"I really do fucking hate drama students!"

Seymour Glass is watching the opening band on the bill of tonight's Sonic Mook Experiment show, Joan of Ass, and he's not at all impressed. "It's like being back at university." he continues, his voice full of contempt for the yowling electroclash noise coming from the stage of the Camden Dingwalls, "I left university to avoid fuckers like these. If you go and watch a piece of modern contemporary theatre it will be two girls in horrendous costumes, rapping badly over a backing track about how bad men are, and it's no wonder we don't ever make any decent films in this country. We should leave it to the Americans. We shouldn't be allowed to make films in this country, because then we get 'Billy fucking Elliot'. If it's gonna be a choice between watching two people fighting with lightsabres or some kid fucking ballet dancing, I think I know where my money's gonna go. Our filmmakers need to learn an important fucking lesson, and that's less art, more fucking, until we learn that, we're always gonna make shit movies in this country."

Yes, quite. Seymour Glass is frontman for this country's best new band-with-a-social-conscience, Miss Black America, who have been praised by Radio One DJs like John Peel and Steve Lamacq since they formed in 1999, and with their last two singles, 'Infinite Chinese Box' and 'Talk Hard', have gained an awful lot of recognition from other radio stations like Virgin and XFM, and also music channel MTV2.

The band was formed when Seymour met Mike Smith and Neil Baldwin, the Bassist and Drummer respectively, at a drum 'n' bass gig in Cambridge. After a discussion about the general shitness of bands getting recognition at the time and the apathy of their generation, they decided to form a band. When a horrific industrial accident ripped one of Seymour's fingers off his hand, Gish was brought in to play guitar for the band. The attention the band got for their first two singles, 'The Adrenaline Junkie Class-A Mentalist EP' and 'Don't Speak My Mind', got them a deal with the fittingly named Integrity records (the band say on their site a lot about their contempt for 'Sell-out' bands), who released the aforementioned latest singles, and are soon to be releasing the band's debut album. On it, the band will rage against the UK school system, crap bands, politicians, and, well, anything really.

Now that you know the background information, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Seymour Glass is angry, unapproachable, and pretentious , but that couldn't be farther from the truth. For one thing, although his lyrics are mainly about wrongs in politics, society and music, Seymour Glass doesn't preach his own beliefs or make himself out to be self-important or the final word in any subject, and is willing to admit he is sometimes wrong about things. Secondly, off-stage, his persona couldn't be more different from the iconic angry figure that thrashes violently about the stage when Miss Black America play. Chatting to him outside the venue, we find him to be very down-to-earth and easily approachable, which is strange, as even the smallest bits of hype tend to go straight to most musician's heads.

So that pretty much sums Seymour Glass up: a nice bloke with a lot to say. Especially, as you'll see, when it comes to schools, politics, Pokemon, and Rage Against the Machine.

PB : When you first formed the bands you were reacting against were bands like Travis. In your opinion, has the musical climate improved since then?

SG : Yeah it has. The music scene at the moment is showing good signs, but who really knows how long its gonna last, ? Who can tell what it's gonna be like in six months. The music scene is predominantly run by fashion, and what's presently classified as cool, which tends to change every five minutes. At the moment it happens to be a bunch of people that jump around and shout, which I think is a lot more healthy, rather that than listen to Travis whinge about the fucking weather, but it'll be interesting to just wait and see. There's a lot of bands around that have a lot of energy, but I'm not convinced that they have what it takes to really be loved, and that's what you want really isn't it?

PB : Certain papers have classified Miss Black America as 'no name'. Are you happy with this? Do you think the press has a habit of over-classifying bands ?

SG : It's a shame that the NME can't seem to be able to accept new bands unless they've got an easy frame of reference, rather than taking bands on their own individual merits, which is the way it should be. I don't need to see something as part of some 'scene' in order to like it, or need to be told that it's cool. If I was really that thick, I'd be listening to fucking Toploader.

PB : What's your own classification of Miss Black America ?

SG : Our bass player came up with a description that I think is really good; Punk-pop, Bangkok, mock shock rock apocalypse. I think that sums us up pretty well.

PB : You share your name (Seymour Glass) with a character from J.D Salinger's short story 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish'. Is there any significance in that, or is it just coincidence?

