The 1975’s Matty Healy Addresses Imagine Dragons Beef
In recent months, the ongoing beef between Slipknot and Nickelback has come to encompass a whole lot of the other bands on the desiccated alt-rock radio landscape. And now two completely unrelated bands are talking about each other, though in less incendiary ways. For instance, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor recently announced, on Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones’ radio show, that Nickelback are no longer the worst band in rock. Instead, Taylor bestowed that title upon Imagine Dragons.
Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds responded in a series of Instagram posts that said, more or less, that he was sorry for Taylor and for the general beef-friendly climate of music today. And in doing so, Reynolds mentioned a bunch of other bands who have supposedly talked shit on Imagine Dragons.
In one of those Instagram posts, Reynolds wrote:
I’ve gotten over the fact that guys in other bands (the 1975, foster the people, smashing pumpkins, slipknot, etc) feel a need to talk badly about my band for whatever reason. I don’t feel anger towards them actually, just more of a sadness that this industry embraces, even celebrates this mentality. I wish it felt like a place where artists stood by each other and supported one another — regardless of our different tastes and voices.
The 1975 frontman Matty Healy has, in fact, taken the name of Imagine Dragons in vain in the past. In a Q interview a couple of years ago, Healy said:
Songs like “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, it might as well be called “Pikachy Banana.” It’s nothingness. There’s no space for nothingness any more and pop music has so much space for it. I’m not saying I’m John Lennon or Jarvis Cocker, but I will say there’s parts of our record, which has been a massive mainstream record, that have resonated with people for the right reasons, and that won’t be taken away from me.
Last month, the Chicago station WKQX hosted an in-studio performance from the 1975. DJ Lauren O’Neil also interviewed the band, and she recently posted video of that interview. At one point, Healy brought up Reynolds’ comments and spoke a bit about Imagine Dragons. Here’s what he said:
Do you feel a responsibility to use your platform now to talk about these issues, to write songs to kind of encourage your fanbase to something about it?
MATTY HEALY: Yeah.
Does that feel like a burden?
HEALY: [Pause] I think it should be the burden of any decent artist, you know. There’s no point now in like taking up so much space, d’ya know what I mean? Like I think I’ve been accused of like maybe having a go at people about that, d’ya know what I mean? Did you see that guy from that Imagine Dragons — he went online quite recently and he’s kinda like “Everyone’s like slagging off my band, everyone’s saying that like we’re not good enough or whatever.” And he was like “Billy Corgan said it, and Matty from the 1975 said it.” And I was like, “Bro, I didn’t say that.” And even if I did say that, why do you care? You’re a millionaire in a huge band, like, you don’t go, “Oh I’m gonna do this and also can I be void of criticism.” It’s like, no.
But that’s not that point. My point wasn’t that Imagine Dragons aren’t good. I don’t care. If you’re that big, if you’re like the biggest alternative band in America radio-play wise, and you’re saying nothing in your music — if you’re just saying words “radioactive whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa,” d’ya know what I mean, it’s… No I’m not… I’m sure that they’re like… But it’s just like, what’s the point? If you can tell me what the point is, apart from escapism…
We’re rubbish with like protest music nowadays as a society. Look at like after 9/11, that was so hard for the country to deal with. Everybody’s listening to fucking Jack Johnson, Norah Jones. Cause people didn’t want to deal with reality. We have to deal with reality now. So seeing that guy from Imagine Dragons getting onstage the other week at Billboard Music Awards and start talking about conversion therapy and saying how it was bullshit and we need to stop it, I thought, “There you go! Good! Use your platform!” I’m not gonna slag you off for that.
He probably did it because of you! That’s your influence.
HEALY: Good. Good for him.
The exchange happens around the seven-minute mark of this video:
It’s worth noting that, whatever you think of Imagine Dragons, Reynolds has long been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community, for reasons that presumably have nothing to do with the 1975.