Community has always been key to The 1975. That’s why – in the run up to our new issue’s cover interview – we asked you to give us your opinions in Dork’s The 1975 Fan Poll. From there, we asked the band some of your questions. Here are the results.
Photos: Jennifer McCord.
Has travelling and encountering so many cultures and political environments shaped the way you reflect on social and political issues? If so, in what way?
Cloé, France + Spain
Matty: Yes… in the way that there is practically no difference between any show that we’ve ever played apart from hair colour or skin tone if you want to superficially recognise it. What I’m saying is the question insinuates: ‘Have you been alarmed at how different people are around the world?’ When in fact, for us, no – we’ve been alarmed at how fucking similar everyone is. Our experiences are 1975 shows.
George: We’re not a great barometer for that question.
Matty: Whatever The 1975 world is, is completely universal. The politics, yeah, sure, I’m sure people can argue about the minutiae of whether we’re a part of the left, and that keeps getting expanded, but we’re very obviously on the left. We’ve represented those kinds of ideas for a lot of young people growing up. It [travelling] has had an effect, but what it’s really done has reaffirmed what we already thought when the same amount of kids were listening to songs about growing up in Wilmslow in Jakarta as they were in New York. We were like, oh, maybe that’s not that different. It’s just the weather that changes or something.
What one song don’t you play enough live, and why don’t you?
George Dickens, Manchester
Matty: Well, we’ve never played ‘Mine’ which I’d like to play because I think it’s a good song. We don’t play ‘Antichrist’. That’s become a meme in itself, so I want to keep that going…
George: We have! We have played it! We did it. A couple of times…
Matty: This was before there was anyone filming it, though.
George: Yeah, like 2009 or something.
Matty: We played ‘This Must Be My Dream’ once, and people were like, ‘oh play it again’, but no. We kinda play what we want to play. You’ll see on this tour. We’ve said before that we’d like to do the ‘era’ shows, y’know? I think the time to itch that scratch is when we do that-
Ross + Adam: Itch that scratch?
Matty: What is it?
Ross: Scratch that itch.
Matty: Hahaha yeah, that’s it. I’m so bad with my lefts and rights today. Backs and fronts and stuff.
What is each of your’s favourite gig ever?
Ross: Reading this time around, honestly.
George: Yeah, I was going to say – either Tokyo Summer Sonic that we just did or Reading & Leeds. Because we got pulled in to replace Rage [Against The Machine], it felt like a lot less pressure, or it was just less time for the worrying…
Ross: We only had two weeks to not overthink it!
George: That’s still enough time to freak out over it, but there was just something about it. Also, the shows in Japan were amazing, which gave us the confidence to do Reading & Leeds. They felt really special.
Matty: It’s a bit like saying, ‘what’s your favourite meal you’ve ever had’?
Ross: There was Sziget in 2019…
Matty: Oh fuck yeah! Sziget in 2019 was sick!
George: How about that first Chicago show? [All nod in agreement] The first time we played in Chicago was like – oh wow, this is crazy.
Matty: The first time we played Reading & Leeds, and we played the Festival Republic Stage, and they had to put screens outside. You couldn’t even get in, and that was so fucking exciting. I remember that. We weren’t very good then, so there are also memories of shows where I know we’ve just been really good that might now have been the best. Every album should be your favourite album, and every show should be your favourite show. The best chefs in the world aren’t happy, y’know? The next show you do should be your best show!
What was the first gig that made you realise the impact you were having?
Mark, United Kingdom
Matty: THAT Festival Republic show.
Adam: Yeah, that was probably it.
George: Chicago or SXSW.
Adam: Can you remember where it was, that Chicago show?
Matty: It was upstairs, and somebody got shot next door, and George was doing that goat noise downstairs to the band playing down the spiral staircase. [All laugh as various goat impressions are made]
George: That was the first time someone gave me weed in America.
Matty: There have been lots of shows like that! Listen, we’ve played the MEN now, and every time we play a step-up show in Manchester, it’s always been weird. We’ve been to every one of those venues. I remember the Academy 1 gigs being like…
Ross: Yeah, how many Apollos did we do?
