Eco-activism is the buzzword on the tip of everyone's tongue. 2019 has seen a surge in the rebellious ideology of civil disobedience, of taking immediate action to prevent, essentially, the end of the world as we know it. Speak to anyone you know - they probably feel some level of anxiety about the science behind global warming and its disastrous effects. This isn't a new nor revolutionary notion, however. The climate crisis began to take shape more than thirty years ago, amidst stories of rising temperatures and melting ice caps. Now more than ever, as we head towards a period of mass extinction, it is more than scaremongering. It's a real and terrifying process long set in motion, and time is running out.
Enter Matty Healy, frontman of genre-bending sensational band The 1975. He’s passionate, outspoken, and exceptionally eloquent. The 1975 have never been afraid to navigate outside of the box they were shoehorned into, challenging descriptors such as ‘boring’, ‘recycled’ and ‘unconvincing’. Spanning seventeen years, five EPs and three albums, the band’s music has no doubt seen a shift in both musical style and paradigm of thought.
Healy and his bandmates are musicians, but they are musicians who care. In a contemporary era where every facet of life is thrust into the public eye, intentional or not, The 1975 recognise the importance of putting the most pressing and often political matters at the forefront. Any artist can parade a rainbow flag on stage, tweet a hashtag, or write a socially charged lyric. This art becomes more substantiated and meaningful when actions are translated into the real world; into actually making a difference.
Ahead of the release of Notes On A Conditional Form, the band’s upcoming fourth album, a new age of unrest is being ushered in. The 1975 teamed up with fellow young activist and arguably the leader of action against climate change, Greta Thunberg, on the album’s lead track ‘The 1975’. The sixteen year old first drew attention last year when she skipped school to sit in protest outside of Swedish parliament, demanding immediate governmental action in the climate change fight. From this began a chain reaction of strikes and protests, culminating in the most recent global climate strike which millions of people rallied at.
Collaborating with Thunberg was an unlikely yet fitting move for The 1975. At Reading and Leeds, crowds listened in awe to her stirring speech, masterfully layered over the familiar tones of the band’s signature sound. Inviting listeners into the conversation about climate change set a precedent for a continuation of eco-activism by The 1975. Their merchandise stands at festivals led by example of recycling and reusing – fans were encouraged to bring old t-shirts on which new designs would be printed. For every ticket that has been or will be sold for The 1975’s forthcoming tour, a tree will be planted. Actions speak louder than words – but this band is doing both.
'People', the latest single to be released by The 1975, is a brash and angry statement against the upper echelons of a society on the brink of ecological collapse. Healy tells us to “wake up” and “stop fucking with the kids” on a track that is invariably different to anything else in their repertoire. Strained vocals, loud guitar riffs, and punk-infused production make up this undeniable anthem, which will surely shake up arenas with its message and musicality.
The 1975 won’t change the world. Not on their own, at least. Their music, though, and the elevation of important voices through it, will shape a generation of inspired and indignant revolutionaries.
Words by Jess Hodgson