Hightown Pirates release a new single in aid of homeless charity The Charter Street Mission. Hightown Pirates is the band formed by Simon Mason. Simon Mason is best known for his critically acclaimed book Too High Too Far Too Soon, where he recounts his numerous decadent adventures at Glastonbury Festival and the notoriety that came during his stint as a personal chemist to the biggest bands of the ’90s. Fast forward to 2017 where Simon now gets a natural high through drawing on his experiences which lend themselves to his incredible songwriting backed by this huge energetic sound. Hightown Pirates released their brilliant debut album, Dry and High in June 2017.
Simon Mason talks about The Charter Street Mission:
Here’s a story, a true story. Recovering heroin addict finds himself over 12 years free from the grip of drug addiction, living a life, once seemingly impossible. He has a life, where once each day was a nightmare, he has friends where once he sat alone, begging for change on the streets of Hackney. He has a home, a beautiful girlfriend, a beautiful daughter, an income. He travels, where once he got no further than the phone-box at the end of his road and the local needle exchange, he has HOPE.
He has, to quote a song appropriated by the fans of the football team he adores, “Dreams and songs to sing’ and he often sings about the people who cannot be heard, the ones still stuck where he once was, and the ones no longer here. Sometimes the songs write themselves, just like the best stories often do. Looking out of the window of his train as it departs Manchester Victoria Station, amid the hastily flung-up shiny new apartment blocks of Ancoats, where new money is building desirable, anonymous-looking flats for people unlikely to ever have to get their hands dirty to make a living, I see a ghost of the past.
The Charter Street Mission stands next to the former burial pits where Engels witnessed and described how they disposed of poor people who could not afford a funeral in The Condition Of The Working Class. I write some words, might become a song, might not, who knows? It does become a song and months later, my band, Hightown Pirates, record it as part of our new EP.
Listen to Hightown Pirates new single ‘The Charter Street Mission’ – BELOW:
One of the band asks me where I got the idea from and I realize I literally have no idea what the building is used for, I just liked the melancholic poetry that it seemed to inspire on that train journey. I google it, the screen of my laptop momentarily sucks the breath from my lungs as I stare at the first search result…
“Police believe a man found dead at the Charter Street Mission was a homeless person who had been attending a drop-in service there. The body of the 47-year-old was discovered at the Charter Street Mission on Dantzic Street, yesterday. He is believed to have been found in a toilet in the building, which is used as a cafe and drop-in centre for homeless people at weekends.”
A story from the local newspaper reporting the death of a homeless addict, at The Charter Street Mission.
“The faces fade like memories of people we don’t see around here no more, and no one’s counting anymore; it’s just another wasted day, just like the days and weeks we threw away before.”
Sometimes, it becomes clear to me, that certain songs I’ve written, no longer ‘belong’ to me, or Hightown Pirates, or indeed to anybody, they just belong to us all. So many people in this country today are literally one paycheque away from being homeless, one bad decision away from falling back into the abyss of alcoholism/addiction. I contacted the charity that provides the drop-in and free breakfast for the homeless people who use The Charter Street Mission, you can support them here.
I asked if they would be interested in a band comprised of recovering addicts/alcoholics, some of whom have their own stories of homelessness, coming up to The Charter Street Mission to do a free benefit gig for their clients. I told them the ‘story’ of our song; that we’re going to release it soon and, if anyone actually buys it, I’d like to donate some money to their charity.
They ask me when we’re thinking of coming up, February I say is that ok?
Ok, that’s good because we’re being forced out of the building by property developers who basically don’t want to see homeless people in the area anymore; they’re trying to sell expensive flats here now. We have to vacate the building by the 19th of February. We might be too late, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know right?
Hightown Pirates and some very special guests are going to do our gig for The Charter Street Mission on Saturday 9th February 2019. We are very much hoping to stop the eviction, but failing that, at the very least, try and raise some money for the charity Lifeshare so they can carry on providing their much-needed support to those who, for whatever reason, need it so much.
The song is available now to begin our campaign to save The Charter Street Mission, on all digital platforms, but obviously, we’d like you to make a donation to Lifeshare via this link. We are also talking to the organization, Musicians Against Homelessness, seeking their own much-valued support as we move forward with our campaign. We’re Hightown Pirates, so are you.
With thanks and greetings of the season.
Listen to #34. XS Noize Music Podcast: HIGHTOWN PIRATES frontman SIMON MASON on debut album ‘DRY AND HIGH’ below: