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When you ask a musician who they’ve been the most starstruck by, it’s usually their heroes: the Rollins, the McCartneys, the Gagas, the Partons, the Osbornes, and the Dylans. But for Matty Healy of The 1975, it’s a 16-year-old from Sweden.
If you’ve not met Greta Thunberg, you’ve either not turned on the tv, haven’t looked at the internet, and you’ve probably just been living blissfully unaware of the fact that a teenager has spent the last few months spitting hard, bitter truths about the destruction of the world through climate change.
PEDESTRIAN.TV sat down with Matty on the day of the Schools Strike 4 Climate and wider global climate strike – which saw hundreds of thousands of Australians gather in city centres and local parks – to talk about climate action, how to exist sustainably as a touring band, and the experience he had with Greta for the first single of The 1975’s upcoming album, Notes On A Conditional Form.
Oh and we also took some real nice picture of him too, so enjoy.
Matty Healy first met Greta Thunberg when they teamed up to record a spoken-word piece for the band’s upcoming album, which features over a recurring instrumental song on each of their albums, almost like a signature track. A sign-on that opens every collection of music they’ve produced to date.
Seeing Greta for the first time, Matty tells me that’s the one time he’s felt well and truly star-struck.
She’s one of the only people I’ve been truly starstruck by, because she’s so like, famous in regards to iconographically famous.
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.
He also noted that Greta’s presence was so powerful that it felt like an “extreme version” of the hope that young people instil in him, and that meeting with her reminded him a lot of the kinds of rebellious, determined ethos he grew up in.
“Greta is the most punk person I’ve ever met in my life,” Matty confessed.
“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.”
Matty Healy told me that before he met Greta, he had a generally pretty depressed and “almost nihilistic” outlook on the world’s relationship with climate change, and the denial that surrounds it.
“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‘,” he said.
“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?”
Being a continent-hopping, touring band in 2019 is not the easiest career when you’re also trying to be environmentally conscious, but Matty told me that the band has got a few pretty genius things in place to help them reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. One of them being the introduction of an ‘eco manager’ for future tours.
“At the moment that active things we’re doing are planting a tree for every ticket sold, changing our guest list to being paid-for reforestation charities,” he said.
We don’t tour any plastic anymore, so there’s no excess plastic on the tour. The record label doesn’t use plastic anymore.
When we’re going to be touring next year, we have a climate attaché – so we have a tour manager, a production manager, and now we have an eco manager who basically comes out with us and makes sure that everything we’re doing is as sustainable as possible.
It just makes sense to delegate that kind of responsibility so there’s somebody’s who’s tenaciously focused on that.
PEDESTRIAN.TV also snapped a few choice pics at The 1975’s Sydney show, so take a moment to have a peep through those below.
The 1975 return to Australia to headline Laneway Festival in early 2020 alongside the likes of Charli XCX, Earl Sweatshirt, Ruel, Ocean Alley and heaps more.
Notes On A Conditional Form is out February 21, and you can preorder it over here.Image: Paigge Warton