Set for release on 10 November, ‘Dry And High’ is the debut album from Hightown Pirates. Fronted by musician and writer Simon Mason, Hightown Pirates is a project from Simon’s heart and soul. His friendship with songwriter Mick Head (Shack), once dubbed Britain’s greatest songwriter by the NME, provided the inspiration and spark; “you can do this Simon (Just fuckin do it La …)”. The Pirates were conceived in Weston-Super-Mare, developed via Liverpool with first steps opening for Mick in Hackney, went on adventures in Europe with The Libertines in 2016, then performed as a guest of Peter Doherty on his Eudaimonia tour in the spring of that year. The front cover of ‘Dry And High’ is from an original canvas created by Peter Doherty for Simon.
Simon Mason is best known for his critically acclaimed memoir ‘Too High Too Far Too Soon’, recounting his numerous decadent adventures at Glastonbury Festival and the notoriety achieved during his stint as personal chemist to the biggest bands of the ’90s. His experiences, creative energy, working with and informing artists and people in recovery are expressed through his song-writing. Survivors with stories to tell, stories of love, loss, despair and redemption, it’s big stuff, powerful stuff – “So come on climb in, we know how it’s been.”
‘Dry And High’ is a labour of love. The songs are personal and passionate and when it came to recruiting musicians, Simon hand-picked people who could play their hearts out and benefit from joining the Hightown Pirates crew. The album was recorded over one week in the summer of 2016 with producer Mark Neary (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds etc) at the controls. As well as Simon’s majestic songs, the sound of the album is fuelled by horn playing and arrangements on loan from Mick Head’s Elastic band and signified by the most upfront use of the flute in rock music since Jethro Tull.
“I make some calls, old friends, companions, musical cohorts, other survivors, dreamers, people that believe in the impossible, a day at a time. I get a band, we have four rehearsals then go to the studio to make our album. We go to Doghouse Studios, of course we do. We make our own magic, the chemistry is perfect, as is the absence of chemicals … Its’ called Dry and High. Of course it is.” says Simon.
As a ‘collective’ the various musicians who have contributed to the Hightown Pirates project, have over time, worked and appeared on recordings with Primal Scream, Richard Ashcroft, Michael Head (Shack), Gang Of 4, Death In Vegas, The Coral, Super Furry Animals, Van Morrison, Adele, Noel Gallagher, James, Oasis, Cast, Paul Weller and The Rolling Stones.
Listen to #34. XS Noize Music Podcast: HIGHTOWN PIRATES frontman SIMON MASON on debut album ‘DRY AND HIGH’ below:
With the lyrical nous of Lou Reed, the melodic whirlpool of The Stone Roses, the anthemic splendour and dream-driven energy of early Oasis sharing a drink with the young soul-rebels era Dexys that has been poured by Merry Clayton, Q described the album as “evokes Arcade Fire’s sweep: Blood Sweat & Tears’ horns and the finer moments of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica”.
Live shows to date have been a celebration of multi-gender, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, wall of sound that leave audiences singing their songs all the way home because they are their songs too. The Hightown Pirates will set sail on an autumn tour, dates to be announced soon.
Mon 13 November London The Water Rats
Sun 2 December Liverpool Zanzibar