Matty Healy describes his life, at this moment, as a series of surreal situations strung together by his and his bandmates’ tales of other surreal stories: being approached by David Bowie; opening for the Rolling Stones; and Oasis’ Liam Gallagher searching Healy out to say he’s a fan of his Manchester pop-rock-electronica-R&B-whatever else quartet, The 1975.
“It’s insane; it totally rocked my world,” said Healy of the Gallagher encounter. His band headlines two nights at The Fillmore on April 17 and 18. A year or so ago, The 1975 were still playing bars. “All those surreal situations became our reality.”
It’s easy to forget that singer-guitarist Healy, drummer George Daniel, bassist Ross MacDonald and guitarist Adam Hann are still in their early 20s, with normal hobbies. They just haven’t been off the road long enough to remind anyone.
“George went out and bought a bike the other day; (he) used to be into bike riding,” Healy says. “As for our interests outside of the band, we just kind of write music, smoke weed and play video games. If we have time off, we will go jet skiing if the weather is fine, or play golf.
“The tour, actually, calmed us down a little bit,” he says. “It’s a slight bit of structure and punctuation.”
The members of The 1975 have been playing together since 2002. The band stayed under the critical radar of the British press because the four refused to commit to one genre and because they switched monikers several times.
They started in high school by playing punk covers, but eventually came to appreciate ‘80s and early ‘90s pop, currently their most important influences. Healy cites Peter Gabriel, Michael Jackson, My Bloody Valentine and the Talking Heads among the most relevant. The varied influences are evident in songs like “Chocolate,” “Sex” and “Girls,” which helped them gain traction in the U.K.
“The 1975,” the band’s final iteration, came from notes scribbled inside a book of Beat poetry handed to Healy by an artist on the Spanish island of Majorca when he was 19. The chief songwriter is not so much a fervent reader of the Beat movement, but he was enchanted about what it represented.
“It was a very romantic idea, and I think I was very open and very susceptible to that kind of idealistic view of how decadent all of those books are,” he says. “I was very endeared toward that. That attitude of encapsulating your adolescence through art was really exciting for me.”
For the past year, The 1975 have traveled the world in support of their first, self-titled album, which debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. album charts last September. The album was preceded by four EPs over the course of a year and a half in 2012 and 2013.
Each of the EPs took about a week to record, and all were released roughly a week after completion. They allowed the band to build a fan base organically, rather than with press hype.
“There was no rush (to release an album),” Healy says. “We weren’t signed to a major label and we didn’t have any pressure, so we were just putting out music because that’s what we wanted to do.”
The band is already at work on new music, though it’s unclear whether it will make it on to a second album, or another EP. They’re also writing for other artists, Healy says.
This will be the band’s third trip to San Francisco, and it will hopefully be their first chance to explore. He’s heard of the City Lights bookstore, and hopes to walk in during a reading of On The Road.
“I’ve watched the documentaries, and I know, from reading the books, that San Francisco is at the heart of a lot of literature,” he says. “It’s an amazing place.”
Follow writer Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.