Half of The 1975 are having performance anxiety. Murmurs of "I can't draw…" and "I'm rubbish at drawing..." abound. Frontman - and the Robin Hood of heart-on-your-sleeve wearing - Matty Healy, musters his band of mumbling men: "Sit down and do your drawing. We never get to do fun promo like this because we're a 'serious' band, so come on." The irony is not lost on the four-piece, as they get to work on self-portraits whilst all comically crammed on one end of a sunny picnic table, back-to-school style.
Fifteen minutes earlier, Healy could be heard appraising his bandmates’ photoshoot poses. "Why are you standing like that? You look like a boyband," he says, before himself bounding into a classic 90s boyband crouch for a lark. They are a band sometimes criticised for being pretentious - an ironic discourse from hipster press - and much is made of Matt’s head honcho leadership style, but hanging out with The 1975 is like basking in a celebration of their friendship. They describe their relationship as "extensions of one's personality" and wisecrack about their "ten years of marriage" to each other. But unlike other bands that talk the best friend talk, but don’t walk the BFF walk, I continue to spot them together all throughout the 2014 Auckland Big Day Out - from Adam Hann and Ross Macdonald watching Arcade Fire in the crowd together whilst being showered by confetti, to Healy and [he of two first names] George Daniel dance-walking out into a brisk night soundtracked by Snoop Dogg. John Hughes would be proud, truly.
For some in their homeland of England, The 1975 are heroes - with a Number One debut album, support slots for the likes of The Rolling Stones and Muse, outspoken fans in Ed Sheeran and You Me At Six's Josh Franceschi (both who complained publicly about the band's lack of Brit Award nominations), as well as Ellie Goulding having sported a band t-shirt on her Instagram - but with such monumental success, there also comes that pesky tall poppy syndrome, which was undoubtedly a deciding factor as to why they were recently voted 'Worst Band' at the 2014 NME Awards. It’s clear where New Zealand’s feelings lie though. If Twitter is any indication, then New Zealand is definitely head over heels for The 1975. The band were a top trending topic post-BDO for more than 24 hours afterward - a feat achieved by no other act that played this year’s festival; not even Pearl Jam with their headlines of Eddie Vedder sending neighbouring houses gifts of wine, signed with handwritten thank you messages.
"We started a band at thirteen - so when you start a band at that age, you’re doing it for immediate reaction, for immediate fun. You're not doing it because you want to be cool, you're doing it for the same reason you play a video game or play football."
COUP DE MAIN: Welcome to New Zealand! It's so nice to have you guys here playing a show in support of your debut album. Did you have fun playing the Big Day Out Auckland?
THE 1975 - MATTY HEALY: Thank you, thank you. Yeah we loved it, it was good fun. It was hard [though], because we haven't been to bed properly in two or three days. It's so far from London to get here, but it's amazing. It's a beautiful country and everyone is really cool, we really like it. We've always really wanted to come here and there's a mystery to it being from the UK because it is so far away. A lot of people simply can't get here, but I’m glad we did.
CDM: I heard there were some fans waiting for you at the airport yesterday when you arrived!
MATTY: I think it's starting to happen internationally now; it's quite odd. Japan and Asian countries seem to be quite prolific with their fandom.
THE 1975 - GEORGE DANIEL: Hong Kong as well, is another good place.
CDM: Does social media give you an idea of what your fanbase is like, before you go to an unvisited country for the first time?
MATTY: I suppose you can do, but it's such a blur and mishmash of teenage angst that you can't really figure out or differentiate where anyone's from, or what anyone's talking about. Our Twitter feed now is kind of difficult to follow.
GEORGE: Yeah, we kind of keep less in touch with it now.
CDM: "Follow me! Follow me!"
MATTY: It is! I don't like the following thing, I've talked about this on numerous occasions, but it's difficult to figure out where everyone's gonna be.
CDM: The 1975 fans are very active online and devoted to promoting the band. Some bands shy away from having a two-way relationship with their fans, preferring a more aloof approach, but in an ideal world what would your relationship with fans be like? Is it what you have already, now?
GEORGE: Yeah, I think so. I think it's just been a case where we were very reserved with our online presence initially, and we didn't deliberately not interact with fans early on, but when the whole band came to life and we started playing shows we realised that people were really rewarded when they met us because we were very elusive before then. We try to speak to as many people as possible now, really.
MATTY: Exactly. There's no direct relationship with anybody online. We’ve always had quite a minimalist approach to the way that we project ourselves on our social media platforms, but there seems to be more of the thing where people act like they want to be part of the gang a little bit. There seems to be a want to be at one with us - to be at one with our fans - which is where that kind of connection comes from and stems from. I suppose we are quite aloof, but people still really invest a lot in the band.
