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.

What qualities do you think makes a woman sexy?
  • Matty:Being forward. Asking questions like that. It's confidence, isn't it? Whatever type of person you are, if you see that in somebody else, that's very attractive, isn't it? The idea of narcissism, of mirroring oneself. So I like it.
  • George:You like girls that remind you of you?
  • Matty:Yeah, a little bit! (laughs) We like a challenge. I like girls who don't know who I am. That's my favorite kind of girl, because it goes back to normal. Because now, everywhere we go, we go somewhere because of the band. We don't have days off. So every girl you meet knows who you are because of the band. I think it's sexy when girls aren't really interested. It's the chase, isn't it? It's what everybody likes.
  • Adam:The thing I really like about the girl I'm seeing at the moment is you can have a conversation [with her]. She has interesting things to say.
  • Matty:God, this is all we ever hear. He's so in love with this girl. She's really cool though.
  • Adam:She's very intelligent. She's like one of the cleverest people you'll ever know.
  • George:I like massive curly hair.
  • Matty:We like blonde afros. That seems to be a thing. But that's a very physical kind of thing. We're trying to be a bit more romantic, but a blonde afro will do.
  • George:I'd like to meet a girl who cares about politics, but I've never met one.
  • Matty:You've never met one? [You're] hanging around the wrong circles, hanging out with us lot. Where are we going to meet girls that like politics?
  • George:Humanist girls.
  • Matty:Yeah, yeah, a proper humanitarian. But they're not gonna go for a drummer in a band. They're gonna go for some dude who works for Greenpeace who lives in Brighton.

The 1975: Interview

The 1975: Interview | The Student Pocket Guide
by Nathan Wadlow

10 years since they met in a classroom in Wilmslow, The 1975 are currently riding the success of their newly released self-titled debut album. With the likes of summer anthem ‘Chocolate’ and recent single ‘Sex’, their infectious and powerful pop sound has set them on course to stardom in 2013, firmly placing them amongst the hottest talents to emerge this year. We caught up with frontman Matthew Healy to hear all about it…

Hi Matt, how are you? Yeah I’m good thanks, you?
Very well thanks!

Where in the world are you now?
I’m sitting on a rock in Newquay at the moment looking over a beach.

Gearing up for Boardmasters Festival?
Yeah, that’s right. They’ve been doing a gig each night here in the lead up to it, where bands play on the beach. We’re doing it tonight which should be wicked!

Sweet! We’re a national student magazine, and want to know what The 1975 were like as students back in the day…
Well, I didn’t actually do the university thing. Me and George left college and went to work in a call centre whilst living with some Chinese people! Adam studied Biochemistry at Manchester University, so he was a pretty good student. Ross did Music Technology at Salford but dropped out because he wanted to be in the band. Overall, we were alright students but all we ever wanted was to do this.

Do you think it’s quite rare these days that such a close group of mates, such as yourselves, make it in the music industry like you have?
Very much so. I think the cool thing about it is that we’re all quite young as well; we’re not a band who have been together for ten years and are still trying to make it. The most important thing is that we haven’t really done it for anybody else apart from ourselves. It’s like anything you do when you are 13, you do it for fun, and we’ve carried that through until now. It’s very special for us to be doing this.

Do you think the honesty of it being for yourselves is reflected in your debut album?
Very much so man, that’s a nice thing to say. It spans so long and is the soundtrack to our childhood years, plus none of it was written to an agenda or as a compromise to anything like time, or fear of future material. It was purely about making music because that’s what we do. The album is just an extension of who we are.

You guys produced all of your previous EPs, so what was it like having external influences on the recording process of your album [Mike Crossey - Arctic Monkeys, Foals]?
Yeah, I mean, we were set on producing the album ourselves, due to like you say having done the EPs before, but it was different. We were in a studio for a start and it was over a certain period of time, all those kind of things; we’d never worked like that before. All of the time we had was for working on production which was amazing.

Have you seen the top YouTube comment on the video for your new single, ‘Sex’?
No, what is it?!

“How did these geniuses get boobs on YouTube?!”
Haha! I don’t know, how did we do it?! It’s not explicit though, I didn’t think so anyway. Did you?

No I didn’t think so. Maybe a little cheeky! Did you have much of an input with the video?
A guy called Adam Powell directed the video but the idea for it came from original treatment that I wrote. But it was very different, it wasn’t set in America, for example. When we found out how much love we had for cinema, like old skate movies and that kind of thing, we wanted to create an international portrayal of the song.

You guys recently performed live on Conan over in the States. Was that a moment of clarity for you guys in regard to how far you’ve come?
I think it was. All of those moments are like that; they kind of benchmark things, but you have to be retrospective because everything builds up to those points. When it happens though, you’re not thinking about taking it in, you’re thinking, “I’ve got a job to do here, I need to do this right!” The Conan Show was great, but it was a very nerve-wracking experience. I was very scared!

