Interview: Matthew Healy of The 1975
We’ve titled them “Up Next“, previewed their arrival, given a positive review of their latest EP titled IV and loved every second of their set at the Troubadour this past month. Ok, so we’re in love kinda? Hopefully you’ve pre-ordered their U.S. LP debut already and purchased tickets for their return to Los Angeles at the Fonda Theater in the fall. They’re here and shining in 2013 like other KTC loves Robert DeLong, twenty one pilots and Little Green Cars.
Interview done by Matthew Downes, Aurora Cowen and Charissa Lock with Lead Singer Matthew (aka Matty / MH) Healy of The 1975.
In your formative years, you really took your time getting yourselves together on a musical level, artistically and aesthetically and it shows. At what point did you feel that you had found your true identity and sound? Was there a moment where you knew that, stylistically, you were ready?
MH: I suppose the defining moment for us happened after we’d kind of been wined and dined by major labels when we were going through all of our name changes. People didn’t really care about our band, we just had some attention from labels. We started ignoring that and focusing on our output, and realizing that we wanted to do everything our own way. Then we named ourselves The 1975. I think as soon as we made that decision to name it, that was the kind of turning point. Everything from then has been controlled and stylized by us.
What bands influenced the earlier style and sound of The 1975 (or whatever name you were operating under at the time) and what are you listening to now that inspires you? How has your taste in music evolved over time as you have grown as a group?
MH: I think early on I was really into ambient music and like American original Emo. So the bands that inspired us were Mineral, Cap’n Jazz, Mock Orange and stuff like that. As time has evolved there are still elements of that in our band, but I think what I listen to now is what I listened to as a kid which is kind of black American soul. I love soul music, D’Angelo is probably one of my favorite artists. That’s kind of where I’m at today.
In September, you’ll be releasing your first full length album after 4 EPs where every one seemed to be a completely different side of The 1975’s personality. What should we expect on The 1975 thematically? Instrumentally?
MH: I think it’s a very romantic endeavor. It’s kind of an encapsulation of five years of writing and ten year of living with each other. It’s a very honest depiction of who we are and what we’ve been doing. I think it’s expected of us that theres dissimilarity record to record and within the record, so I think after releasing 4 EPs, it’s definitely a bit of a departure sonically. It’s not shrouded in I don’t know, everything. It’s a very clear sounding record. Sonically it’s different, but it’s still very much a continuation of the themes that run throughout the EPs.
Was signing with Dirty Hit a tough decision for you in 2011 after doing it on your own, your way, for so many years?
MH: Well Dirty Hit is set up by our manager, who’s our best friend and we’ve always worked with. So when we say we have done everything ourselves, we have done everything with him as well. But I mean it wasn’t like departing or kind of selling ourselves to something that didn’t already exist. So the Dirty Hit thing was just something we trusted in. They’re our friends and they’re a great label.
After years of waiting for the right moment, for all things to seamlessly gather together, in a few months the project you have worked so feverishly on will be released. What will you be doing on the day of release?
MH: God, I don’t know. One the day of release I imagine we will be at home, just for press reasons. I’m just trying to take everything in day by day, and everything kind of exceeds my expectations. I’m kind of in this perpetual state of astonishment. So I think that on the day of the release maybe that’s exactly how it will feel. I don’t really know. It’s a lot to give away. It defines our lives, so it’s crazy.
How much did working with Mike Crossey on your debut album shape the record’s sound?
MH: Well, sonically massively. He’s an amazing producer and he knows how to record music brilliantly. I think stylistically it’s The 1975 record. So it has that familiarity, he just helps us reach our potential. He pushed us to sound and play better. It was an amazing experience.
Your summer tour seems a bit all over the place, and settling once August strikes. Where are you most excited to play on your Fall European tour? Is there a European city that you have never played before, but have always wanted to?
MH: Yea, we have never played Paris. I’ve never been to Paris either. It’s one of the only places in the world that I have not been. I really, really want to go there. I think we are playing there on the fall tour and I can’t wait to see what that’s like.
On your (The 1975’s) Facebook and Twitter, your interactions seem to be very black and white (… there may be a pun intended) as opposed to some artists who get a bit personal with their lives. What are your thoughts on social media being used to connect fans with the ups and downs and everyday goings on of artists?
MH: I think that the internet is a beast of burden. We now live in a world where accessibility is paramount. So I think we just juxtapose that a little bit and maybe play the internet like a game because we don’t like to be exposed as individuals, we like to be an entity. I think the less individuality you portray…not individuality but like the more solidarity you have the better. And I think that the black and white just helps detach things from reality a little bit.
We work with a lot of emerging artists like yourselves. Who’s the newest artist across the pond or on your home turf that everyone in the band agrees “they’re awesome”?
MH: Well our favorite artist from the UK is James Blake. We don’t really know that many new artists. We love Disclosure and AlunaGeorge. We don’t really listen to that much music besides the tunes we are creating and playing our own music. We mainly listen to hip hop and house music anyway. Like there’s not that many aspiring bands we listen to.
If you could look back to 2002 and tell yourself one thing to help make the last 10 years easier on yourself mentally. What would it be?
MH: I think everything in life is an evolution, isn’t it? Everything that we’ve ever done has led up to this moment, so I presume there’s a certain intricacy in that. So I don’t know what advice I’d give. I’m pretty happy now. There’s a lot that’s happened in my life that maybe I didn’t want to happen, but I suppose it’s led me to exactly where I am now. So I think I couldn’t give myself any advice apart from just do exactly what I want… and this is what I want.
You just nailed a performance at the world famous Troubadour in Los Angeles last month (see our concert review). What venue (anywhere in the world) gave you that first “we’re making it” feeling?
MH: Glastonbury was pretty good for that, that was amazing. And when we got on the Emirates Stadium stage supporting Muse that was another moment. It’s just when you get a huge crowd full of people. Dot to Dot Festival in Nottingham was amazing as well, a real “yea were making it” moment.
See them on tour here.
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TAGS: The 1875, New tunes coming, Outstanding bands of 2013, Songwriting CHOPS, unanimous love
Photo Credit: Colin Rieser from Blue Kite Cinema