CDM: I love that your songs sound like soliloquies in song-form. Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
MATTY: That's a nice perception. I think that… you've got to remember that all the lyrics - if we're talking about lyrics - they were written before anyone knew who the band was, so this honesty and this "wearing my heart on my sleeve" that I’ve now become defined by, ironically comes from quite an insecure place. It was mainly me kind of figuring out, in a monologue form, parts of my personality that I wasn't particularly fond of… and then people found out about it. It's as if someone discovered a diary. So I suppose that provokes the question: will my honesty be conflicted as I continue with the knowledge that people know who I am? And I don't know. You didn't ask that question! I just asked that myself. <laughs>
GEORGE: Someone asked you that the other day and you freaked out.
MATTY: Yeah, that's why!
CDM: John Hughes seems to have made a big impression on your views about the transition from adolescent to adult and what it's like to be a teenager - have you ever considered the fact that for your fans, you are their John Hughes?
GEORGE: But not as old.
MATTY: No, not really. I hadn't really thought about that. I suppose… we don't really think like that. It's difficult for us to figure this sort of thing out because it's so new to us all, these ideas of even people knowing our band. It still blows us away when we go to shows and people know the lyrics and stuff like that. I never really think about it like that. I understand that our music and the things that we're inspired by definitely informs others and it leads them to figuring stuff out for themselves, but that's a really nice idea to think that they would feel about us the same way that we felt about the people who inspired us. It's nice to think that.
CDM: There are a lot of young bands that are rising to fame with a hit blogged about single, then they rush out their debut album and either run out of steam for their second album or have internal dysfunctions within the group and break up. But you guys have known each other for half of your lives and even though your debut album only came out last year, I feel like you've been steadily building up the foundations of the band with your four EPs. Has it always been important to you as a band to pace yourself?
GEORGE: The songs on the album as well, they span so many years. We've being playing for nine years now, nearly ten years, so there's songs that have gone through regenerations from four or five years ago that have made it on the record. It's kind of special - we're not really going to have as much time to write another record, really. There was a lot of time and a lot of different times in our lives that went into the record, and it became a really honed thing by the time it came time to record it.
CDM: I always really admire decisions like turning down a support slot for Rihanna, because I feel like a lot of bands care more about their brag-sheet or things they've done, rather than what they've actually accomplished. Was there anything in particular that really influenced you to be always considering the band's career in the long-term?
MATTY: Making music, because we like music. I think the music industry is so controlled by the ideas that surround music - music as a formula - but the act of creating music, is the foundation of why we do it. We started a band at thirteen - so when you start a band at that age, you’re doing it for immediate reaction, for immediate fun. You're not doing it because you want to be cool, you're doing it for the same reason you play a video game or play football. Now that idea, that mantra, has never really left us. And that's why we've never really been embraced in the UK by the 'hipster press'. For example, we've been voted as one of the worst bands of the year by the NME, and it doesn't really bother us because those kinds of publications and those ideas are based around the frivolous brittle elements that surround music, and not actually about music itself. It's all about what's cool, or what's past, or what's present - whereas that doesn't affect us. We just like making music, and we're lucky that we've been embraced enough to actually just do that. Fuck everything else it doesn't really matter, that's what we think.
CDM: Your Number One album says it all.
MATTY: Yes, the Number One album says it all.
CDM: Josh from You Me At Six, recently criticised the BRIT Awards for not nominating The 1975 in any categories. So awards like that, don’t mean anything to you?
MATTY: Oh, it doesn't matter. You can't expect to be rewarded by an industry that you've made a point of subverting. You know, whatever. Let's have a dignified silence about that. I'm not going to start slagging off the BRIT Awards, whether it's to do with an agenda, or whatever. It's cool, it's alright, we're doing fine. We're in New Zealand! <laughs>
A CHOCOLATE TASTE TEST, WITH MATTY AND GEORGE…
GEORGE’S FAVOURITE THING ABOUT ROSS:
ROSS’ FAVOURITE THING ABOUT MATTY:
MATTY’S FAVOURITE THING ABOUT ADAM:
ADAM’S FAVOURITE THING ABOUT GEORGE:
IF I HAD A DAY OFF IN NEW ZEALAND, I WOULD WANT TO GO…
The 1975’s debut self-titled album is out now - featuring the singles, 'The City', 'Chocolate', 'Sex', Girls' and 'Settle Down'. Click HERE to purchase via iTunes.
Click HERE to read CDM Issue #11 [for free]!