As you spend so much time together on the road, do any of you guys have annoying habits that wind each other up?
Ah we have loads! One of mine is when I’m on the phone, I can’t stand still. Honestly mate, in the time we’ve had this conversation I’ve probably walked about a mile! George and I smoke a fair bit which probably annoys the other two but we all understand that if it wasn’t for each other we’d be nothing, so we just get on.

Looking at your tour schedule for September, October and November, you will have certainly earned your time off in December!

Yeah man, we will have done over 300 gigs this year! It’s been totally crazy and we do deserve the time off but this is what we’ve always wanted, you know? We’re not going to sit around and complain about it, although some stuff is hard. My girlfriend broke up with me this morning because I’m just not there anymore. That’s the stuff that is hard, but I want to make a life for myself. Sorry to hear man. Nah it’s alright!

If The 1975 were to host an exclusive dinner party, and could invite anyone alive or deceased, who would you ask?
Ah, cool question! [Shouts at George] George who would you invite to a dinner party?… Michael Jackson, Brian Eno, Stephen Fry, Derren Brown, Richard Dawkins, Karl Pilkington… I’d probably get Christ down as well!

We Sat Down For a Chat With The 1975

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Upon arriving in the green room, we were greeted by an array of people perched upon different surfaces, with Matty chilling on a sofa with a cup of liquorice & peppermint tea in hand. Introducing himself and several others around him, he proceeded to take us to a more secluded and silent area. This happened to be at the top of a staircase, right next to the fire exit. Fantastic.

The 1975 is quite an odd choice for a name. How did that come about?

It was from a book that I acquired from somebody. I think it was ‘On The Road’ by Jack Kerouac. I got it from this artist when I was on holiday and it had obviously had a previous owner because it had been treated like a diary with scribbling all over the place; a bit suicidal, a bit mad. Some of the notes were dated ‘1st June The 1975’. I thought it was quite odd. [The author] was an intelligent person [and] it felt a bit like a demise into madness. It sounds like such an idealistic way for how we got our name but the relevance of it didn’t really become apparent until we named the band that. It wasn’t like ‘I’m gonna name a band after that’, it was just something that played on my mind for a while. It was haunting. I think part of this band has been this massive evolution, kind of a journey of self discovery, so it’s quite an apt name.

You’ve had quite a few other projects in the past before you became The 1975, what is it that has made you decide upon this set-up?

We never released music before this because we essentially weren’t ready. I think maybe when we were 17 – 18 we didn’t have the ability to release music properly, which was a blessing in disguise. You see a lot of bands who put out music when they were kids and it comes back to haunt them. You’ll find an article on your really lame emo band and that’s your credibilty gone. We were ready when changed our name to The 1975. It was the first time that we thought we were gonna put a record out to see what people thought.

If someone was to walk into a record store, what would they need to be looking for personally to want to pick up your record?

I don’t really know. One of the things I’ve realised over the past couple of months, because we’ve only existed in the real world in that time, is that we don’t have a musical response. If you don’t release music, you don’t have that. The songs are very specific, so at the moment I’m still trying to learn what people get from them.

Your sound is contradictory in some ways. What is the idea behind that? A lot of bands stick to a specific sound.

I think a lot of people are scared of how people will perceive their band. They will remind you of what they are. One of the reasons we did these EPs is because I want people to fall in love with our band the way you fall in love with a person. The more you know about someone, the more you invest in them and the more rewards you get from the relationship. I think a lack of identity, or the searching within yourself for true understanding of who you want to be, people can relate to that.

New track ‘HNSCC’ from ‘Music For Cars’ is a far cry from what you’ve done before, especially the fact it features no lyrics. What was the idea behind the track?

My Nana who I was close to died of cancer this year and it was around about that time that the guitarist’s mum got diagnosed with cancer and it felt like it was a big impact, the fact that something you have no control over can really mess with the dynamics of people’s lives. It’s actually a live guitar take. I was playing the guitar plugged in the computer and George was putting it through every plugin you can imagine. He recorded it without telling me so I was in the zone. This was 2am on a Saturday night so we were under the influence. I recorded the guitar take and we listened to it back hammered and we were like ‘this is really pretty man, nah let’s get some sleep’. We woke up the next day and we just spent like half an hour putting little moments of vocals and synth and that was that. I think ‘Music for Cars’ is the most honest record in regards to things like that.

We’ve been debating what ‘HNSCC’ stands for, please clear this up for us

It’s the chemical title for head nose and throat cancer.

