Interview: The 1975
Words by Lauren Ziegler - Published on January 29, 2014
London-based, Manchester-born boys The 1975 have hit the big time in the UK, and they’re about to do the same here. Touring nationally with Big Day Out, Lauren caught up with singer Matt Healy for a chat about their massive year and ridiculously fast rise to stardom, musical influences, and smokin’ up with Snoop Dogg.
So you’re here playing at BDO – how’s that going so far?
Good yeah, we have so many days off. The shows have been amazing, I love them. It’s been kind of a break for us – our tour schedule got so intense by the end of last year, and we had really big shows right at the beginning of January. We didn’t have Christmas off, it’s just spiraled out of control, really. We were a bit nervous about coming out here because we thought it would be more intensive, but we found ourselves on a bit of a holiday, which has been really needed.
Any highlights from Big Day Out?
Well Snoop’s amazing live, The Hives are an education – if you want to go and watch a live band, you need to see them. The fact that now we just hang out with people we used to adore, like Deftones. And we’ve just been getting high with Snoop’s crew.
It’s so funny. We were getting baked with Kurupt (member of Tha Dogg Pound, touring with Snoop Dogg) and he just started rapping, and he wouldn’t stop rapping for like five minutes. We were all just sat there, like, fuckin’ hell man.
Where were you over new years?
We were in Edinburgh, we supported the Pet Shop Boys, it was really cool, a really camp night.
And what have you been doing on your time off here?
Oh you know, like touristy stuff, walking around, taking pictures, jet skiing, going on boat trips to private beaches in the gold coast. We’ve also been writing a lot, we’re working hard on the next record.
It’s been crazy for The 1975. I mean, your first EP came out about a year and a half ago, and you’ve now got a number 1 album in the UK, and you’re touring internationally, all in such a relatively small space of time. What does that feel like?
I don’t really know. It just doesn’t feel.. I mean, I’m still the same person, I’m still doing the same things, I still write music every day – it’s just that people hear about it now. It’s very strange, y’know? We didn’t get big when I was 17, when I was still wide-eyed and naïve. We got big when I knew what was going on and I think with that, you try and analyse everything, try and take it all in at the same time and it exhausts you. You don’t really feel like, ‘fuck, this is crazy,’ because 90% of the time we’ve spent in a band, we haven’t had anything. Nothing. No attention, no money, No fucking money. We’ve had everything we could have ever dreamed of this year.
Did you always want to be a musician?
Oh yeah, that’s all I’ve ever done, I’ve only ever made music and that’s it. If it wasn’t gonna happen, I was just gonna do it anyway.
With The 1975, when did you have that first ‘oh wow, shit, we’re gonna make it’ moment?
Probably the first time we got played on the radio, it was The City. We knew it’d been played on a specialist radio station, and we were really excited. Then some girl texted me saying ‘Zane Lowe just played your band,’ and I was like, what? We just caught the end of it, and he was going on about how amazing it was, and we were like, fuck! Our Twitter started going and it all just started kicking off from there.
What did you grow up listening to?
Everything. Everything I could get my hands on. Whether it was soul music, or pop music, I grew up on everything. I think there’s loads of things that inform my music. Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Prince… Even bands like Scritti Politti. I was massively into alternative music and ‘90s shoegaze. My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, The Sundays… I was obsessed. And all the Brian Eno records, the really ambient stuff – Sigur Ros, Boards of Canada, Four Tet, that whole world.
I got quoted as saying that ambient music was somewhere that I got totally lost as a producer, but somewhere I really found my feet as a songwriter, and I think that’s true.
I learnt how to use music to emotionally manipulate people with no lyrics, that’s what Brian Eno is brilliant at. He paints pictures, and worlds and feelings, and makes you feel things with no lyrics. And we do that a lot on the EPs
What are you listening to at the moment?
Justin Bieber’s new record is amazing. It’s AMAZING. It’s so good. It’s fucking massive. Beyonce’s new record is massive too, I’m listening to the new Blood Orange album, Travis Scott, A$AP Ferg, loads of stuff
Have you heard any Australian artists while you’ve been here?
There are a few playing at Big Day Out
I haven’t really seen that much. I’ve had a lot of press at Big Day Out, and then you go and catch some headliners. All of the bands wanna watch each other, but when we’re on stage, Naked and Famous are doing press, or when we’re on stage they’re doing press, so you can’t watch any of your mates bands.
You don’t really think about what the bands do all day at festivals
Yeah, you just think it’s a festival for them too. When I was 18 I used to think that playing at a festival would be the same as just going. You’d just get on stage and play and then go back, but it’s not like that. I can’t walk around a festival anymore.
Because people recognise you?
Yeah. It doesn’t bother me, but I can’t do it, especially at a UK festival. I have to have security. I can’t walk out without being totally mobbed, it’s insane. It’s good in a way.
I read in an interview that the name The 1975 came from a book you were given, and someone had written that in the notes. What book was it?
I think it was On The Road (by Jack Kerouac). I gave it to a girl to try and impress her, I can’t remember now though. Somebody had used this book as a diary, and the notes were more interesting than the book. The notes weren’t even related to the narrative of the story, it was just somebody writing nonsense. And they’d dated it “1st of June, The 1975.”