Interview: The 1975
Astro Hall, Harajuku Japan
Wednesday 14th August 2013
With their debut LP due out in 2 and a half weeks Louder Than War’s Katie Clare caught up with The 1975 after a spectacular appearance at Summer Sonic 2013 and a sold out headline gig in Tokyo’s fashion and youth culture hub, Harajuku. Graciously allowing us to interrupt their dinner time, Matthew and Ross chatted about what makes The 1975 who they are, what to expect from their first album and how they’ve enjoyed their first time in Japan.
Matthew: We’ve never been to this part of the world before and compared to the rest of the world we thought our profile was more minimal here and yet we sold out tonight and played to 6,000 plus people at Summer Sonic it has been very humbling. We’ve been here almost a week and I’ve loved the fashion, the politeness and the attitudes. I did think it would be different, more jarring, however I’ve felt a lot more at home here than I do in some places in Europe.
Ross: People have been amazing.
Matthew: It is. A big romantic 16 track album; the deluxe has all the EP’s too so that is 39 tracks which is big. It is a culmination of our investments, everything we’ve experienced as young adults, and it is very situational and for us is a classic album. Lyrically you may say it’s my album, however everything I’ve lived – they’ve lived – we’ve lived; that keeps me honest which means I can’t lie about anything they’d catch me out.
Ross: It’s a social observation of our lives and our group of friends for the past five or six years: our adolescence our growing up.
Louder Than War: I wonder, is that why there is a strong soundtrack feel to the album?
Matthew: That is exactly what it is; it is a soundtrack. It’s as if John Hughes directed a movie about our life and we did the soundtrack. We want people to feel when they listen to our records the same way we felt when we watched his movies and listened to the records we really cared about. It is not a literal documentation, not a clinical representation but a romanticized version of actual events.
Louder Than War: So are only the endearing elements of your lives included?
Matthew: There are the worst bits of my character in there too, but because honesty is an endearing characteristic and I can talk about the aspects of my personality that are not necessarily endearing I can win people over by wearing my heart on my sleeve. I think this honesty has come to define us as a band, and especially me as a lyricist, I just say how it is. We could write a record about politics, about religion as we are interested in those things, but what I really know about is me, about us and how we felt we wanted to establish our identity.
Louder Than War: You feel ready to let all that information out there?
Matthew: We do now; we didn’t in the beginning that is why we put out four EP’s just so people could understand where we were coming from, to understand the polarity, to understand the honesty, the self-deprecation and how our songs change from song to song and how ambitions we plan to be.
Ross: Now that our style has been put out there and has gotten across we have geared people up for the album and what it’s about without what came first it would have been quite jarring.
Louder Than War: I know you have been together in one form or another for many years – yet this part of your musical life has been very fast journey.
Matthew: Yes the rises in our popularity has been dramatic, I mean we knew were going to put out records and maybe an album around about this time, but the volume of exposure, two top twenty singles, two top ten internationally – we didn’t expect any of that. Selling out Shepherds Bush and on the way to selling out Brixton Academy before our album is released, that doesn’t really happen. We’ve had a lot of radio play too, we’ve become ‘the’ guitar band on the radio.
Louder Than War: Why do you think that has happened, after all the subject matter and how it’s lyricised is not that radio friendly?
Matthew: I suppose but I think that because at face value it is so poppy and so life affirming, you really have to look into the music to see the messages.
Ross: Lyrically it can be taken however you want to, our songs have a theme and a message, but people can identify with them how they want and take what they want from them.
Matthew: I think that is something people really like you can take the music at face value and then if you want to you can invest in it emotionally. I am not sure why we really have been embraced by radio so much …
Ross: Probably the lack of anything else.
Louder Than War: There must be artists you rate?
Ross: Disclosure and James Blake. James Blake especially is one of the best artists I’ve seen live – ever and we don’t say that lightly we are quite snobbish when it comes to music. James Blake he is a genius.
Matthew: Disclosure and all they have been doing yes, a lot of the American hip hop scene bands like A$AP Rocky that kind of thing – bands in Britain who is there … Haim, no their American ….who else from last year was written about?
Matthew: You know Little Night Terrors? They supported us in Nottingham they are a cool band. But Peace and Palma Violets ….
Ross: I get what they’re doing.
Matthew: Yer okay their alright, their cool, but it is very retrogressive you can see where they are coming from.
Louder Than War: You could say that about everything!
Matthew: Yes that’s true, too be truly original you have to be exposed to nothing and that is impossible. I just find it difficult to relate to that kind of music, we get called an indie band because we are four boys and we have guitars – that is just a cosmetic analysis. However you listen to Peace or Palma Violets and yes they are indie bands. We’re just not inspired by indie bands nor do we relate to them.
Ross: It’s not really our scene, but I understand they are seen as our contemporaries; however we feel more alongside say AlunaGeorge.
Louder Than War: You can hear a lot of 80’s pop sensibilities’ on your Eps, is that something you feel comfortable with?
Ross: Yes, it is what we grew up with, that style was our musical start.
Matthew: Very much so. Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Alexander O’Neal and Bobby Brown – we didn’t listen to Joy Division, The Smiths or any of the Manchester bands. Manchester is where we met and not who we are.
Ross: We love the great big melodies, the massive choruses’ and beat of the unashamed pop song.
Louder Than War: Does this positiveness extend to pop music now?
Matthew: We don’t really have a problem with pop music, we have a problem with pretentious music and post David Guetta music that has no thought about it – just too the floor ‘dud dud dud dud dud’. I don’t know if we really care enough to be honest, we are kind of ostriches recently about a lot of stuff -apart from what we already know. We are somewhat introverted and look to be inspired by ourselves, which sounds pretentious and cliché, but we listen to our past material and think ‘well how can we steal that and get away with it’ and as we do that we find coherency.
Ross: We’re always writing, we’ve already got tracks for the next album, we don’t sit down because we have to write something, we’re already doing it. When the creativity takes you – we go with it.
Matthew: All of our records are like bottles of water from a stream, we haven’t written an ‘album’ an ‘EP’, we create a bottle and put it out there, the stream is always flowing; and we can create constantly because we are always in the same room.
Louder Than War: No issue with the bands personal dynamics then?
Matthew: We can’t imagine life any other way than with each other.
Ross: We have been together so long, we are brothers we can tell each other we love you and tell each other to fuck off in the same sentence.
The 1975 release their self-titled debut on September 2 (available in CD /Deluxe CD/ DL / Deluxe LP formats) You can pre-order it via their website store as well as from regular outlets. The band embarks on a full UK tour at the end of August which continues throughout September. They then head over to the States before returning in November for a full European tour. Check out The 1975’s website tour page for full details and information about dates, venues and ticket availability.
All words & the photo at the top of this interview by Katie Clare. More writing by Katie on Louder Than War can be found in her author’s archive. Katie can also be found on Twitter where she uses the handle @tokyo_katie