George: Four Apollos.
Matty: Did we even do Academy 1?
George: Yeah, a couple of times!
Ross: We did three ‘cos the first one we did, the track broke in the intro, and we had to go off.
Matty: Oh shit, it did!
George: I remember the security guard.
Matty: The security guard was a legend. He was Belinda from My Bloody Valentine’s cousin.
George: Dunno, mate. Good memory, though!
As consumers of music, what’s the first thing you pay attention to when listening to something new? Lyrics? Production? Harmony?
Matilde, United Kingdon
Matty: Ohh, that’s a good question.
George: Good name.
Ross: I don’t think I’m very similar to you… it takes me a long time to actually pay attention to the lyrics.
Matty: Me too! Honestly, me too. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. If you start out with a bad lyric, I’ll notice it, but…
George: Also, if you don’t have a vibe, then it doesn’t matter if you have the best lyrics in the world. Not to use the word vibe unnecessarily.
Adam: I think it’s the tone of a song where you know it’s going to be good
Matty: It’s taste, isn’t it? How would you describe what a good photograph looks like?
George: Or a painting.
Matty: Yeah, you can’t because there’s subjectivity to it. That’s why The 1975 are so good, because the four of us… Taste is so complex. Taste is not one thing, and you can see that across The 1975, but we kinda have the same taste. We all have different tastes, but because we learn the world together, we understand the same kind of cultural references.
George: It’s just aesthetic, isn’t it.
Matty: I know, but what does that mean [clapping]?
George: Pallet, tone, vibe, taste.
Matty: I’m not happy with any of these words you’re saying [laughs].
George: It’s the same as saying – I don’t know why I like that painting, but I’m looking at it, and it’s speaking to me. It could just be a plain black painting!
Adam: The classic thing with a song is, does it meet your expectation of where the song is going to go or does it completely subvert it? Those are the two archetypes for whether you’re going to enjoy something. You can kind of hear what’s going to come next: when that happens, and it’s executed perfectly, then that’s rewarding – and when something completely different happens, you’re like, oh wow, that’s cool! Those are the two big things.
George: It’s when you can’t imagine it.
Matty: [to Adam] So you think it’s the kinda sense of or somewhere between subversion and complete understanding of form?
Matty: Ah right, yeah. That’s probably a good answer.
Adam: We’re gonna get a bit philosophical in a minute.
Matty: Nah, that’s a good answer there.
George: It’s somewhere between familiarity and absolutely not.
Matty: ‘22, A Million’ is a good reference for that.
You tend to tackle heavy subjects on albums. When and how do you decide you want to speak on things bigger than just the individual or individual experiences? Is it just part of your songwriting process, feeling as though what is happening around you IS part of you already, or is it a process of, do I really want to speak on this?
Faith, Colorado, United States
George: Good question
Matty: Hmmm. I don’t really… To be honest with you, I have this whole thing of ‘trust your instincts’. I’ve been saying this for years, and like George said before, don’t over-intellectualise your art, but you’ve got to do that [trust your instinct]. That is a mechanism. That’s not just an idea; it’s a mechanism. Now, if you do that, you have a way of writing. For example, I didn’t want to write ‘Be My Mistake’. I wasn’t sat there pining to figure that emotion out, and I remember playing it and going [murmurs ‘Be My Mistake’] – and I was like, okay, that’s a nice word what does that mean? And then I was like, oh fuck, right, well I know what that means, so I either lean into it, or you pretend. Songs like ‘Looking For Somebody (To Love)’, when it started telling me what it was about with this crisis in masculinity and school shooters and how that’s only a male problem. Only a problem with men that aren’t being addressed, especially not by the left and they’re being kind of usurped by the right because they have this weird ideal of masculinity, and we don’t have an ideal of masculinity. It’s not a Black problem, it’s not an Asian problem, it’s not a female problem – it’s a white. male. problem. [bangs fist on the table]. Maybe as a white male, I’d feel a bit weirded out by it, so there are probably those moments when I feel that, and it’s also like, write about what you know or what you care about. I just write about what I know and what I think I know that’s right. Sometimes it can be injustice or something that will wind me up. Ermm, I don’t know.
