The hard-hitting track and video tackles the issue of homelessness
Julian Marszalek

11:25 12th December 2017

Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr has come together with actress Maxine Peak for a hard-hitting project that combines Peak’s spoken word performance with Marr’s haunting instrumental music.

The first fruits of their labour have appeared in the form of ‘The Priest’. The harrowing track is based upon characters by that Joe Gallagher met on the streets after becoming homeless in Edinburgh. Writing under the pseudonym James Campell, Gallagher’s experiences of being homeless appeared in the street newspaper, The Big Issue.

The music for ‘The Priest’ is a world away from what we’ve come to expect from Johnny Marr. Here, his guitar is understated and takes a back seat in favour of electronic soundscapes as Peake narrates Gallagher’s powerful words of a homeless person experiencing the fear that comes with their situation.

“I wanted to do something different and I thought of asking Maxine to collaborate having been a fan of her work,” said Johnny Marr. “We started a creative process that clicked and culminated in ‘The Priest’, a song and short film inspired by a facet of modern life as we see it and feel it.”

The video for the track was shot in Manchester and co-directed by Johnny Marr and Mat Bancroft and features Molly Windsor in the lead role. Windsor most recently featured alongside Peake in the BBC drama ‘Three Girls’ which was based on the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale.

“It’s about asking questions,” Peake told The Guardian of the track. “Everybody’s in a situation, everybody has a story. It’s about finding out why. We take things at face value, don’t we?

“You form an opinion about something immediately, but you ought to step back a bit. Take in the vista first.”