We were coming up with our own theories. Ours was an anagram for ‘He Never Said Come Closer’ or something

That’s what art is, I want people to make up their own things. People have said to me that they have taken something from the music and asked ‘does this mean that?’ and I said ‘no but it does to you’. I met Mark Knopfler and I said ‘Brothers in Arms’, it’s such an incredible song, is it about war?’ and he looked at me in a really rockstar way and just went ‘if you want it to be’ and I was like ‘yeah, yeah I do’. If it makes you think about something, that’s the reason I [make music]. I want people to feel about our records the same way that I’ve done about other people’s music, whether it’s negative or positive, I just don’t want people to not give a fuck. Six months ago I wouldn’t have minded, but now we’ve started I really want to know what people think.

So new single ‘Chocolate’ is about being under the influence. Just to clear it up, do you say ‘spliff’ or ‘split’?

Call it a ‘split’, like splitting two bags in half. ‘Chocolate’ is a reference for drugs. We come from quite a middle class place, similar to Beaconsfield and Wilmslow, we’re of those places. Those soulless and boring estates, not shit loads of money, not poor, just comfortable; the places you don’t hear about. The places where there’s alot of sitting in your car smoking weed, and a lot of just sitting around in cars, because you’re not old enough to drink and there’s not a lot to do. It’s just about my relationship with drugs, which is better now, and our relationship with the police within our town.  They are equally as bored as we are. They don’t have any criminals to chase so they chase after us; kids smoking weed.

The EPs have seen you talk in-depth about your personal life. Is it difficult having to relive those experiences?

Not really because I still feel like that. I’m not very good at writing retrospectively. The majority of my lyrics are written on the back of fag packets, and then I try not to touch them once I’ve thought of them. What is difficult is thinking ‘do people really give a fuck’ because we work really hard on our music. Now that we’ve had validation of our music and people are starting to know who we are a little bit, I think the hardest thing beforehand is thinking ‘why am I investing so much of myself into this if people aren’t gonna give a shit?’ And now I think at least there’s a handful of people who really will care how I feel about myself, so that makes it easier. But writing music is my only form of expression, so it’s not the question of whether it’s an honest form, it’s my only form.

You’ve been working with Mike Crossey on the album. How’s it coming along?

Yeah it’s nearly finished, I’ve gotta go into the studio tomorrow. We produced all those EPs in my bedroom and Mike came across and told us how much he loved our demos and was totally in love with us. We just really clicked. We met one afternoon in Liverpool and he was very understanding of how unsettling it can be departing from a certain path of thinking. In this instance, a certain path of producing records. He was very tentative in his approach and made us understand that it would be a co-production. So we went into the studio and co-produced the album together. But I think once we got in there, his technical understanding vitalised the creative process so much that we kind of fell in love with each other. We’re like best mates now. It was brilliant. He’s so excited for this album.

Does the album feature a specific narrative structure?

It’s the soundtrack to our formative years. The first track on the album is called ‘The 1975′; that is very much saying this is who we are, this is what we are about, this isn’t what we’re saying about politics, this is us. It’s, as you can imagine, fucking mental. It’s all over the place. When we were in the studio and when we were writing that album, we were inspired by John Hughes and all his movies like Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club, then Peter Gabriel records, Michael Jackson records & DVDs. It was this haberdashery of 80s and 90s pop culture and what we tried to do is make a record with an 80s sound. 80s music has got such a bad reputation, it’s a bit tacky. It’s been so explored in dance music especially and then if you think about Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and Michael Jackson, they made their best records when they were peaking in the 80s. Those records aren’t seen as naff, they’re seen as incredibly forward thinking classic records and that’s what we want to do. Our EPs are quite experimental in parts, some songs are two minutes, and some are six. We wanted an album where every track was a big song. Once we wrote ‘Chocolate ‘ we were like ‘that’s a big song, we need 12 of them’.

Is there anyone specific you’d like to work with on the next album?

Benjamin Francis Leftwich. We hang out together quite a lot so we’ll probably end up making a tune. Or Mike Skinner, I’d like to work with him.

Hayley ‘Surprise Surprise’ Cropper or Gail ‘Staircase’ Platt

Our Bang Tidy question today is a Coronation Street special. Just for you. So, Hayley or Gail?

Julie and Helen; I know them both by their real names. Everyone knows them in Manchester. I’d go for Gail. The other one’s a man in Corrie. It’d be interesting I guess. She’s with Roy isn’t she? Although she doesn’t look like a bloke. She looks really happy in that picture bless her. I’d say Gail. She’s just a bit fitter.

The 1975 are currently listening to:
The Streets // BEΛRFVCE // The Weeknd // Tourist // HAIM // A$AP Rocky // Kendrick Lamar