Sincerity is Scary: The 1975 and music for the fun of it
I love you more than the Clash.
I saw that on a tote bag when I studied abroad in England and being all of 20 years old I said “I don’t know if I’ll ever love a man that much.” This should give you an idea of how much music meant to me growing up, my identity, my social life, my friends, etc. As someone who lives in her head, music is my favorite way to escape. I catalog it obsessively. I have headphones at work and notebooks where I will make notes about the new music I hear. I have streams I like and I will catalog what I love. In 2014, I was listening to NPR’s mix from SXSW and they played a song called “Sex” by a band called The 1975. I liked it a lot and thought, what a fun punk band. Sidebar-I just realized that punk is not really an adjective people use to describe themselves anymore but that subculture meant a lot to me growing up. I got tickets to see a show and I had to cancel because of sciatica. My first hint that maybe this wasn’t this underground band that I heard on NPR should be that they were playing one of the larger venues in the city. My husband sold the tickets outside the show and said everyone there was 15. I was shook. He said people thought he was a chaperone. I mean none of my really cool friends were talking about them but I thought they were that underground.
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Their first single that we heard on the radio was “Chocolate.” My husband was like “what are they even saying?” I was like “those boys are from the North!” I did my study abroad I was in the north of England. I naively thought, that everyone in England was a billion times classier than everyone in America and that they all had delightful Mary Poppins accents except for cockney people who sounded like chimney sweeps! Well, I was wrong. As an American, I could not believe we were speaking the same language. I would argue it was harder to understand than an Irish or Scottish accent. A good example is Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays, he did a guest vocal on the Gorillaz song “Dare”. He was supposed to say “it’s there.” But his accent was so thick they changed it to “dare.” I love it! In England, my happy places were Oxford and Manchester. My friend and I used to take the train to Manchester and I’d listen to Joy Division and New Order on my iPod. It was just a welcoming and unpretentious place. It reminded me of the Midwest to be honest. Underrated and awesome! I am always telling people to go there. Anyway, it took me back to being over there, being 20, and being what my friends called a “bloke magnet.” I have this trifecta of men who are attracted to me and they tend to like Guided by Voices, David Lynch, or they are British. I mean this is a generalization and pride goeth before a fall. I could have just been 20 and confident. Seriously, I have rarely felt so sexy as I did over there. When I was in London, I was record shopping and I got a free poster and a personal invite to a noise show. My friends were like “we left you alone for five minutes and you got asked out?” Also, there was no pressure for a serious relationship so it was just a lot of flirting. Maybe I just associate that with feeling really hot and having adventures. I was predisposed to love the 1975 is what I’m saying.
Rock n Roll Fun
In America, we have this interpretation of artistic songwriter and what makes someone cool. Lyrics that tend to make no sense, plain clothes, and a self-deprecating sense of humor seem to work. I mean I was listening to Sleater Kinney today and I heard “You’re No Rock and Roll Fun.” I know a lot of serious musicians like that. But there is something about music that just makes you want to move and feel things. The older I get and the more I’ve experienced things the more I’m over coolness for coolness’ sake. I really don’t care who is deeper. The world is hard enough, I want a break from things. In comes the 1975 like a sledgehammer. The next single we heard by them was “Love Me.” I was like “that sounds like INXS!” Then we saw Matty just fling himself all over the stage on SNL singing “The Sound” I went on Twitter and said “I would have been in love with Matty Healy if I were a teenager.” I would have been like Tina and Louise Belcher with Boyz 4 Now. Looking back at those performances, it’s obvious Matty was under the influence but it was like watching a really fun live show. I listened to that song getting ready the next day and every time it came on the radio I would just lose it. I turned it up all the time. It was so joyous and so different. Also, “I know the sound of your heart” is such a beautiful sentiment because I have felt that way when I’ve really connected with people. Also, they mention Epicurian philosophy and I had just read The Swerve, which was all about that. Last year I went to a writer open house at a local magazine and talked with the cool kids in their early twenties. A young man who liked my dress and I were talking about our favorite music. He said “the 1975 hands down.” My best friend said “she loves them but I’m not there yet.” My husband didn’t really see the appeal. I have friends who have seen them live and said they were amazing. I’m sure it’s a fascinating performance.
