The 1975 are a band who come at a time when pop is a half-hearted dwindling force. Singer Matt Healy however has meticulously planned their arrival, which promises to deliver a sonic pop explosion by way of their debut album, scheduled to land this September.
We picked up the phone to discuss The 1975’s breakthrough year and release that’s got everyone talking… warning may contain the odd siren.
Hi there Matt, how’re you doing?
Hey mate, yeah good thanks!
So, ‘breakthrough’ is probably the easiest way to describe your year so far, has having so much success before releasing your debut album been a little overwhelming?
Um, I suppose it has been but basically the process has really just proven me right in my theory. In 2011 when our band was under a different name and we were wining and dining with all the big record labels, I came out the other-side very happy with how everything was working. The whole idea of the way we marketed the band, well not marketed because that sounds quite contrived, but the way we put EP’s out and the reason we did that, we controlled people’s perception of the band. So as much as it was overwhelming, I was just being really confident in my attitude and every release we put out has had a very positive reaction which is very humbling.
So it sounds like you were just biding your time for it all to kick off?
Oh that was completely it, without sounding arrogant, cliched or pretentious, we’ve never really worried about the band not working, we’ve always had the attitude of waiting for the world to catch up with us.
One huge moment was The 1975’s appearance at Glastonbury Festival, what are your memories from that?
Well there was a massive build up to it and it wasn’t the kind of moment you could take in at the time because at the end of the day you’ve got a job to do. I wasn’t like oh fucking hell, look at us smashing Glastonbury, I was focussed on the set.
Going back to your first question, when a band begins to break things end up very retrospective. You don’t have a lot of time to take in the big moments because they’re gone in a flash. I probably think about Glastonbury a lot more now than I did on the day. When you’ve gone to Glastonbury as a punter you expect it all to be fun and then pop on the stage for a set. It’s not like that at all, we didn’t get to see much of the Festival.
But it was an amazing experience and the photos are incredible. I look at them and think, fucking hell were there really so many people there! Between thirty and forty-thousand people.
So lets talk about the album, I’m taking there’s no pre-release nerves?
Well it’s not really nerves, there’s a few things I’d like it to achieve on an artists level – but I suppose there’s not been a lot of hype about our band, just exposure. People have been exposed to material which has spoken for itself, we’ve had a reaction to the EP’s, so we don’t have anything to worry about because if they like the EP’s they’ll like the album. It’s not like we were championed by the NME, that would have been a nightmare.
So from your point of view, what lyrically drives the record?
It’s mainly romanticism, it’s a fantastic approach to reality. It tries to embrace the idea that everyone has a really clouded view of their past. Nobody see’s their history like a clinical photo in a brochure, it’s more of a faded polaroid because you fill in all of the elements with niceness. This album is basically a romanticised version of our teenage years. It’s very self-depricating, it’s very romantic, it’s very self-aware, it’s very self-assured. There’s a lot in there lyrically.
My lyrics were written before anybody knew who I was, this whole thing of honesty will out and the fact that I’m prided on my honesty, this is because I wrote them before people were hearing them. So when you’re writing lyrics that people aren’t hearing you’re not getting an emotional response. This means that you’re not faced with the question ‘am I being too honest’. It can be a genuine expression.
So if it’s a portrait of your teenage years, it must be quite an intimate album?
Yeah, it’s an intimate message in a sonic explosion. I always say I want it to sound like ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ by Whitney Houston but convey the conviction and message of ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen. That’s what I love, when music makes you want to live but the lyrics make you question something. The other day someone posted on our twitter saying, I want your music played at my wedding and funeral. That’s what we want. That’s how we want people to remember our band. A celebration of life, not just in it’s most positive and its most warming, but in its saddest and most self-aware.
In the past you’ve cited influences from Talking Heads through to Prince, would you say this rubs off on your material?
Yeah very much so, the albums produced by these musicians had a great influence upon us. Like Phil Collins on Face Value or Michael Jackson on Bad, Peter Gabriel on So or Carole King on Tapestry, we wanted to make a record that was our defining statement and it’s a funny coincidence that they’re all from the 80’s, but the pop culture of that era does rub off on us.
Does filmography also inspire The 1975?
Yeah, one of the most important things is that I fell in love with music through film at a very very young age. At five or six I realised that it’s a quite poignant thing the fact that music has the power to command how you feel in terms of literature. Literature I suppose is more suggestive, but music bleeds into your sub-concience and commands how you feel emotionally and I’ve always been fascinated by that.
The only taboo in the music industry is that artists don’t like the idea of having to think, they like the idea of… (Background sirens obscure) sorry that’s the police, shut the fuck up! Well people don’t like the idea that you have to learn how to write a song, they like the idea of genius, they don’t like the fact that Jeff Buckley had to think to create his masterpieces. Like you, if your job is to sit at a typewriter, it doesn’t mean you’re a creative writer, but if you are a creative writer that skill will help with what you want to do.
So to answer the question about cinema, there’s a lot of skills needed to get an emotional response, be it film or music.
So you all started playing together from a very young age, do you remember the first time you all got into a room to rehearse?
Yeah, it was very early on when we were about thirteen in the music corridor at school. We became friends very quickly and realised music was what we wanted to do. There was these youth shows going on in town and we wanted to play there because it was what everyone was doing at the time.
Has the long history of the band aided your creative style then?
Yeah I think that we’re defined by how long we’ve been together. That’s why we’re a good live band because we’ve grown and evolved together. We’ve gone through a process and come out of the other end feeling very self-assured and ready.
Fantastic, so you’ve obviously got bucket loads lined up in the near future, but you’re set to stop off at Bristol Academy, what are your memories from your gig at The Exchange?
The Exchange was brilliant, but the show before that was somewhere else and we supported All The Young, I drank an entire bottle of rum on-stage and was absolutely hammered… so that was my memory from our last visit to Bristol, getting smashed.
Thanks for your time Matt, look forward to catching your gig at The Academy on the 26th, best of luck with the album launch.
This interview was carried out on behalf of The Basis Magazine.