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Interview: Matthew Healy of the 1975

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on April 1, 2013

The 1975 are a four piece alternative rock/shoegaze/electro/any genre you care to mention act out of Manchester, fronted by the very talented Matthew Healy. So far they’ve released three EPs: Facedown EP, Sex EP and Music For Cars EP. Whilst Matthew insists that these EPs were not intended to be a trilogy, these three records are an incredible presentation of the band’s talent, and particularly their diversity.

I’ve been completely obsessed by this group’s work for the last month (consult my account for proof), and could not give them a bigger wrap. They were a huge buzz band at SXSW, and their upcoming full album release planned for August will no doubt put them on the map.

We chatted with lead singer Matthew about everything tour related, why he’s obsessed with Michael Jackson and how he brings together all of the different soundscapes in a live setting. We finish off with a High Fidelity inspired set of ‘Top 5s’, which goes from his top gigs, to top influences to top songs to get high to.

SCENEWAVE: Where are you calling from at the moment?

MATTHEW HEALY: Yeah in Pitsburgh in Pensylvania at the moment, just touring.

SW: You recently played SXSW, was it mental?

MH: That’s right we played about 11 shows in 5 days at SXSW, then headed up to Milwaukee and played up there. Then went to Chicago, and up to Ohio.

SW: Have you got any crazy SXSW stories?

MH: We didn’t really go to bed the entire time, to be honest, the whole thing is a complete blur. It’s our first time we’ve ever been there, and to have all these people at our shows was amazing. We had this realisation that we’d sort of travelled from my bedroom to America and all these people are watching us and that was awesome. 11 shows in 5 days I mean if we weren’t going out, we were on stage, it was huge.

SW: What does a 1975 live show comprise of?

MH: Its quite there sonically; a strong representation of what the songs on our records are like. It’s very loud and our set is based around containing as much energy and dynamics as possible.

SW: One of the most interesting parts of listening to the 1975 is that at one stage you’re listening to some awesome guitar hooks, and then all of a sudden, you’re warped into a deeply sonic electronic soundscape. How do the electronic sounds come out in the live setting? Are they really heavy and full on?

MH: They are. At the moment we’re playing more stuff from our upcoming album which is really a departure from any record we’ve done. We try to make the sound hold as much relevance as it does on the record you know, we don’t try and interpret it in a different way. We’ll be playing a lot more stuff off the EPs later on, maybe in the next couple of months.

SW: So what’s planned release-wise in the near future?

MH: We’ve just finished our debut album which has 14 tracks. That’s going to come out in August I think. We’re very proud of the release and can’t wait for people to hear it.

SW: Any plans to tour Australia? A festival in the pipeline perhaps?

MH: Yeah, well we’re hoping to come over towards the end of the year to tour the album. We’re very excited of the possibility to tour over there.

SW: Which artist would you bring back from the dead?

MH: Michael Jackson.

SW: Is he a big influence of yours?

MH: Yeah along with John Hughes, he’s probably the biggest influence. Would be awesome not only to meet him; he’s one person I’d also definitely like to work with.

SW: How would you describe yourselves to someone who hasn’t heard your stuff before?

MH: It’s very difficult. The main reason we understand what we’re doing is because we’re the individuals doing it. One of the things that surprises me is that all the songs are about me, and it’s cool that people care. God knows what I’d tell people, maybe that they just have to listen to it. There’s no coherent stylistic genre specific advice that I could provide.

SW: By the same token (sort of…), what is the song “You” about?

MH: There’s a point when you’re dating someone where you become aware of all the things you kind of thought you couldn’t depart from. You kind of build all of these nostalgias and sort of antiquated memories in your mind, and when you’re at the point during the breakup, you realise, “you know what, it actually takes a bit more than all this bullshit”.

SW: Top 5 artist influences?

MH: Michael Jackson, The Streets, Peter Gabriel, Donny Hathaway and Brian Eno

SW: Top 5 frontmen?

MH: Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Daryl Palumbo from Glassjaw, Jim Morrison and Kevin Shields.

SW: Top 5 dinner party guests (alive or dead)?

MH: Michael Jackson, Jack Kerouac, Derren Brown, Richard Dawkins and the head of the Western Baptist Church.

SW: Top 5 songs to get high to?

MH: ASAP Rocky – “Bass”, My Bloody Valentine – “To Here Knows When”, or anything by Kendrick Lamar and Joey Badass at the moment. Getting high a lot to those guys.

SW: Top 5 gigs?

MH: When I was young I was one of those kids that got pulled onstage at a Green Day concert. That was pretty awesome. Rage Against The Machine last year, just because I was so annihilated, so it was amazing. A band that we supported called Blackfish in Manchester, played the most insane gig I’ve ever been to. Everything was set on fire, and then they came on and played one of the coolest gigs I’ve ever seen.

SW: Top 5 books?

MH: ‘Fuzz Against Junk’ by Akbar Del Piombo, ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling, ‘On The Road’ by Jack Kerouac and ’12 Angry Men’ by Reginald Rose.

SW: If you could play a song on the Moon looking back at Earth, what would you choose?

MH: One of our songs, but I don’t think I’ve written it yet… or “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” by Colin Hay.

The 1975’s debut album will be released sometime in August, and have planned a tour to Australia sometime towards the (very) end of the year!

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