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The 1975: The slick school band who did it their way
Tim Hughes talks to Matt Healy of band of the moment The 1975
Tipped as one of the year’s biggest breakthrough bands, it’s not hard to see the attraction of The 1975.
Their polished pop bubbles with electronic textures and enough hooks to catch a shoal of mackerel. But these four lads from Cheshire also look the part – their slick boy band looks setting them out as indie-rock pin-ups.
They appear a perfectly compiled band but couldn’t be more organic, being one of those rare commodities – a school band which has stuck together.
Frontman Matt Healy, guitarist Adam Hann, drummer George Daniel and bassist Ross MacDonald have been playing since the age of 14. That was 10 years ago.
“We were just four guys in a band not thinking about putting records out,” says Matt, who is the son of Benidorm and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet star Timothy Healy and the actress, dancer and television presenter Denise Welch – famous for appearances in Coronation Street, Waterloo Road and Loose Women.
“I’m a lot closer to these boys than any other friend or sibling. We know more about each other than our families do. We’ve got so much on each other and don’t have any fear of hurting each other’s feelings or worrying that ‘if I say this, he’ll walk out’. We don’t mess with one another or test each other. We all know certain things and certain rules.”
And, he says, that makes him more honest as a songwriter. “I can’t lie about anything or make anything up,” he says. “And I don’t talk about how I feel. I paint scenery and let people fill in the blanks.
“I’m a songwriter and would be regardless of whether I was in a band or not. I’ve been writing songs every day for 10 years. It’s that whole thing of making music for fun and that’s what we do best.”
After a busy summer of festival-going, the band released their long-awaited eponymous debut album earlier this month, preceded by EPs Facedown, Sex, Music for Cars and IV. The album went straight to the top of the album chart and the band are now heading out on what is already a sold-out tour, checking in at the O2 Academy Oxford on Tuesday.
Matt explains, proudly, that success has been achieved purely on their own terms.
“It’s been a humbling process,” he says. “But a process of being proved right. We have been wined and dined but have come out the other side really wanting to do this our own way. “We have come out bruised and battered but have stuck to our guns in terms of our style and the execution of how we do things. We have one coherent vision and we are not going to be designed by committee.
“One of the things we didn’t want was to be a band that adhered to the idea that accessibility is paramount. That could dilute the whole affair. We like the idea of The 1975 as an entity rather than four individuals – and with one person fronting it. It makes things clear and more concise.”
That also explains why Matt is the only one of the band to do interviews.
“I’m not a stern dictator or brutal polemicist though,” he laughs. “I’m just the frontman!
“People seem very interested in the history and ideology of this band, but we just make music for the love of music. We believe in the pursuit of excellence among four individuals.
“When we started out we were crazy little kids. We sounded like the Dead Kennedys one day, the next like Explosions In The Sky, but our love for music never changed. Music was always my life. Michael Jackson, Roberta Flack, Prince, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett – black American music is what we were all brought up with, but when you're 14 it’s hard to create that so you just make loads of noise. Then when I realised we could do anything we wanted, everything changed.”
Previously playing under the names Talkhouse, The Slowdown, Bigsleep, and Drive Like I Do, I’m intrigued how they came up with their current moniker? After all, they weren’t even born then; not by a long shot.
“I was on holiday when I was 19 and met an artist who I thought was the coolest bloke ever,” he recalls. “He gave me a book which someone had made a load of notes in. It mentioned ‘The 1975’ and, for some reason, I liked the sound.” I wondered what had happened then. The use of the word ‘The’ was a very clear statement of intent. “It was an interesting year,” he goes on. “But we could as well have been called The 1912.”
The name seems to fit though. And with everything going their way, this group of former classmates have their sights set on the long game. “We are homeless,” Matt says cheerfully.
“We have all moved out because we don’t need homes – we haven’t got a day off until next year!”
LIVE: The 1975 play the O2 Academy on Tuesday. Support comes from Night Engine and MMX. Tickets have sold out.
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