Part two of Paul Hawkins' High Priest interview with Kai Motta, aka The High Priest (Follow these links for parts One & Three)
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean, especially in the climate we live in today. The mediocrity of the whole thing irritates me; it turns me off and that can always a little bit dangerous to just turn your back on life. So what I like particularly about your new album is the simple fact that it is challenging. I like the way comedy can be used as a vehicle to be able to do that.
Picking up on some of your lyrics on Chapter and Perverse, in Let Me Clear My throat, the lines about (ex-Northern Ireland Minister) Peter Robinson's wife just wanting young cock and at the doctors; Sir, you've got a Starbucks Coffee shop on the edge of your arsehole.... It's very funny.
To me that whole issue to do with that woman that time, they were saying she's going to go into therapy, blah blah blah, trying to look like that she's responsible. She just looked around......and let's just skip to the fucking brass tacks...
Yeah go on. Go for it.
I'm sure that all of us look at younger people and think, sometimes, I could do with some young pussy, or whatever, but she looked at that young man and from what I can remember she had an affair. Let's just stop making out that she's pure and that, she just wanted young cock. I'd be so much more impressed by the media if they were actually more honest instead of trying to present this fucking image that just doesn't exist. You know I used to do a piece about when Clinton got sucked off by Monica Lewinsky and it all came up in the media. Then everyone was so shocked and outraged. And people get up in arms about priests fucking young kids and I just say you give them these mantles. You put them on a pedestal that they shouldn't do these things,. Those that abuse are awful. What I'm saying is if you think that someone is a priest and that they believe in this fictional fucking book, that suddenly makes them a higher being, well then more fool you. You've given them this position in society in this whole ideological area and they are only ever going to let you down because they are human. Did you find the album funny?
Yes. A lot of the songs are funny. Close To You deals with some very topical issues with a lot of humour.
That was done for a Radio 4 pilot; I was contacted earlier on in the year by Steve Bennett from Chortle. He said we've got this show with Ava Vidal, Paul Singh and Scott Capurro called Minority Report and its going to be another political programme on Radio 4. The others are going to do a bit of comedy and then you end it with a song. They sent me the subjects. They were Baroness Warsi`s comments on islamophobia passing the dinner table test, Elton John being able to adopt a kid and the word nigger being removed from Huckleberry Finn. I wrote a song about that in 6 hours and the following week I was at Leicester Square Theatre where we did the show. I don't think it's been taken up by Radio 4 yet. But I'm not too sure if Close To You would get on the radio to be honest.
No, maybe not mainstream radio. I'm Not Impressed was another tune I laughed aloud to...
Yeah, that goes down well everywhere.
In Let Me Clear My Throat there is some great stuff going on. You diss the Pope, the EDL, BNP, mediocrity on the high street...
I haven't done that live yet. It's going to take me forever to remember all the lyrics. That actually had 73 verses when I first wrote that! I just thought I can't, you know? I think it's got 12 verses now and it was like cutting off my fingers getting it down to that. It does mean that I've got 60 odd verses to use somewhere else. I like long songs. I used to write songs that were 12 minutes long. We are so made to think nowadays that songs should be 4 minutes, 3 and a half minutes.
Well, isn't our attention span is probably about 12 seconds these days? How did you approach recording Chapter and Perverse?
The whole album was recorded in an hour and 20 minutes. I just went into the studio, said to the guy, a mate of mine, just press record and pretty much every single song was first take apart from two. Every song was recorded in the order it's in on the album, I opened up with There's A New Priest In Town, which I warmed up with by doing it twice and I think Is This It I did again. Overall I like to record albums in 2 hours and it's all live. I find the whole thing about being in a studio quite boring; Get in, get it done, get out.
I know what you mean. You can't beat the spontaneity of a performance. Rehearse it and go in and bang it out.
A lot of my earlier albums have used samples and stuff and haven't been solo and acoustic.
Yeah, they were quite dense and full. I did go back and pick tracks to listen to from your older stuff and what struck me is this one seems a lot more stripped down, more accessible.
I really wanted this album to be comedy. I'm finding it very hard for me to play at music venues. Generally the people running them are not so open minded about my material, you know? The confrontation. Comedy clubs are a bit better. So I wanted the album to be comedic. I think I've got to this point now where I've gone more comedy than music. I'm more of a comedian's musician rather than a musician's musician and music crowds are very anal, you know? Urrghh, this isn't music, this is comedy.
Right. So you have been going through a gradual change?
I did Close To You at Leicester Square Theatre for the first time. It was in front of 50 people for the recording of the show and there was a laugh at every punchline of the song. I thought OK so does that mean these lines everyone liked?
I've never called a black person nigger,
but I do believe racism is rife.
Jedward, now there's a reason to hate the Irish,
I didn't mind the bombs in the 80`s, but this is taking the piss
I tested it out on facebook once. People were saying; "How can you say that about the Irish? You can't generalise a nation." I'm like, I'm not, and it's a joke. The joke clearly depicts that Jedward are worse than having bombs go off in your country and that's saying how bad Boy Bands are, you know?
You aren't a fan of celebrity?
