The album has finally been released into the world. I’m sure The 1975 has celebrated or will celebrate with friends and family privately, but they chose to spend record release day with fans. That’s genuine. That’s special. That’s why their fanbase is ever extensive and why people camped out overnight to experience the artwork. The band doesn’t have to do this – they are well into indie pop super stardom, but the fact that they put so much care and effort into cultivating a special experience to their supporters testifies to Matty Healy’s claim that “the band is everything to [them].”
When I dropped in around noon, fans I had spoken to had been waiting since 8 am (some who had left earlier camped out to ensure entry when the shop opened at 10 am). There were a lot of people. Enough people to get the NYPD to park beside the shop to keep things orderly. The sun shone, but New York was still in the midst of a windy, wintery day, but from what I gathered, the experience was pristine and worth every second of their wait.
The Pop Up Shop, situated in a nook on Orchard Street was just what you’d imagine a The 1975 shop would be like: homey, intimidate, poetic, immaculate, and vibrant. Once you open the clear glass doors to enter the first floor, three neon pink signs greet you. Glowing against a white wall, they spell “UGH!,” “THE SOUND,” and “SOMEBODY ELSE,” three of the five records that were released before the album dropped.
Fans were escorted into the shop in groups of 15 (approximately) where they could take pictures of/in front of the aforementioned signs before getting to the merchandise table where they could buy limited edition t-shirts, crew necks, vinyls, and most impressively, rose gold (!!!) necklaces with the trademark The 1975 rectangle dangling off of every chain. Despite the appearance of cops indicating otherwise, the shop was kept extremely orderly, with personnel telling fans ground rules for the second floor where they would get to meet the band. I made my way up to the second floor, and the stairwell leading up to it had all the teaser photos the band had posted in the months leading up to the release; all photos, lights, and artwork were the product of artist Samuel Burgess Johnson.
At the end of the staircase, the door opened to a cozy, dimmed 800 square foot space bathing in a warm pink light that I (and other fans) had only known through the screen. Seeing the album title glow in all its glory on album release day was something to behold. When I entered the room, the four band members were standing in different corners of the room signing CDs, taking pictures, and taking the time to thank and chat with their dedicated following. Even though every group of fans could only be there for fifteen minutes or so, it didn’t seem as if anyone felt rushed. It was familial and friendly, celebratory yet relaxed.
Surrounding the interactions were more artwork by Samuel Burgess Johnson. It was almost like a museum set up for the band and for the fans. When time was up for this round of fans, Matty rounded up the group and gave every person a hug – hardly the try-hard egotistical punk some accused him of becoming. The band, despite astronomical success over the past two years, remain as grounded as ever. There was no “diva” behavior, even when fans exited the room, Matty, George, Adam and Ross offered heaps of thanks to every “Congratulations!” thrown their way.
The band took a break to eat Katz pastrami sandwiches and pizza, albeit quickly, while dancing to hip hop tracks pumping through the speakers before the cycle started over again. Ed, who is part of The 1975’s Dirty Hit team, led me to the fire escape that overlooks the shop’s endless queue through a window in the room. He recounted that the band had gone out earlier for a cigarette where he said that the band had a proper Beatles’ moment when fans spotted them.
At 4 pm, the band left straight to the airport for their 6 o’clock flight where they’d return to England to do a signing the next morning with a London Pop Up Shop to follow. Going for that “Hardest Working Band” title again, eh The 1975? Surely no band deserves it more.
The new album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It. is out now via Dirty Hit Records and Interscope.