MBA Biography: THE HYPE

It's generally best to ignore superlatives when reading, or writing, stuff like this. Miss Black America - in many ways a superlative band - don't lend themselves to the usual crop of vacuum-headed PR platitudes.

They aren't the coolest band in the world. They aren't the youngest. Or the sexiest. Or the buzziest or the hippest or the most outrageous. Yeah, they're The Best Band in the Fucking World, but isn't everyone these days?

The superlatives that actually matter: Miss Black America are the most belligerent, obstinate, gutsy, resilient, spirited band you will come across. What they do actually matters.

They're also contrary buggers. While all and sundry are running up record company tabs on retrocomplacent get-rich-quick schemes, MBA have approached things very much in the old fashioned mode. Whilst being labelled as arrogant, or worse, the new Manics just for having the common decency to care about stuff, they're also singularly the funniest four men on earth with a sense of responsibility but no sense of unjustified self-importance. When 350 gigs in less than 18 months led to the band's total implosion, they went and toured Holland. When singer/guitarist Seymour near-as-damnit lost a fretting finger in an industrial accident, they went on tour to commiserate. They played to a sold-out Astoria last Spring, and haven't played in London since to - ahem - capitalise, although the band have had to rein in their verging-on-the-masochistic touring schedule when Seymour nearly died due to blood sugar problems a year ago.

This has given MBA time to concentrate on writing and recording their second album, Terminal. The follow up to 2002's God Bless Miss Black America ('The near-religious zeal of MBA's debut puts them firmly on the road to punk rock idolatry." - OK!
"Brilliant... a record that more than justifies the hype" - The Sunday Times; "A short, whirling cyclone of a record" - Drowned in Sound) was, like its predecessor, recorded with Gavin Monaghan (Bloc Party, Fugees, Jesus and Mary Chain) at the Magic Garden Studios in Wolverhampton Rock City.

And the resultant music's as contrary as their work ethic. Throw away the usual reference points - Joy Division, The Fall, Psychedelia, The Stooges - and think instead of chiming, melodic, agit-rock 'n' roll with big big tunes where none should logically exist. There are moments of shimmering clarity and plaintive introspection amidst the cacophony, and steamroller dynamics scattershot by rhetorical questions, lucid vocal lines, heck, even guitar solos and warm harmonies. Botched, half-cocked manifestos and undirected poseur anger are not part of the programme. Miss Black America are not striving to make the papers. They're striving to make something beautiful.

But this doesn't mean that nobody else has noticed. The CV includes a near freehold on the upper echelons of John Peel's Festive Fifty; sessions for John Peel, Steve Lamacq, XFM and the like; critical acclaim from the NME to the Guardian via Kerrang!, The Independent, Rolling Stone and huge support from the underground fanzine community; tours with Therapy? and Liars and Antihero and Kinesis and Reuben; support slots with The Libertines, The Dandy Warhols, Buzzcocks, The 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Cornershop and Alabama 3; and recognition from peers, journalists, DJs and, most importantly, Kids Like You And I And Them.

Whilst the music industry has been busy subsiding under a tidal wave of cocaine, egos and fashionista production-line toss, Miss Black America have been slowly, surely, determinedly turning the tide in their direction. And we've never needed them as much as we do now.

Matt Biss, Sonic Midwife
February 2005