Matt Healy, front­man with the Best Al­bum win­ners, on the joy of long LP ti­tles.

The year that The 1975 had a Num­ber 1 LP on both sides of the At­lantic with the most un­likely ti­tle and now, per­haps best of all, they’ve won Q’s Best Al­bum Award.

Q (UK) - - Contents - IN­TER­VIEW: PAUL STOKES

Op­er­a­tor? Yes, please put The 1975’ s Matt Healy through. He wants to tell us all about his ex­tra­or­di­nary year…

Re­leas­ing Love Me, the first sin­gle off the new lp

“That was a big mo­ment for us, be­cause it was a nervy time. We’d locked our­selves away to do our sec­ond al­bum [ I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beau­ti­ful Yet So Un­aware Of It]. There wasn’t even a door­bell on the studio where we made the record! So the re­ac­tion of peo­ple on hear­ing our new stuff for the first time, see­ing that we were a real band to be reck­oned with, was quite ex­cit­ing. We’d only just fin­ished mak­ing the al­bum when we re­leased Love Me at the end of last year. We were tweak­ing the mix on the plane on our lap­tops when we flew to Lon­don for its premiere. We went from a very se­cluded, in­su­lar ex­is­tence to us ex­pos­ing our­selves to the world – it was very dra­matic. I re­mem­ber the first play on Ra­dio 1: peo­ple were go­ing, ‘What the fuck is this?’ I was in the studio when they played it and while there was a sense of ex­cite­ment from Ra­dio 1 staff, there was also re­lief too, be­cause they’d re­ally sup­ported us. A lot of gui­tar bands have come out with cool first al­bums but they didn’t de­liver on the sec­ond al­bum, whereas our sec­ond al­bum is way bet­ter than our first. So we were ex­cited to ruf­fle feath­ers be­cause we’d spent a year ac­quir­ing a dif­fer­ent iden­tity in pri­vate. It was im­por­tant to get it out there. “What was dif­fi­cult about putting Love Me out was that we’d made an al­bum that’s de­fined by how dif­fer­ent it is from song to song. With Love Me everyone said, ‘They’re a glam band now!’, so it was in­ter­est­ing to see what as­sump­tions peo­ple were mak­ing with­out hear­ing the song in con­text. Peo­ple thought we were go­ing to be some sort of ’ 80s re­vival band, which I thought was funny be­cause it couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth.”

Play­ing with the BBC Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra

“Play­ing with the BBC Phil­har­monic [ for a special Ra­dio 1 Live Lounge con­cert in Black­pool] in Septem­ber was the live high­light. It was ob­vi­ously a spec­ta­cle but it was so mu­si­cally in­dul­gent. I love what I do but singing and stuff isn’t my favourite thing – I’m much more com­fort­able writ­ing the mu­sic. I’ve learned how to be a per­former, how to be in The 1975, but writ­ing is what I re­ally like to do, so work­ing with the clas­si­cal ar­ranger on my own mu­sic was special. I’d al­ways wanted to write in that world, but when we got in the room to re­hearse we were hit with the re­al­ity: 80 mu­si­cians play­ing stuff I’d writ­ten. It was al­most like hear­ing some­one do­ing a re­ally good im­pres­sion of you – your iden­tity is in the mu­sic, yet it’s dif­fer­ent. I re­ally loved the harp part in Some­body Else and the strings in A Change Of Heart. The ar­ranger, Sam Swal­low, and I wanted to keep it true to the orig­i­nal but with lit­tle mo­ments of em­bel­lish­ment. I would have freaked out if it was just loads of peo­ple jizzing all over the songs, but it was done so taste­fully. “There’s quite an aca­demic el­e­ment to The 1975. Most bands come from the cul­tural side, as op­posed to mu­si­cal – they end up being a band first and be­come mu­si­cal sec­ond – but we’re the other way around. Mu­sic was our ob­ses­sion when we were younger. All the cul­tural im­por­tance of the band and being cool or what­ever came later. So do­ing this show was like go­ing back to the pu­rity of just mak­ing mu­sic be­cause

“a lot of bands have come out with cool first al­bums but they didn’t de­liver on their sec­ond al­bum, whereas our sec­ond al­bum is way bet­ter than our first.”

when you’re writ­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic you’re not think­ing about being cool. “When we got to the show, we were so ner­vous about it that it was over in a flash. We didn’t re­ally have time to think about it and it’s very sel­dom that hap­pens. It was awe­some and it was so in­spir­ing. There are some clas­si­cal el­e­ments on the al­bum and it’s some­thing we want to move fur­ther into, so meet­ing peo­ple and work­ing with the Phil­har­monic was a good way of look­ing at how we’ll im­merse our­selves in that world.”

