It’s been nearly a year coming, but it has been worth the wait. Import/Export - the debut album from Open Mouth – is a triumph in so many ways. Since the hiatus of Miss Black America last June, Seymour Glass (operating under the moniker of Open Mouth) has been writing songs for his solo album – a daunting task for anyone who has for years relied on other band members for input and criticism. He’s managed to develop the songs, and Import Export is the result of a natural progression from the angst-ridden verses which marked Miss Black America’s term as Britain’s Best New Band™.
Here, with Open Mouth, Seymour trades in his vehement punk-rock roots of Miss Black America for quieter acoustic soundscapes. The songs still bear the mark of Seymour’s inimitable vocal style, but the instrumentation with Open Mouth relies more heavily on acoustic and heavily-delayed Nick McCabe-style electric guitars. Perhaps you’ve heard his debut single (which scored eight-out-of-ten on this website, no less), or seen him play at one of his many gigs over the past year. For those that haven’t, DiScover Open Mouth - you won’t be disappointed.
If you were to pigeon-hole Open Mouth then you’d lump him into the singer songwriter bracket. That’s not a fair reflection of his sound, though, as Seymour explains:
“With Open Mouth there’s been no conscious decision to sound like anything or to react against anything else. Maybe there has been a reaction against other singer songwriters because I do want to subvert people’s expectations of what one should sound like. I’m nothing like Blunt or Morrison. What I do isn’t to everyone’s tastes, and I can understand why a lot of people think my voice grates.”
“The lyrics are political. I hope they don’t come across in a preachy way, because there’s always the danger that you’ll be accused of trying to be like the Manic Street Preachers".
The lyrics on Import/Export deal with love (or rather the mess of it) and politics:
“With Open Mouth some of the lyrics are political. I hope they don’t come across in a preachy way, because there’s always the danger that you’ll be accused of trying to be like the Manic Street Preachers if you write political lyrics. The lyrics are more about political isolation than it is direct politics. The only person that’s been worth listening to, politically, in the last few years has been Billy Bragg. The lyrics on this album are a culmination of everything I’ve wanted to say to people over the last few years. Writing songs for me is like taking a poo – you get constipated with ideas and then you get into the studio and they all come out. I never rehearse them, they’re all written in my head”.
He’s had a hectic live schedule, too, with nearly 50 Open Mouth shows in the space of a few months. A couple of shows were seen and written about positively by us (here and here), but Seymour admits that slipping into the solo role has been hard work:
“In every line-up of Miss Black America I was always the person with the least technical ability, and I was never really confident as a frontman. At the same time though, once I actually start singing I’m quite happy to do it, but you don’t quite get the thrill of throwing yourself around like you do when you’re in a band.”
“It was absolutely necessary that I recorded and released this record.".
As far as commercial success goes, the past has taught Seymour to simply not-give-a-fuck:
“With Miss Black America we believed that if we were energetic and obnoxious enough then we’d become the biggest band in the world. But we refused to sign to a big label and it fucked us over completely. It will gut me until the day I die that we didn’t sell more records, but with Open Mouth I don’t really give a shit. It was absolutely necessary that I recorded and released this record. We’ve only pressed 1000 copies, and I don’t even think we’ll sell them.”
And what of the future?
“I don’t want to say that Miss Black America are over, but I’d be happy if it was years before we played together again. I’m really excited about everything else that’s going on at the moment. I have ideas for the second Open Mouth album, and I’m really excited about Ten City Nation (his new band featuring Mike and Neil ex-Miss Black America). With the second Open Mouth album I’m going back towards ‘Human Punk’ territory with the lyrics. I’ve done politics on this album and I’ll be doing religion on the next. I’ll be getting guest musicians on there as well, like Matt from Miss Black America, Laura from She Makes War and I’m trying to get Greg from The Dawn Parade on there as well.”
DiScover Open Mouth at his MySpace. It has songs on it, and stuff. If you like what you hear, the debut album is released via R*E*P*E*A*T Records on the 14th May. You can buy it direct from the label for £5, with a percentage of the profits from the album going to War Child. Read our review of the album here.
Photograph by Martin K