MUSIC | The 1975
The 1975 are a great bunch of lads who simply cannot believe their recent luck, they embark on their first ever headline tour this December, are releasing their second EP this November and are building a dedicated and loyal fan base in the process. I chat lead singer Matt Healy about their new music, touring and the madness that happens in between.
It’s funny when I first heard a few songs by you guys you were the BIGSLEEP and then you disappeared and later became the S L O W D O W N, what prompted the final name change to the 1975?
We didn’t really like it to be honest. We had already been under several different names before that anyway. When we came to doing the 1975 we knew that we had to change certain things, along with the name, because it simply wasn’t the same as what we were doing before. We also didn’t really care - you are one of a small few who ever heard what we were doing as the slowdown so, it didn’t seem like anyone else would care either. A lot of songs we wrote together under different names etc have made it onto our debut album in some form. Retrospectively we’re lucky we never released anything until ‘Facedown’.
When creating the band in school, did you guys really focus on the aesthetics (looks and vibes) of the band as well as sound in the early days?
Not really no - I imagine we probably thought we did. But we didn’t really care about that, we didn’t really care about anything. It was just about gigs. That’s all we ever wanted. Gigs. Any gig. We have played some totally ridiculous shows. Like playing in a working men’s club on a council estate in Newcastle or playing to 3 Fisherman on the Isle of Lewis. Loads of them. I suppose we at least dressed accordingly. We looked like any other indie band around that time - Big hair, skinny jeans and checkered pull-overs. I always knew that when we eventually released something, it would have to be as cinematic and assertive as I always imagined. And we couldn’t do that back then cos we were rubbish and I was like 16.
You guys use a lot of black and white, iconography and a really clean and minimal look with your visuals (artwork, video for ‘Sex’), how do you guys go come up with ideas for the visual side of things?
Well we are big fans of fashion and film. I think most people are aren’t they? But we wanted to reflect our love for those things through what we were doing. We haven’t actively searched for a visual identity really. We just know what’s right for us, what looks good, and agree upon it.The black and white was really a mood thing. Our music is laden with classic pop sensibilities and Major melodies - we try and make our sound quite life affirming and grand I suppose. So it’s nice to counteract that with an aesthetic that is more melancholic perhaps - also more removed from reality.
You’re releasing a set of EPs and then your debut album in 2013, what can we expect from the new material?
Our debut album is a very ambitious endeavour. We have been working on it for quite a long time. We knew we had to do it right, with the correct foundation, or it simply wouldn’t work. I think people assume that we’re just kind of ‘going’ with it - writing EP after EP until we eventually have the material for an album, but that’s not the case at all. The blueprint for the album was drawn out way before we even wrote the majority of ‘Facedown’. `We wanted our EP to be interesting bodies of work - songs that say something about who we are - surrounding lead tracks that hint towards our debut album. Every song on this album has to be a potential single, that’s the way we look at it. You could probably say that’s pretentious or overly ambitious. But in our eyes the best albums are the ones that hit you hard with every single song. Not the ones with 2 singles and a hash of material compromised by time and committee.
You guys are also on your first ever UK tour! How has that been? Has anything crazy happened yet?
We actually don’t head out on tour until the 2nd of December. And the thought of it is totally crazy. We have never played a headline show. Ever. Not one. 6 months ago we were planning on putting out these records etc with absolutely no intention of them being accepted in the way they have. We kind of got used to being in really underground bands - where the world of mainstream radio and media just seems so genuinely far away. We played the barfly in London at the beginning of the year (probably under a different name) and there were 6 people there. I think 4 of them left. I got word yesterday that our barfly show in December is like 10 tickets away from selling out. It’s hard to explain how strange it is for us to know that we’re selling out venues. I’ll believe it when I see it.
I heard you guys also might make it to SXSW next year, what interests you most about the US?
America is kind of the holy grail isn’t it. I’m quite obsessed with it actually. Being in America for me is almost nostalgic - even though I am a quintessentially English chap. It’s because of places like New York City for example. As an English kid growing up in the 90’s / 00’s, a lot of the television and media that I would consume (almost obsessively) would be centred around the life and times of very non relatable tanned American children. Because of this unfamiliarity, my reality kind of split into two as a child. It was ‘real world Newcastle / tv world America’ - pretty much as simple as that. So when I am actually in America and those places like New York, i see them almost as a character from this childhood world. Totally familiar and unsettlingly alien all at the same time. I love that. It’s also where a lot of my favourite musical artists come from - so I’m really, really excited to get out there and tour next year. Playing Nashville and shit like that will be awesome.
This is issue is our rebellious issue, what comes to mind when you think of rebelliousness?
We were more a reaction to boredom and lack of identity than anything else. We have been pretty naughty as a band I suppose. But we never really seen it as rebellion - we haven’t really got much to rebel against. Our parents are all pretty cool and they’ve always helped us out, so can’t rebel against them. And we have found that people are really accepting of what we do, so can’t rebel against them. I think I’d like to see a thoroughly modern rebellion, a real revolution. I think that Atheists are worried about being forthright in their opinions for fear of being branded a cynic or a tyrant - at least in the western world - other cultures have a more substantial fear for good reason. But a real form of rebellion carrying weight would be an atheist uprising - challenging all faith regardless of it’s warped sense of infallibility or risk of retaliation. But that’s not gonna happen anytime soon is it. The foundations simply aren’t there. So, for now, I just pray for something like a middle eastern ‘Gangnam Style’. The Arabic language totally infiltrating our western charts and media would be a real step forward for cultural diplomacy I reckon. Something like that would be a real positive form of rebellion.
Words | Le’Keisha Sims