Since Manchester band The 1975’s big break in 2012 a lot has happened. They’ve toured the world twice, supported rock’n’roll legends The Rolling Stones and topped the UK charts with songs like Chocolate, Girls, and Sex. We met with singer Matt Healy to talk about indulgence, the mathematics of pop, and his idea of the perfect song.
When we meet with The 1975 singer Matt Healy in a busy rehearsal premise in a club in Stockholm, there are just a few hours until the band is expected on stage, and people are running around fixing cords, making sure the sound is working. Despite that, Mark stays totally focused during our interview, giving us an insight in the life of a young musician who’s barely had time to reflect on the huge successes the band has earned in such short amount of time.
How did you meet the band members and how was the band formed?
– At school. We just met through not wanting to do sports, we were so into music. We started in a punk band when we were fourteen and just carried on through school. We never really wanted to do anything else. We lived in a middle class environment and documented our teenage lives through our music.
Where do you find inspiration?
– Well, there are lots of different things. We’re very inspired by big eighties pop music. Like Peter Gabriel, Michael Jackson, Scritti Politti, and My Bloody Valentine. We’re also big fans of experimental music.
The way that my brain is so based around music almost drives me crazy
What motivates you to create music?
– Nothing really, it’s just an innate need, I’ve never known how to do anything else. The way that my brain is so based around music almost drives me crazy. I would rather get away from it than me inspired to create it because I can’t imagine doing something else ever.
That was my next question actually, what you would want to do if not making music?
– It’s the idea of hell for me. I don’t know any other way of expressing myself, therefore I don’t really know another way of indulging myself. And a life without indulgence and nuance would be catastrophic. I genuinely don’t know what I would do. Music for me kind of commands me how to feel, whether it’s excitement or emotion or anything. I’m totally, totally defined by it. I would just try to get any job that’s was associated with music, he says laughing.
Do you have any dream collaboration?
– I would’ve said Michael Jackson, but he’s dead… I don’t know because we’ve gotten so popular in America and England now so we’re talking with people that I’ve really been wanting to collaborate with… I would like to work with Prince or Mark Skinner from The Streets. Sometimes dream collaborations is something you wouldn’t imagine until you’re actually in the studio and it’s like ‘Wow, this is perfect!’.
What do you want to convey with your music?
– Well nothing with our music. It’s not up to us how’s it’s received. All we try and do is create music that we really care about. The formula that our music relies on is really uplifting music. I always say that my idea of a perfect song would sound like I wanna dance with somebody by Whitney Houston, but with the conviction and lyrical narrative of Leonard Cohen. That juxtaposition of ideas is what we really go for. How people embrace that is totally up to them, because music is subjective, isn’t it? I would never command anyone on how to feel. Pop music is very mathematical, the idea of relating to something emotionally. I’m very interested in the science behind it and that’s something that I’m trying to work on. But a lot of people hate our band, so you never know.
Do you have one song that you’re more proud of?
– No, cause they’re all so different. What I’m proud of is the fact that we’ve been embraced for the reason we wanted to be embraced. When all the major labels were going to sign us, which didn’t happen, in 2011, they came to my house and said: ‘You don’t know who you want to be, cause all your songs sound different from one other and you don’t know what you want to do’. But I said that ‘No, that’s what our generation is like. My generation doesn’t consume media in a linear way. It comes from everywhere. So why can’t there be a band that represents that attitude musically?’. They weren’t buying in to it. So then we put out the record ourselves and millions of kids around the world really related to it. I’m just proud of that we had an idea and we stuck to it and it really is starting to pay off.
Do you write all your songs yourselves?
– For us, the idea of an album touched by anyone else… that would cut me in half. I wouldn’t want to make albums with song writers. We don’t like people who are calling themselves singer/songwriters when they don’t write all of it themselves. We do everything ourselves.
What are your thoughts on the future?
– We’re a year in our touring now. We’ve toured the world twice now. I couldn’t imagine achieving half of all the things that we have this year.
– Becoming famous doesn’t change you. It’s quite brittle. It’s not like love or salvation or a genuine feeling of spiritual resolution. I don’t have that, I have the band and I love the band and I am the band and it’s a genuine extension of my personality. I am only doing this until I find the next high.
Listen to The 1975’s eponymous debut album here.
Photos by Victoria Stillwell.