The 1975 Live at Rock City + Backstage Interview

After hearing Chocolate for the first time on Radio 1, I became an avid fan of The 1975. I almost immediately followed them on every social media site possible and spent many evenings listening to their album on repeat. So when I found out I was going to get the chance to interview them before their Rock City gig, I was ecstatic.

Walking into Rock City felt as though I’d stepped through some kind of space warp and was back in London. Everyone packed into the gig screamed Shoreditch and it was almost as if an extra layer of incredibly styled grime had been spread across the venue. There was an electric buzz all across the crowd from the previous three acts and it was inevitable that this gig was going to be incredible.

The 1795, a Manchester based alternative band, formed when they had just turned teenagers and they began to play music in 2002. Something that Matty mentioned during the interview is that they never refer to themselves as a band, but more so “the boys”, they started as four friends who loved to play music and still remain that way. This became incredibly evident the longer they were on stage. The chemistry between the 4 was infectious and soon I was singing along with the Zooey Deschanel-esque wide eyed beauty whom I was stood next to, both of us jumping.

Visually the gig resembled the go to image that anyone who’s never been to an alternative show would imagine. It was beautifully eerie. There were bright white lights illuminating the band in The 1975’s trademark frame. And a perfectly measured mist of smoke coating the front of the stage. It was almost a pain to figure out where to focus when there was so much happening, but every time it would be the incredible enthusiasm with which every person on stage was making music that drew my eyes.

It only took 3 minutes for me to remember what an incredible gig felt like. The bass resounded in my chest, the lyrics echoed in my eyes and I couldn’t stop myself from bopping to the beat if I tried. All in all from the moment that Matty sauntered onto the stage with a bottle in hand and welcomed everyone to the gig, to the last time we saw the boys amble of the stage vibrating with the energy of a venue filled with adoring fans there wasn’t a moment that I didn’t feel entirely engaged. Lady Gaga has her little monsters, Beyonce has her Beyhive and One Direction have their Directioners, but whatever The 1975 decide to call their fans I’m sure to fit the mould.

Krish: So how’re you feeling? Have you sound checked yet?

Matty: Yeah we sound checked quite early, we’ve got a lot of lights and it’s quite strategic, plus we’ve got two bands travelling with us.

K: Have you seen the massive line outside?

M: Why is there a line? Haha surely it isn’t anytime soon?

K: You’re touring pretty much non stop for the next couple of months aren’t you?

M: We’ve been touring for a lot already, we’ve been on tour from December until June and then festival season, 65 shows. 300 gigs by the end of the year

K: what things keep you sane on tour? Like habits or anything?

M: Ritual things not necessarily. I used to be very chaotic in regards to my organisation of anything like clothes and tidiness. Now I like to have my stuff sorted out. I live on a tour bus now, I’ve moved out of my house so now I’m technically homeless. If fine, but I live on a tour bus. I don’t have a flat and won’t have one till December.

K: That’s not annoying, I reckon I’d have some annoying trait. Is there anything that the other guys do that’s irritating?

M: We’re all really bad I mean like there’s a rule that you have to write of the first half an hour of dialogue in the morning cause you wake up and fight. It like the bags. The back lounge is a lounge and not a bag room.  Our merch guy, my best mate he’s actually talented at leaving his stuff in awkward places. That really annoys me but apart from that its fine.

K: That’s fair! 21st back to Manchester excited?

M: Yeah I suppose so. I mean we’re excited for every show. Everything has got a different meaning like I was brought up in Newcastle so shows around there are amazing. London is London you know. Nottingham is for example, dot to dot when we played here was one of the best shows we’ve ever done.

K: Dot to dot was insane

M: It’s one of our favourite shows as well, so we’re obviously very excited about that. We have lots of friends all over the country so every show has some sentiment. Manchester is the home coming show you know.

K: You guys weren’t all born and brought up in Manchester but did it have any influence in your music?

M: the Manchester scene?

K: Yeah

M: No, not at all. We didn’t necessarily kick back against it but I think we’ve never worn the Manchester badge of honour. That kind of tribalistic approach to music is kind of gone now but you find it places like Manchester. I mean I was brought up on Black American music, the whole kind of Manchester scene never impacted on me, so as much as we give respect to it and I suppose it had benefited us in regards to our aesthetic and the fact that we’ve been able to be accepted in that kind of noir world because maybe we’re from Manchester and people think ‘oh well of course’ maybe that’s been easier but we’re not you know, our geographical location isn’t a very inspiring thing for us.

K: You guys have got something new going on. I mean I love your music but do you have any particular musical influences? Like particular artists?

M: Yeah there is like thousands. The ones I reckon you can hear are like Peter Gabriel, Michael Jackson. Only MJ if you know how obsessed I am with him. I don’t try to imitate him but every technical thing that he did in the studio as a performer I have. And Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and then Brian Eno, Talking Heads and like early/mid U2, God there is so much and then there was like what I grew up on, Al Green, Wilson Pickett, Roberta Flack, you know all those kinds of things. I’ve been totally consumed by music my entire life, its been my only form of real like expression in quite an introverted way. You know I hate when people say, I’m a bit weird, I hate that, it normally reeks of someone. I mean I am a bit weird so like music has always been it and i’m very lucky that I’ve been able to be so blinkered in my approach anything else and just make music and then people have started to embrace it!

