Outsideleft: Have you had violence at your gigs?
High Priest: I've had people jump on stage and try to rip out the dog collar; yeah a black woman in Finsbury Park once jumped up and tried to rip it out. I grabbed her by the throat and pinned her to the stage. Two barmen jumped over the bar on to the stage and the compere jumped up on the stage, I just turned to the crowd and said
Does anyone else want to fuck with me?
Jokingly, but it was a bit hairy, it was full of Arsenal supporters that night, I was giving it a lot of anti-Diana jokes, they obviously didn't give a shit, but I was wondering if there were any super patriotic people in the crowd.....
OL: Talking about immigration, which is
a topic that comes up a lot on the new album, I lived in Spain for a
while and I abhorred and hated the way people would want their own bit
of Birmingham, Manchester, or pick a pub or a town or a city in Britain
and they would want that on the south coast of Spain.
HP: Well, my dad was round my brothers once when he was having some decorating done and spoke to someone, who was anti-immigrants and they said oh, we are moving to Spain in a few years time No irony there?
OL: And they would be most pissed off
if they couldn't go and have fish and chips after going in the east
end themed pub out on the Costa del Sol...
HP: I think there is a very dangerous underlying racism in this country and I think it's in a lot of countries now. A lot of people say no, no, no, but I've had lots of arguments with people and they say well, I've seen those immigrants in Asda buying food, as part of their argument. At what point do you think that is an argument for the organisation of the population? To me that's a race issue. I put something on facebook a year or so ago about immigration, I put immigration is the greatest form of flattery and it was when Nick Griffin was on Question Time, which I actually thought was a complete shambles. I'm obviously not for the BNP, EDL or UKIP, especially those, anything that's going to displace equality, that's going to put equality in jeopardy, particularly from a Nazi point of view; I am wholeheartedly 100% against.
OL: I completely agree with you on that
HP: But, if you want to live in a democracy and have freedom of speech you have to let these parties and people exist. They will bury themselves. But you have to let them exist; there is no two ways about it. And when Griffin went on Question Time, if it had just been Dimbleby and him, he would have buried himself; I mean he was ridiculously uneducated in all his arguments. The following week he was banned from going to see the Queen at that party, and I thought you can't ban him and have all the other political parties there. Regardless of what you think of him. I mean, do you want freedom of speech? Democracy? A free country? I agree if free speech turns into incitement to riot or hatred then you have to look into that, you can't have that. But people being able to air their views, start their parties for what they believe in, that's part of the society we live in and where everyone seems to want society to go. I was talking to a friend about immigration and I put that thing up on facebook all about it and I had 100 replies in one day, just people fuming and foaming at the mouth, it was a nightmare and it went on for about 3 days, and the next day I put just `cos you don't say nigger doesn't mean you're not racist, obviously I was provoking, but I just found it was 3 days of battling people on stuff. Again the same thing happened the other day about the riots.
OL: The riots and the media and political
responses raise the argument about our own personal responsibility.
We have had and continue to have a part in the riots.
HP: I think it illustrates how we view other human beings. If you don't feel you are responsible you've lost your soul in how you view other human beings. I personally feel responsible for everything that goes on in this country because we have a government in power, I didn't vote for them, but we do employ them. They are my and our employees and when I see something not quite happening then they are my brothers and sisters, not in some hippy way, but if I walk down the street and see someone starving I'd buy them food there would be no two ways about it. We've become very much products of intense propaganda to produce this very selfish awareness. Everybody is very much ME not them, whether it's white on white, black on black, it doesn't matter.
OL: The obvious thing that springs to
my mind is back in the days of Thatcher, when she was spreading the
there is no such thing as society any more; it's just a bunch of individuals
HP: It's all come true now, hasn't it?
OL: Yeah, it seems that way, certainly
in mainstream life.
HP: I personally think we are all inherently good people.
OL: Yes we all have that in us.
HP: I don't think people are inherently wicked, I just think they are extremely, easily seduced. It's a very hard world to live in. You have to question everything all the time to understand it. For my sins I've worked in advertising. I had to have a lengthy debate with myself before I went into it, but then I thought, do you know what? I'm never going to truly understand it and be able to rant against it unless I actually work within it and I did it for about 6 months and it was awful. You think about the way branding, brand experience, how people now live their lives, if a particular piece of clothing has a logo on it, they think it means something and that's just tip of the iceberg, me me me. I think bling culture is very interesting; I keep trying to write about it. I want to write a book soon and there will be a whole chapter about it. That means a healthy amount of research! The thing with bling culture is that it's very clever; we think we have these status symbols.
OL: Outward symbols of who we are.
HP: And by having those things the thing that's been thrust upon us is that we prove to people who we are, how good we are, how amazing we are.
