The 1975 sat down with The Untitled Magazine for an exclusive interview for The Music Issue 6. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, know that their sound is a mash-up of anything from alt rock to ’90s R&B, and their lyrics integrate their fascination with sex, love, drugs, hope, death, fear, and most of all, independence. “Music is at it’s best when it provides an idealistic, antiquated soundtrack to your memories. Or even a soundtrack to the present,” says The 1975 frontman Matthew Healy, on music.
With their growing success and continuous shows around the world, we are proud to say that we have been fans of the band since the beginning stages of their career. With an exciting world tour that kicks off on July 30th, 2014, in Sydney, Australia, The 1975 will be traveling through Europe and the U.S. until December 2014. Be sure to catch one of the UK’s biggest pop bands in a city near you.
Read our full Q&A with Matthew Healey of The 1975 below and be sure to purchase a copy of The Music Issue 6 in either print or digital format!
Indira Cesarine: How did you get started with music?
The 1975 (Matthew Healey): Well we all grew up surrounded by music. Especially me, all my parents mates were in bands or actors. We met at school. We kinda started out of boredom I guess. I hadn’t quite secured my social identity by that time, I was still really flirting with the boundaries between ‘scally’ and ‘mosher’ – I’ve never been 100% sure on where lay my allegiances. Anyway, Hann come up to me, probably about 15, and said ‘Do you wanna like……play drums in my band?’ I thought ‘Yeah go on then that’ll be a laugh’. The original line up of the band was Me (on drums), Hann and Ross on guitar and bass (as they are to this day) Our mate Owen on another guitar and Elliot was the singer. We were shit. I actually remember playing a song in rehearsal and Elliot just looked at me and said ‘I reckon we are shit’. So we thought let’s get a drummer, so I could be the singer – Elliot left understandably. We found George in the corridors of the music bit at school. He was dead weird, but I thought he was jokes. We’ve never left each others sides since really.
IC: How did you come up with your band name?
1975: You want the whole story? Basically, when I was about 19, I went on holiday to the northern part of Majorca. I was in a huge group of friends and family, so I hadn’t gone out there to ‘find myself’ or anything like that. It was just a holiday. I went on loads of long walks, which for me is very out of character – but places like that are so removed from my day to day surroundings, it seemed that i wanted to be ‘inspired’ by them in loads of different ways all at once. Anyway, it was on one of these walks that I came across a house – it was a beautiful spanish villa that had, what seemed to be, all of it’s furniture outside. Just to make this story more of an idealistic cliche – a gramophone poised at the front window smoothly crooned Bob Dylans ‘Corrina, Corrina’ as I (by this point) stumbled into view. On a deckchair, in the porch, sat this artist. We sparked up a conversation and I ended up staying there all day. He showed me around his house – it was like some kind of 60’s bizarre, an authentic vintage haberdashery. Original Beatles records, signed Elvis shit, incredible paintings he had done of. At this point I thought ‘Well, this guy is pretty fucking cool’. After I’d fallen in love with him, he showed me his library that was rammed full of priced books. Turns out over the years his library had been the place you went to acquire a good read. It was here that he gave me all of that beat generation literature I’ve mentioned before. I left him with the loving intention of returning to see him when I was successful (something I still intend on doing). I didn’t start reading any of it until probably about 6 months later. But when I did eventually read it, I found this mental page of scribblings. It wasn’t really disturbing or dark, I think because it was so SO mad I couldn’t quite make out whether it was suicidal or totally life affirming. The important thing, and really the only thing, that stuck with me was that the page was dated 1st June The 1975.
IC: How long have you been performing together?
1975: Since we were 13. So, 9 years.
IC: What was your breakthrough moment?
1975: Well we’ve been together for a long time, making music in different ways, so it would be difficult to pick one defining moment so far. I think when our song ‘The City’ was first played by Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens – that was quite a big moment for us. You gotta remember that that was the first piece of music we had ever put out. We had never released anything until our debut Facedown EP. I think that validation and the immediate response that followed (which was at times overwhelming) catalysed a real progression in our understanding of ourselves as a band and as individuals.
IC: Do you have a favorite band or musician?
1975: I couldn’t possibly list everybody I admire musically! Michael Jackson, The Streets, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, D’Angelo, Peter Gabriel, Sigur ros, TLC, Phoenix, Daft Punk, Mariah, Whitney, My bloody Valentine – loads of ’em.
IC: Which musical genre was most influential to you growing up?
1975: I would have to say 80’s pop and 90’s R&B. That goes along with a lot of Mowtown and Soul like Wilson Pickett and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Music has been my only real passion since I was very small. It’s the only thing that’s ever excited me in such a particular way.
IC: What is the music scene like in Manchester these days?
1975: It’s ok. It’s not all that relevant to us. We met at school around Manchester – but I was born in London and George in Brussels etc. so our personal affiliation with Manchester and our understanding of it’s tribalist attitude towards music came quite late on. I grew up on R&B and Soul for example, as opposed to New Order. But as a city, it is the setting to all of our music in my head. It was the girls and endless gigs and general vibe of the place that bled into our music.
IC: If you could be any other band who would it be?
1975: We would hate to be any other band.
IC: If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
1975: If I wasn’t a musician I would simply be a nuisance, getting in peoples way – stumbling about trying to find my way like a lost dog. The idea of not having music at the epicentre of my life is genuinely quite a scary thought. I’d be fucked I reckon.
IC: What was the most difficult performance in your career & how did you handle it?
1975: We played a show a couple of years ago that we knew every record label in the kingdom was coming down to. It was in London, which can be tough enough as it is. Anyway we were really shit and I think it was because we were almost pandering to what we thought these labels wanted from us. It was shortly after that show that we realised that the whole major label world wasn’t for us – we just decided to do exactly what we wanted and if people were in to it then that would be awesome. We decided we did not need to look outside of what we do creatively to validate ourselves.
IC: Are you a romantic or a rebel?
1975: Bit of both I suppose. I’m very much a romantic. This album is incredibly romantic, in lots of different ways.
IC: Do you have a favorite designer?
1975: That’s a tough question. I love Chanel as I imagine anybody with a remote interest in fashion does. I grew up with a strange curiosity towards women’s clothes – not to wear myself, just to admire on girls ‘n that. I love what Tom Ford did at Gucci and YSL, that’s the time as a kid that I started to really notice high fashion and be interested in it. To be honest I never really wear that much designer clothing. The majority of my wardrobe is just a vintage pile in different cities and vans. I’ve got the odd Givenchy t-shirt etc, actually Alexander Wang has the best t shirts.
IC: What is it about music that you love?
1975: Music is at it’s best when it provides an idealistic, antiquated soundtrack to your memories. Or even a soundtrack to the present. It’s the way that music can totally heighten an experience that you have; or that you share with another person or loads people. I love that.
IC: What is your favorite song you have ever produced?
1975: We are very proud of all of the material we have released; that’s kind of the process of qualification necessary in order for any of our songs to make it onto our records. I have loads of favourites for different reasons. The last song on Music For Cars is called ‘me’; that holds quite a lot of value to me personally at the moment. Next week it will be a different one.