This week Bristol quartet Ead Wood released ‘Environmental’, the latest single from their forthcoming EP Songs in The Quay of Sea, a lemon drop of a tune which takes a darkly humurous narrative on the global climate crisis and smothers it with a coating of sugary guitar jangle-fuzz and a sing-along chorus.
We caught up with the band to ask them about the current state of environmental policy and what we can do to make a difference and asked them for a playlist of songs confronting environmental issues.
Tell us a little about the inspiration for your single ‘Environmental’. What drove you to write a song about climate change?
In February 2019 we had a winter heat wave and the UK reached highs of 20 degrees. I read an article about the detrimental effect this unusually warm winter was having on animals such as hedgehogs, who were coming out of hibernation early due to the warm temperatures and I wrote the song straight off the back of this. The second verse makes reference to the story of Jonah and The Whale, envisioning what Jonah would find inside a whale now, mainly an array of plastic crap.
The video includes pictures from the 2019 Extinction Rebellion protests in London. It seemed for a while that there was real momentum towards making positive changes both at an individual and societal level – how much do you think has actually changed since that wave of demonstrations?
I think things really seemed to be changing for a while after the demonstrations, especially at an individual level – people have begun to realise their actions have consequences. Here in Bristol, I noticed people and businesses trying to make small changes to their daily lives that would have a positive effect, whether that’s using a refillable water bottle or not using single use plastic bags when you go to the shops. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the change has been halted this last year due to Covid. Reusable cups have gone out the window
It’s hard to know where to begin with the multitude of issues affecting the environment in the modern age. Are there any issues that you are particularly passionate about, and what advice would you give to people wanting to make things better but unsure of what they can do to make a difference?
I have a huge love for the ocean, as seen by the forthcoming EP, which is a bunch of love songs to our oceans, and then ‘Environmental’ is the protest song. So naturally, I’ve always been interested in looking after our seas. I think on a personal level it’s great to start by making small changes, it can feel incredibly overwhelming and daunting when you start to look into the issues affecting us. Small steps like flying less, using less single use plastic, and eating less meat can make a huge difference.
Going back to XR, the government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would likely have made those demonstrations close to impossible. What are your views on the policy and its potential effects on future protests?
It seems like the government have rushed to throw together a poorly thought out bill to impose control on people’s expression and right to protest. People have a right to protest and it seems that is going to be threatened by this new bill.
The environmental impact of our consumption of music has also come under the spotlight in recent months, with a study from The Universities of Glasgow and Oslo estimating that music streaming activity generated between 200 and 350 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses in the US alone. What can band, labels, and music fans do to care for the environment while still enjoying our favourite music?
Music is a tricky one as there are lots of hurdles to tackle along the way, from the resources used to make records, the fuel for touring, the waste at live shows etc . But artists are starting to make changes too. We were lucky enough to play Glastonbury 2019 and we played at the Croissant Neuf stage which is entirely powered by solar energy, for a large stage and area that is amazing, hopefully more festivals and stages will follow suit! Fans can chip in too by supporting eco-conscious merch. Certain bigger bands are taking on eco initiatives such a planting a tree for every ticket sold, or playing shows with no single use plastic.
What effect do you think musicians talking about or writing songs about the environment has on the climate crisis, and are there enough bands willing to do so?
It can only be a positive thing to get people talking about the problems facing us and to raise awareness on these issues. I don’t know if there are enough bands doing it really if I’m honest… but that’s why we felt like we had to start somewhere. If one person (or band) starts up the conversation, others often join, right?
To finish things off, it’s fantasy parliament time. You’ve been installed as prime minister for the day, with the power to pass one new act or law, what would it be?
In the current light of the Covid epidemic, which can be argued as an epidemic largely caused by mass travelling, it would have to be something regarding travelling. Either: large taxation on business-related flights (that could easily be done on Zoom), or maybe personal caps on air-travel miles for everyone in the country. The latter may sound like an attack on freedom, but it’s really only a reduction of miles by those wealthy enough to travel a silly amount.
Or perhaps just to make it illegal to listen to Nickelback, either work.
We asked Ead Wood to share their environmental playlist:
For our playlist I’ve tried to focus on Ocean / Water based environmental songs and here are a few of our favourite bangers :
Yes – Don’t Kill The Whale
I felt obliged to add a few great save the whale songs to tie in nicely with the whale mentions in Environmental. “In the wake of our new age to stand for the frail/Don’t kill the whale.”
Lou Reed – Last Great American Whale
Another whale tune, this one is a great little story about how one selfish, ignorant act can rob the world of an amazing treasure.
Pixies – Monkeys Gone To Heaven
A song that deals with humanity’s destruction of the ocean and “confusion of man’s place in the universe”.
Beach Boys – Don’t Go Near The Water
An anti-pollution plea from the 1971 album, Surf’s Up. Full of poignant lyrics about man poisoning the sea
Randy Newman – Burn On
Written after Newman saw a television news clip about the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, literally catching fire once again, because it was filled with oil waste. “The Cuyahoga River goes smokin’ through my dreams/Burn on, big river/Burn on.”
Neil Young – Be The Rain
The man of a thousand protest songs. This one’s about the corporate greed and chemicals that are killing the land and oceans.
‘Environmental’ is out now on all of the usual streaming services via Brutalist Records.
The EP Songs In The Quay of Sea will be out later this year – pre-order your copy on vinyl or digital download on Bandcamp.
Interview by Paul Maps