5 Questions for The 1975's Matty Healy

5 Questions for The 1975's Matty Healy

VMAN caught up with the rock and roll singer backstage at Jack Antonoff's Shadow of the City Festival to talk about life on the road, having a number one album, and the millennial generation

VMAN caught up with the rock and roll singer backstage at Jack Antonoff's Shadow of the City Festival to talk about life on the road, having a number one album, and the millennial generation

Photography: Ian David Monroe

Text: William Defebaugh

Do you prefer to play festivals or smaller shows?

MH  It’s a totally different thing because at a smaller show, the idea of the individual is a lot more apparent. You can see people looking at you, and that makes you feel way more exposed. A large festival crowd kind of has a conglomerate feel to it, so it kind of moves in the same way and it feels a bit more malleable like a bit more controllable, I can deal with that. When it’s like 10 perspectives or 10 individuals, that freaks me out. I don’t like the whole “campfire thing,” I’d rather be headlining Madison Square Garden. I’m more comfortable with it being a bigger show.

How has it been being on the road?

MH  It’s kind of just my reality now. I think it’s more like, What's it like being at home? I just feel so used to it. Have you seen that movie Room? That’s kind of like my tour bus a little bit. The state will just be a part of my environment, I never get to really leave anywhere. I think what I do like about the tour is that you get to lose the comforts of a normal life and you find comfort in other things that can sometimes be quite refreshing. You know, your pillow, your bed— that stuff goes out the window quite quickly. It’s like, you get a lot of time to find out who you are, cause everything is always changing around you, but there’s a consistency to your day. I don’t know, it’s weird, I like it.

What inspired your latest album?

MH  I just wanted to be here for a reason. I wanted to make a record that was about, I don’t know, the fundamentals of what it’s like to be a person. I only know what it’s like to be me, so I have to put it in the context of being me. But you know, fear, death, sex, everything that comes with that. Now those are kind of the archetypal fundamentals of rock and roll, so you can use that as a context to make an album. I just wanted to talk about what I actually feel, what I’m scared of, what excites me, what happened, and I think it’s kind of a form of catharsis. That’s what inspired it, getting it out.

In a music landscape that’s so driven by pop right now, was it kind of scary or intimidating to be putting out music that’s so much more rock-driven?

MH  On our first album, we cultivated this post-modern idea of not really having a genre. And I think because we’ve kind of done that, the next album was imperative. I mean it’s not really a conscious decision, and that’s just the way that we are. We create in the way that we consume—as a generation, we all do that. Our iPods are all Carole King, fucking Kendrick Lamar, you know. There’s no rules because this millennial generation hasn’t had to adhere to that. So that makes things a bit more difficult to be “cool.” Because being “cool” is just referencing stuff, and 20 years ago it was harder to be “Cool” because you had to have seen that foreign movie or read that book or been in that show. Now you have the apparatus to reference everything immediately and everyone now knows it. So now when you see something that’s cool, your immediate thing is to be suspicious of it. That’s why it’s kind of difficult to be cool, you have to be self-aware. But I think that making what I’ve done or what I’ve said, right, is there’s no rules and I don’t have a genre: there’s tendencies, there’s stylistic elements, like I’m obviously very inspired by the '80s and there’s a lot of artists you can hear permeate our sound, but there’s a purity to the way we make music. If we like it, we like it. And I think that that’s not a very challenging idea for people anymore. I think it’s quite representative of this generation; I think this generation gets that. Nobody is tribalist about anything anymore. Everything is changing: race, sexuality, culture. There’s a lot less tribalism across the board and I think that we represent that.

What have been the highlights of 2016 so far?

The 1975: Views. And “Work” as a song. Even though it’s been overplayed, it’s the best song ever; it’s just the best song ever! And it’s weird for me because I’m always like, So much music doesn’t stand for something! And it doesn’t matter what’s about, it just needs to be about something. That’s why I had a problem with some of Justin Bieber’s stuff and the other stuff came out and I was like, “This is fucking amazing.” Then I was really conflicted. But “Work” and Views, two of my favorite moments of 2016. I think what’s really weird for me is the idea of ambition is just changing, it’s constantly evolving because you constantly, when you’re in a place you have this subconscious ceiling to what you can achieve. And that ceiling was way lower than the number 1 fucking album in America. Like back in the day that was a silly thing to say. We were a post-emo band in my mom’s garage. It just changes what ambition means to you. I don’t really know what it means to me anymore, I don’t really know why I’m doing it anymore. If it was a checklist of shit that I had when I was 20, I’ve done it, I’ve done it more. I get to be 60 and say, “I headlined, I sold-out shows” shit like that. I don’t really know why I’m doing it anymore and I think it’s just because I need to. And I think making a record that stands for needing to make a record, that's the most important thing that’s happened in 2016 for me. It means I can keep doing that shit. If I keep doing it because I need to, then that’s a good enough reason.


Etro Spring 2017 Backstage