New Fridge opens the doors on their single Adani, sharing its valuable message with journalist Violent Grumble
Michael, the thoughtful vocalist of New Fridge, recently penned a politically charged track titled Adani. With a passion and lyrical bite reminiscent of Midnight Oil, the track encouraged meaningful conversation regarding the devastating environmental impact of the Australian mining operation.
Violent Grumble, a journalist and friend of Michael, was one of the first to react. Naturally, the two got together to flesh out the significantly relevant topic. The conversation ranges from the real-world issue, right down to the instrumental decisions behind the single. We hope their discussion inspires and educates, as it did for us at the office. Have a read below.
VIOLET: Your new song Adani, it’s an interesting song. What inspired you to write it?
MICHAEL: Well, the Adani Galilee coal mine project, has been a big issue in this country for a while now, and it’s become emblematic of the wider struggle for us in Australia to do our share with action to combat climate change, rather than remaining the last bastion of fossil fuel resistance in the developed world. I suppose the hope is that writing and releasing a song addressing this issue, is another way to maintain public attention and to generate that emotional response that you can tap into with music.
VIOLET: So you feel strongly about it?
MICHAEL: Yes, anyone who acknowledges the evidence for accelerating climate change and the disastrous effects, which are now becoming more and more evident every day, can’t be anything but alarmed about the future for everybody. And the frustration, that in this country at least, a small group of vested interests, in collusion with conservative politicians and particular sections of the media, have been able to sway the opinions of a sufficient segment of the population to stifle every attempt to address the problem.
VIOLET: So how did you approach writing this song?
MICHAEL: Well, the lyrics were just a matter of trying to say something about all the issues involved: the opening up of a massive new area of coalfields at this time in history, the environmental damage, the risk to the Great Artesian Basin and the farming and pastoral lands which it sustains, the damage to the land and culture of the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples, on whose land it will be built, and the massive greenhouse gas emissions which could result from the development of this mine, not to mention the additional eight coal mines for which leases have already been granted. Our songs are usually a bit humorous as well, but in this case, the focus is more on the content.
Violet: And the music, it’s a bit different. How would you describe that?
Michael: Adani’s a multinational conglomerate is based in India, so the idea was to create something in the music which would reference this. We did this by basing the chorus on a percussive rhythm with a Bhangra feel, a common style used in Bollywood scores. The verse has a bit of a lighter feel, but we’ve continued the theme with the inclusion of sitar riffs and some tabla (Indian drums) dropped in from time to time. There’s also some Jamaican ragga vocals from Commodore Flint, to spice it up a bit.
Violet: And what are you hoping to achieve through releasing this song?
Michael: As I said, the purpose was to have a song that expressed these concerns in musical form, which would contribute to maintaining awareness of this issue, and to create something people could share with others to keep the cause alive. And of course, to help reinforce the more general concerns about greenhouse gases and climate change.
Violet: Given that the Adani project continues to progress and they’ve recently mined their first coal, isn’t it a bit late?
Michael: No, it’s not over yet. Legal challenges from community conservation groups; the Australian Conservation Foundation and representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou people, combined with the efforts of activist group #StopAdani, have delayed the development of the mine for the last 7 years. #StopAdani has had amazing success, pressuring national and international financial institutions and insurance companies to refuse investment and insurance for this project.
Yes, Adani struck first coal in June this year, but with the rail line still in the early stages of construction, they can’t transport it or continue mining. Continuing legal challenges and lobbying of financial institutions and infrastructure providers promises further obstacles to the actual commencement of commercial coal production.
But beyond this, whilst Adani have scaled down their stated production goals substantially, once the rail line and port expansion are in place, they will be in a position to return to their original target of 60 million tonnes of coal production a year. On top of that, the rail line and port facilities will then enable the go-ahead for the other eight leases, owned by other interests. The Australian Conservation Foundation estimates that the combined coal production capacity of the Galilee Basin could be responsible for over 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030!
Violet: So what is there that the average person can do in the face of this?
Michael: Well, they can keep informed – there’s plenty of up to date information on the StopAdani website. They can actively share their concerns with friends and family. They can join up with the #StopAdani movement and contribute to their activist campaigns. And most of all there’s an election coming, sometime between March and May of next year.
Anyone who knows anything about the climate crisis and its politics in Australia knows that the Liberal/National Party coalition has risen to power over recent years on a platform of climate denial and intentional inaction, and nothing will change until they’re finally removed. A recent Lowy Institute survey found 63% of Australians support a ban on new coal mines and 78% support setting a zero-emissions target for 2050.
It’s just a matter of ensuring this is the primary focus when people go to the ballot box, and this can be achieved through those steps of staying informed, keeping the issue to the fore with those around you, and directing your vote to parties and candidates that commit to action on climate change.
Violet: And what do you think your song will contribute to this?
Michael: Clearly this is just one minor action in the whole process, but the more people are finding their own ways to raise the issue and express their feelings and concerns, that’s the first step. And we don’t have any time to lose!
Listen to Adani from New Fridge below: