out people are buying the album. Terminal released last year via R*E*P*E*A*T and Ruby Slippers Records was an aesthetic success, building on all the qualities of their debut, and adopting a mature attitude to song writing. The album sold out in its initial run, and critics hailed it as a success. The album came together so quickly, explains Seymour. "Music is my crack - I'm addicted to it. I just keep coming back for more."
John Peel, the legendary radio DJ who championed the band many moons ago, passed away last year, much to the sadness of Seymour and the band: "I couldnt go to John Peels funeral, because the people at work didnt believe that I knew him. I took it really bad, and its not as though he was my best mate or anything, but he had this incredible influence on everything, and he genuinely loved music. Nothing that has ever happened to Miss Black America, would have happened if it wasnt for John Peel. He played our first single, and after that everything started to happen for the band. I just sat at home crying when I found out.
So, what does the future hold for Miss Black America? Seymour is adamant that the quartet are not splitting up, and that the band will carry on sometime soon. Once I get all the acoustic songs out of my system with Open Mouth, well return. It would be good to make an album that captures how we sound live. It would be nice to come back with a blinding pop record.
Open Mouth is the musical venture that Seymour is pursuing while Miss Black America take time off. The songs recorded for the Open Mouth demo were originally intended as MBA b-sides, but after the nightmare that the band were in last November, Seymour decided to use them for his solo-project. The songs came out so well, Seymour explains, I though I might as well make a solo record. A quick glance at Open Mouths MySpace page implies that Seymour intends to make two solo records, so itd be a good idea if you trundled off there now to check it out.
Open Mouth creates music detached from the rock histrionics that featured heavily in Miss Black Americas sound, yet still intrinsically linked to the music of Semours former band in structure, and sheer emotion that is encapsulated in every melancholic lyric. The intensity in Seymours music is a salient feature - prepared by resonant guitar tones and a fulminating musical build up, regularly finished off by waves of sonic guitar feedback, it knowingly sets the heart racing. Juxtapose this with the music created in MBA, and it becomes clear that both projects bear a striking musical resemblance to each other, in their build-up, sound, and the vehement storm that arises in your heart when listening to the songs. Open Mouth is a project that dabbles in the murky waters of the singer/songwriter genre. But while the artists generally associated with singer songwriters these days purvey a bland, impassive sound, the songs are aberrations to the norm sonically exciting, emotionally charged music, with manipulations of sound and structural progressions proving that Seymour Glass is pushing at the boundaries of the singer/songwriter genre.
"With Open Mouth, my three biggest influences are Carina Round, Tori Amos and PJ Harvey. Im a big woman at heart, jokes Seymour. Perhaps hes right, but these artists are prolific enough to directly influence the way he thinks about music, and although his falsetto isnt dangerously high, you can definitely hear the music of these artists in Open Mouth. The four track demo that Ive heard, is really exciting, as it just bodes so well for the future.
Seymour Glass seems to have diligently observed what makes the quieter moments of Miss Black America so special - the tenderness in his vocal patterns, the textural build up before the storm, and the knowledge that it doesnt have to be fast or heavy to convey emotions. Incorporated into the predominately acoustic world of his new project, the characteristics expel an aura of musical prowess, knowledge of song writing, and distinctive lyrical charm. Read between the lines, if you wish: Open Mouth looks set to be an awesome venture. Whatever happens in the future, whether it is the eventual reformation of Miss Black America, or a successful solo career, life is looking good for Seymour Glass - so he can hold is head up high knowing that the future looks bright. If you do one thing today, forget the troubled past Seymours been lumped with, and take note of whats happening now Open Mouth.
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