The scatter-brained approach pays off for The 1975
If you caught The 1975’s set at the Good Vibes Festival recently, you’d have noticed just how laid-back and slacker-ish its frontman Matthew Healy is – from his unruly mop of curly hair to his lazy but still fluid dance moves. That on-stage persona is not an act – Healy really is that way off stage as well.
Laid-back, slightly skittish and speaking with a languid drawl, the 27-year-old Londoner admits that he can be a bit “scatter-brained”, a characteristic he says is reflected in the band’s sophomore album, the ridiculously named I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (yes, that’s the entire album title!).
“I think that with music, all you are trying to say is believe me. And the only way I can make people believe me is being truly myself,” he says. “I am very all over the place, and I’m very scatter-brained, so if I made an album that wasn’t like that I’d be lying, and people just wouldn’t believe it.
“It would be very unnatural for me to make a record that would sound like, say, The Strokes. I just don’t have the attention span to be into one type of music long enough to make an album like that.”
Comprising Healy, Adam Hann (lead guitar), Ross MacDonald (bass), and George Daniel (drums), the British band was formed in 2002, and went through several names before finally settling on The 1975, which was inspired by something Healy saw in a book of poetry by Jack Kerouac.
The band went on to release four EPs and a self-titled album in 2013, but it is I Like It When You Sleep … that established The 1975 as one of the most exciting British bands today.
Stylistically, the album sounds like a mishmash of different genres, from pop to indie guitar rock, with some ambient post-rock thrown in between.
Healy, who calls their music “art pop”, puts this down to the way “my generation” consumes music.
“My catchphrase is: We create in the same way we consume. Likewise, I create music in the same way I consume it. There’s no really any rules left with regards to what you’re allowed to listen to, especially for a young person… people of my generation they listen to everything. So I just, naturally, create everything!” he says, laughing.
The process of making the album, however, was anything but structured. “We just went on some creative bender with no rules – no stylistic rules, no rules in regards to pop music, or this music or that music. The album we ended up with is the record that we got. We didn’t really set out to make any kind of album,” he said.
Was he surprised that this seemingly haphazard approach produced such a coherent album, though? “It’s not up to me to say if it’s a coherent album or not… It’s very representative of me, but I’M not very coherent at the best of times!” he replied with a laugh.
“When I start things, they would always end very different from what I thought it would be. I’ve learnt to accept that and let it become what it is, and evolve slowly.”
As for the album’s title, Healy said it was a spur of the moment thing: “At one point, we were talking about the album title, and I said, ‘We’re going to call it that (I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It), because then we don’t have to worry about making a ridiculous album because it’s already called something ridiculous!’.”
I Like It When You Sleep was recently short listed for one of the highest accolades in British music – the prestigious Mercury Prize, alongside David Bowie’s Blackstar, Radiohead’s A Moon-Shaped Pool, Bat For Lashes’ The Bride, and Michael Kiwanuka’s Love & Hate.
Although rapper Skepta’s Konnichiwa was named the winner, Healy was proud that they were nominated, though he added that they never expected the album to reach those heights in the first place.
“When you make your first album, you’re always thinking about things like that because you’ve got no experience, you’re not objective…” he said. “But with this one, we just wanted to make a really honest record and not care about whether it was going to be accepted critically or commercially. We just wanted to make a record that WE wanted to make, and I think that’s what made it a Mercury-nominated album.”
The 1975 has opened shows for the likes of The Rolling Stones and Muse in the past, and Healy was particularly amazed by the former.
“Before the show, I heard them rehearsing next door and it blew my mind. They’ve been in a band for 50 years, and they still care so much that they rehearse before a gig. And if I’m anything like that when I’m 70, I’ll be happy,” he said.
So, does he see the 1975 lasting until 2075?
“I don’t see why not!”