By Andy Downing
RedEye special contributor
5:09 PM CDT, October 8, 2013
This year has been a whirlwind for 1975 singer Matthew Healy.
“My life has changed so fundamentally,” said the frontman, reached in mid-September on the eve of a sold-out gig at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. “It’s a very strange experience to go from 10 years of nothing to eight months of everything you could have ever dreamed of.”
While the band's rise, fueled by their sleek, self-titled debut, might appear meteoric from the outside, Healy and his mates have actually been making music together since they were teenagers in Manchester. He's still adjusting to the intensity of the media spotlight that's been thrust upon the crew.
“To be honest, the whole fame thing is kind of [bleeping] our heads up a little bit,” said Healy, 24. “You've caught me at an interesting time. I was just looking at the line [outside Shepherd's Bush] and it's got me feeling a bit nostalgic.”
With this as the backdrop, the singer discussed the '80s influences that bleed into the 1975's polished, pop-rock sound, why he never felt an attachment to the bands so commonly associated with his hometown and the Chicago director whose films have helped shape his life.
You’ve spoken about how you spent your teenage years in Manchester having sex and doing drugs. I guess being in a band completes the trinity.
It’s the perfect cliché, isn’t it? There was a nice review in the Guardian that said this year has been “the delirious rise of Manchester’s heartbroken gutter-poet,” or something, and I thought that was a really nice way of describing us. All of these songs seem to be of the rock ‘n’ roll cliché, but they’re actually true, and there’s a lot of honesty and a lot of reality behind what could maybe be perceived as something with an agenda. People may think I’m trying to be a pop star. Maybe I just am one.
Do you worry how that spotlight is going to affect the band moving forward?
It’s definitely something I’ve thought about. I’d be naïve to think the dynamic won’t change at all because it has to. I’m living totally separate lives. The next record won’t be written anywhere near the same circumstances where I wrote the last one, so I’m sure the creative process will change and develop. We’ll just have to embrace whatever evolution it goes through.
You released singles called “Sex” and “The City.” Were you using subliminal advertising to try and win over fans of the HBO series?
[Laughs] Not at all, but I love that! I always have to word it very carefully so it’s like, “Yeah, our singles are ‘Chocolate,’ ‘The City’ and ‘Sex.’” I love the “Sex” and “The City” thing. We used to put the “and” on our set list; we’ve embraced it. “Chocolate,” “Girls,” “Sex” and “The City.” Fucking hell. It’s like, “C’mon girls, what more do you want?” I couldn’t be more subliminally flirting.
It sounds like you never connected with New Order or Joy Division or any of those other bands so commonly associated with Manchester.
I think it’s partially due to the fact that as a band we never found our geographical location a very inspiring thing. I wasn’t brought up in Manchester. I was born in London and brought up in the north of England in Newcastle and moved to Manchester when I was about 11. That tribalist adherence to the Manchester music scene didn’t really impact on me or the rest of the band. We were the one Manchester band who wasn’t wearing that Manchester badge of honor. There are certain records I love, and I actually lived next door to [Joy Division/New Order bassist] Peter Hook, but they weren't really an inspiration for our band. Manchester has enough heroes. They don’t need another gobshite frontman.
Did Peter Hook live directly next door? Like, would you see him out doing yard work?
His daughter used to have a big crush on me. I heard a story once that he would pick her up from school and she would make him wait until I skateboarded past on my way home. I thought that was pretty funny.
The album has a strong ’80s influence. Are you drawn to any other aspect of the decade? The fashion? The film?
I suppose so, but not necessarily in a nostalgic way. I think all of the John Hughes [and] Cameron Crowe movies are huge for me. They have this antiquated, romanticized view of youth. I was born towards the end of the ’80s, so that culturally spilled over into my childhood. I wanted to make a record that represented some of the great ’80s records like “So” by Peter Gabriel or “Graceland” by Paul Simon. All of my favorite artists were at their peak in the ’80s: Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Phil Collins.
You mentioned John Hughes, and obviously he’s one of those Chicago icons. Do you have a favorite of his films?
Oh, all of them for different reasons. The girl I’m currently dating looks exactly like Kelly LeBrock in “Weird Science,” and I’ve told her that’s pretty much the reason we’re still together. So, yeah, I base my life around his movies.
The 1975, 8:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Lincoln Hall. Sold out.
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