Miss Black America's Seymour Glass
interviewed by Epitome's Emma Blake

* A lot of people have dubbed MBA the Next Big Thing; and you in particular the 'voice of the generation', or at least the underground part of it. So what do you reckon it is that sets you apart? What qualities or traits do you feel you possess that nobody - or at least very few - others possess?

I don't know if we've ever really been called the Next Big Thing, and to be honest I don't think we will be. It's like the style mags saying you're Cool, it's a curse - no-one ever sees the real Next Big Things coming, they just suddenly are Big Things. I don't know if I'd be comfortable with that kind of thing anyway - The Darkness seem to be covering all the bases single-handedly, and at the moment I'm too obsessed with recording an album to give a shit about being drunk and disgraceful; I've spent the last 2 years doing that, lost my soul and my health in the process and now I'm trying to get at least some of those back. To be completely honest, I no longer really believe that we will really get anywhere, or be anything, in the grand scheme of things. If there's anything that sets us apart it'll be the next album, but I won't be able to say either way because I'm involved. If anything we'll be some poxy cult band with about 5 fans at every gig, the Blake's 7 of loser guitar groups. I wouldn't be happy with that; I hate the idea of cult bands, there's something really sad about going to see the Damned or the Manics and seeing everyone dressed up as if things were still the same as they were 10, 20, 30 years ago. Nostalgia is weird, this mixture of necrophilia and denial, clinging to the past, snogging a rotting corpse. I don't believe there is such thing as "harmless nostalgia"; I think nostalgia is dangerous, it holds us back, it keeps us in our place. But fuck it, you have to think "The Velvet Underground never sold any records, Joy Division only ever played toilets...". What sets it apart, for me, is that it's all I know I'm really good at. So to give it up and do something else would just be fucking myself up the arse with a fishfork. FISHFORK AUTOBUGGERY.

Up The Arse Corner

* Who, apart from obvious sources, do you look to for inspiration - that might be a bit of a surprise to fans?

Erm... pretty much everything, especially magazines. I buy the Saturday Guardian and the Sunday Times just for the glossy mags, I pore through them for ideas and quotes. Julie Burchill is my journo hero, I have this love/hate relationship thing with her. It's a bit one-sided 'cause we've never met and she doesn't know who I am, but I'm comfortable with that. If we met, I'm sure she'd despise me and I'd be comfortable with that too. I've been collecting quotes from interviews rather than novels or "serious highbrow" sources for the next album sleeve, 'cause the idea that magazine culture, that we read newspapers rather than books, is somehow inferior is something I find really offensive and patronising. I have a 3-second attention span and a 7-second memory; I'll readily admit I think I'm stupid; how the fuck am I gonna deal with a book? It takes me literally MONTHS to read a book. And how is it intellectually superior to lose yourself in a work of fiction when there's so much interesting stuff to learn about? I can't afford books, but the Guardian costs £1.10 on Saturday. And you find new ways of looking at things from really unlikely interviewees. There's a quote I'm using in the album sleeve which applies to 'Drowning By Numbers': "Sure, be yourself. If you're not yourself, who are you? But take advice, listen to people. If you're not listening, you're lost. You're a sheep amongst wolves." And you read that to people and they go "Yeah, that's really good, who said that?" And you tell them it was Craig David and they go "….oh."

* Which band do you have the most respect for overall, with regards to influencing your style, sound and direction? And what makes them so special to you?

The Clash, probably. I only got into them right before MBA started, and it was a case of "Oh! NOW I understand". So I bought a Telecaster and started writing what I really thought. I always thought me and Joe could be friends. He's the one hero I'd have really wanted to meet. Tori Amos is my big, big hero. She's the reason I'll never give up, 'cause if she'd given up when she was where we're at now, she'd never have written the songs that saved my life… I wouldn't want to meet her, though. I'd be 15 again, gawky, geeky, unable to speak.

* Do you always write autobiographically, or do you ever generalise so that a wider audience can relate to your music? And is a song better if it's written about you, or something that's happened to you personally?