SG : Obviously, that's not exactly my real name, and I do have a lot of sympathy for his character. His character has been to war, and seen human beings doing really bad things to each other and comes back home and is expected to act as if nothing has happened, to settle back into normal society, but he can't look at people in the same way. It's a strange story because, there's hints when you think he might have some sort of kiddie-fiddling tendencies, but there's points against that as well,. He loves this young girl's innocence and that he wishes he could recapture that for himself. Anyway, in the end he goes back to his hotel room and shoots himself through the head, while his girlfriend sleeps in the bed next to him, and I kind of felt a lot of sympathy for him, purely because of my own theories on mental illness. I think that people that are mentally ill are probably mentally healthy, but are engrossed in trying to shut out the wilderness of the world because the world clearly is a bitter wilderness. It 's a sane person that goes around acting as if everything is hunky-dory, but when you can't switch off from what the world is, that's when you are considered to be unwell, but anyway, the juries out on that one. Ask me about that in two years.

PB : You mention on your site that you supported the Dum Dums. What was the appeal of playing with them?

SG : The appeal was that it was a big gig, and we had nothing better to do. And they let us drink all their lager.

PB : What put you off contributing to the Pokemon movie soundtrack?

SG- It's capitalism for five-year-olds , isn't it. It would've been shit. At the end of the day, you've got to look to your heroes and think "Would Nirvana have recorded a song for the Pokemon soundtrack?" and the answer would be no. It would just be shittest thing you could possibly do. You can write a song and all you've gotta do is put the word 'Pokemon' in there somewhere, then it becomes a Pokemon single. Oh no it won't damage your career. It would be like "Mum's gone to Iceland". It didn't harm that band did it? Actually it kind of destroyed them. No-one took them seriously ever again. We didn't set out to be the next Toploader, so really, stuff like that can fuck off.

PB : You've made your views on the running of schools in Britain pretty clear through some of your songs. Do you think that the system will ever change? What would you do to change things?

SG : I'd change everything. The whole point of education should be to enjoy your youth, and to learn. Learning is you know, it shouldn't be a chore, and I really believe that. I've never felt particularly clever, academically, you know, I consider myself a professional failure almost, but it's not for lack of wanting to learn. It's because of the whole way the education system works that because I wasn't keeping up with the 'A' students, because I wasn 't heading for straight A's, I was made to feel like I was a waste of space. But you know I wasn't a waster. I wasn't stupid, I just couldn't handle the pressure. When you hear about 13 year old kids having nervous breakdowns because of the pressure piled onto them by their schools, I mean there's no need, it's not necessary.

When you run everything like a business, that's just the way it goes. People just become units, and unit-shifters, just numbers in a book somewhere, and that's not the way it should be. I'd change that totally. I'd change the whole system entirely. You need to know certain things. You need to be able to read, write and get along with people, and if there's something that you're particularly good at then it should be encouraged. If you can't speak a word of French, or you can't understand science, but are good with a spanner, you should be encouraged to be a really good spanner wielder.

If you are a good musician, which we obviously were, but you can't read a note of music, you should still be encouraged to do as much music as you can, and I wasn't. I was told that I shouldn't bother, whereas Gish could read music so he was told, you know, he was gifted because not only could he play but he could do the academic side really well. I'm not bitter about that,. It's just that I was good at music too, and it would've been nice if I'd been recognised even though I was musically dyslexic, in the same way as when it comes to numbers I'm practically dyslexic. You know you could write down on a piece of paper '2+4 =' and I'd probably be confused by it. Numbers just jumble up for me, but that doesn't make me stupid. I'm convinced that doesn't make me stupid. I'm not stupid. I'm a bit of a twat sometimes. I'm a bit disorganised, but that doesn't mean I haven't got a future.

PB : I know what you mean. I've just finished my 'A' levels. There is so much pressure, and in some areas, I wasn't helped at all. There's a few kids that get special treatment, get all the help they can get from school, made into prefects, school captains, and all that, but quite a lot of us felt ignored, and because of that, a lot of people I know have left resenting their time at school.

SG : I know that happens to a lot of people, but that's the way it goes. It's surprising how many people who tell me the same things. I've got so many friends who are obviously really clever, but are made to feel that they're not, cause they're not you know, picture perfect, straight A material, and they want as many A's as possible, for their league tables, and they want to be on top of the league. It's just a really shit way of running things.

PB : Do you think the political apathy amongst Britain's younger generations could prove dangerous?

SG : We've already got the British National Party getting candidates into power in a few towns, and that comes out of ignorance. It's completely understandable why people switch off from the electoral process, because there's no such thing as a clean government. All governments fuck people ove. Everyone gets fucked over, but what can you do about that? That's basically the answer to the attitude to voting in young people, but they need to be aware of the dangers that when they don't it's then that people with really wrong views get in, playing on people's prejudices to get themselves in power, and we need arguments against that.