No. The second from last song on the album, called Everybody Wants to Be Somebody, a hip hop mix, I opened with it at a little festival recently and everybody loves it because I'm slagging off celebs.
That's got the line; I want to be a cunt like Peter Andre?
That one. I could just go onstage and say Everybody wants to be like somebody, but they end up like everybody I want to be like a popstar and you're just going to end up being like everybody else who wants to be like that popstar, 'cos you'll never be that popstar, because that popstar IS that popstar. That's the overall message of the song. I will have to start saying that at the beginning of the song, you know? I'm going to go for every celebrity you know now. I start with you are all beautiful people, you are all beautiful individuals, I can see you, I love you all giving it the Priest hamming it up, and I just want you to know you don't need to have breast enlargements... I actually know women who have like 3 inch pussy lips and they've snipped them down because someone says in some Magazine it was wrong. Do you know how hard it is to find someone who has 2 inch pussy lips? You don't have to do those things, if you want to do those things because YOU want to do them, that's fine, But don't do it because a fucking magazine says so.......and then I go into the song. I don't think people get the song yet but at least they are listening.
Tell me how do you approach your performance Kai? The comedy. Do you find people having trouble getting your material?
I put myself in a hard position and then try to be able to get out of it. Also I like to be able to see how clever the crowd is. I think there's a lot of comedians' out there doing comedy on a rope. I was born in Streatham. I used to live in Balham and I used to go down to Balham Open Mic Comedy and I must have watched over 100 comedians in ten weeks or something and it was pretty awful. In comedy it seemed you just have to learn the rule of three; set up, reinforce and surprise. The comedic formula. They didn't think they had to tap into their own attitude either. That something from within that's a bit edgy, you know when you're doing it because it doesn't feel quite right because it's not a normal response.
The feeling like it's not safe.....?
I purposefully get on stage with set lists and forget them all the time. I plan them out for weeks. If I do a song and I'm thinking, no, the next song is just not going to work, I'll do this bit of comedy or I'll do that bit.
You have to be responsive I guess? Be able to react on your feet...
Yeah and that's actually something I'm really scared of. But I can find sometimes I will come off stage and I find, fuck, I've done an extra 40 mins and it's been nothing about what is actually on my set list, just literally chatting to the crowd. There is so much of an area to go down; you know touching deep inside, spread the love, there is a just mountain of material there.
How about hecklers?
I don't get heckled that much either. I'm quite surprised as I thought I'd get heckled a lot more. I do have a joke, and I don't know how people take it, but it kind of sets the standard of the night. I come on, and say I hate those type of comedians who pick on the first person they see in a crowd, I give it a slight break, and then I pick the gnarliest looking cunt in the crowd and go right in his face, I shout Do you know what I mean you cunt? And then I step back, and go sorry, sorry, I meant... cock. It's not the funniest of jokes; it's just back to the confrontation again. Last week I added a new part to it, I just started really shouting at the crowd, I started going; "You cunts, all of you, you fucking wankers, why the fuck are you... Sorry just spreading the love like David Cameron, you fucking pieces of shit." I just went on and on with all this far off aggression.
That must set up a really dark tension?
Yeah, I did another joke last week. I have no problem with immigration at all; most people are very impoverished in their arguments when it comes towards being anti-immigration. I just think its a great illustration of our lack of brotherly love in the world, that we put social status type economics above our brothers and sisters who are trying to flee, or just trying to travel the world, let alone trying to get out of a country impoverished, probably by the IMF and the World Trade Organisation, or Free Trade Organisation, that kind of stuff. Or just the fact that I would like to go and live on another part of the planet. No you fucking cant. This is our country; we want it white, pure and Christian ...So I started this joke, I'd just like to say folks, I have to get something off my chest, something's troubling me, I've never been racist, BUT in the last five or six years I've noticed a population explosion in our country and I want to say I'm not happy about it, everywhere I go I see these people signing-on, taking our hard earned tax money, in supermarkets shopping, buying our food, you know, in our work places taking our jobs. I have to say I'm not happy about it. It gets to the point I see them in the street and I hate the way they fucking look, I hate the way they fucking sound, I hate the way they smell and I want them to get the fuck out of my country... I did this in Hasting the other night and the whole pub went silent. Men, women there that knew me, just got to meet me, and had heard that I am obviously left of centre, left of left probably, and they were like No... No... The tension in the room was so intense. Then I said, Oh, of course I'm talking about the BNP you understand And everyone's cheering and breathing out, it's not the greatest punchline perhaps, but it just releases that tension in a second and then I went on to if I was standing in the street holding a sign pointing to a shop or if I was working at McDonald's or working for Â£3 per hour for some agency I'd be praying immigrants would be coming into this country and taking my job. The whole thing is just to illustrate how fucking ridiculous people's points are about immigration but it's just great to have that tension in the room. The room was about to pop, literally, on a violent edge, if it was full of BNP people it would have got really violent.
Paul Hawkins has been interested in popular culture and music, protest and survival for as long as we can remember. He began writing about things, making music and other noise at an early age. Paul has interviewed musicians, writers, poets, protestors and artists.
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