I think if you're writing truthfully, you'll always be writing about yourself. You might not be writing about things that have happened to you, you might not even agree with yourself, but if you have to write it then it's the truth, and it is autobiographical. It's the difference between Generation Terrorists and The Holy Bible - a lot of stuff on GT doesn't ring true, it's just slogans for sloganeering's sake. But then you get Mausoleum or The Intense Humming of Evil or 4st 7lb, and Richey wasn't there for the Holocaust and he isn't an anorexic teenage girl but it's unflinching, it's honest, it's human if not humane. It's the difference between Morrissey and Mansun; Morrissey will live forever, Paul Draper's probably back at Homebase by now. Lyrically, I want the next album to be like an Arthur Miller play; a lot of what's said and what happens is very bleak, but you walk away full of optimism, thinking "Fuck 'em - I'm not alone!" There was a review in this week's Kerrang! of the new Lester Bangs collection, where the reviewer, Stevie Chick, said "(Bangs) was never just writing about rock 'n' roll, but, rather, himself, and therefore all human experience." And that applies to everything - lyrics, poetry, movies, theatre, public speaking, journalism…

* Do you find it possible to write about heartache if you're not heartbroken, or about happy times if you're depressed...or do you have to be in the particular state of mind?

Like I say, all things apply at all times - you might write the most hopeful sounding lyrics at your most hopeless moments. There's a new song called 'Beautiful Velocity' where I sing "All hope is lost/Such is the nature of hope", which sounds negative, but what I really mean is that hope is misplaced, irrational, unfounded, and we know this but we keep going… The fact that hope exists, for me, is proof that God exists.

Handshakes for Bullets

* What is your favourite lyric? The lyric either by yourself, or another artist, that just sums up...you, your attitude, who you are?

There are so many it's difficult to say. If I'm being bleak, "Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave" from 'Yes' by the Manics. If I'm being blubbery, "I'll put on a movie, and play something groovy as a matter of service/And I'll chuckle when you smile as a matter of love" from 'Instant Street' by dEUS. My favourite MBA lyric was something Mike, our old bassist, wrote for 'All I Want Is Out' - "I don't care about the words/'Cause it's not what people say to me that hurts". That's better than anything I've ever come up with, and I'd love to say that it sums me up, but it doesn't. Nothing hurts you more than words.

* Would you or have you ever compromised your morals or beliefs for this band? And what do you think of groups who do, whatever their reasons?

When we started, I said we'd never sign to a major label. 3 years later, I'm broke and scrounging money to record an album that may or may not ever be released. There comes a time you have to admit you were wrong.

* Do you feel you're very connected - on the same wavelength if you like - to your fans when you meet them? And if yes, why do you think this is? What are your general thoughts about fans? Or better still, groupies?

Being on tour is fantastic because you get to meet people - I never really get tired of it, and I'm amazed when people say nice things to me. Thing is, I'm probably not what they expected. I get drunk on tour and act like an arse, I mumble and I splutter. I'm a crushing disappointment.

* What's been the most intense/exciting/breathtaking moment you've experienced live yet? And what about in general? Could you describe both feelings?

I've had amazing sex where you just start laughing uncontrollably afterwards, like you're on magic mushrooms. People singing along at gigs is good. Playing live generally is an immense buzz, but I never remember anything about it afterwards.

* What's the most intense buzz/boost/feelgood factor about being in a band?

Being in the studio and playing live equally, for entirely different reasons. We wrote a new song the other day and it's so savage I actually sprained my wrist playing it. Stuff like that. Being part of a gang.

* Why did you really form the band? Is there a particular reason? Or a message you want to convey as a group with your sound or your lyrics? Or is it an individual/personal crusade - demons you need to kill off on stage?

It's all I could think to do. Demons, agendas, any of that comes second to this being literally the only thing I'm good at. I guess there is a kind of exorcism, but… HELL, MAN! I just wanted to ROCK.

* And finally, supposing you were to be publicly executed on International TV, what would your 'famous last words' to the world be?

Stay out of trouble.