LSi caught up with Matt Healy, frontman of The 1975, ahead of their sold out show at Stylus last week.
“My problem is that I’m just like everybody else”, Matt Healy tells me when we sit down ahead of The 1975’s sold out show at Leeds University Union later that evening. The topic is critics and whether or not they’re a concern. “I suppose it matters to my band because it has to. If everyone slagged us off, then everyone would think we were s**t. I’m quite a neurotic person, so if I read a review that is good then I’ll f***ing love it, but then if I read a review that’s bad, it’ll destroy me.”
Self confessed neurosis aside, there’s a cool self assurance than emanates from Healy, who I interrupt playing a game of GTAV on his tour bus – a sacrifice that comes with being the frontman of one of Britain’s most successful bands this year. 2013 has seen The 1975’s fan base grow by the minute, their self-titled debut album breeze to Number 1 in the UK Album Chart and the critics – even some of the most cynical – singing its praises.
I approach the subject of the band’s success in pushing past the Top 40 fodder to take the top spot and though he assures me he doesn’t have time to resent the music industry for some of the terrible music it produces (“I don’t even have enough time to speak to my mum”), Healy has a theory about why he and his friends did so well: “I guess not many people are really that good enough are they?”
Well, that’s certainly one way of putting it.
He continues: “I mean, we didn’t try very hard. We just did exactly what we wanted to do and were really, really true to ourselves. Pop music now, it lacks humanity and it lacks things for people to emotionally invest in. I think maybe the fact that we have been so revered is because we provide that humanity and that honesty in a form that is kind of accessible.”
This idea of being accessible and honest seems important to Healy, who started out writing lyrics and songs with the band over 10 years ago as a vehicle of “creative expression”. The measure of success attached to achieving the Number 1, he assures me, is insigniﬁcant in the grand scheme of things. “When you’re an artist, you have an imaginary ladder of success and when you start achieving them they’re actually quite brittle in regards to how much they resolve the things that concern you about what you do. So the elements of success that are really important to me, are when the things that I created from a really, really personal perspective mean a lot – like, a lot a lot – to someone else. There’s kids that cry when they meet me; it’s peculiar and it’s mad, but I remember feeling like that.”
Lyrically, then, The 1975 deal in the invocation of nostalgia for adolescence. Musically they are less easy to deﬁne, the album drips in 80s inﬂuence and a healthy homage to R&B, yet the band are described as a pop rock outlet. “People think that we’re a clever indie band because we incorporate R&B music into guitar music when it’s totally the other way round. We’re more like an R&B band that incorporates guitars and rock elements. We did a cover of One Direction recently for the Live Lounge and that, at a base level, is what our band sounds like if we were to sit in a room. But we understand that we’re not Boys II Men.”
In some instances, Healy hovers a ﬁne line between conﬁdence and pretension however his honesty is refreshing and alongside his ability to relate to those who ﬁnd solace in his music makes him seem as though he has at least one foot on the ground. 10 years in the making, The 1975’s success this year must be something of a vindication for Healy who is now making a career from wearing his heart on his sleeve. But it’s not all seriousness that exumes from this frontman. “This is my life now – it’s pretty fun, you know – when you weigh up the pros and cons, it’s pretty awesome.”