The 1975’s love affair with Australia – a brief history

Next year, The 1975 return to Australia and New Zealand to tour new album ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’. NME recaps how the British pop band have become bonafide arena-filling superstars Down Under

In partnership with Secret Sounds

The 1975 are back. This Friday, they unveil their fifth album, ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ – and next year they’ll be back Down Under to tour the record.

Next April’s arena tour of Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will mark the newest chapter in The 1975’s love affair with Australia, one that began a mere year after the British band released their debut album. Matty Healy, George Daniel and co. have made it a point to earn their fans here – and the country has enthusiastically reciprocated their efforts, filling ever bigger venues and pushing them to the top of the ARIA charts not once but twice. Australian musicians, too, from the likes of The Faim to Wave Racer and Northlane’s Marcus Bridge, have shown The 1975 plenty of love.

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Our brief inquiry (yes) into The 1975’s history with Australia begins with Healy, who actually lived in Melbourne for a spell as a child. Now 33, Healy resided in the city between the ages of two to four, so he’s probably too young to remember it – but has more than made up for it in the years since. The 1975 put in the hard yards here early on in their career, touring Australia yearly between 2014 and 2016. They made their debut in the country with a splash – at Big Day Out 2014, which would turn out to be the last hurrah for the beloved touring festival. Though they were small fry on that BDO line-up, overshadowed then by the titanic likes of Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire and Blur, in hindsight it’s fitting that they’d start their fruitful relationship with Australia at one of the country’s most iconic and beloved music festivals.

The 1975’s ascent in this period was rapid. In 2014 alone they sold out the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney for a BDO sideshow, then six months later returned to the city to play the Metro Theatre, which was swiftly upgraded to the Enmore. By 2016, they were playing the Hordern Pavilion and made it to the third line of the Splendour In The Grass line-up poster. That year, they officially became chart-toppers in Australia, shooting to the apex of the ARIA Album Chart within a week of releasing sophomore record ‘​​I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It’. (By comparison, debut album ‘The 1975’ peaked just within the top 30 – two years after its release.)

Matty Healy of The 1975
Matty Healy of The 1975 at Splendour In The Grass 2016. Credit: Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images

Not content with this stratospheric rise, The 1975 even wanted to tour Australia again in 2017, telling a Sydney crowd in mid-2016 that they’d be back the following year. Alas, that didn’t transpire, the band’s manager Jamie Oborne apologetically telling fans on Twitter within months that they “tried very hard but couldn’t find a way of doing it”. It would be three years before The 1975 returned, but they made it worth the wait.

The 1975 returned to Australia in late 2019 on the Music For Cars Tour with yet another ARIA-charting album under their belt, ‘A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ (which peaked at number 4), and then in February 2020 as bonafide festival headliners. They topped the Laneway Festival bill alongside Charli XCX, bringing along session multi-instrumentalists and backup dancers to fully realise their euphoric, triumphant set. In Sydney, Healy even nodded to Kurt Cobain by donning a hospital gown and dragging an IV drip out onstage with him (he’d been hospitalised for illness in Brisbane, forcing the band to cancel their Laneway set in that city).

The 1975 Laneway Festival Sydney 2020
Matty Healy of The 1975 at Laneway Sydney 2020. Credit: Liting Ng for NME

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While they were in Australia for the festival, The 1975 logged some studio time in Brisbane and Sydney – the results of which made it onto their 2020 album, ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’. That record – their second ARIA No. 1 – featured a speech by climate activist Greta Thunberg, which they played during their Laneway Sydney set to raised fists and solemn solidarity. The 1975’s time in Australia during this period, too, was notable for the time they made for environmental activism. While in Sydney for Laneway, the band announced an impromptu bushfire benefit gig, where Healy delivered a unique, acoustic set to a crowd of 2,000. And in 2019, members of the band attended a climate strike in Melbourne. “It was quite emotional just seeing that whole Generation Z,” Healy said later of the experience. “There were so many people, and there were so many young people, and it was quite a hopeful environment.”

Laneway Festival in 2020 was one of the last large-scale music festivals to take place in Australia before the pandemic shut everything down for two years. Even in isolation, though, Aussies were listening to The 1975: ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ made it to one list of the country’s most-streamed songs throughout lockdown. As lockdown becomes a thing of the past and the live music machine in the country roars back to life, it was only a matter of time that The 1975 would announce a tour. They’ve hardly been able to stay away in the last eight years. With all the love Australia has shown them, why would they?

The 1975’s new album ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ is out this Friday via Dirty Hit. Tickets to their 2023 tour of Australia and New Zealand go on sale the same day at 11am local time – get yours here

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