There’s a disconnect between the way The 1975 look – dressed in black, rake-thin and artistically haired – and the way they sound, because the songs on their self-titled debut album are gigantic pop-rock things made of teenage sing-along choruses and 1980s drums. It’s easy to imagine them playing over the finale of a high school movie like The Breakfast Club; Judd Nelson pumping his fist while The 1975’s Matthew Healy sings about finding love. “Exactly, that’s exactly it,” Healy agrees. “Every song is like the credits song from a different John Hughes movie, that’s kind of the vibe. Like, I’m a bit mental so I could probably tell you 30 different vibes that I want the album to be, but that John Hughes/Cameron Crowe element is what it needs to be.”
The one thing that stops The 1975’s songs from sounding like they come from American high school movies is how English Healy’s voice is. He’s got one of those Russell Brand accents that sound posh but also degenerate. No surprise he went to a private school, although not for long. “There was this thing where somebody started arranging a fight club. Somebody found an old pair of boxing gloves and we organised this club where two people fought each other and you got one glove each, and then we used to charge people 50p to come into the changing room and watch it. Then one time everybody got caught and I was the one dealing with all the money like some fucking Don King character in the basement of this school. They weren’t very happy about that.”
At Healy’s next school he ingratiated himself with the music department for safety. “I pretty much was in every school band in some capacity. They literally wouldn’t be able to do their shows without me, so I utilised that as some leeway with regards to how little work I got away with doing.”
That was how he first met the other members of what would eventually become The 1975 and, aged 13, formed a band. They didn’t sound much like they sound today. “We used to play our cover of ‘Ghostbusters’. It was playground punk. Pop-punk and really, really famous punk songs, and then like, The Jam and The Clash and stuff like that. It was very, very obvious young person’s music.” The band had the opportunity to play their youthful tunes thanks to a regular event at the local senior citizens’ centre, which hosted bingo during the week and then each weekend was trashed by teenagers with guitars.
“After the first one of them it became this genuine counterculture,” Healy says. “We’re from a very middle class, middle-of-the-road place in Wilmslow, in Cheshire. Fuck all happens there. There’s not necessarily a lot of financial strife, there’s not a lot of money, there’s no counterculture remotely, it’s just a very boring place. Every single kid in the surrounding towns used to come down to these shows that were put on, these youth band shows, and it very quickly, over a matter of weeks and months, became this fuckin’ debauched night where every kid would come and get plastered drunk, everybody was on drugs and everybody was in a band.”
Some of those kids carried on with music – one of them’s in Editors – but Healy’s crew were the most determined to do this forever. When he talks about how focused he is it sounds almost unhealthy. “I’m so consumed by this band and what I do, and I think that’s possibly had a derogatory effect, maybe on my relationships or the development of my skills in other areas,” he laughs.
BY JODY MACGREGOR