When you admire a band, it’s always a beautiful thing to see them gain success. We’ve been following The 1975 since their first release, so speaking with the band was unbelievable! With four EPs, four infectious singles, and a new album, it’s easy to understand all of the hype behind this group. Recently releasing their intoxicating debut record The 1975, I was delighted to talk with The 1975’s vocalist and songwriter Matthew Healy over the phone. Check out our conversation below where we talk about the band’s image, success, favourite lyrics, and their North American tour!
AMBY: What’s the band been up to lately?
The 1975: Well, I’m in Tokyo at the moment. So we’ve just been on tour since December really, and I haven’t really had a proper day off since December. So there’s been a dramatic acceleration in our popularity recently, so that’s kind of manifested itself into us being on tour all of the time. But it’s really good, it’s really good.
AMBY: For sure, congratulations on all of the success. I mean, I’m always hearing someone talking about the band.
The 1975: Is that true? Is that right?
AMBY: Yes, definitely. Especially being the blog owner, I’ve been told multiple times by our readers how they love the band.
The 1975: Wow, that’s very cool. Cheers.
AMBY: Of course. So there you were talking about touring, and we know that the band are embarking on a North American tour this fall, and we can’t wait to have you in Toronto so—
The 1975: Yea, yea! That’s what I was going to say. Sorry, I was going to interrupt you and say how excited we were. We’ve got a lot of friends in Canada, personal friends, who moved over there and say how cool of a place it is. I think we’re really excited to come over because we’ve done America, the East Coast, and we’ve done California, but we’re really really excited about coming up to Canada.
AMBY: Great. And speaking of shows and touring, what’s the funniest thing to happen to the band at a gig?
The 1975: At a show? There’s plenty of things that happen. It’s always quite an interested thing. We get a lot of numbers thrown on stage from girls and that’s quite jarring and always happens. I’m normally thinking about the show to be honest, instead of being aware of what’s going on around us.
AMBY: Alright. And now onto the best part of an interview— the music. Your self-titled debut record is set for release in September. So how excited are you to get it out into the world?
The 1975: Very much so. It’s been with us for a long time. We wrote that album without really thinking we were writing an album, and we were just making music for ourselves over a certain amount of years. By the time that we got a manager and were signed to a label, we kind of realized that we had a lot of material that we could split up into EPs and a final album. I suppose I’m not nervous about anything, but there’s a lot of anticipation about how people are going to react to it. It’s such a massive stylistic clarity on the record, but I think that with our EPs we’ve kind of done what we intended to do; make an unexpected album of what our record would sound like. That’s kind of become a big theme, and I feel that if we had just released the album, people wouldn’t have embraced that so much. Because it is a lot to take in if you haven’t heard of our band since it spans so many genres.
AMBY: For sure, and I know that a few songs off the EPs will actually be featured on the album.
The 1975: That’s right.
AMBY: And some of the songs have some unbelievable lyrics! So I just wanted to ask you, which The 1975 lyric is your favourite?
The 1975: Which lyric?
The 1975: Oh that’s hard. I’d really hate to say. I mean, it spans so much because it really is an extension of my identity. I suppose there’s certain songs that connect with me more than others. On the album, for example, the last song Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You, that’s probably one of the more saddening songs for me that I’ve ever written because it’s about me leaving my family essentially—me leaving home—and making sure that there was somebody there to watch my little brother. It’s songs like that, and songs like Me that put things into perspective. I suppose every other day I’d probably have a different lyric depending on what mood I’m in. And you can probably see that by our music because it goes from really upbeat guitar-pop to somber and almost R&B. Do you know what I mean?
The 1975: Yea, so I think that the songs I find most reflective are songs like Me. I think me is one of my favourite songs we’ve ever written.
AMBY: I can understand, some other artists have told me that it’s like picking your favourite children. So I completely understand your answer.
The 1975: That’s a good analogy! I wish I had thought of that.
AMBY: [laughs] The band recently did an acoustic version of one of your songs, Sex. Can fans expect any other upcoming covers or acoustic sets.
The 1975: Probably. I mean, I don’t really know because that came about since… Well, once we partnered with a major label —which we kept full creative control of by the way because we didn’t want to have anything compromised— but I think that they wanted us to release Sex as a single, which we had no problem with. The only thing that we wanted to do was make sure that we never actually just released a single. I don’t know, I just think that it’s quite uninspiring to be honest. For me, anyways. So the reason we did that acoustic version of Sex is so when we did release it as a proper single, there was also other material for people to get alongside it. I’m sure there will be different versions of songs, but I suppose it’s those creative things make themselves. I don’t want to say yes or no because there’s not one I’m particularity thinking of at the moment, but I do know that the week of the album we will be doing a cover for Radio 1.
The 1975: Which a lot of people do. So there will be another cover coming soon, but I’m not sure what it will be.
AMBY: Alright. Now we’ve noticed a little pattern with the band: the clothes are black and white, the photos are in black and white, and a majority of the artwork is in black and white. So how important is image to a band like The 1975?
