The 1975's Matty Healy says he's trying something he hasn't done before: being earnest

Matty Healy is known for his onstage antics and ironic performance of fame, but he’s always been somewhat guarded. On the 1975’s new album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language, he leans into sincerity in a way he’s never done before.

In a wide-ranging Q interview, Healy discussed everything from the 1975's new album to his problem with Oasis

Matty Healy of the 1975 sitting in the Q studio.
Matty Healy of the 1975 sat down with Tom Power in the Q studio in Toronto. (Vivian Rashotte/CBC)

The full interview with Matty Healy is available on our podcast, Q with Tom Power. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Matty Healy of the English pop-rock band the 1975 is known for his quippy lyrics, onstage antics and ironic performance of fame (all of which have earned him a reputation as the internet's latest crush). But on the band's new album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language, he leans into sincerity in a way that's at odds with his public reputation.

"I've been so defined by all this, like, postmodernism, nihilism, cynicism, addiction, self-obsession, individualism ⁠— all these kinds of things," he said in an honest new interview on Q with Tom Power.

"If you dethrone sincerity or earnestness with irony, eventually you get, like, an equal tyrant, do you know what I mean? And I'd gotten to that point where I was, like, you know, I'm done with this. I want something … that has a bit more substance."

WATCH | Matty Healy's interview with Tom Power:

Healy sat down with host Tom Power in the Q studio in Toronto to talk about everything from the band's latest album to his problem with the band Oasis.

Here are some highlights from their conversation.

After 20 years together, the band has a 'nearly psychic ability'

Healy and his bandmates have been making music together since they were 13, which he said has given them a "nearly psychic ability" to predict each other's movements.

"People ask about why there's so much harmony in the band … it's because we've all grown together," he told Power. "We know everything about each other."

It took six months to a year before the band determined the identity of their latest record, and in the end, they decided that what made them different is what they've been doing all along.

"We were like, 'Well, maybe the actual most radical thing is doing something that a lot of people can't do,'" said Healy. "The thing that we had that people couldn't do is that we've been a band for 20 years…. When we decided on that, it was like, 'Listen, let's just get a great studio and just make a great record.'"

Addiction was the only thing that ever really distanced him from his bandmates

One of the first real tests the 1975 faced as a band was when Healy started using heroin. It was one of the few times he did something the rest of his bandmates weren't cool with, which he described as "real infidelity" on his part.

"That was a dynamic that was so established, hadn't been messed with by girls, the industry, fame, money, nothing — completely unbreakable — and then this new thing came in that rocked the boat slightly," he said.

"When you go to rehab, you meet loads of people who have lost everything. And that becomes your incentive to, like, wake up and realize — that hadn't happened with me. I'd been so scared of the idea of losing any of them that I'd gone to rehab. And then I was like, 'I haven't lost everyone's respect forever.'"

On the 1975's new album, he yearns for earnestness

Despite how much division there is in the world, Healy said his day-to-day life isn't filled with turmoil and identity politics, but rather "quite a lot of love."

"We've become defined by what we don't like as opposed to what we do like," he said. "We used to be defined by what we loved, and now we're defined by what we're in opposition against."

I try and be really earnest because I kind of almost haven't done that yet.- Matty Healy

In response, most of the songs on Being Funny in a Foreign Language are a call to empathy and love.

"[It's a] call to, like, you know, those kind of ideas that have been so deconstructed in all this kind of postmodern, meta, jokey, irony, nothing-can-be-sincere — and I've been a proponent of that," he said.

"I wanted to make a record where I was like, 'I'm just going to do a song that's called I'm in Love With You and just swing the bat, and not debase it and make a dick joke — I mean, I do make a lot of dick jokes — but, in the moment, I try and be really earnest because I kind of almost haven't done that yet."

His public reputation is at odds with his private persona 

On the 1975's current world tour, At Their Very Best, Healy said he's in character a lot of the time. He commented on the "weird paradox" of reconciling his private self with his onstage persona as he plays huge arenas full of screaming fans.

"The show is quite theatrical now, and it's about, you know, the duality that I experience between being by myself at home [and being onstage]," he said.

"I used to mediate it by being on drugs and now I'm not and stuff like that. So it's quite a meta performance. So I'm quite in character a lot, which is why I can be, like, sardonic or annoyed … but I'm actually not like that…. I'm quite soft and quiet."

He finds songwriting to be an almost spiritual experience because music is transcendent

Healy said he's often surprised to find that his fans find meaning in his songs that he didn't intend. "I think I've written something about something, and then some 17-year-old kid's like, 'Oh, yeah, you know how that song is about this?' And I'm like, 'Whoa,'" he said.

While the 1975 frontman is "not remotely religious at all," he said that when he's onstage watching 90,000 people sing along to Somebody Else, it's hard for him to comprehend how he could have written that song.

"Somebody Else — from start to finish, as a song — happened in 90 minutes in an evening in L.A., when everyone was, like, high in 2015," he said. "It was not a big deal. So when I see that, I sometimes feel like I didn't do that…. There's some things that are so transcendent that it doesn't feel like, you know, a bloke can own it." 

His problem with the iconic English rock band Oasis

When it comes to what makes him most proud about the 1975, Healy pointed to the band's relationship and their commitment to keeping the "spirit of fun" alive. He said that's the problem with the band Oasis, which ultimately split up after several arguments between brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher.

Do me a favour: get back together! Stop messing around. That's my public service announcement for today.- Matty Healy

"What are Oasis doing? Can you imagine being in, potentially, right now, still, the coolest band in the world and not doing it because you're in a mard with your brother? … I can deal with them dressing like they're in their 20s and being in their 50s, but acting like they're in their 20s — they need to grow up," said Healy.

"There is not one person going to a High Flying Birds gig or a Liam Gallagher gig that would not rather be at an Oasis gig. There is not one person that's there going, 'You know what? I loved Definitely Maybe. But my favourite thing is f--king Noel Gallagher's High Flying [Birds].'"

"Do me a favour: get back together! Stop messing around. That's my public service announcement for today," Healy added. "And I say that because they're the best band ever."

Matty Healy of the 1975 posing with Q host Tom Power.
Matty Healy poses with Q's Tom Power. (Vivian Rashotte/CBC)

Written by Vivian Rashotte. Interview produced by Vanessa Nigro.


Vivian Rashotte is a digital producer, writer and photographer for Q with Tom Power. She's also a visual artist. You can reach her at vivian.rashotte@cbc.ca.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?