Matt Healy reaches his hand into a plastic bag and sparks his third joint of the past hour, then holds it out an open window of his New York hotel suite. “I smoke weed like people drink – like it’s nothing,” Healy says in his light Manchester accent, staring out at the Jersey skyline across the river. The singer, 26, rattles off his other compulsions: biting his nails, checking his phone, chain-smoking cigarettes and masturbating. “I have a hard time sitting still,” he says. “I used to think that I really liked my own company, but I didn’t. I just liked being on drugs.”
The songs Healy writes for his band, the 1975, are a diary of these kinds of issues – depression, fractured relationships, a brief flirtation with heroin – all buried in synths, Eighties pop-funk grooves and huge hooks.
“I’m not that mentally stable, if I’m honest with you,” he says at one point. “I don’t really venture very far out of the world of the 1975, and nobody judges me here, and I’m safe here. I make records, and then I get praised for my honesty. But it drives me crazy because it’s my whole life. And I can’t give my life to anybody else. And then I think, ‘Am I a narcissist?'”
Healy unleashes more head trips on the 1975’s new album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, which will establish the 1975 as the biggest new U.K. band since Mumford & Sons: The album will likely debut at Number One, and the band will launch its first U.S. arena tour this spring. Moods on the LP range from “Nana,” a plain-spoken ballad about the death of Healy’s grandmother, to a four-and-a-half-minute instrumental called “Please Be Naked.” Like Healy himself, the album is rambling, exhausting, confessional, scatterbrained – and a lot of fun. “I like cherry-picking anything shiny I find in my cap,” he says of the band’s slightly schizophrenic sound. “I grew up with the ability to reference things a million miles a minute. I used to have a different vibe every week of school. That’s what our records are like.”
“He’s fleetingly obsessive,” says drummer George Daniel of Healy. “He’ll turn up with a video camera and projector: ‘Look, I’m making a film.’ ‘Yeah, all right.’ Two weeks later, he’s lost the camera charger and he’s forgotten about it. That’s what makes him great when he’s focusing on his work. He’s either all the way on or all the way off.”
The 1975 began as an emo band, back in the genre’s heyday in the early 2000s.