Manchester’s The 1975 have been a topic in many new music conversations this past year. Now the band follow up their much lauded SXSW saga with a new and definitive take on “The City,” the lead track (and demo) from their debut Facedown EP release from summer 2012. We recently caught up with frontman Matt Healy to discuss the new recording from their upcoming (to be named) fourth EP which drops May 20th. We also discussed a bit about their debut album, affinity for vintage gear, their first SXSW experience and more. Sample “The City” and check out our conversation with the band below.
B3SCI: What was the band’s motivation behind creating this new and definitive version of your track, “The City”? How would you best describe this extension to the demo version that initially kicked off the Facedown EP?
The 1975: Well we recorded this version for our album shortly after we did the Sex EP. I supposed we just wanted it to be something we were a bit more proud of sonically – whilst maintaining the elements of the demo that made it special. We weren’t planning on releasing this version of “The City” before the album – but after “Chocolate” came out there was such an acceleration in our popularity and peoples awareness of our name. It kinda made us sit back and want to take our time a bit. We feel that “The City,” as a song, says a lot about who we are both musically, personally and sonically and we didn’t want to miss our opportunity to get that message out to as many people as possible. We want to people to hear it now, as apposed to later, it’s a very important track for us.
B3SCI: There seemed a strategic and thought-out nature to your trilogy of EP releases. If this version of “The City” was always brewing somewhere in the masterplan, what specific role will it play on the forthcoming May 20th EP release?
The 1975: We were always planning on putting out three EPs, but I never really thought of them as a trilogy – nothing is ever really set in stone in our ‘world’, so we kinda just let them evolve naturally. I don’t really know what role the next EP plays other than to give people another set of tracks that will help them understand a little more about who we are. We thought it would be interesting writing another record around “The City” seeing as that’s how we had approached the Facedown EP. A lot has happened in the 8 months since we released that EP, so I suppose it’s just a reflection of where we’re at now. Currently I am feeling calm and humble.
B3SCI: Is there a name for this new EP yet? We must say that the working title, EP 4 has something charming to it…
The 1975: There is no name as of yet. But it’s funny you should say that…
B3SCI: We caught at least 4 of your gigs during SXSW this past March. Like many in Austin… we couldnt get enough. How would you rate this, your initial experience in America, and given all the hype about performing in the States, how do you perceive the reaction/experience?
The 1975: Thank you very much. I think seeing that our music had transcended to somewhere so unfamiliar – that was the highlight for us. We genuinely didn’t expect to see that. Our shows sold out nearly every night – we couldn’t quite get our head around how that actually worked. It really makes you understand the power of the internet. We love America anyway. It was so surreal and rewarding every second. It made us realise how much everything has changed since last year. Our album is very inspired by American cinema and pop culture, so it felt right playing some of our new songs out there.
B3SCI: With all of your running about in Austin, did The 1975 get the chance to catch any artists that either impressed you, or surpassed your expectations?
The 1975: We only got to see Haerts and we totally loved them. SXSW was absolutely mental. We did 11 shows in 5 days. We didn’t even get time to sleep. It’s an interesting place at SXSW, Austin is a kind of liberal utopia in the middle of the desert.
B3SCI: Gotta compliment the band’s obvious appreciation for vintage gear. What year is your black Stratocaster, does it have a name or a story worth sharing? How about that Fender Mustang?
The 1975: Well my Strat is actually a reissue unfortunately and not that old. But my Mustang (my love) is 1965′. I love that guitar to bits. I picked it up in LA like 2 years ago. We all love classic vintage gear. When we recorded the album our snobbery was terrible. If anything looked remotely new or easy to decipher it was tossed aside. We like manipulating the best of both worlds – analogue vs digital. There was a nice, compromised balance of valve replacements and software updates.
B3SCI: The band’s live technique and guitar work alone surpassed anything we’ve seen from a new pop band in years. How vital are the intricate countermelodies and parts that comprise The 1975? Tell us a little about rehearsal, what level of experimentation is involved, and at what point does a part in a song ‘just feel right’?
The 1975: Well I don’t really talk about the writing process very much, not to be perceived as enigmatic or cool, it’s simply one of the only things we have left that’s just for us. But our music is built up of syncopated loops and hooks, both vocally and musically. Rhythm is paramount – and everything is treated the same way. Rhythm and flow precedes all melody; from the vocals, to the guitars, everything. I think that’s because that’s what gets us exited the most. Groove, that’s what it’s all about for us. It doesn’t necessarily have to be clever or ‘bangin’ to get us excited, I think it’s just that our history of consuming music is so embedded in American black music. We take a lot of influence from house music also. It’s playing with the ideas of ‘lifts’ and ‘drops’. Minimal house for example exploits repetition in order to create a rewarding sense of pay-off. You can just as easily create a lift by taking something away or simply repeating it; we like that idea, it’s something we like to play with.
B3SCI: Is there a debut album still on the horizon for The 1975 in 2013?
The 1975: Yes there is, it is coming out at the end of the summer.