There is a sort of cohesion to The 1975 that can only be attributed to one thing: time.
The four friends from Manchester (lead singer Matthew Healy, guitarist Adam Hann, bassist Ross MacDonald, and drummer George Daniel) have been together for over a decade. The time invested in mastering their craft within the haven of their rehearsal space and cutting their teeth at local pubs has naturally manifested into their present day performances.
The band has experienced a massive rise in attention and acclaim over the past year, not only in the United Kingdom, but on a global note. It’s safe to say that Vancouver is a part of The 1975 love affair, with a lengthy line-up of supporters ahead of their show at the Vogue Theatre this past Saturday. It was the second time the band has played here, previously playing a sold-out show at Venue last October.
I had the opportunity to chat with lead singer Matthew Healy before the band played to a sold-out crowd at the Vogue. He provided insight on genres, touring globally, the inspiration behind the video for their new single, “Robbers”, and more.
asapmusicblog.ca: Welcome back to Vancouver!
Matthew Healy: Thank you.
A: The band played here last October, across the street at Venue. Since then, you guys have gained more of a following – a lot of people are excited to see you tonight. I saw on Instagram earlier that someone actually sent you guys a care package to the venue. Did you get it yet?
MH: Yeah, it was really nice! It had loads of things that we said we like to eat and drink, like different chocolate and stuff – loads of British food. It was nice, it was really sweet.
A: Kind of a bit of home?
MH: Yeah, exactly!
A: To get to know you a little bit better, I was wondering what the first song in your recollection is that inspired you to become a musician?
MH: I think whether it inspired me to be a musician or not is an interesting question. The first two songs I remember being my favourite songs, or songs that I knew that I loved, were “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye – I don’t think the sexual connotations had anything to do with it, but just as a song. “Let’s Get It On” and “Second Hand News” by Fleetwood Mac – it was the rhythm of it, the idea of the rhythm of the guitars and the vocals fascinated me, the idea of rhythm within that song. The first song I ever played on the drums would have been “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, with my dad. Any of those three, I think.
A: One thing that stands out to me about The 1975 is that you guys have a lot of different influences and you draw from them to create a unique sound. What has been the most interesting description of what someone has tried to pinpoint your music as?
MH: There’s been a lot, hasn’t there? I’ve never really known nor cared that much, but I suppose I’ve been interested to see people’s interpretations. ‘Art-pop’ is what we get called a lot, I think that’s because people accept that it’s pop. I think that’s like a fan-based one, art-pop, because all of the journalists that have supported us have called us that. Maybe it’s because ‘pop’ – they can’t deny that we’re pop, but they don’t want it to be totally uncredible so they just put ‘art’ in front it – maybe that’s what it is. My favourite is ‘guitar’n’b’, I thought that was great. Guitar’n’b – I’m gonna go for that one.
A: So that’s like guitar’n’b, kind of like R’n’B?
MH: Yeah, exactly! Guitar’N’b.
A: Talkhouse, The Slowdown, Bigsleep, Drive Like I Do were the previous names of The 1975. Have you met any fans that have been supporters since the beginning?
MH: Oh yeah, loads, loads from back in the day. Especially on the early tours as well because on the early tours, there were loads of kids from the Drive Like I Do times. Yeah, we meet them quite a lot and I remember a lot of them as well because most shows that we used to do, we weren’t pop stars – we were just people playing in a pub and we would be with all the crowd, it wasn’t like a big thing. I met a girl the other day who had a Bigsleep tattoo – we changed that name because we were threatened to get sued by a band called Big Sleep. It’s funny how things change.
A: I think with social media, more people kind of find the band’s past.
MH: Yeah, that’s the whole thing – people have a real interest in the history. I mean, our history wasn’t really that relevant to The 1975. People always ask us about the names and why did we change the names. The reason we changed the name is because at the time it didn’t matter, we didn’t care. Now, it’s come to be part of our story so people are really interested by the name.
A: The band played quite a number of shows last year and so far this year, the list of countries includes Japan, Europe, Australia, America, Canada, the Philippines, and much more than that. How does it feel to visit these places all over the world and have the fans positively embrace the music?
MH: It’s mind-blowing. It’s kind of confusing. You start to realize that the world used to feel so much bigger, it doesn’t feel as big anymore – I kind of understand it. I have an understanding of how long it takes to get places, and what it feels like when you’re there, and the way that teenagers now are so homogenized, like so globalized. We do a thing every night where we take a Polaroid of the stage. A lot of the time, we write it down straight away, but half the time, you just forget and put it in your pocket. You then end up with a hundred Polaroids of different crowds with no name on it, and you can’t tell. I couldn’t tell you from a Polaroid what was New York City, or what was Manila.
