The FOALS musician Edwin Congreave says he’s recently questioned being in the band due to the carbon footprint of their global tours but added, he’s not ready to walk away.
Speaking to the BBC Radio 5 Live podcast, What Planet Are We On?, Edwin described the climate crisis as “an avalanche of truth descending on my head” and spoke about a tour of Asia the band was due to go on before the pandemic struck.
Talking frankly to co-hosts Matt McGrath and Victoria Gill, Edwin suggested we should put an end to certain types of touring:
“This year, I've had to kind of look at the question of whether I should be in the band but if I didn't go on this tour then the obvious point comes up that someone else would do it, they’d get someone else to do it. So it's not like I'm actually going to stop the flying and I'm just not quite ready to walk out of my job. But, yeah, I think that a lot of musicians and a lot of DJs and bands should just stop touring, basically, I think it's as serious as that. It’s just a message that people don’t want to hear.”
“I think that it would be quite easy for us and a lot of bands to tour differently. Basically, to not do certain types of tours. If we weren’t to do that tour, it wouldn't affect our business particularly, but it would mean that we are not freighting two tonnes of gear halfway across the world and back. So, for me, that seems like quite a clear case of something we shouldn't do.”
“We are blessed with essentially free music online and an almost unlimited resource in YouTube and things like that and there are so many different ways that communities can get together and enjoy the life that we have, without enormous acts having to tour the world and people flying to Bali for two days or whatever. I think it's quite easy to find that point. I'm not worried for example, if most of so-called Western pop acts ceased to tour. I think that the human community will be fine, we'll get by.”
He admitted there was a lot at stake for the touring industry:
“A lot of people's livelihoods are invested in a heavily polluting activity and a lot of the music industry is geared towards a kind of escapism that by its nature avoids a lot of the kind of boring, technocratic discussion that has to take place.”
He also revealed how difficult it has been to communicate his feelings to his fellow bandmates:
“I've been struggling over the last year to communicate it to my bandmates because I'm not a very good communicator at the best of times, I sort of keep things in and it's a very difficult thing to talk about. There isn't an easy way into having a conversation about the climate crisis because you can start off and you’d be like, ‘so, have you heard?’ (laughs) and people have these incredibly sturdy sort of defence mechanisms. So I've been struggling with that, trying to some extent to encourage my band mates to change our touring practises and it hasn't been a success. My plan would be to sort of jump up and down screaming and get everyone else doing it. We'd all sort of become adverts for the change that we need to happen. And it’s so much harder than I would like it to be because everyone's on a different point in their journey of discovery, if you can call it that. It's very hard to communicate the gravity of the situation.”