I am a really honest person. I am all about being open and that means getting backlash from people who think that is weak. For example, I want people to think I’m pretty and talk about books with me. Seriously, is anything better than talking about books with somebody? I also have issues with anxiety and depression. It’s really easy to feel isolated by this. I’m an introverted extrovert so I can hide it pretty well. If you know me really well you know about my anxiety. I’ve been known to drive my loved ones crazy. Like, in college I thought I was being open with someone about my fear of sleeping with my shoes in my room. I don’t know why I’m like that. I am aware of being irrational and this girl just laughed at me and never looked at me the same. Like I’m OCD but I don’t clean but you better believe I have to things at the same time everyday. In England, I had a friend be worried about me and since my daily activities were the same he precepted me in a store. I got the same drink, at the same place, at the same time and he knew where to find me. I was drinking tea, eating a scone, and reading a book. I get that people don’t talk about these feelings but if you have anxiety you are not alone.
In men you are supposed to be detached from your emotions and as the mother of a little boy this terrifies me. Men are supposed to laugh but not too hard. Love things, but not too much. Any expression of emotions is looked down upon. When I was an adult education teacher I remember how hard it was to get my male students to smile in pictures. We talk about toxic masculinity all the time. It just hurts men. The men in my family are exuberant (I love that phrase) but even my Dad had issues wearing a lei when we went to Hawaii. It’s weird. He also was peak midwestern man. I think a good example of this is Nick Offerman, like kind and sweet but wears flannel and is pretty sarcastic. There is this absolute fear of vulnerability with men. My best friend and I were talking about the men we knew who fell into these traps of being angry all the time or substance abuse. To have someone like Matty just be honestly themselves and say “I struggle with substance abuse. I have too many thoughts. The world is hard and it’s OK to ask for help.” I read this book called “Rip It Up and Start Again” about post punk music. The author stated that these bands weren’t as popular in America because we were obsessed with gritty singers like Bruce Springsteen. Can you see him wearing eyeliner and leather? No. Same with the Replacements and Husker Du, these were bands from Minneapolis that lived the DIY up North aesthetic. When I moved to Wisconsin for grad school, I realized that all Wisconsin men dressed like my Dad. They wore jeans and Wisconsin sports paraphrenalia. It was not about style in any way. So I can also see how people would absolutely hate the 1975 for this reason. The performances are intense and I can see how they would be completely polarizing. But I don’t think it’s an act. It’s like what even is this music? It’s like 80’s pop, alternative, and something else. It takes itself too seriously.You can’t really define it and I listened to a bunch of interviews with Matty Healy and I was just impressed with how he talked. He talked a lot about the effect of the internet and what it means to never get a break from other people. I also think he struggles with manic episodes (which I know a little bit about) and I just love that you can’t predict what direction the band is going in. So many things right now seem to be predictable and it’s great to see something artistic exceed your expectations. I think their new album is like someone holding your hand during this crazy time and saying it’s OK to have hope. They even said, “it sounds cheesy and you see shows that end with people learning something and it doesn’t seem real. But what is art if it doesn’t give us hope?” I paraphrased that but I think that was the jist of it. It also is really honest about making bad choices but still being loved by the important people in your life. It also is just finding joy in your life. I find it incredibly refreshing. For the first time in a long time, I’m listening to their albums and just kind of escaping and wanting to find out everything I can about the band. Not going to lie, when they released their “It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You” video and it was a “Stop Making Sense” throwback I gasped with glee. I think the band is exuberant and kind. That’s really really rare to find in popular culture. My husband and I have been listening to their new album pretty much constantly since it came out. It’s just fun to see people have fun making music. Music shouldn’t be style over substance. They are coming back to Columbus and my husband and I are going to the show for my mother’s day present. So basically the vibe is all these happy exciting memories when I was young, dance in my kitchen joyful, and thoughtful.
Love Me, If That’s What You Wanna Do
I tend to obsess about things. My mind can get stuck in these loops of doom and gloom. My life right now is taking care of a small child and while it’s incredibly rewarding-my lifestyle has changed. So I have all this time to think about things and reminisce. Not saying motherhood is easy, saying my life is now taking care of someone else. Having him go to bed early and having all evening to read and get ready for the next day is interesting. We don’t go out like we used to in the evening.This can be both good and bad. My mind does this thing where I jump to the the worst conclusions and then read the news and have them confirmed. It’s been a vicious cycle. To have an album about how terrible the news is and wanting escape through not hurting yourself-that’s pretty impressive. Most people don’t talk about that. I think we’re supposed to cut ourselves off from these feelings and it’s rare to find music that I love both lyrically and musically. I used to say they were a guilty pleasure but screw that. I’ll take my pleasures where I can find them. Guilty or not. Until then, I will be rocking my the 1975 t-shirt and just letting myself have fun on my long winter evenings.