Jarvis Cocker teases more Pulp shows and discusses new project ‘Biophobia’

Jarvis Cocker has spoken to NME about debuting his latest project ‘Biophobia’, describing it as “my attempt to get to grips with nature”. He also spoke about more gigs being on the horizon for Pulp.

The frontman was speaking before delivering ‘Biophobia’ at GEI – Green Events and Innovations conference – in London on Tuesday (February 27). The 30-minute multimedia presentation featured an unreleased song performed by Cocker, ‘A Sunset’, co-written by Richard Hawley and previously aired by the duo at The Leadmill in their native Sheffield in 2022.

Speaking to NME, Cocker suggested the track could at some point be officially released , and confirmed Pulp’s touring plans will extend into 2025.

Discussing the origins of ‘Biophobia’, Cocker explained that he’d been approached by iconic artist and producer Brian Eno about collaborating with Eno’s Earth/Percent project – an organisation set up to help the music community support the most impactful organisations addressing the climate emergency.

“I panicked and said ‘I’ll do a PowerPoint presentation’,” recalled Cocker. “It was the first thing that came into my head.”

He continued: “I was trying to think about what I could do. Brian has got a lot of knowledge about the situation [the climate crisis], and I certainly haven’t got anything like that. I knew I couldn’t do something that was trying to be on that level – so I went back to some of the things I’ve done.”

Pulp
Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley of Pulp performing live together. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images.

Cocker worked on the project during Pulp’s reunion tour last year, and performed ‘Biophobia’ for the first time in January 2024. Earlier this month he delivered it at Manchester’s The Fête of Britain festival.

The entertaining talk explores Cocker’s personal journey to cure his “fear of nature” [biophobia]. It features photographs, movie clips, poetry, a live performance and plenty of Cocker’s trademark comic one-liners.

“Having been born in a city [Sheffield], I used to be quite scared of nature in a way,” said Cocker, speaking backstage at GEI. “Not scared like shitting meself scared, but just not sure what to do. I’ve tried to deal with it.

“In this talk I’m trying to look at what’s happened to me as a person. People know there’s a climate emergency, but a lot of people aren’t connected to nature. We are natural beings, and it’s just that we’ve become divorced from that concept.”

Asked how he hopes people will feel having seen the project, Cocker said: “I hope people will recognise something of their own experience in it.

“I guess ‘Biophobia’ is about trying to live in harmony with nature, not trying to see it as a fight. Like, ‘What can I get out of it? What can I extract from it?’ Not seeing nature as an enemy, but as something that’s given birth to you – it’s just a better way to live your life.”

Cocker continued: “Once you feel connected to nature, then you’re going to do stuff to preserve it because you realise you wouldn’t last anytime without it.”

He said compiling the project made him reflect on the influence of nature on his creativity and its influence on the band.

“In the aftermath of Pulp’s record ‘This Is Hardcore’ [1998], which was a really dark period of my life, we made a record called ‘We Love Life’ [2001]. The starting point for that was, strangely enough, a blackbird who built a nest below my windowsill. To see natural processes at work inspired me.”

 

As Cocker’s ‘Biophobia’ presentation built to a close, he performed ‘A Sunset’-  co-written by fellow Yorkshireman Richard Hawley and inspired by an artist who sold tickets to watch the sunset in a range of North American cities.

“A lot of people have said they’ve been quite touched by it,” Cocker told NME. “I didn’t expect that. Today will be the third time that I’ve done it in front of any audience. Obviously there’s a song in it, so maybe that will get released.

“Richard gave me a recording of him playing the chords quite a while ago. I wrote some words for it.”

On the prospect of more ‘Biophobia’ performances, Cocker confirmed: “It’s not like I’m retiring to become a public speaker and trot it out at the end of big meals! But if people think it can help in some way I’ll do it. I’m not gonna do it in the middle of a Pulp show!”

Jarvis Cocker took to the stage at the Greener Futures event to conclude a day of talks about the music community’s response to the climate emergency. The audience also heard a keynote conversation with Brian Eno, and contributions from artists including Louis VI, Mystery Jets’ Blaine Harrison, Savages‘ Fay Milton and Sam Lee.

Cocker’s appearance marks a busy start to 2024 for the Pulp singer. The band brought in the new year by headlining Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations. They’ve already confirmed a number of summer European festival appearances, including slots at Spain’s Primavera Sound, Sweden’s Way Out West, Øya in Norway and Finland’s Flow.

“We are playing some more [shows] this year and we will play some more next year,” Cocker told NME. “So it’s good for me to make some connections to make our touring a greener concern.”

Last year saw Pulp debut new song ‘Background Noise‘ at a show in Mexico. Speaking to NME about what’s next for Pulp, the band’s drummer Nick Banks recently hinted that more was on the way from the band.

Cocker is among a growing group of artists involved in climate action – with musicians ranging from Billie Eilish to Coldplay. The BRITs also recently announced a set of ambitious commitments around sustainability.

Music Declares Emergency’s Fay Milton recently spoke to NME about the music climate charity’s partnership with the awards ceremony, which takes place tonight (Saturday March 2). MDE’s No Music On A Dead Planet campaign has been backed by the likes of Billie Eilish, The 1975, and Foals as well as having shirts designed by Thom Yorke, Joy Division artist Peter Saville and others.

Since it was launched in 2019, hundreds bands and musicians have now signed up to Music Declares Emergency’s pledge to revitalise how the music industry tackles climate disaster, from Radiohead to RobynThe xxMassive Attack and many more.


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