Monday, 20 April 2015

Archive interview - Matthew Healy of The 1975, September 2013

On a cool September night in Newcastle a vibrant young band take to the stage at The University. The venue was booked and tickets were released, it’s probably not unfair to say, before The 1975 were famous. By the time the concert comes around they’re the proud possessors of a number 1 album. It's the first night of a 3 month tour that will see the boys play dates across the UK, America and Europe. Suffice it to say that the sheer energy and swagger of the band on stage and the infectious enthusiasm of the amassed crowd, buoyed by their understandable smugness that they'd had the foresight to get their tickets months ago, are reflected in a memorable, soaring performance.

I chatted to Matthew Healy on the tour bus before the gig last September and asked him the rather too obvious question I'd never had the chance to ask another living soul; “how does it feel to have a number 1 album?” “We spent 10 years of people telling us we’d never even get a record deal, it’s really surreal, very humbling” Matthew replied, slightly hesitantly, as if he still can’t quite believe all of this is really happening.

When asked about musical heroes Matthew reels off an incredibly eclectic, genre-jumping, and somewhat daring I feel bound to add, list of musical heroes, as befits a band who defy easy categorisation. From classic soul artists like Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Al Green and The Supremes to 1990’s R&B acts like Boyz II Men, D’Angelo and Toni Braxton, from acts “who were at their peak in the 1980s” Michael Jackson, Prince and Peter Gabriel to Talking Heads, Primal Scream and the Jesus and Mary Chain, Matthew runs through this list of musical and cultural icons with abandon. When I raise an eyebrow at the mention of Phil Collins, Curtis Stigers and Michael Bolton, Matthew gently but firmly chastises me about the musical snobbery of my own generation which is refreshingly missing in his own. “Not so over-encumbered with irony and cynicism” were his exact words. He's right of course. So we chat about the concept of the lazily named guilty pleasure for a while, with specific reference to our shared admiration of Supertramp, and Matthew tells me about his Dad’s mates who just happened to be in a band named Dire Straits.

Inevitably too, as we're on the tour bus (their 6th or 7th bus this year, Matthew tells me, matter-of-factly) my thoughts turn to the gnarly old question of tour bus film consumption. For a band who take their music seriously the response is, with the exception of Gangs of New York, light-hearted and escapist. “The Office, Alan Partridge, South Park'. I sense a very special fondness for Team America: World Police too.Songwriting, Matthew tells me, is an organic process undertaken, for this hectic year at least, while on the road. He finds it slightly puzzling when bands take themselves away somewhere specifically to write material for a new album and tells me at this point that they’re “well into the second album, we make music because it makes us happy.”
Interview originally published in NEMM (North East Music Monthly).
Thanks for reading and, don't forget, my Kindle book is still available by clicking on this nifty little link;
The Great Cassette Experiment - The Joy Of Cassettes




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