The 1975‘s Matty Healy has praised the spirit of climate activist Greta Thunberg, hailing her “the most punk person he’s ever met”.
Thunberg has become a global figurehead of ongoing protests to fight climate change, making headlines with her rousing speech to the UN last week. The band recently teamed up with Thunberg on ‘The 1975’ – a spoken word essay about the effects of climate change and the opening track from their forthcoming album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’. All proceeds for the track will go to environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
Speaking of their time together, Healy praised the 16-year-old Thunberg as “one of the only people I’ve been truly starstruck by”.
“She’s so famous in regards to iconographically famous,” he told Pedestrian.TV. “You know she’s like, on a poster with Gandhi kinda-famous. So when I first seen her through the studio, through like frosted glass as well, you could just see the outline of her. And like Slash said, ‘To be truly iconic, you must be recognisable in silhouette’.
“She’s recognisable in silhouette. So, it was really powerful.”
Healy continued: “Greta is the most punk person I’ve ever met in my life. When I met her, she was wearing an ‘anti-fascist all-stars’ t-shirt. I know like, not like an ‘antifa’ – she wasn’t supporting violence, she was supporting…fucking wild, man. Like I came from that kind of thing.”
As for how she changed his outlook on the climate change movement, Healy admitted: “I’d been kind of, not pessimistic, but just quite a depressed outlook on the situation. Kind of like a nihilistic, almost, attitude of ‘oh well, we’re all fucked’.”
“Then after meeting her – even though she’s the most serious person you could ever meet in regards to her conviction and how it feels when you talk to her – I kind of left with a bit of hope, you know?”
Speaking to NME in response to critics who may accuse the band of hypocrisy, Healy said: “I’d rather not be 100 percent sorted and be accused of being a hypocrite than do fuck all. I’d much rather be called a champagne socialist than be an artist that isn’t talking about the most pressing issue on the planet. Everyone’s going, ‘Well, what about your car?’ Well, funnily enough, I don’t have any cars anymore. I’ve got an electric scooter and electric bike in London. And on a personal level, I am doing my thing. But also: fuck off. Like, go and fuck yourself.”
He continued: “I think The 1975 getting on a commercial plane to go to a country to try and spread a positive message is not going to be the reason that the world sets on fire. What’s hard with The 1975 is fetishisation of woke culture – it’s difficult for me to tell everybody what we’ve done without trying to sound like we’re showing off, but we have carbon offsets, we have no plastic on tour, no plastic in the office, no plastic in any of our packaging and every guest list is paid for and [the money] goes to reforestation for charities.
“We are doing everything that’s physically in our power to be culturally powerful in the most socially responsible way. And I’m doing it for me, and I don’t have to fucking explain myself to every single person.”
The band also made their own touring habits more environmentally friendly, as well as introducing the idea of recycling old t-shirts and merchandise.
“According to the BBC’s news yesterday, there is just 18 months to act on the global heating crisis and the loss of biodiversity that threatens to unravel the planetary web of life,” said Extinction Rebellion. “1 million species are at risk of extinction and human civilisation faces total collapse if radical changes to our socioeconomic system are not made now.
“Extinction Rebellion anticipates that this news from The 1975 and Greta will help contribute to a storm of civil disobedience as the movement prepares to support the Global Youth Strikes from 20 – 27 October and for its upcoming International Rebellion which begins Monday 7 October.”