Dork: It’s more of a natural reaction?
Matty: By now it is…
George: It doesn’t always mean that you feel confident doing it.
Matty: No, no, absolutely. Sometimes I feel annoyed – why bother?
George: Like, why am I suitable for this?
Matty: I say that all the time, right? But then again, that would mean that we start acting like people are listening to our music. If you do a podcast and you start podcasting like people are listening, then your podcast gets shit. So if you start making music with the acknowledgement that people are listening, then you’re fucked. Try to make every person in the world laugh with a joke. You’re not going to do it. You’re going to write some fucking dogshit, do you know what I mean? So write about what you know and what you care about. That’s the thing; I think the reason that I have these guys is to keep me sincere. If I started taking on a subject that they were like, ‘mate, you’re WAY out of your depth on this’, then they would tell me that. It would become fucking obvious, wouldn’t it? Because it would be cringe and ego-driven. You can accuse me of loads of shit, and people do, but you can’t accuse me of being insincere. I’m not insincere. I’m not. I’m not pretending. There isn’t a lot of pretence in the band. Any pretence there is a joke. A joke made by me and us. They play into it. See, the more I fall over, the less attention they [George, Adam, Ross] will pay me. There’s a dynamic that makes The 1975, The 1975.
Tomorrow you wake up and you have amnesia, and you remember one song (yours or another artist’s) – which one would it be and why?
Matt Bisgrove, United Kingdom
George: It’d be funny if you picked one of your own songs.
Matty: So is this like Desert Island Discs of the mind and I’m allowed one song?
Ross: Yeah, like Desert Island Single.
George: You’re not going to fucking like it soon.
Matty: It would probably have to be something abstract. ‘An Ending (Ascent)’ by Brian Eno would be mine.
Adam: So, not like, Black Eyed Peas?
[Laughter around the table]
Matty: Oh dude, the amount of answers that we want to give you right now, haha. Okay, ermmm. No, no, it would have to be abstract, so… I’d say ‘Hoppipolla’.
Ross: That’s funny; I was going to say Sigur Ros.
George: I’m going to give a big shoutout to Justin… The British Expeditionary Force.
Matty: Ahh FUCK.
George: Because it’s the only music video that has ever made me cry.
Matty: Is this ‘Back Of The Hand?’
Adam: Isn’t that…
George: Nah it’s definitely ‘Back Of The Hand’. So it’s The British Expeditionary Force – ‘Back Of The Hand’ would be mine.
Matty: WAIT. No, wait a second. I’m with you on this, but the video…
George: The video is a different song; the video is for- [Matty joins in] ‘COMMOTION’.
Matty: ‘Commotion’ is the one with the video, but ‘Back Of The Hand’ is up there as one of our favourite songs of all time
George: Sorry, the video is ‘Commotion’, and it’s my favourite video of all time. I should really know the name of it [laughs].
Matty: Well, ‘Commotion’ is basically the same song, so I think that’s fine. So there’s ‘Commotion’ by The British Expeditionary Force, ‘Hoppipolla’ by Sigur Ros…
Adam: ‘A Thousand Miles’? [All crack into laughter.] Imagine waking up with [sings the famous piano line].
Matty: Haha, every day, you just hear that! He’s fucking right. It’s like ‘Drops Of Jupiter’, the same kinda thing.
Ross: It’s so euphoric.
Matty: Yeah it would be.
George: Evanescence. You’d love that [looking towards Matty].
Matty: Ahaha, ‘Bring Me To Life’ would be sick. It’s difficult to put the last choice on Ross.
Matty: If there’s one from our collective… Like, listen, we’ve got like a list of ten songs – everyone knows ‘All My Friends’.
Ross: … I guess ‘This Must Be The Place’ by Talking Heads.
George: Yeah, good choice.
Adam: Great shout. ■
Taken from the December 2022 / January 2023 edition of Dork.