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band crush: the 1975

talking 2 a.m. song-writing with the manchester buzz band.

by: rebecca willa davis

April 02 2013

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It's not often that a 6 pm show on a Wednesday night in New York City sells out--especially not if the band that's playing is in town for their very first show. And yet, not only did the 1975 sell out their inaugural gig, but they were greeted by rowdy fans who sang along to nearly each and every song the band played. Not bad for a band who have yet to release a proper album (the Manchester four-piece have three EPs under their belt, and plans for a full-length later this summer). "[People] need to know how humbled we are to be there, or the fact that someone listens [to us]," says the 1975's lead singer Matty Healy, before adding, "That sounds really cringe-worthy, a bit soft, a bit wet--but it's genuinely so amazing for us to play in front of people who are remotely invested in our music!"

We'd count ourselves in that "remotely invested" category--after all, we premiered their single "You" last year--and we're pretty sure that once you get to know them, you will too. Read on for our interview with the leather jacket-wearing frontman, and then stay tuned for the band when they return to the US in June. Considering that Healy describes their live shows as "a sexy '80s dance party," you won't want to miss it.

I couldn't believe the audience reaction at your very first New York City show. Were you surprised?
Very much so. I think it's been amazing for us because we literally came from my bedroom and set out on tour, and now we find ourselves in places where we've not got any familiarity. It's a very strange juxtaposition to have your lyrics transcend to a place where you're already familiar with; it's kind of unsettling but very humbling. We were never going to put out any music originally! The fact that people have embraced it so much I think is partly to do with [the music being] so personal; it has a certain degree of humanity about it, people are investing themselves emotionally.

Wait, the band wasn't going to release any music?!
We've been a band for 10 years--I'm 23, and we started playing in, like, punk bands when we were like 13. We come from all of those places that you don't hear about, the boring places, the middle class--not financially deprived but not with loads of money. So there's sense of a relief of boredom with what it was. We always just made music as a pursuit of excellence amongst four individuals, with no other real reason. We found some solace in it, and then we found ourselves in our late-teens and our twenties, started playing with our mates' bands, and opening up for them. I think we got to a time where we had written so much music for ourselves that, as someone had started managing us and became one of our best friends, we signed to his label and we just decided to put out what we had in a way that we saw fit, with no ambitions really. It just got swallowed up in the UK and we're just catching up with it all.

Do people need to listen to all three EPs to understand the 1975?
No, not at all. There's not really a coherent narrative running from the first to the third, but they're all about two in the morning; they're all written at two in the morning, they're all recorded at two in the morning. We recorded all of those EPs in my bedroom, so they're three very, very personal records. I do treat them as our first album because none of the material was subject to committee or compromise--it wasn't like diluted through other people's visions remotely. We wrote those records for those records, and I don't think that happens that often anymore; EP's are normally treated as a vehicle to put out a single, for example, and we wanted to take singles and write records around them.

So what was the writing process for these? Are you coming up with something in your bedroom and then the band comes in?
To be honest with you, I tend not really to talk about that. Not really in a pretentious, trying-to-be-enigmatic way, but [our songwriting process] is kind of the only thing that we have left now, you know? We've created this world and we don't like to be perceived as four individuals; we like to be perceived as a unit. It's so cliche to say that we're brothers, but we've lived pretty much in the same house for about 10 years...that's the one thing that we've got. We write together, and I'd have to think about it a lot in order explain how we wrote. But that's not really remotely being clandestine!

You mentioned at your NYC show that the new album was inspired by John Hughes. Is this your brat pack album?.
Yeah, John Hughes, I fell in love with music through film. I think there are certain records and certain songs that can take you to a nostalgic place, they have a certain amount of antiquity to them that's really really special for people. I grew up with those movies and we really wanted to make a record that made us feel in the same way that that does. So it's very heavily inspired by the visuals of John Hughes, and we're obsessed with the '80s, the great '80s, because the '80s have been totally exploited in dance music and fashion in the past five or six years, but nobody has done anything like when Peter Gabriel was doing "Soul" or Michael Jackson was doing "Bad." And I suppose in a kind of really arrogant way, we kind of wanted to do the same kind of record. But remember, we didn't even really cared if [the music] went out or not, we just wanted to make vicious pop record. I think we've done it--well, we've done it for us, anyways.

Do you think that, as a band, you have that potential to reach that same level?
Yeah. Because if I didn't, I don't think we would have gotten here. I do think we have the potential, and the day that I stop believing that is the day that we lose our conviction. I don't know if I want to be really famous; I'd like the 1975 to be huge, but [take] Brian Johnson, the lead singer of AC/DC, he's got the perfect life: I've walked down the street with him and nobody recognizes him. He's the fucking lead singer of AC/DC! But I'm all haircuts and leather jackets and I can't avoid it. I dunno. I'm like any human being, I don't like being judged very much. And it scares me a little bit, but I've just got to take it in strides.

With the album stewing for a while, is it going to be weird for you once it comes out in August?
I mean, it's the love affair of my adult life. Every single song on that album at one point or another has been the most important thing in my life at that time. So after that's gone, that would be like using a part of myself. It'll be strange, it'll be unsettling, but it will be exciting.

Visit the1975.com for more info.

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