Matty Healy ruffled his grown-out Mohawk and took a drag from a cigarette as he gazed through a window at the spring-green English countryside.
"I suppose I think of this as my second rehab stint," said the 1975's frontman, who spent several weeks in a Barbados facility in 2017 addressing his addiction to heroin. This time, of course, he was referring to quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for which he's holed up in a remote studio complex north of Oxford.
"At the beginning, the news was rolling in 24/7 and you're watching it like it's a disaster movie. Then it kind of faded into something ... else. But familiar."
Healy, 31, was meant to be touring arenas in the United States right now behind "Notes on a Conditional Form," the 1975's brand-new follow-up to 2018's "A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships," which topped the U.K. album chart and was named album of the year at the Grammy-equivalent Brit Awards.
Instead, he's been sitting around thinking about himself -- about his tendency toward narcissism, his comfort with being depressed, his determination to continue the work of mindfulness that he began three years ago in rehab.
"I needed to upgrade my iCloud storage today on my iPad, so I was going through old pictures, and every time I saw one of me where I've got this certain face on, it was like there was someone else there," he said over FaceTime from the studio. "That inability to be present in the moment -- it was like a ghost in the photo." He laughed.
"Sorry, man, I don't know why I'm telling you all this," he said. "I think it's because I just don't know how to promote this record."
How could he?
Even minus the global health crisis leading countless artists to reconsider the machinery of pop stardom, "Notes on a Conditional Form" would be hard for anyone to get his arms around. The 1975's music, not unlike Healy's thoughts in an interview, has always been something of a data dump, with sounds and styles and textures pulled from an array of scenes and eras.
And the band's fourth LP is even more sprawling than usual, with 22 tracks (counting interludes) totaling 80 minutes, including an ecstatic '80s-soul number ("If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)"), a bruising post-hardcore rant ("People"), a tender acoustic duet with Phoebe Bridgers ("Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America") and a jangly '90s-guitar jam with some big "Empire Records" energy ("Me & You Together Song").