The 1975 mania hits Manila

Paul John Caña

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On put-downs, setbacks, and keeping happiness – not ego – in mind

THE 1975. "I guess if there’s one thing I would say is that people should pursue things for happiness instead of ego," says frontman Matthew Healy. Photo courtesy of Ayala Malls

MANILA, Philippines ­– Matthew Healy was, as he admitted, a bit hung over when he and the rest of the members of The 1975 met members of the press at a function room of the Fairmont Hotel on March 27. The frontman of the Manchester, England-based alternative rock group is in Manila for a series of shows organized by the Ayala Malls, and they lost no time seeing the sights.

“We went to some bars about a 20-minute drive from here,” he said. “Lots of pretty women here in the Philippines.”

Healy has been together with bandmates Adam Hann (guitars), George Daniel (drums) and Ross Macdonald) since they were teenagers. “We’re making music because we don’t know how to do anything else,” Healy said half-jokingly. “We’re doing this because we love it. We love making records.” 

Ups and downs

While the band has been together for years, they first gained widespread fame for their catchy single “Chocolate,” a head-bobbing, foot-tapping ditty about youthful indiscretions and general hijinks. Voted the hottest record of 2013 by listeners of BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe’s program, the song has become something of a calling card for the British foursome, introducing new listeners to their fun, laid-back sound. “That’s our song, that’s our thing,” Healy said. “We’ve been playing it for years but we haven’t gotten tired of it just yet.”

Although the band has shot to stardom over the last couple of years, not everyone has fallen under their spell. NME, the revered British music magazine, named them Worst Band of the Year for 2013, “beating” out such names as One Direction, Muse, 30 Seconds To Mars and Imagine Dragons.

“That’s just silly,” Healy said, dismissing the dubious honor. “The NME is not what it was. Nobody cares about them anymore. What happened was, we started to become popular in 2012 to 2013, and they missed ‘catching’ us, so that’s what it was. It’s really weird. I’m just sorry they didn’t hand out the actual award, because I would have gone and accepted it!”

Obviously unperturbed by the incident, The 1975 chooses to continue playing their unique brand of music. Influenced by the likes of Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads and even R&B groups like Boyz II Men and Ashanti, the band is currently writing the follow-up to their debut album that was launched in September last year. “We used to think that you need a big record label to succeed,” Healy said. “That’s not true anymore. We knew what we wanted to be and just went on doing what we wanted to do, and here we are.”

Happiness, not ego

Healy, who is the son of popular British thespians Denise Welch and Tim Healy, said he has had to deal with people’s expectations all his life. “People would come up to me and ask if I didn’t want to be like my parents, and I would always ask them back, ‘well what do your parents do? Do you want to be like them?”

“We want to be rock stars,” he added. “We don’t want to be just normal guys.”

Asked for advice for bands looking to break into the music business, Healy answered with tongue firmly in cheek. “Don’t take advice from guys in bands, that’s my advice,” he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd. “Don’t get us wrong. We know how lucky we are. There are so many bands out there in the world right now and we appreciate what we’ve accomplished so far. I guess if there’s one thing I would say is that people should pursue things for happiness instead of ego.” –

Photos courtesy of Ayala Museum

The 1975 schedule of performances: March 28, at 4PM at Market! Market!, 7PM at Glorietta Activity Center, March 29 at 4PM at Fairview Terraces and 7PM at Trinoma Activity Center

Paul John Caña is the managing editor of Lifestyle Asia magazine and is a live music geek. Email him at or follow him on Twitter @pauljohncana

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