When asked if he has ever been to Amazon, Joe responded: “Not yet, but I’m about to. We’ve played in Brazil several times and I have a friend in New York that is an artist, activist… She’s a writer and an artist that performs in the street and is available to challenge people’s thoughts and political concepts.
“She’s an anarchist and she helped me. With her guidance and other people too that I connected with… amazing people, and they allowed me to connect with some indigenous leaders of the Amazon forest. Several tribes, several communities and one of them being the Guarani Kaiowá. They used to be two separate tribes, but there are so many attacks and they’re harassed.
“The Brazilian government is doing everything they can to steal their land right now and it’s been happening for a long time,” he continued.
“There was sort of a break for the Amazon forest and its inhabitants for about 10 years between 2005-2017.
“The deforestation slowed down because there were so many efforts from the international community and artists and actors and activists were working so hard to raise awareness.
“It became a thing in Brazil where they went, ‘We can’t do whatever we want with the Amazon forest. People are watching, people care.’
“There was a branch of the government called FUNAI that is supposed to manage the forest and protect it and do whatever it takes for the indigenous to survive.
“Unfortunately, Bolsonaro was elected and there was an uprise of the right-wing and now this dude has been in charge for a few years and he brought back the deforestation times 10.
“The little break that the Amazon forest got for 10 years was not even a break by the way, but it was a little better and there was hope on the horizon. We’re talking about the Amazon forest, my friend! It’s not like a little park down the street.
“It’s the last gigantic, old forest which took millions and millions of years to perfect. This incredible ecosystem that we’re destroying. Why are we doing this? To produce more meat, to produce soybeans, to feed the cattle, and to produce gold.
“There’s a big gold rush… I know it sounds incredible and it sounds like it happened 200 years ago. ‘What? There’s still gold to be found?’ Well, guess what, there is and it’s a curse for the Amazon forest.
“When we wrote the song we felt strongly about the horrible fires that were set in the Amazon forest two years ago. I don’t know if you remember, but there was, like, 80,000 fires at the same time and guess what!
“Even though the news were trying to take it easy and say, ‘Half of it is normal, half of it is criminal.’ No, it’s 99% criminal. The Amazon forest is under attack and mainly by the government of Brazil who wants to take the opportunity. “There are trillions of dollars to be made from the land of the Amazon. I talk to a lot of activists, politicians, and scientists, just like Sting did in the ’90s if you remember?”
“It’s not original what I’m trying to do here with the guys, but it doesn’t need to be original, it needs to be done. We need to care about this forest. Personally, I don’t want to live on a planet with no Amazon forest. 10% of all species on Earth, plants, and animals, are in the Amazon forest. There’s a conservation endeavor that I feel I need to be part of because I live for that. I feel I’m more of an activist in my soul, in my spirit, in my bones – than a musician.
“I feel more in my place like… tied to a tree… I don’t know. I didn’t even try that, but maybe I should try. Anyway, there’s a contact with the Amazon tribes and there are beautiful projects to empower the people, to educate people on how to defend themselves. I feel like I didn’t really explain what happens to the indigenous right now, but they are being killed, shot. One of the tribes that I’m following and talking to is Guarani Kaiowá.
“It’s a small community in the south of Brazil and they’re still considered an Amazonian tribe and last year, in one of their communities, there was eight hit-and-runs,” Joe added. “Eight people died getting hit by cars and one of them was a four-year-old boy. They are under tremendous attack and Bolsonaro is asking all the farmers, the big corporations, to go in there with tractors, dragging fire and to set their land ablaze so they will have to move and they can get the land and grow crops and put cattle on it.
“They have absolutely no regard for these special, precious frogs, snakes, and trees that live there. The indigenous people are also the only ones that can properly plant trees. They know what tree needs to be planted when in the year and with what tree next to it.
“Usually it’s a set of three or four seeds that need to be planted together. You plant a tree that is going to bring oxygen, one to bring nutrition to other trees, and one tree which will repel bugs otherwise they’re hot going to make it.
“All the programs you see on TV like, ‘Plant a tree in the Amazon!’, it’s bullsh*t most of the time because people won’t know how to do it. They just throw seeds from a helicopter and then it starts to grow and they take a picture like, ‘Yeah, look!’ No, no, no, no… if you’re not an indigenous person you can’t do it properly, so we have to help them. We are going to start an operation to send money to people that know what they’re doing over there. That’s my speech about Amazon. We can go to the next question now. [Laughs]”
Asked if he is a fan of Greta Thunberg, Joe said: “No, I’m not a fan, but… uhm, why not. Sure, why not. There you go.”
“You know, she embodies a lot of things that I’m promoting big time. She’s the living proof that with your two little hands and your two little legs, you can go somewhere every day and raise a sign and end up on the cover of Time magazine and make a difference. I mean, I appreciate her very much, very much and I feel the fact that she has no filters and just plays on all these emotions. Of course, people like to talk sh*t about her every time somebody’s trying to do something, everybody’s sh*tting all over them and it’s so sad.”