K: I think that’s the way that it needs to be

M: Yeah

K: Rather than “ I want to be famous, let me try music out”

M: Well yeah I suppose so I mean the whole fame thing is just you know, i’m not really interested in that.

K: Yeah in regards to the whole fame thing, we know that there are many divas out there who ask for very peculiar things I mean I’ve heard cashmere towels and like only the marshmallows from the lucky charms cereal, so is there anything  you have that is outrageous?

M: I like that. I like the idea of if the whole rider thing like its all about pushing your position, seeing how far you can take that kind of authoritative stand. Like our mates band, oh what band was it? I can’t remember, but they went on tour once and they asked for loads of stuff and a signed photo of Barry from Eastenders.

K: That’s brilliant!

M: And they got it!!! They got it! It was sent to them in the post like two days later.

K: So why not ask for it right?

M: Exactly, if they are going to get it for you. I think it’s like fun and I think it goes both ways as well because a lot of venues, like it’s such a traditional classic rock and roll thing that I think certain venues and certain places I think they kinda like that. We haven’t got any audacious rider stuff we have a spread attitude. We put like three or four pages of food that we would ever like to eat and they can pick obviously a reasonable collection of stuff and when we start doing bigger venues on the January tour we’re gonna ask if every in house crew can bring their dog.

K: That’s so nice!

M: Yeah, we’ve all got dogs and never see our dogs and dogs are like our number one obsession.

K: I’m actually here with Nottingham University magazine and we are actually petitioning for a puppy room.

M: That’s like, I mean like I would be the chairman of that committee. I mean dogs, listen we could do a whole interview on just dogs!

K: So you’ve said about food, and chocolate. Chocolate is food and also a single which got you pretty big, so what is your favourite chocolate?

M: What’s my favourite chocolate? It changes but at the moment its Crunchie because we keep getting given crunchies all the time! I like crunchies, I like minstrels and  I like mini eggs as well because they’re so fleeting, you never know when you’re gonna lose them and you take them for granted and then they’re gone.

K: Yeah, I had my first mini egg for my 19th birthday, I never had one before in my life and my friend was like Krish that’s not alright.

M: That’s not alright

K: Yeah and they went and bought some in her drunken state and said look you’re gonna have them!

M: Did you like them?

K: They’re gorgeous!

M: They’re amazing.

K: So whats like the naughtiest thing you’ve done on tour? Have you like smashed any rooms up? I mean not like in a mean way but the naughtiest things.

M: We have done the hotel room smash up thing a few times but not in like a malicious way. I mean theres plenty of times we’ve been totally hammered and you invent a game don’t you? And then the game normally involves rearranging furniture and not being able to touch the floor and having to race. So we smashed a lot of beds and a lot of tvs and a lot of like bathrooms flooded and stuff but that’s travelodges. Now we live on a tour bus and you know you don’t shit where you sleep.

K: I guess the last question is that a lot of divas have a lot of rituals like prayer circles and chants and stuff, do you guys have anything?

M: I mean the thing with us is that we always thought that. Its difficult for us sometimes because we’ve been together since we were 13 and we’ve got so much on each other and we know each other so well that we could find it a bit cringe worthy doing something like that and almost being like, that’s kind of like being the band and we just try and remain ‘the boys’  you know and not try and be like ‘a band’. And ritual wise I like kind of, I used to think the idea of meditation or anything remotely spiritual was like so ‘wanky’ and pretentious  and annoying but honestly like more recently i’ve been trying to experiment in those kind of elements cause I just need to shut off sometimes. I like the idea of meditation on like a physical level and the idea of it being a mental state and not necessarily like a spiritualistic/supernatural things. That’s just annoying .

K: To calm you down I guess?

M: I suppose so, I think its cool as well and with the more materialistic and statistical things you acquire like number one records and stuff the further it takes you away from being happy. I think you start changing your mentality totally when stuff like that starts happening because you have to find different ways to like, resolve yourself.

K: Okay, and I just wanted to ask you one last question if that’s okay? In 1975, VW bought out the golf, Charlie Chaplin was knighted, The Wheel of Fortune was premiered on NBC, what was the reason you decided to name your band The 1975?

M: Not at all, I’m a big fan of Charlie Chaplin though, he wrote that song Smile didn’t he? He was an incredible musician actually. There was loads of stuff happening in 1975 wasn’t there, Thatcher, Watergate? But yeah, the year doesn’t really feature.

K: So what drove you to pick the name?

M: Oh it came from a book; I was given when I was 19 by an artist. He just became a mate of mine and the book it had been used as like a diary by somebody and they scribbled kind of all over it yeah and they dated it 1st of June “The” 1975 and it was just a bit weird, the “The”.

K: Brilliant, thanks so much for taking some time out. I look forward to the gig and cool, have a good day!

By Krish Jeyakumar