Interview: Matthew Healy of the 1975

By on Monday, 12th November 2012 at 11:00 am

“I just want to make a record that makes people feel the way I did about certain records, like ‘Original Pirate Material’ or ‘Bad’ in a way.” Matt Healy is on the phone in between takes in the studio where The 1975 are putting final touch after final touch onto their debut record. The Manchester band’s debut EP ‘Facedown’ (review here) gained them plays on the likes of Huw Stephens and Zane Lowe’s Radio1 playlists, as well as seeing them temporarily rocket up the iTunes charts. With the coming of their second EP, ‘Sex’ (review here), you can tell that the 1975 are out to prove a point.

“With [the] ‘Facedown’ EP, ‘The City’ was the big standout track. We’ve got songs like that by the bucketload, but with these EPs, we want to put across what we’re really about. We don’t want to be one of those bands that puts out an EP that’s just a single with a few remixes; If you’re a band that wants to connect with their fans, you need to give them a wealth of material.” Of course they’ve had plenty of time to build up this wealth of material. The trio have been a band for around 5 years now, and having gone through a multitude of names such as The Slowdown, Drive Like I Do and Talkhouse; it seems now they’ve finally settled on The 1975.

Having been a band for this long though, and not having released more than the occasional track to the internet has led to a huge amount of change in the band, and with that change has come a certain confidence. Matt explains, “Our natural progression as people reflects the progression of us as a band. Some of these songs have been around since we were 19 years old, and we’ve saved them until we knew we were ready. We find it hard to be content with what we’ve done. The first time we really were happy to put something out was ‘Facedown’, so we did!”

Matt seems to get excited when talking about the overall sound of the band, citing inspirations from the likes of Michael Jackson through to Peter Gabriel in terms of influence for the “big, ambitious sound that we think albums should be all about”, yet you can almost hear parts of his brain tick as he attempts to describe the more intricate parts of the lyricism in the band. “Our personal affinity with the music is very important to the band because The 1975 is a very personal thing to me. I feel like I can only speak from personal experience, and tracks like ‘Woman’ are very personal to me as are all the songs; they’re experiences through my eyes, but I try not to be too…” He struggles on his words and moves to my next question which takes from Mary’s Quickfire Questions interview with him last month in which he touched upon the influence that Jack Kerouac’s On the Road gave him and the band as a whole.

“I guess we were like a lot of impressionable 19 year olds who read On the Road, in that we were whisked away in the decadence and blazing about of the whole affair. The very unabashed and un-afraidness of youth has become a very important feature of the1975”. At first, I struggle to understand, given the variety of quieter tracks on both the ‘Facedown’ EP and the forthcoming ‘Sex’ EP, but he continues: “Songs like ‘Sex’ came about from that, as more of a reaction to the lack of identity rather than anything economical.”

It wouldn’t be surprising if the resurgence of the likes of Kerouac’s work assists the 1975 in gaining an audience, especially considering how many acts take from romanticised American history. Mumford and Sons relied heavily on John Steinbeck circa 1935-1940 to fill out the tales in their debut record, and Bombay Bicycle Club were inspired by Joseph Sterling’s Age of Adolescence series in the 1960s in the creation of ‘I Had the Blues But Shook Them Loose’ (the cover art is one of Sterling’s photos from the series). Of course, the band’s influences are broad, but you can’t help but feel that a part of Kerouac’s decadence has remained romanticised in Healy. “I grew up in a boring middle class town near Macclesfield, so I think reading American literature was important to us as a band; the whole counter culture, but I’ve found myself focussing more on my own thoughts than that kind of world these days.”

So what’s next for the group as they launch the second of three planned EPs and for the first time going ‘On the Road’ on their own headline tour? “I just want to make an album that people can connect to, and I know that sounds like a cliché but we do just want to make an album we love. I don’t want to sell a million copies; I don’t expect to sell 40,000. We played the Barfly like 6 months ago and five people watched us and now we’ve sold it out and that humbles me.”

He laughs; there’s a quiet confidence behind the band. They write and produce the music themselves; getting a little help on the way from the likes of label and tour buddies Little Comets so at the end of the day, his own confidence is all he has, especially as he claims to not pay attention to much of their press. You can’t help but feel that he’s not quite telling the truth, but there’s a judged honesty behind him. I ask what happens if people don’t like the album and it doesn’t “work out”. He pauses and simply responds, “I guess we’ll just make another record. I try not to think about expectation because the phrase ‘working out’ is abstract. The moment we start worrying about acceptance is the moment we lose conviction.”

And with that, I let him get back to the studio. It seems that whether we like it or not, The 1975 are here to stay, but given their latest material and the idea that they’re holding back on a few things suggests that whilst they’re building a buzz now, they think they’re capable of so much more. I’m inclined to agree.

Catch the 1975 on tour in December. Their next EP, ‘Sex’, is out on the 19th of November on Dirty Hit.

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5 Responses

[…] I did an interview with them for ThereGoesTheFear which you can read by clicking the above image or HERE. Listen to The City and the Ryan Hemsworth remix of Sex which is a free download […]

[…] moment takes some time out of their busy touring schedule to answer some questions for TGTF… Q & A: Matthew Healy of the 1975 Braden had a chat with the Manchester band's thoughtful frontman … The new single from Foals John reviews new material from the Oxford math rock band upon their […]

1:57 pm
5th April 2013

@BradenF here it is (what was Tweeted out 12/11/2012): New post: Interview: Matthew Healy of the 1975 @the1975:

2:03 pm
5th April 2013

Six months ago I interviewed @the1975 on Michael Jackson, Jack Kerouac, Sex and The City.

2:07 pm
5th April 2013

@tgtf thanks very much 🙂

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