Following their Saturday Night Live debut, the 1975 are planning to release their sophomore LP, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Building off the sleek design of their self-titled 2013 debut album, the band returned from a social-media break with a new look, trading in black and white for neon pink. "It was just kind of a natural evolution that we always had in mind," drummer George Daniel told Rolling Stone when he and singer Matty Healy stopped by the office. "We kind of always knew we would evolve into color. It was parodying everything up to that point, and bursting into Technicolor was a good way to aesthetically [reinvent ourselves]."
"With the pink, we were very aware that everything we had done up until this album had been a set of contradictions and juxtapositions," Healy added. "Very colorful music with a noir aesthetic."
Inspired by fan edits Healy scoped out on Tumblr, the new incarnation of the 1975 is self-referential and a bit cheeky (see single "Love Me"), and also represents the band's reflection on their newfound fame. Healy and Daniel gave RS the details on what to expect from their next LP, to be released on February 26th.
Can you tell me the story behind the album's title?
Healy: It was something I said to a girlfriend of mine at the time. Like all situations, I'm sure it wasn't quite as poetic as it sounds.
Daniel: No, it wasn't on the set of Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann.
Healy: Exactly, it was all about making decisions and about conviction because we came off the last album very tired from touring. We had gone from an unknown band to known about so we were being objectified and known about. We were kind of fearful of certain things, and we made the decision that the only thing that was going to remedy that was to make a record that was just about the truth and not about what we thought we should be saying. Because of that, I just decided early on that that was the name of the album for no other reason besides that I really liked it.
Daniel: It's the antithesis of an eponymous record, really.
When did you start working on it?
Daniel: We started bits of it on the road. The way we've always written is quite unorthodox in terms of a band because it's programmed before it's taken to a live environment or taken to instruments. My laptop is the hub of all things sounding kind of robotic; then we'll bring it to fruition. It was kind of easy to work on the road compared to some bands that may need to get in a room in order to write a song.
Healy: It's hard to say though because there are songs on this record that precede the first album. The first album was weird as well because it was written well before people knew who we were. We were already making new music by the time that album came out. It's been a long time.
There was a lyric that stuck out to me on "A Change of Heart" where you sing "I never found love in the city," which connects back to "The City" off the last album. How does this album relate in lyrical themes to the last album?
Healy: Massively. In order to have this feeling of pure evolution and a distillation of the first one, something that really, really speaks of the first one but also feels like the only place it could have evolved.
Daniel: It's kind of answering questions that might've been more open-ended on the first record.
Healy: There's a knowing to this album in place of the naiveté of the first one. I think that's what I reference a lot. "I never found love in the city." "You used to have a face straight out of a magazine." There's a resignation to that hopeful naiveté in this record that replaces that. It's all about being the same guy. It's a world now. It's a community. It's a whole thing, the 1975. At least to us because we're in the middle of it.
I always used to love Easter eggs like in video games ... the things that you find later on that you didn't know were there. That kind of started my love of subtext. When you have that, some people won't notice it, and the people who do notice it, it really resonates with them.
Daniel: You chose to replace the word "details" with "Easter eggs." [Laughs.]
Healy: That's what they're called!
I love that both albums begin with the self-titled song, but on the newer one it sounds almost like a darker breakdown of the one on the first album. It's the same but different slightly. ...
Healy: It's a darker record for sure.
Has fame affected how you not only write songs but perceive yourselves as well?
Daniel: Definitely. [Laughs.]
Healy: It messes with your head a little bit.
Daniel: The main thing I always say is that the first time you make a record, you're excited to have the privilege of people being like, "Here's your studio, make your album." It's amazing and definitely the same for anyone making a record, and then the only place you can go after that is thinking introspectively because you're not appreciating the same things by any means. All you can do is analyze your output a lot. It feeds the old insecurities.
Healy: Yeah, it's self-analysis and insecurity. We both had times when we didn't really know if we could do it. It's hard because we don't really spend a lot of time feeling sorry for ourselves. It's quite hard when you have to face all those ideas. Will people like it? Are we doing the right thing? You just have to forget all of that and be about your personal truth.
The sound is a lot more soulful this time around. What influences did you have on this album?
Healy: If you've got three hours ...
Daniel: We've always struggled to reference directly any influences.
Healy: You can hear our love of D'Angelo up to Flock of Seagulls to the Replacements to My Bloody Valentine. ...
Daniel: Some of it sounds like super strange dance music.
Healy: It doesn't really matter anymore where it comes from because there's not really any genres left. You can't do anything truly original. You just have to do something better than it was done before. A lot of our influences are subconscious as well because we spend so much time immersed in the world of music.
Daniel: Another thing with recording an album a second time around is that it's hard to find inspiration in the same way because like we said before, insecurity is more at the forefront of it than listening to something and getting excited like the young, sprightly, naive 20-year-old, 18-year-old that you were.
Healy: There's purity in that naiveté. That's something that we didn't quite feel until halfway through the album.
Daniel: We didn't listen to music for a while.
Healy: Yeah, I haven't listened to anybody else's music in a long time.
Daniel: It's through fear. That's the only reason.
In a previous Guardian interview, you had mentioned that you don't want the 1975 to sound like the 1975; you want it to feel like the 1975. What does the 1975 feel like to you?
Healy: It's the kind of intangible soul of the record.
Daniel: It's almost a familiarity.
Healy: It's about emotions, about familiar emotions and feelings. If all those feelings come from the same place, there is your continuity. As a record, we wanted it to sound like feelings.