Pop outfit the 1975 rose to a new level of fame in 2016 with the release of their sophomore record, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. Though the album — which was full of ambitiously nostalgic anthems like “Somebody Else” and “Love Me” — hit No. 1 in the States, frontman Matty Healy doesn’t seem too concerned with outdoing the band’s previous success. Instead, he’s focused on authenticity.
“Every time I tried to do what other people wanted, I failed,” he tells EW. “When I started to do what I believed in, I succeeded. [With] the second record I wasn’t thinking about what people liked about the first record, I just wanted it to be great songs I loved.”
Healy has maintained that same ethos for the next phase of the 1975, dubbed Music For Cars. The name speaks to the environment he wants to convey. “Most of my teenage years were spent in cars…smoking weed and listening to music,” says Healy. The first part of that new era is the quartet’s third album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, an unfiltered, genre-crossing look at cultural consumption. And the group has more in store for 2019, when their fourth LP, Notes on a Conditional Form, drops in May.
Ahead of its release on Nov. 30, Healy reveals in his own words the music and movies that inspired A Brief Inquiry.
Edward Scissorhands has always been a big thing for me — visually, that’s who I wanted to be when I was younger. [In] “Ice Dance” by Danny Elfman, which is on the soundtrack to Edward Scissorhands, I think you can hear references to [our new] music…. The next album [Notes on a Conditional Form] is quite heavily inspired by soundtracks. Soundtracks are how I see my albums because they go all over the place but they make sense. That’s how I think of a 1975 record.
No Rome ft. The 1975 – “Narcissist”
One of my best friends is this guy No Rome. We did a song together called “Narcissist.” We were playing around with the project and it started looping. I was sure that most of the backing tracks on “TooTimeTooTimeTooTime” was a remix of the song “Narcissist.” There’s definitely some Drake in there [too]. We love Drake, but we try not to think too much about what other people are about when we’re making records.
John Hughes movies
The first album, I wanted it to be a soundtrack to a John Hughes movie, but I wanted it to be a soundtrack to my life. Expressing my life in this John Hughes movie way has been my whole career, really. I suppose I’m still doing that even though the music changes — it’s really uplifting and sad at the same time, which is what these movies are all about. I think I’ll always reference John Hughes in my music. If you wanted to use a song as a sample, I’d say “It’s Not Living, If It’s Not With You,” whereas the last album had 10 songs that were John Hughes-inspired.
James Yorkston – “Woozy With Cider”
I’ve always been a fan of spoken word, but I’ve never really done anything like that. But there’s this folk artist called James Yorkston and he has this song called “Woozy With Cider,” this really beautiful piece of music. Initially it was going to be me [doing spoken word on the track], then it was gonna be my dad, and then I was writing it down on my phone and I was like, “Hold on a second, ‘Siri read me this note,’” and it read me this whole thing and it felt so unsettling when a robot was saying it. Musically [“The Man Who Married A Robot/Love Theme”] is not inspired by anything apart from something like Sigur Rós or Nils Frahm — it’s a very serene classical thing.
John Coltrane – Blue Train
We’re massive music fanatics but to be a jazz fanatic is a whole different thing. People who are into jazz know everything about it — musically and culturally and the people involved in it and what happened at that time. I really don’t know any of that s—, and I really don’t care. I like jazz and I think it’s cool, but I’m more into music than one specific thing. The jazz I know is Coltrane and Miles Davis. I had been listening to a lot of Blue Train, and it was just the tempo. That’s the only thing I take — it’s actually not even jazz because there aren’t even jazz chords on [new song] “Mine.” It’s a major pop structure but the fact that it has that swinging rhythm that makes it feel really jazz. It’s more like swing and lounge music. John Coltrane was a good man for that.
Joy Division – “Disorder”
“Give Yourself a Try” is a reference to “Disorder” by Joy Division. We’re from the same town as Joy Division. I’m from the same road. Being in Macclesfield, [England] you can’t escape the weight of Joy Division, especially if you’re a band. In hip-hop music, people sample stuff all the time. Whereas I like doing that but not even sampling it. I wanted to essentially use the kind of riff from “Disorder,” so instead of trying to get around it, we offered some of the publishing to Joy Division. I don’t care about making money — I want to make amazing records.
The Blue Nile – “Downtown Lights”
“Love If We Made It” is based on a song by the Blue Nile called “Downtown Lights.” That’s another one where I wanted to reference that song; I didn’t want to hide away from referencing it. I wanted it to be f—-ing obvious to people that know. That’s one of the things that’s good about the 1975. I feel like we reference nostalgic ideas a lot, but we rarely get into pastiche. I think when I do a reference, we do it so obviously so it’s not like I’m pretending I don’t know.