It’s amazing how teenagers in our crowds, they just seem to be the same all over the world, and it’s kind of nice to realize that there’s this harmonious sense of consistency. It freaked me out initially to go to somewhere so different and then be presented with people who knew my music – the one thing I was so familiar with. That juxtaposition of familiarity in an environment of real unfamiliarity was weird, but now, I think I’m starting to get it. I hope I’m not starting to take it for granted, I hope I’m starting to understand it.
A: You mentioned Manila. It’s interesting, because I was watching a YouTube video of one of your live performances and I didn’t realize it was in the Philippines because everyone was singing along – in a language that isn’t their primary one, but they obviously knew all the lyrics to your music.
MH: Exactly, it was amazing. We’re massive in the Philippines – I wouldn’t say that because it sounds arrogant to say we’re massive anywhere, but come over to the Philippines with us and then deny that we’re massive because it’s fucking crazy. We had our own floor of a hotel with the police on it and every time we wanted to get food in the restaurant, we had to close the restaurant because there’d be 300 kids trying to get into the lobby, chasing the vans… like 10,000 people at gigs in shopping centers and stuff, it’s insane, amazing.
A: There’s a huge visual component to The 1975 with the black and white imagery. I love the intricacy of the storylines in your music videos. The new single is going to be “Robbers” and the video for that is out on Monday. What can you share with us about the storyline for that one?
MH: I can tell that you’ve done your research and I like what you said about all of the intricacies and the narratives in the videos, I can’t… I’m not going to tell you because it’s the one… I suppose, well, it’s Bonnie and Clyde. I was always really interested when I was a teenager in True Romance, the movie by Quentin Tarantino. Bonnie and Clyde the characters, the idea of love – an all encompassing true kind of love that makes people feel like they’re the centre of the universe, capable of anything.
I think there have been so many hints to True Romance within our band, within our visual things that people haven’t noticed maybe. Even the house that we filmed the colour video for “Sex” in with those kids, that was the house that is Brad Pitt’s in True Romance, where he lives, where Clarence hangs out. It’s an ode to True Romance, it’s an ode to Romeo & Juliet, it’s an ode to romantic cinema that I grew up loving, and it stars me and my friend Chelsea. I love it, I’m very proud of it – I’m very proud of the story and the way that we executed it.
A: The video for “Settle Down”, I think it was based on a reoccurring dream that you had?
MH: Yeah, it was. An old kind of dream based in that part of town where my family all kind of grew up, in the North of England. All of the videos have been written by me – oh no, actually, “Chocolate” and “The City” weren’t at all. It was in the very early stages, and I didn’t realize that I had the power to create my own music videos. The older ones before were me and James, my mate, like “Facedown”, “Antichrist”, “The City” – all those early ones. But yeah, “Girls”, we wrote that, wrote “Settle Down”, and wrote “Robbers”.
A: If you could narrow down a single message that you would want your music to convey, what might that be?
MH: That’s a really difficult question, because it’s something I would procrastinate over for a long time, something that would drive me mental and then come to define. The search for that answer is how I would write a song, do you know what I mean? That’s the type of person I am – I don’t know what the message is, I’m constantly in search of it. I think it’s something to do with love, I think it is. It’s something to do with the constant search for stimulation through love… I don’t know.
A: I remember the context, I don’t remember the exact quote, but you talked about… I didn’t want to bring up the whole 80’s movie comparison because that’s something that comes up quite often.
MH: No, but I don’t mind!
A: It’s definitely one of the things you talked about, how the topics of those movies represent your music.
MH: That’s the thing, yeah. I suppose if there’s a coherent, obvious message with this album, the reason it sounds like a 80’s movie soundtrack is because that’s the way that I saw my life. When you look back on your teenage years, when you reminisce on your adolescence, you fill in the gaps with sunshine and romantic ideas – you antiquate and idealize all those kind of things. I think that when I have a view of my life, my teenage years, I was sound tracking it at the time – I was romanticizing it and making it like a movie in my head.
Most kids of my generation, the first time they see a kiss or a romantic moment is in a movie with incidental music, music that’s there to command how you feel about something. The idea of music controlling my emotions has been in the forefront of my life forever, and I think the idea within those movies by John Hughes, like Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink – the idea of social politics as a young person. The idea of yearning for something bigger, whether that’s a place or a thing, the idea of love and lust being apocalyptic at the time, only with retrospect realizing that it was actually quite sweet and naïve. I think all of those ideas are in the album.
The 1975’s self-titled debut album is available now. For more information on the album, the band, and tour dates, head over to: http://the1975.com.