It’s the middle of April, and though Matty Healy has an album releasing in a month—the 1975’s Notes on a Conditional Form, out today—he’s already thinking about the next project. Part of that’s the quarantine: he’s isolating with bandmate George Daniel, a few other musicians from the record label he runs, and his girlfriend in the residential studio the 1975 have called home for large chunks of the past few years. Notes was recorded on the heels of the band’s genre-busting A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, and with the new album’s tour indefinitely postponed, he’s got some time to reflect—and to start working on what’s next.
“Now, I can sit there and think about what a next 1975 statement would be, and do things with real clear purpose, as opposed to embracing the moment,” he says, drawing from a rather large spliff. “Because I’d really like to make a 1975 record that is a bit more consistent at some point. Not that I don’t like our records—that’s kind of what we do. But every time I make a record I feel like I put everything into it. That’s great. It just means that the next record, the subject matter becomes more refined. It becomes more truthful. Like: well, fuck, what’s left? Oh shit, here we go. Go into the well. Do you know what I mean?”
Definitely, I think, mostly lying. Talking to Healy is exhilarating: the 31-year-old has so much to say, so many questions to ask, so many lines of inquiry to advance, usually all at once. His band’s music has a similar quality, shuttling between pretty acoustic bounce to distorted grunge to pure aughts nostalgia to a kind of post-Drake Spotify shuffle. The effect is sometimes disorienting, often thought-provoking, and almost always pleasurable: Notes on a Conditional Form is a sprawling 22-track rumble through Healy’s disparate interests, from the climate crisis (the album opens with a monologue from Greta Thunberg) to incel culture (check out the video for “The Birthday Party”), held together only by Healy’s omnivorousness. It’s a lot.
Which is exactly how Healy, rocking a grown-out quarantine mohawk, a Cradle of Filth hoodie, and flame-printed Crocs, likes it.
GQ: Let’s start with: how are you doing?
Matty Healy: I’m doing alright. I don’t know. I’m up and down like everybody else. Maintenance is a weird thing, isn’t it? Keeping ourselves in shape for the future that we’re all imagining is going to rear its head at some point. We can’t really picture it.
I mean, I’m good, which is kind of one of the problems. You realize how lucky you are. I’m so fortunate to be able to be making music right now, because so many people just can’t fucking do anything.
Was it important to you to be in a place where you could make music? To be in a studio?
It was important. It was also important for us financially. I don’t feel that comfortable talking about finances, just because I know that some people at the moment can’t eat. But we all have our own economic context. We’re a weird band—we’ll headline festivals and shit like that, but we don’t have huge streaming hits. We don’t have “Hotline Bling,” or 10 of them, which some artists have. That big show that we do, it’s amazing, but that’s all my money. Everything economically has been secondary to the [artistic] statement.
But in order to make any money, I had to tour that tour last year, and then the setup costs were all my money. I had just started to make money this year, but then the tours got canceled, so I kind of have lost all my money now. It’s not that I’m making music because I need money—but we had a bunch of creative projects lined up this year that we were going to kind of do incrementally, that we’ve kind of pushed forward. It’s quite exciting.