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On October 8th, I had the amazing opportunity to not only watch The 1975 play at The Sinclair in Cambridge, but also to speak with lead vocalist and guitarist Matthew Healy pre-show. In a room backstage, I was introduced to the extremely genuine gentleman, and jumped in as quickly as possible. To start my interview off, I asked Healy for a brief rundown of how this all began. He explained that the band had started in school in Manchester, England, and had been playing together for ten years “just for fun” until one of their songs made it big on the radio last August (he was no doubt referring to their top-hit “Chocolate”) and in his words “went crazy.” Having been on tour since December, the band has been going non-stop ever since, landing the vocalist seated on a leather sofa in a rather small room in the back of the Sinclair, speaking with myself and Samantha, the photographer for the show. He sat looking tired–but still enthused–and, as is customary of the singer, clothed in head to toe black. “I’m only wearing black until they bring something out that’s darker,” he said, popping his hood up.
The 1975 does seem to have a black and white color scheme, and when asked “What’s up with that?” he took a second before starting with “Lots of things really.” He explained that the black and white motif provided the band with a sort of comfort during their beginnings, helping them to feel less exposed, while also providing a fascinating contrast between their uplifting pop sound and the stark color scheme. “It’s nice to juxtapose that with an aesthetic and a visual that is more dower or detached from reality. It’s the same thing with the music, you know; it’s all very pop, but the narrative is more introspective.”
Fans had grown quite used to The 1975’s aesthetic, so when they released a color video recently for their song “Sex,” controversy ensued. “Yeah when it came out everyone was like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re conforming to a major label,’ and all this kind of thing and they couldn’t be further from the truth. We made a color video because it looked better in color and we wanted to make a color video and it was our decision.” He also added that in response to this, the band decided to make a video about conforming to a major label, poking fun at the notion. “So we made a really, really tacky pop video on purpose.”
I had to ask the question that many fans have been curious about, and that was “What’s up with the name?” It turns out that it stems from a book Healy had received as a teenager that a previous owner had scribbled on. “They used it like a diary and they dated it 1st of June the 1975. It was just the use of the word “the” preceding a year I thought was quite interesting and it just stuck with me for some reason; it just was always in my head.”
Knowing they had been on tour for roughly a year, I asked what Healy preferred, touring or being in the studio. “Well I consider myself like a song-writer/producer it’s what I do, it’s where my main talent lies…I find a lot of solace, a lot of comfort being in the studio. It’s very structured and it’s very easy for me to understand…but I’ve really had to embrace being on the road this year, because I’ve been on the road for a year, so I don’t have any time to resent it, I really like it.”
So with a new wealth of knowledge, I left the Healy to prep for tonight’s show, and wondered just what sort of live performers The 1975 would turn out to be; I would absolutely not be disappointed.
For the majority of the concert, I stood at the very back of the raised platform that served as the floor in front of the stage, pleasantly surprised that I would not have to try to shove myself through the sea of people to get a decent view; In the delightfully small Sinclair, it seemed as though no matter where I stood I would be able to see the stage in its entirety. Throughout the show, I noted that the crowd was an unusually receptive one, fully entranced in the music. There were very few cell phones pulled out recording, and people simply stood nodding along with the beat, making for a more low-key but all-together awesome concert experience.
The concert started off with “The City,” a popular song that had just the right beat to get the audience excited and singing along. True to their aesthetic, the band was clothed in entirely black and their setup entirely black as well, sans some almost-blinding white lighting. This too helped to focus the audience on the music and the musicians themselves, and I found it to be refreshing when compared to the wild stage setups of other performers.
Each song flowed into each other smoothly, and I was excited to learn that as live performers, The 1975 is more than adept, sounding as good as–if not better than–their recordings. The floor shook with the bass and the white lights pulsed in an exciting whirl.
One of the major highlights of the show was when the song “Girls” played, another hit of theirs they had filmed the video for in L.A. just the day before. The audience screamed with anticipation, and once again the band delivered.
As the concert seemed to be coming to a close, with the infamous “Chocolate” having just been played, Matthew Healy addressed the audience. “We’re really not a walk-off kind of band. I want to stay right here,” he said before proceeding to play the new “Sex” and ending with the mellow “You.” If that doesn’t prove that The 1975 is a band to watch, I don’t know what will.
If you liked this, check out:
Phoenix Live at House of Blues
The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala Live at Agganis Arena