Unfortunately people think of politics as some kind of completely useless system, which in a way it is. While a democracy is a fantastic thing, it means that thick politicians that consider it necessary to have this constant fucking ego penis battle going on between them, and the problem is that once you've sorted out a manifesto, and this is why we don't have a manifesto, you can't admit that you're wrong. Cause politics is all about pride, about people who are too ugly to be rock stars and film stars, so they go into politics to get a little bit of glamour, so they can get their dicks sucked in a back alley, by a woman called Dave, so it's kind of all about protecting their egos, and that's why they can never admit they're wrong. They've got no idea what it's like to be normal. I think that's true for most politicians. And if they do, they consider it of secondary importance to making themselves look good. They're so fucking ugly it's no wonder people aren't interested. If there was a law that said that politicians had to be fabulously good-looking, you'd get more interest, but it would be like 'Big Brother' wouldn't it? You'd just be voting for whichever was your favourite, but you' d hate them when they were in government, and then you'd be fucked.

PB : In terms of popularity, do you think you could become Britain's answer to Rage Against the Machine?

SG : I hope so. I mean I'm not sure if it's case of politics. Yeah, I hold socialist beliefs but I don't preach about them to people in that way. Our main concern is to make people realise that if they were to stand up and go "fuck it" they can be powerful. You shouldn't be ashamed to have an opinion on things. You shouldn't be ashamed of having ambition. They're the two main overriding things we want to get across to people, and I don't think Rage against the Machine ever said what they really wanted to say, as eloquently as they should've, and I think it's a shame that all they're really known for is the band who said "fuck you I won't do what you tell me" which sounds petulant. I think they underestimated they're audience as well. They're a fucking good band, but I think they lost, because they didn't actually change anything.

PB : They're also partly responsible for Nu-Metal.

SG : Exactly, They were never subtly exact enough. You need to be exact and you need to be subtle about it,. You need to say what you wanna say without battering people in the face with it, and they got it the wrong way round. They battered people in the face with vague statements, waffling vaguely about the plight of the Indians, or about rebellion. I've no doubt that Zack Del la Rocha is an incredibly intelligent man, an incredibly eloquent man, but he could never get his point across because he kept it simple, and it made him very popular, in the same way that the Sex Pistols were much clumsier but much bigger than the Clash. Joe Strummer was very spot-on in what he said, but one you couldn't understand a word he was singing, and another thing it wasn't obvious enough, so people weren't as interested despite the fact that they were the one's who were remembered. The Sex Pistols weren't the best punk band. They weren't the most ground breaking punk band. They were just the most obvious. And Rage against the Machine were really obvious, and that's what stopped them from ever really making that much of a difference. So hopefully no, hope we're not another Rage against the Machine,. We'll be of far more use than that.

PB : Your sound obviously has an early Manics influence. Are you going to make sure that you don't head down the same road as them?

SG : Well, yeah. I don't think there's any chance of us turning into that anyway, just because musically I think we're different from the Manics in that they were very musically conservative, and we're not really. I mean we' ve got our pop-punk anthems, but I disagree with the Manics on a lot of points for one thing, just in politics, like I've never been a fan of nihilism. I think nihilism's rubbish, and also I don't think we'll be able to carry on beyond two or three albums anyway, so the chances of us being around when we're 30 years old are pretty slim. I wouldn't want to be around that long. I think there should be laws against it, with certain types of bands being allowed to stay around for certain amounts of time.

PB : You use references to films often in your lyrics. Is there any one film that you think sums up Miss Black America ?

SG : It would be cool if we were thought of as like 'Fight Club' in music form,. That'd be awesome. I really like the film 'Scarface', not from any political point of view, I just think it's one of the most glorious stories, like a modern day Shakespearean tragedy. Yeah, so, 'Fight Club', I think, 'Fight Club' or 'Mary Poppins'.

PB : What else influences your writing apart from films and social and political issues?

SG : Just anything, really. Most of my ideas are stolen. My Mum's a big influence. I was thinking about my Mum today. She's one of the most fantastic people in the world. I wish I would big my Mum up more. I should be telling everyone how great she is.

PB : Has the recording of your album been completed? How pleased are you with the results?

SG : I think it's a wicked album, I think it's fantastic. I can't fault it. I think it says everything I wanted to say, up until the point when we recorded it, and I think the next one will be the same. And if later on we start thinking that what we're doing is shit, then we'll stop. You know when something is shit- you know, it's what really pisses me off, but this band really are fantastic.

PB : Are there any plans for your own headlining tour in the near future?

SG : Yeah definitely.

PB : Thank you

















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