Atwood Magazine had the chance to sit down with The 1975 to get the band’s thoughts on their own meteoric rise, the past year’s tour-heavy lifestyle, music and more.
Manchester, UK’s latest gift to the music world is The 1975, whose eponymous debut album opened at the No. 1 slot on the UK charts just over a year ago. Like Manchester predecessors Oasis and, looking even further back, The Smiths, The 1975 have quickly caught the world’s attention. Sixteen tracks of anthemic ambient rock color the quartet’s impressive debut; moreover, a whopping seven of those tracks have been released as singles, to varying degrees of international success. The 1975’s catchy, 80s-inspired ethereal brand of pop-rock music is reminiscent of Coldplay’s X&Y with its overarching, motivic soundscape, while the album’s treated guitar tones bear a strong resemblance to some of The Edge’s guitar work with U2 and the licks on Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller. Considering these and more high-profile comparisons, it’s no wonder that songs like “Chocolate,” “Sex,” “Robbers” and “Girls” have garnered The 1975 a substantial following despite their very recent entrance into the musical spotlight.
With a dark, mysterious and rowdy no-fucks-given attitude (perhaps further tribute to the likes of Oasis?), The 1975 have found significant popularity in the coveted teenage female demographic. Their lyrically raw songs about lust, drugs, midnight escapades and more paint modern portraits of uninhibited teenage fantasy. The combination of easily-accessible music and unrepressed, tantalizing storytelling has hyped up American demand to see The 1975, and the Brits will be embarking on a North American winter tour after a brief respite over the next two months. The 1975 played a slew of summer festivals following last year’s fall album release, including Boston’s fourth installment of the increasingly popular Boston Calling Music Festival in early September. It was at the bustling Bean Town music festival that Atwood Magazine had the chance to sit down with frontman Matthew “Matty” Healy (vocals, guitar) and George Daniel (drums) of The 1975 to get the band’s thoughts on their own meteoric rise, the past year’s tour-heavy lifestyle, music and more.
Watch: “Chocolate” – The 1975
Atwood Magazine: Welcome back to Boston, boys! It's been a little while since you were here, but you broke into the United States pretty quickly compared to fellow British acts.
Matty: Our band only came into the public eye in the end of 2012, and we managed to tour America in March of 2013, so as soon as we started as a band, coming to America was really a part of our reality because people were engaging with it so quickly because of the internet. You don’t have that lag time anymore.
George: It’s also because we signed a record deal in America before the UK.
Matty: We signed a deal in the US to Vagrant before we could in the UK. We weren’t a touring band then, though – we waited nearly a year. We love it in America. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s great for our band because it’s quite Americanized, while also being quite anglofied, you know? It’s split down the middle.
2013 and 2014 saw your band embarking on a worldwide tour. How have you found your audiences?
George: Loud! Some of the best – definitely up there. I mean, we don’t have a favorite place or a certain type of show.
Matty: It’s hard though. We don’t really have a favorite place because we’re in a different place every single day. Every single day, we’re in a different city, a different country, and the thing that you notice more is the consistency in everything – the way that everything is kind of the same. Everybody’s pretty much the same – all teenagers, aesthetically, culturally slightly different, but everyone at a 1975 show is just there for The 1975 show.
Have you seen a consistency with your fans' demographics?
Matty: I’d say 17-year-old girls is probably bang-on our demographic.
Had you been to the US before?
Matty: Yeah, I’d been on holiday and stuff.
George: I lived here when I was 5, in Seattle. I remember it being really snowy in the winter, and that’s about it.
Do you get any flack from being Manchester boys?
Matty: No, no – you get quite pride from being from Manchester in the UK because there are so many bands that have come from there. The whole “Manchester band” thing is a bit over now – people don’t really care about it that much. Because we were doing something different, we are kind of like the ‘new’ Manchester band, but we don’t sound like any band that’s ever come from Manchester.
What can we expect to hear today?
Matty: I suppose there’s a lot of humanity to our band because we are very much just four best friends onstage together, but there’s also a very kind of conceptual, cinematic 80s vibe to it – very akin to the sounds from the War On Drugs that we can hear right now – and we have this kind of ethereal element. It’s kind of like a dichotomy of grandeur and really really down-to-earth sentiments. It’s a fun show. We’ll play all the singles.
I suppose there’s a lot of humanity to our band… we are very much just four best friends onstage together.
Watch: “Girls” – The 1975
Is the album a reflection of the live show?
Matty: The live show is a reflection of the album. I think you have to think about it like that because it doesn’t sound like the record, but as close as it can do, because that’s what people are coming to our shows for. People aren’t coming to our shows for a raw punk experience; they’re coming to have the album that they love actualized.
The 1975 had been together for 10 years before your first album debuted at No. 1. This was a long time in the making.
Matty: Yeah – a massively long time in the making. Well, not a long time in the making, because for 90% of it we didn’t even realize we were making an album. We were just writing songs and playing it with our friends, and recording them. When we got a record deal we were like, “okay, well let’s put all of these songs together and try to make an album out of them,” and that’s what came out.
What was the first song written for the album?
Matty: “Robbers”, “Chocolate” and “Sex” were the first three – back in 2008. We spent a long time playing them, trying to get them right. They were shit for a while, but they’re good now.
All of the album is a true story. It’s mainly just quotes.
How did you come into your sound? How would you describe yourselves?
Matty: It’s very difficult to try and do that. I think it was mainly to do with the fact that we became lost in making ambient music before we really knew how to write songs, and so by the time we kind of honed in and had become meticulous at writing songs, we already had a sonic element that we knew that we wanted to keep, which was the ethereal, kind of shininess of it, which is kind of ambient, big soundscape parts surrounding simple pop ideas.
How did you choose the track listing?
Matty: That was quite hard. I can’t remember how, but I remember it being a long process. Lots of differences. I think George came up with it in the end, but you know what, it was very obvious that there were going to be three sections to it. We knew that certain songs had to go together – we knew that the album was going to open with this and that – but it just has to be so perfect…
This includes the album's aptly-titled opening track, 'The 1975'?
Matty: I knew that I wanted the first song on the album to be called “The 1975” and we just wrote it. George came up with the sound, and it’s just a sound, that song… So we just did that.
What was on your mind while writing 'Sex'?
Matty: We came up with the title for that song first. I was like, “We’re going to have a song called ‘Sex’,” and then we wrote it from there. What was on my mind? Trying to get off with a girl, I imagine. Trying to persuade a girl to go for me instead of him. The simple, classic tale of being 17. All of the album is a true story. It’s mainly just quotes.
The simple, classic tale of being 17.
Watch: “Sex” – The 1975
What’s your favorite type of chocolate?
George: Are you talking about weed or are you talking about chocolate?
Matty: Galaxy from the fridge, but “Chocolate” is about weed. My favorite of weed is cookies, vanilla kush, OG kush…
What have been the best parts of touring the world?
Matty: Traveling is hard; the shows are humbling. Our favorite thing about it is seeing so many people every day.
George: Seeing the world, making the world feel smaller is what we always say
Are there any cities you’re most excited for in the coming months?
Matty: Yeah, Bangkok (George snickers) and we get to go back and play LA and New York again, so that’s going to be fun.
Have you found yourselves writing any new music on the road?
Matty: Yeah, loads – a lot. It’s definitely developing, but it’s not a million miles away. It sounds like we’re the same songwriters, maturing as songwriters. We’re not going to rush off and do something drastically different because of being validated, that’s just fucking stupid.
Watch: “Robbers” – The 1975
For fans of: U2, Bastille, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Imagine Dragons, Oasis