The 1975: It’s very important. I think it’s very important just to impose a certain identity. We’re fans of fashion and art and that’s all very relevant and important to us. In regards to our image, we were just very aware that everything that we did comes from such a personal perspective. For example, all of this music that people are hearing was music written by us for us. We’re very aware that our music is quite poppy, and life-affirming as a lot of it is very major and feel-good. I think we just wanted to oppose the music with an aesthetic that was maybe a bit more dower. Especially a bit more detached from reality. I think that’s where a lot of the black and white comes from. We find a lot of solids in that and in the fact that when everything is in black and white, there is a certain detachment from reality and it’s not quite real, and you’re not as exposed. I know human beings like being judged, and so I think it partially comes from that. And it partially comes from the fact of noir and how it’s quite cool.
AMBY: Definitely. It’s very cohesive, too. If you go onto any of your pages, everything looks like it belongs.
The 1975: Very much so. I think that since everything from the artwork, to the music, to the way we dress, to the way we talk and think about things, it all comes from a very controlled perspective. I think that it provides a lot of coherency and it makes things quite personal. That’s something that a lot of labels aren’t good at because there’s not a lot of investment in humanity, or honesty. It’s all about accessibility and being about selling stuff. And that’s not relevant to us, we just want to express ourselves in the way we see ourselves. So I think that it all kind of stems from that.
AMBY: Well, thanks for answering that because that’s one we’ve been curious about for quite some time.
The 1975: Okay, cool.
AMBY: And before we were speaking about the band and your music. But we’re also curious about who you’ve been listening to lately. So which artists have you been into this summer?
The 1975: Well we’re massive fans of Disclosure like the rest of the fucking world! They just seem to be going absolutely massive. We heard them quite early on and being from the UK and being fans, and being involved in the electronic music scene, we’re big fans of them. I think the turning point for us was with The Weeknd and when that movement started because you could see a real synergy between hip-pop and pop music, and pop music and fashion, and fashion and hip-hop, and the internet and hip-hop, and the internet and fashion. And it all became a lot more of—I think it’s because we started to realize that we didn’t have to do anything that we didn’t want to. We didn’t have to worry about what style or what the music sounded like, because nowadays it’s almost more expected of people of our generation to be into… You know what I mean? The idea of genre and the idea of that kind of dying to be honest with you. Like most of our generation, it’s the fact that there’s a big stylistic clarity in our music. And I think that that’s just a representation of who we are. So when stuff like that came out, the modern hip-hop, we kind of embraced that as a white rock band and invested in a lot of that. So that was a big turning point for us.
But the stuff I’m listening to at the moment… I don’t know what we’ve been listening to at the moment. We listen to a lot of… We’re so obsessed with artists like Alexander O’Neal, and all of those kind of 90’s and late 80’s artists like Bobby Brown and stuff like that. We love that side of black American pop music from that time. So we’ve been listening to a lot of that. Fleetwood Mac have made a big return recently.
AMBY: Love Fleetwood Mac.
The 1975: Yea, everyone loves Fleetwood Mac. You can’t not [laughs]. So we listen to a lot of that, and also classic music rather than relevant music. As we’ve come more evolved as a band and become more intricate, we’ve just been listening to a lot of our own music recently to kind of understand what we’re doing and who we are.
AMBY: Fantastic. So for our very last question, what’s something about the band that nobody knows yet?
The 1975: This is the thing… One of the things that we don’t really talk about that much is the intricacy of the way we write music. I think that it’s because that’s one of the only things we’ve got left. It’s just us four making music for ourselves. Again, I’ve been quoted a lot of times saying “it’s just a pursuit of excellence amongst four individuals.” And I think that’s because it’s the only thing we got left. Do you know what I mean? Everybody knows so much about us, about our identity and the way we think about things and talk about things. And the only thing we’ve got left is the way that we write music. And hopefully the one thing that nobody will ever know is exactly how we do that. Because I think people assume that it’s a natural thing, and it is a natural thing in the way we write music, but it comes from a lot of trial and error and knowledge of music. We’re not just naturally talented at music; I think that we’ve worked really really hard to understand how to do what we do. And I think that the only taboo that’s left in the music industry is, for example, people who work in the industry really don’t like the idea that something creative isn’t divinely decreed. They don’t like the idea that you can actually learn how to do something that is creative. And they only like the idea of Jeff Buckley, “Oh, Jeff Buckley was a genius!” Yea, we know he was. I think that in order to be an easy carpenter, you need to understand your tools. Know what I mean?
AMBY: Yes, exactly.
The 1975: For example, if you sat at a computer every day for a job, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you would be a good creative writer, but it would certainly help if you were because it provides you with a skill. And there is a lot of natural elements to what we do, but we’ve also worked fucking hard and we’ve got it wrong loads of times in order to be the band that we are. I think that it’s just defined by how long we’ve been together. We’ve been together for ten years, and weren’t really any good until last year. We weren’t as good as people think we were, anyway. So the one thing that I think people will never know is exactly how we write our music.
Thank you The 1975, for giving us your answers! Watch our newest interview with The 1975 below:
Interview by Alicia Atout