The 1975’s Matt Healy On The Art Of Playing Live

In association with Apple Music Festival

Whether it’s Matt Healy strutting across the stage sucking on a cigarette and gulping down wine that attracts your gaze, or the dazzling cityscape projected onto the screens behind them, The 1975’s live show is a spectacle. The Manchester band can’t help but create an electric atmosphere, too, thanks to the hysterical responses that greet their every movement. These days, the quartet are used to gigantic venues (and are playing two nights at The O2 in London in December), but for one night only they’ll be doing their thing in the intimate surrounds of the Roundhouse for the Apple Music Festival. Ahead of what’s set to be a very special night, Healy dissects The 1975 live experience.

How do you prepare for shows?
“It depends. We don’t have many rituals. I think that stops us being pretentious or something. We went to high school together, so if I was trying to meditate or be Jim Morrison I would get a slap. There’s not that much build-up on tour, but the Apple Music Festival gig will be different because we’ll be at home. I might get the Tube to the gig, which is always nice.”

How do you feel before a gig? You don’t seem like a man who’d get nervous…
“The more intimate it is, the more nervous I get – I suppose because it’s not what I’m used to. It’s a very lucky situation to be in. Because we play quite big shows more regularly I’m more comfortable with that. You get nervous for all the big ’uns though, all the big festivals, your Readings and Glastonburys and stuff.”

You smoke and drink on stage. Do these little comforts help with the nerves?
“I’m up there for ages and I’m just like everybody else. I see everybody else having a drink and a good time and I want a fag and a glass of wine. Why wouldn’t I? It’s nine o’clock, there’s loads of people there, I want one. And it’s my gig, so I’m gonna have one. I’m not at all trying to emphasise the performance, I just want a ciggie. I don’t want to be the odd one out. I feel like I’d be taking myself too seriously if I didn’t do what felt natural, which is having a cig.”

Your show’s visuals are incredibly striking. What’s the idea behind it?
“It was inspired by all of our favourite things. There are obvious references to James Turrell and [Mark] Rothko paintings and a lot of minimalist art references. It’s all done with this video content and we use video screens as a light source so you have these silhouettes. We felt very competent expressing ourselves musically, so it felt like we needed to extend that to our live show. Having such a technical show does stop you from being so impulsive, but it does create a more coherent show. It’s changing over the next month for the American tour and then the UK tour. It’ll be a slightly different set.”

It looks so good, but you ask crowds to put their phones away so they can’t take pics…
“I’m more aware of that than anybody. There’s nothing I hate more than someone on stage getting proper miffed with it, being like, ‘Oh, put your phones down,’ ’cause I get it. I’m just as bad as anybody else. Our lives are like a forum now, so we validate our experiences by sharing them. I try not to be a d**k about it.”

There’s a lot of hysteria and passion from your audiences at gigs. How does it feel to be faced by that response every night?
“It’s quite humbling. The thing that always excited me was when it all first started happening. It felt like it had gone straight from my bedroom into the public consciousness. It amazed me that those ideas had spread out and meant so much to people – and now that’s happening on such a large scale, it’s still what it comes back to for me. Reading Festival was the perfect example. I was kind of just in awe for the whole thing.”

Do you ever get used to that reaction?
“No, not moments like that. Not those big moments. Of course, you become acclimatised to touring and doing shows and stuff like that, but no, not really, you don’t get used to it. You learn how to deal with it and still be a person. I don’t take it for granted.”

The 1975 will play Apple Music Festival on September 19