Get­ting to the top of the US al­bum charts

“I thought get­ting a Num­ber 1 al­bum in Amer­ica was an un­re­al­is­tic ambition, but as it started get­ting closer it be­came the thing we wanted to achieve. It was a bit of shock when it hap­pened, es­pe­cially as it was Adele we knocked off the top – only for a week, but… And get­ting the record for the long­est ti­tle, with I Like It When You Sleep…, to top the US charts was a nice bonus. If we were go­ing to call it some­thing like that we might as well get some kind of award for its stu­pid­ity. “There’s still a lot of work to do, but the Num­ber 1 speaks of hav­ing a hard­core fan­base in Amer­ica. It feels like we’ve em­bed­ded our­selves in the pub­lic con­scious­ness there. I’ve heard that loads of fa­mous peo­ple have been com­ing to our gigs in the US – I’m such a recluse now that I very rarely leave the tour­bus – so I didn’t see any of it but ap­par­ently there was a Kar­dashian at our LA gig, and [ teen ac­tor] Jaden Smith or some­one like that, which is all quite good fun. I did go to Di­plo’s house the other day – he wanted to meet me and Ge­orge [ Daniel, drums] be­cause he’s a fan of the al­bum. It was fun to hang out and talk about mu­sic. “So, peo­ple have been reach­ing out to us but it’s not like Kanye is knock­ing on the door want­ing to make a record. Plus, I don’t want to do any­thing pre­dictable. I don’t want to get a bit fa­mous, then put Ri­hanna on a track, but let’s see, if she wants to be on a track we’ll talk. It hasn’t gone to our heads, but it’s a nice val­i­da­tion.”

Dis­cov­er­ing what The 1975 means

“Re­al­is­ing ret­ro­spec­tively what it takes to make an al­bum like ours was great. We went through the mill to make that record. We thought it was fuck­ing aw­ful for 60 per cent of the time. We didn’t think we had any sin­gles, so it re­ally, re­ally taught us what it takes to make a proper record, how much you need to put into it. We learnt who we were as a band mak­ing this al­bum and what it is we want to achieve. It’s in­spired us to start writ­ing what will even­tu­ally be the third al­bum straight­away, be­cause I know you’re only as good as your last work. “All I want to do is keep cul­ti­vat­ing the world of The 1975 to be­come a mas­sive cul­tural move­ment – not only a band, be­cause for our hard­core fans this is a cul­ture. For one band to be the am­bas­sadors for this new world of cre­at­ing and con­sum­ing more than one type of mu­sic is re­ally im­por­tant to me. But it’s not a per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity, it’s an artis­tic one. It’s dif­fi­cult being a nor­mal guy from the North of Eng­land, yet hav­ing to ac­cept that what you do is re­ally im­por­tant to

peo­ple – al­most as im­por­tant as it is to me. There are kids who have been to 150 shows! I’d never go to any­thing like that, not even for my band. So I’ve spent a lot of time think­ing: ‘What am I do­ing? Am I being self­ish do­ing this as there’s a lot of shit go­ing on in the world?’ And I’ve re­alised I’m not. I’m pro­vid­ing a re­lease for all these kids; this world of The 1975 is one they can see them­selves in, feel con­nected to. It gives them a re­lease from all the bull­shit. Art, sex and re­li­gion are all just ways of los­ing your­self and what I’ve re­alised is that it’s partly my job to do that for all those peo­ple who love The 1975.”

Play­ing our first arena in Amer­ica

“I’ve never tried to do any­thing apart from write songs about my mid­dle-class emo life and it’s so funny how so many peo­ple have con­nected with it that we can fill up an arena in New York City. I never thought I’d be that cool or that re­lat­able. I’ve al­ways been a bit of an out­sider. We’ve gone from being a band who played our songs Choco­late, Rob­bers and Sex to a la­bel 10 years ago and them say­ing, ‘Nah’, to play­ing those same songs to 13,000 peo­ple in New York! It was very much a ‘I knew I was right!’ mo­ment. To be fair, if I’d met me when I was 17, with a beard, talk­ing the way that I do, I would be du­bi­ous about sign­ing me too. Back then I was quite a weird, in­tense char­ac­ter who knew ex­actly what was go­ing to hap­pen over the next 10 years. It turns out I was right, but if I was run­ning a busi­ness I don’t know how much money I would have in­vested in a 17- year-old Matt Healy, to be hon­est with you. “What’s next? I want to headline Glas­ton­bury! Not next year, but soon. Straight up, and I’m go­ing to do it as well. I never used to say stuff like this – I’m not a men­tal, in­sane nar­cis­sist – but there’s so much faux mod­esty in mu­sic now. It’s tran­spired that we get to play are­nas all over the world, so why now would I not want to headline Glas­ton­bury? Of all the young bands on their sec­ond al­bums at the mo­ment, which one do you reckon is go­ing to headline Glas­ton­bury? I’m not being a dick­head, but who is it go­ing to be? If you want a young gui­tar band to headline Glas­ton­bury in the next few years, The 1975 are the only real op­tion. There are loads of the bands I love around but Glas­ton­bury al­ways has the de­sire for gui­tar mu­sic and it al­ways has a de­sire for young Bri­tish bands. If Arc­tic Mon­keys can do it on their sec­ond al­bum, I can fuck­ing do it, no prob­lem. So let’s do this in­ter­view again in a cou­ple of years… and your first ques­tion will be: ‘How did you feel about your sec­ond- from­top slot at Glas­ton­bury this year?’” laughs]

“of all the young bands at the mo­ment, which one do you reckon will headline glas­ton­bury? I’m not being a dick­head but The 1975 are the only op­tion.”

Earn­ing his stripes: The 1975’s Matt Healy. “Oh dear, I think my hair’s caught up in yours!”: (above) Matt Healy joined Ra­dio 1’s An­nie Mac for the de­but of sin­gle Love Me (pic­tured in­set).

The year of liv­ing fa­mously: The 1975, Brix­ton Academy, Lon­don, March, 2016.

“Love us!”: with Jimmy Fal­lon on The Tonight Show, New York, Fe­bru­ary, 2016. Things are look­ing up: the band at the US al­bum launch for I Like It When You Sleep…, New York, 2016.

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