When The 1975 dropped their eponymous debut frontman Matt Healy said he wanted every song on it to be a ‘ lead track’ – seven singles in and counting they’re not far off, but album two beckons as a rapidly growing fan base becomes impatient. By Dave Drayt
The Manchester indie rockers are gonna need a bigger pub.
When Manchester four- piece The 1975 first visited Aussie shores less than a year ago they did what most newish international bands on larger festivals do – they played a sideshow at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney.
When we speak to Matt Healy and drummer George Daniel ( who seem to be tasked with the brunt of the media responsibilities, leaving guitarist Adam Hann and bassist Ross MacDonald in the wings off stage) it’s at Sony HQ, the afternoon before their sold- out Splendour In The Grass sideshow at the Enmore Theatre: which was, incidentally, moved from The Metro, where it sold out in a matter of minutes.
“Apparently it’s really nice,” enthuses Daniel, after Healy has, a little underwhelmed, recapped the venues they played as Big Day Out sideshows in January as “just pubs, really.”
“That’s where we feel the most comfortable,” explains Healy, joining Daniel’s enthusiasm, “In big, but not too big, pretty venues.”
It’s worth noting that with Splendour done and dusted, a run on the Big Day Out earlier in the year and appearances at Isle Of White, Reading and Leeds, Coachella and a host more, there’s nary a festival bill they haven’t graced or topped in the last 18 months. Since our interview and that sold- out Enmore show the band have stepped it up again, announcing a tour for January next year that will see them playing venues of an altogether larger size ( and levels of ‘ prettiness’ that are debatable): Hordern Pavilion, The Tivoli, Festival Hall... Each of the new converts that fills these larger and larger spaces is asking the same question: when will the new
album come? And almost as many are already neck deep in speculation on where the band will take their sound on it. Daniel mentioned a loose plan to release their second album two years to the day after their debut.
“That was an idealistic plan, but it may not happen,” says Daniel mysteriously.
“That was the 1975- ness in us coming out, wanting to have a consistency,” Healy weighs in with equal ambiguity.
“If we did it, it would be early September next year,” says Daniel, “Which seems a long time if you’re not in the band. We’ve still got a lot of touring to do on this album and we really don’t want to rush with the recording of the next one.
“The first record, there was no pressure to write it for any sort of agenda, we didn’t know when it was going to be released or what it was going to be – it just ended up being an album that was all the songs that we’d written, and we’d lived with those songs for a long time so what we really want to do is have a wealth of ideas and really live with them for a few months before we settle on exactly what they’re going to sound like.
“It’s tough, we have to accept that it’s not going to be the same process, we’re just not going to have that time, and also we know this album has expectation now, but we’re not worrying about it at all, as long as we can keep one step ahead and we’re not in need of writing singles or, you know…
“Musically we’ve got a lot of it, it’s just he’s a bit slow,” says Daniel, shifting blame to Healy, who’s still struggling to work out what he should be writing for it lyrically.
“We don’t have a life and the life we do have is completely objectified and idolised and scrutinised…” says Healy. But despite appearing to lament that fact, he has recognised how that aspect of things plays into the band’s popularity: “There’s this desire for proximity with our band, people want to be with us and experiencing it literally near us.”
“But it’s one of the things we’ve realised we’re going to need to do – to have balance to anything is always necessary,” Daniel interjects, before Healy continues.
“We need to live a bit of a normal life for a bit because who’s going to relate to a record about being a sex symbol?” Daniel draws out an exasperated, “Yeah.” “No one,” says Healy. “I don’t want to make a reflective album because nobody over the age of 25 wants to hear somebody at 25 being reflective, because you immediately think, ‘ Well, you haven’t got a fucking clue’. So there’s no point in me making… You know, I have feelings where I think, ‘ Well maybe, the first record was about me, so the second record needs to be about us’, and then I think, ‘ Well, what responsibilities do I have?’ I have a voice now, so do I utilise that to make people slightly more conscientious about worldviews? Or do I understand that the reason people are listening to The 1975 is because they want to lose themselves from reality a little bit and they’re not there to question their social agenda or something like that.
“So I think, ‘ Do I just carry on writing love songs based around the incidental moments and minutiae of life and I think that’s kind of what I need to do. Because I think that’s what people want. I’m going to be criticised either way and I think I’d be more criticised if I came out and started being like…
“On the road again,” Daniel intercepts in his best American accent.
“Or like fucking trying to be Bono and things like that,” says Healy.
For now, Healy has finished one song completely. Perhaps their next visit in January will give more indication of whether or not he has commenced becoming fucking Bono.