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Ten City Nation
By Richard Haugh
"People aren't going to buy Kooks records forever," says Seymour Patrick, whose band Ten City Nation are flying the flag for the DIY movement.
Seymour, Neil and Mike
Favourites of John Peel and loved by the indie press including NME, Miss Black America are amongst the most successful indie bands to hail from Bury St Edmunds, and perhaps the whole of Suffolk.
Ten City Nation brings three of MBA's founding members together, so it seemed apt to begin by looking back when speaking to guitarist Seymour Patrick.
"We were the last men standing from all of the bands around at that time so it made sense for us to get back together," said Seymour, who has fond but slightly hazy memories of his time in the spotlight.
"We did two or three Peel sessions, a couple of Tom Robinson ones, two for Steve Lamacq but it was weird as at the time it didn't feel anything was changing. There was lots of press going on but we were in the back of a transit living on crisps.
"But looking back in retrospect we did a lot of really cool things. They say youth is wasted on the young, I think it's also wasted on petulant wannabe rockstars.
"We put an end to Miss Black America two years ago and I wasn't going to be in a band again. But I started going to lots of gigs around London and seeing bands which made me want to be in a band again.
"Once you've felt the thrill of getting up on stage and rocking, you see another band and feel insanely jealous. I'd go see bands like Popular Workshop and The Future of the Left and think 'I can't not be doing this'.
"Bands always say this in these circumstances, but it is the band we've always wanted to be in. I think because we've all gone off in our own little journeys and come back all wanting to do the same thing.
"Whereas when we first met Neil (Baldwin) wanted to be a drum 'n' bass DJ, Mike (Smith) wanted to be in Stone Roses and I wanted to be Richey Edwards and never the twain shall meet."
Bury little changes
Asked if the Bury music scene has changed since Miss Black America's departure, Seymour was quick to herald the promoters and venues who aim to give bands an opportunity to play the music they like.
"Bury doesn't change. Bands come and go. But they are building a hideous shopping centre so we'll probably get more chavs.
"There's one promoter at the moment - Lee Sullivan at Bald Monkey Promotions - and he's single handedly whipped up the Bury music scene. It's not that there weren't any bands, it's now there's something bringing all the bands together.
"Before it was Jackie Smith at the council. Now the council aren't doing anything to help bands this chap has taken it upon himself to do it. And that's what it needs - one person to bring it all together.
"There are no venues purpose built, but I think that almost makes it sweeter. When the odds are stacked against anything good happening it makes it feel so much more like a victory when things do happen.
"The Gaff has been very good and the Old Maltings have been more than willing to put on bands. It's always that risk to your licence to put on anything that isn't quiet, acoustic folk music in Bury St Edmunds."
Seymour doesn't seem concerned about chasing the same level of coverage which Miss Black America received, not that he's confident Radio One cares anymore.
"John Peel used to champion the A14 music scene but there's not necessarily anyone left at Radio One who cares. I think local papers like it when there's national recognition for what's happening locally but I'm not sure it's particularly healthy - it leaves a lot of resentment if bands are singled out.
"We experienced this with Miss Black America. I'd bump into people in pubs who told me how much they hated me and I'd never met them.
"But there's definitely something healthy happening with the music scene in Suffolk at the moment."
Seymour spends his weekdays in London and returns to Bury for the weekend. Comparing the two music scenes, he finds it hard to spot too many differences.
"There's a lot of good stuff happening here in London but there's not a great deal of difference between what's happening in Suffolk. The fact that you have big venues like the Barfly or Carling Academy doesn't matter as they don't help anyone.
"The small promoters have exactly the same mindset as they do in Bury or Ipswich.
"It feels like a good time to be in Suffolk, but also a good time to be a DIY band because they don't need the approval of big corporations anymore. The most exciting stuff that's happening at the moment isn't anything to do with the NME or big radio stations.
"People are realising that as long as you feel validated doing what you do, what anyone else thinks shouldn't make the blindest bit of difference."
Ten City Nation love music, hate racism
June 2008 sees the launch of Ten City Nation's debut album, released off their own back and given to anyone who wants to listen for free as a download.
"Outside of Suffolk and sometimes in Cambridge we don't tell anyone we used to be in Miss Black America as we want to be taken entirely on our own merit. We're proud of everything we did with MBA but this is far more what we think we should have been doing all along.
"We'd rather be seen as a new band. Most people hated Miss Black America - the incredible amount of indifference and hatred far outstripped the praise and in the end we hardly sold any records at all."
The music carries on where Miss Black America left off, with heavy and often emotive rock drawing comparisons to Queens of the Stone Age and the Stooges. But there's a definite darker edge this time around.
"There's lots of references to death, blood and the snapping of bones and things like that. It feels like a dark time for mankind generally at the moment - there's a lot of optimism on there as well but a lot of it is hidden beneath the horror.
"If London sets the precedent for the rest of the country - 70,000 people in the London mayoral elections voted for the BNP, which is a Nazi party. People are quite happy to vote Nazi.
"If that's where we're heading as a country we're definitely heading for the dark times."
Seymour's backing up his words by pulling together a tour in the name of Love Music Hate Racism, and also releasing a compilation album.
"It's about spreading information and letting everyone know what the BNP is about. It's not even a political thing - it's just right and wrong. Racism is an ugly, horrible thing and the BNP prey on that.
"There's nothing wrong about opposing them. They're not a political party, it's just about hatred.
"People are still proud that we fought the Nazis in the war so why they'd want to vote for a Nazi party is a bit baffling."
Has Seymour ever thought of going in to politics?
"I'm trying to work out if that's an insult or not.
"I could never go in to politics, I've got far too much of a shady history."
last updated: 04/06/2008 at 11:24
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