“Plugins are lame, bro”: The 1975’s Matty Healy on why the band chose to use a limited amount of gear, including a Roland JV-1080, on their new album

Rarely shy of voicing an opinion or two, The 1975 front man Matty Healy has told the Tape Notes podcast that “plugins are lame, bro.”

Healy was quick to jump in and make his point when interviewer John Kennedy quizzed The 1975 drummer George Daniel on what in-the-box stuff he enjoys using. When Kennedy then suggested that plugins can be useful, Healy replied: “Yeah, but useful stuff is annoying - like, my phone’s useful, [but] fucking annoying.”

Healy also noted that, during the making of new album Being Funny in a Foreign Language, the band decided that they’d rather focus on using a few specific pieces of hardware, as it was more conducive to productivity.

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On the idea of using plugins, he said: “You can get so lost in those kinds of places - ‘what’s the right keyboard sound?’. It could take you forever. So we just kind of like limited those kinds of things.”

One of the devices that the band drew heavily on for this record, it turns out, was Roland’s JV-1080 sound module, a bonafide ‘90s classic. “I bought that during lockdown after Googling ‘what keys did Fleetwood Mac use,” George Daniel reveals, “because I knew they weren’t real but they always sounded like semi-organic sort of sounds.”

Daniel attributes this to the fact that the JV-1080 is sample-based and not powered by pure synthesis. “We’d been trying to get those sounds but never sort of nailed them,” he explains.

Like many bands, Healy says that The 1975 were keen to imbue their sound with some analogue warmth, but they didn’t want to overcook it. “We ran everything through tape, but as soon as it started to sound ‘Black Keysey’ - like, ‘we are using tape’ - then we pulled it back,” he confirms.

Despite Healy’s reservations regarding plugins, Daniel also admits that there are some - certain analogue channel strip emulations, for example - that he thinks are up to snuff. “Anything that creates imperfection or enhances imperfection is what I’m into now, or hyper-creative plugins like sequenced effects,” he explains.

The 1975’s new album Being Funny in a Foreign Language is out now.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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