Chal­leng­ing stereo­types

While in Hong Kong for the clock­en­flap Fes­ti­val, matthew Healy and Ge­orge daniel of The 1975 spoke to r.aGe about books, night­mares and rock ’n’ roll.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - By JAYDEE LOK

WHEN nov­el­ist Jack Ker­ouac wrote, “Noth­ing be­hind me, ev­ery­thing ahead of me, as is ever so on the road” in On The Road, he prob­a­bly didn’t re­alise what an im­pact that line would have on mu­si­cians for years to come.

It cer­tainly res­onated with Matthew Healy (pic be­low) vo­cal­ist of British band The 1975. Af­ter try­ing to em­u­late the quirk­i­ness of Ker­ouac’s novel in both his mu­sic and de­meanour, the quote fi­nally came to de­scribe the life Healy has led in the last year.

“On The Road’s my favourite Jack Ker­ouac book be­cause it has de­fined me so much. It is now the book that is most rel­e­vant to my life be­cause of the fact that I do live in this deca­dent stream of ever-flow­ing per­pet­ual rock ’n’ roll trav­el­ling,” said Healy, 24.

Healy him­self is an open book and has a rep for be­ing painfully hon­est in his song writ­ing and in the end­less string of in­ter­views he has had to give since his band made its de­but at No.1 in Bri­tain in Septem­ber.

Af­ter about a decade of play­ing to­gether, Healy and his band mates – Ge­orge Daniel, Adam Hann and Ross Mac­Don­ald – have found them­selves go­ing from a teenage garage band to in­ter­na­tional rock stars, play­ing shows like the Clock­en­flap Fes­ti­val in Hong Kong two week­ends ago. They don’t do it for the rat­ings, though. Crit­ics of­ten try to clas­sify The 1975 as an indie band, but the mem­bers have stated time and again that the most prom­i­nent in­flu­ence on the band is R&B. Both Healy and Daniel say that their mu­sic has a more in­dul­gent pur­pose, and while they aren’t too fussed about what the crit­ics say, they are com­pletely aware of their pub­lic im­age.

“All of our mu­sic is in­formed by African Amer­i­can mu­sic and the fact that we are per­ceived as an indie band is a cos­metic anal­y­sis. If we were four black guys, it would be very dif­fer­ent the way that we were mar­keted and per­ceived, even if the mu­sic stayed the same,” said Healy.

“If you lis­ten to our record, there’s so much more Prince and Michael Jack­son and Al Green than there is, I don’t know, what indie bands are there? The Arc­tic Monkeys? Which couldn’t be fur­ther from our band.”

While the band makes mu­sic for them­selves re­gard­less of the opin­ions of other peo­ple, Healy con­fessed that his ob­ses­sion with mu­sic has had some­what of a detri­men­tal ef­fect on his life. As he speaks, his fin­gers are tapping against each other in a syn­co­pated pat­tern – rhyth­mic tics that he finds him­self mulling over when­ever his hands are un­oc­cu­pied.

“I’ve never re­ally been able to be in­ter­ested in any­thing as much (as mu­sic), even re­la­tion­ships that I’ve had with peo­ple. All those tics I talk about are fine, but when I re­alise all that all I’ve re­ally been think­ing about for three hours is a rhythm, it drives me a bit men­tal. That’s a bit an­noy­ing.”

Speak­ing of the re­la­tion­ships he has with peo­ple, he does have gen­uine con­cerns when it comes to the con­nec­tions he makes.

“The idea of a per­sonal in­ter­ac­tion with an­other hu­man be­ing and the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a per­son­al­ity through an art form are very dif­fer­ent things,” he ex­plained. (Yes, Healy is ex­tremely in­sight­ful, as you would ex­pect from some­one who of­ten talks about his ex­is­ten­tial angst....)


ap­prox­i­mately 18,000 peo­ple at­tended clock­en­flap Fes­ti­val in Hong Kong on the day The 1975 per­formed.

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