HP: Look at me, I own this car. House bling culture has gone crazy; you can't switch the fucking telly on without seeing a programme about buying a house. The clever thing about bling culture is people get very wrapped up in it and think they've become someone, and while they are so seduced and involved in themselves and the whole product(s), human rights laws have been fast tracked through the courts and those are the things they should be really concerned about. That's so elementary, but its clever how that works. One of the things I find incredibly insulting, and I don't find much insulting, is that you can't protest within a mile of Parliament.
OL: No, you can't these days.
HP: I think that's worth so much more than having a 52 inch TV or a six bedroom house, all that, the ability to protest if you want to protest and you cant because they have passed the rule, the law, only to get Brian Haw (anti-war demonstrator) out of place. Which didn't really work, and sadly he is dead now. But that's what I think about bling culture, it's a double edged sword. You think you really are somebody but on the other side of the sword you're human rights are being stripped away from you daily.
OL: Does it show some form of tacit acceptance
of what is going on? People buy into it on a lot of different levels.
I think it strips people of a sense of spirituality as there is something
very basic and solid and grounding about how we view and connect with
HP: I think the riots the other day were completely symptomatic of all those things. You saw a lot of the posts I put up on facebook, a lot of the exchanges I had with other people, one person came back to me after I'd said you're very immature in your thoughts, and he said
Talking about maturity, I'm not the one who dresses as a priest and goes on stage and uses the word cunt just to get a response.
He's obviously seen my act. NOT. There were a lot of people so quick to condemn. Don't get me wrong, I thought the violence was utterly deplorable.
OL: Yes, I did as well. But to focus solely
on the violence is to fall into the trap of missing the point of why
and how it happened.
HP: I was thinking, hold on a minute, why hasn't this been happening every week for the last ten years? What has happened in the last ten years to result in this? If you take that thought pattern into the equation you can think, ok, so I don't think they had a political motive at all. This is starting to sound like fucking Question Time! It wasn't political but the whole situation was political.
OL: I think you cover a lot of the issues
on the new album Chapter and Perverse. On a music level it's not complicated
to listen to. On the whole it's stripped down. Acoustic. I like its
simplicity. It grabbed me. I do wonder how people take in its message,
as there is a lot you cover, a lot of content. I could see exactly how
it would work better in a live situation, where you have more scope
to explain, ad-lib, challenge your crowd, and engage them.
HP: Yeah, I do. Its hard to get my stuff across recorded sometimes.
OL: That would be my main question I think.
As a document of what you've been writing and working with live, what's
been going on in your head and in your life and your observations it's
very good and amusing. How would you get other people to listen to the
album who may not have come to one of your shows?
HP: Yeah, well I've put together a show reel now that people can see. Well, the main use of it is for me is, as you say, like a document. I don't make albums in order to sell them. I just don't aim to and people can download them now free from my website. I'd like to get a good agent and I can approach agents with a product.
OL: What do you have planned coming up?
HP: I'm just trying to get one step ahead of everyone else on the level that I'm at, and also if I can get somewhere with a decent agent. I've done a lot of the work in putting stuff out there. Also I want to try and do three albums a year. I did do an album with comedy not that long ago, and a guy reviewed me said he liked it, but he wondered whether the comedy starts to get a bit boring? Maybe it's the mix of music and comedy? People will listen to the music rather than the comedy; skits do wear a bit thin after a while.
OL: What about just spoken word comedy?
HP: Maybe I will make a purely comedy album next. I don't know. Every album I like to be different. The new album I'm working on is going to be a mix of live playing, hip hop, comedy and acoustic music, like a whole bag of stuff. There is so much stuff; it's just a matter of time. If only I didn't have to sleep!
OL: There is never enough time. I know
what you mean. What else have you been working on?
HP: I have got four novels I've finished. I've written a book of porn - It Can Be So Hard in the Morning - Twelve Stories of Porn. I have written loads, I've got about three books on the go now, but its just time, it comes back to time. I need to get my arse into gear, and start getting into lots of comedy clubs. I know if I go into any comedy club its going to go off with a bang the minute I get onstage. It just makes me think that I'm obviously doing something that is memorable, I just need to go out there for a year, I don't know. I've obviously got people who want to see it, or don't, what with all the clubs I've got banned from. All those clubs who banned me, the crowd loved it, I don't know why they ban me... They just don't want someone dressed like a priest swearing. My task is to get onto Jonathon Ross by lying, through bullshit, through sheer fucking blag. I think it would be hilarious. But I've probably killed it now I've said it in an interview...
OL: Maybe not...
Stay in the here and now. More so now than ever is the time to get educated. Treat yourself to a spiritual transformation. Start by getting a free download of Chapter and Perverse then get to see The High Priest live.
All High Priest Info is on his website where the new album Chapter and Perverse is available as a free download.
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.