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John Hughes, Light Shows And The Rise Of The 1975

Monday, 14 October 2013 Written by Katie Territt

When the 1975's Chocolate hit the airwaves at the start of the year, Matt Healy's distinctive vocals had people sitting up and taking notice. A matter of months later, their self-titled debut landed gently at the summit of the albums chart and sold out signs were hung next to their name at venues across the UK.

The passionate, enigmatic Healy isn't entirely comfortable with the band’s chart-topping status and, talking midway through their recent jaunt around the country, still had his reservations about the trappings of success.

"It's interesting really. I don't know, it's a bit weird, it sends you a bit mental,” he said. “We never really expected that and we never really needed that kind of validation in order for us to be any more proud of the record. With every material and statistical thing we acquire, I've said before, I feel that I actually get a step further away from being truly happy.

"Now, as scary as that was at the beginning to realise that those things actually matter, now I think these eight months have actually shaped me a lot as a person because I've realised that, that kind of imaginary checklist, that imaginary ladder of success that everybody thinks you need to climb, it doesn't really exist. Things like number ones and all that kind of thing.

“I wouldn't like to dilute how flattering and humbling it is to know that we've been accepted on such as level, but statistical and material acquisitions are quite brittle. It's not like when a kid comes up to you at a show and a couple come up to you who have just got engaged and tell you that they fell in love because of your band - that's what it's about for me, those are the moments that really, really resonate with me because that's why I'm doing it."

Overall, Healy sees the band’s mainstream success as emblematic of music fans’ continuing desire to seek out things that speak to them on a personal level.

"I'm glad that I haven't really got caught up in all the bollocks, people just talk so much shit and at the end of the day I'm at my happiest when I'm making a record in my bedroom with George [Daniel, drums] and that will never change," he said. "I don't want to be the hard done by pop star who resents his success, it's fucking amazing and I'm well proud of us, but what I'm trying to say is that instead of being proud of us getting a number one, I'm more proud of the idea of a band like us being able to be embraced and have a number one record. I think it's a reflection of the fact that people still care about music. That's what I find really inspiring about the whole thing as opposed to knowing that we beat someone - it's not a competition for me, at all."

The 1975's sound has a distinctly ‘80s feel, with synth-led tracks such as Heart Out and Girls making an immediate impression. Healy's passion for the era - and the work of one filmmaker in particular - played a role in the making of the album.

"John Hughes is cited as our number one influence - Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science,” he said. “When we realised we were actually going to record all of these songs that we'd collected over years and years into an album, we thought ‘well, the way it needs to sound is as if John Hughes directed a movie about our lives and we were doing the soundtrack’.

“I think the ‘80s has become quite naff and it's been abused in pop culture. I'm not obsessed with ‘80s music but I think coincidentally all of my favourite artists were at their peak - Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel - that's when they made their career-defining work.”

He added: “It just lost its innocence when grunge kicked off and stuff like that. There were really amazing records that deeply inspired this album from the ‘80s. Nobody sees their memories as like a catalogue, like a clinical view. Nobody has a clear image. It's like a faded Polaroid. When you think about your adolescence and your teenage years, the way you think about it is romanticised and antiquated and I think that's what we wanted to capture - the emotions that those movies provoked. That kind of teenage desire, from a place that people could really understand."

The band’s recent, hugely in-demand tour was pretty special, with Healy acknowledging the reception from the up-for-it crowds and the novelty of getting to roll out the ‘proper’ live version of the 1975.

"The tour's been amazing really,” he said. “It's the first time we've done like a full show, you know? Like a proper 1975 show. Before this, the sets had been about 40 minutes and we were a new band, so we weren't really expecting to headline shows. Now we've got all of the lights and everything. The live show is another facet of what we're about. One of the things with our band is that there's quite a lot of attention to detail in it. There's a synergy between the aesthetic and the music and stuff. I think the live show is very much in vein of that, it's very stylised.”

Before beginning their latest collection of UK tour dates, the band had already booked another string of shows and will be stepping up to larger venues in January 2014. The tour includes two sold out gigs at Brixton Academy, which led to the addition of a third date due to that old chestnut, ‘phenomenal demand’. Healy is already looking ahead to what fans can expect.

"It's very, very humbling and it's very, very strange to think that there's that many people that want to come and see our shows,” he said. “I think the only responsibility that we have is to make them as entertaining and as emotional an experience as possible. I'm really excited about it because I think our band really works in a big room.”

There will be no new music at the next batch of UK shows, but the band are constantly working on new material and there is plenty more to come in future.

“There'll definitely be no new material that isn't on the EPs or album, I think that would be overload,” Healy said. “You only have like an hour and a bit and we've got a 39 track debut album. I think if we tried to put new ones in, it would confuse people. We've written and recorded quite a few songs for the next album, but the shows will be a grander version of the deluxe album.

"We're always writing, that's what has always come to define us. The way that we are, we never really stop writing, we never really start writing. It's just kind of a perpetual stream. That's what we've always done. We always think it's weird when bands say they kind of went off to record their debut album. I think that's strange to go and do it at a specific time. It just happens naturally."

The 1975 UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Mon January 6th 2014 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy
Tue January 7th 2014 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy
Wed January 8th 2014 - MANCHESTER Academy
Thu January 9th 2014 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Fri January 10th 2014 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Sat January 11th 2014 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Fri February 7th 2014 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Sat February 8th 2014 - ABERDEEN Aberdeen Music Hall
Mon February 10th 2014 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Tue February 11th 2014 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Wed February 12th 2014 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Thu February 13th 2014 - CARDIFF Cardiff University Students Union
Fri February 14th 2014 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Sat February 15th 2014 - NORWICH UEA
Mon February 17th 2014 - BELFAST Ulster Hall Belfast

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