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Theo Simon

Theo

I'm Theo, and I probably write the majority of our songs. I share lead vocals with my partner Shannon, and I often play a hand-drum or other percussion.

I was born on the same Christmas Day as Shane MacGowan of The Pogues and of course the famous Jesus. I grew up in a council house in a lovely Somerset village.

I started singing and drumming around 6 years old, when my mum and dad took me to folk-clubs and folk-dance events. I grew up listening to traditional English and Irish singers, and American folk like Julie Felix, the Seegers and Joan Baez. Then, through my 3 older brothers I got all the great new music of the late sixties and early seventies and believed that the global love revolution was about to change the world forever. I'm still hoping it will.

From early childhood, partly thanks to my mum and dad, I've had the conviction that we humans could live in a more caring, intelligent, and happier way than we do, if only we weren't enslaved by the money-system. Nothing I’ve seen so far has changed that conviction, but life has deepened my understanding of how the enslavement works and what we need to do to get out of it.

Theo

When I was 13 I started reading revolutionary books and joined the Schools Action Union, which tried to resist the oppression of young people in schools. Alongside my Marxism I started to do meditation. Later on I took psychedelic drugs in Somerset meadows as well. This was all great education for a rounded revolutionary, but not much good for getting a career path. Luckily I discovered I could act, and I went to Dartington college in Devon to study theatre.

After college, like most actors, I worked as a hospital porter. I was active in the health workers union and in the Plymouth labour party, where I sold The Militant newspaper and campaigned for an end to capitalism, just at the time that Maggie Thatcher decided to bring about the end of socialism. She had a few more resources at her disposal than me, and, though the Miners put up a brilliant fight, the labour party moved right, and I left.

On the Pennine Hills of Cumbria, still under surveillance from the Special Branch, I read and learned to write rhyming verse. Then I got married and tried to be a low-income yuppie before ending up with a failing marriage and a prestigious position in a cheese-processing factory near Yeovil. That was when I wrote my first songs No Ones Slave, the Work song, the Earth Chant and the Motorway song.

Theo

Walking down the lane to work each morning, it occurred to me that the survival of life on Earth was probably more important than paying off my overdraft. I left the factory (and the overdraft) behind, and started working on music with my old school-friend Tim Freke. We were inspired by the apocalyptic warnings of the Kogi Indians in Columbia and, as the band 'World Without Walls', we made a brilliant if relatively unknown dance album called 'The Mamas Warning'.

During this time I discovered non-violent direct action when I visited the Twyford Down road protest near Winchester. I also discovered that my songs were made for singing on the frontline. This led me into a wonderful world where I connected with hundreds of other people who also wanted to live their lives fighting to defend the future of life. Alongside World Without Walls I began playing in Heathens All, a splendidly anarchic collective of 11 or so acoustic musicians, who recorded on Billy Bragg's version of the Guthrie song 'This Land Is Your Land'. While recording with the Heathens in Wales I met Shannon, and eventually left the band to sing with her.

Theo

We live in a low-impact solar-powered eco-dwelling on some collectively owned land in Somerset. Living this way has kept our cost of living relatively low, which has enabled us to carry on campaigning and making music, in spite of the low wages paid to musicians in Britain. One of my greatest joys is hearing birdsong in the morning and watching them feed on the bird table. I've joined the RSPB because I think that if we don't protect and nurture our birdlife we will all go insane.

Life since Shannon and Seize The Day has been very fulfilling – I enjoy the reflection of love and common understanding that happens between us and our friends in the audience, and I enjoy connecting with active citizens across the spectrum of the environmental, peace and justice movements. In the last few years I've also enjoyed the little victories I've achieved in my own life, partly through a useful tool called re-evaluation co-counselling, and partly through friends who share with me their radical philosophical insights into the nature of awareness - it's all in the songs.

Theo

In 2004 we had our daughter Rosa, and I finally understood why most people don't have the time or energy for very much activism! But now it looks like we'd all better find the time and energy to act, or our children will have no time at all.

- That's what I'm like.
I just can't help banging on about how urgently we need to change the world. Luckily I've found a little niche where I can bring other people enjoyment while following my obsession. I'm pretty one-tracked really. I hope that after hearing our songs you'll join me on that track.

Or at least, buy a CD!

Theo

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