Imma segue into something more personal. Seventeen has been sort of an underground hit over here in all its incarnations. When you released it while you were still in Manila and you hadn’t (yet) moved to London, what were you doing when you were 17?
I was in college meeting you guys, but yeah, that was what it was. I was making art with friends and skipping school. In context, it doesn’t sound advisable but it’s something that helped me get to where I am now. Not that it’s far out, but if I didn’t meet these friends, I wouldn’t write those songs or I wouldn’t feel so enthusiastic doing music.
Did you feel that then when you were hanging out at Taft, doing whatever? Did you think you would play an (expletive) arena?
No, I never did. I loved music ever since, but I never really came to the point in which I thought that I wanted to be big. I didn’t know that it was gonna happen. I think it’s every musician’s dream to be able to play in front of a big crowd, and I was kind of blessed with the opportunity to come with The 1975 on tour and experience that firsthand, in front of massive crowds. In a way, though, I was just generally in love with the feeling of making music and being around people who made you feel like music. It’s an amazing thing. Music brings people together.
If you could work with three people — living or dead, here or elsewhere, like no limitations — who would they be?
Oh, this question. No….
I’m gonna give you like three minutes to think about it. No worries.
One answer I’ll always say is Young Thug. It still hasn’t happened, and I’m waiting for it to happen.
Yeah, you guys are kind of the same in the way you interpret visually how you are. That semi-androgyny, being eccentric?
It’s kind of like that strong fear of being yourself. There’s an interview we watched, me and my brother (Zeon Gomez of moonmask), about everything he was doing. Like “This is just me, I’m just a weird guy, like I never thought he was a weird guy until someone told me,” you know what I mean? That was it. I never knew that I was weird until someone told me. “Damn, dude, you’re (expletive) weird.” And it’s inspiring, you know. He’s just doing his thing. He knew what he had to do. There were some things where he knew what he had to do because he was thinking about pushing that art form further, not just like music itself. He knew that, all right, this music is the best platform I’ve got and I wanna make the most out of it. That’s really cool.
Second: Thom Yorke (of Radiohead)
He has some really good new solo stuff out.
And Kim Gordon.
What? Kim Gordon?
Of Sonic Youth.
Yeah, but hmm… what would you guys do? Something noisy…
I don’t know, but imagine though!
I mean, you asked me the question.
That’s true, that’s true, that’s true… (laughs)
I don’t know what I’m gonna do with Kim Gordon but when I’m in the studio with her, it’ll work out.
What is your favorite thing about being home?
Family, friends, and food. There’s just a different feeling of home. Home is home. I’m from here, I grew up here, and that’s what it’s always gonna be whether or not I move anywhere else. There are some people who hate where they come from; I don’t. Even if it’s in a state that you don’t like, you know that it’s where you come from and that’s what matters.
And you never forget your roots, right, and after every leg of a tour, you come back anyway.
Stuff’s going down here. Is there anything that particularly riles you up, not being very specific but also, you know…
Well, right now, just ‘cause we conversed about it a while ago (before the interview), I would always hear about it but I never really had a chance to read about that new bill that they’re trying to get passed…
The SOGIE bill.
Yeah, the SOGIE bill… My only thing is, I hate the fact that people say, like, “Oh yeah, I got friends who are gay, BUT—” That’s it. If you’ve got friends who are in that position, why wouldn’t you give them the right to just be themselves. Why is it that hard? Why are you saying “but” then? You gotta realize why don’t I want my friends to have the same rights I’ve got? That’s it, period and done.
Yeah, you’re not taking (the rights) anyway from anyone else.
Just for me, there are years and years of culture we gotta destroy. Why don’t we start now? Why don’t we start destroying that conservative culture that we had for years?
It can be said that your vision combines music with your visual art, or how you see things — you were always into visual art. You even took up industrial design and stuff in school, so it’s pretty multidisciplinary. What inspires you lately? Or what inspires your music? It could be anything at all.
I think (me being visual is) because I’ve always looked up to artists before. My idol was Andy Warhol. Before like Sonic Youth or Nirvana, artists were my first idols. Andy Warhol painted his whole life. He probably wasn’t the best guy, neither was Pablo Picasso, but these guys kind of painted their way out of things.
Like sort of… art rebels.
Hence everything being visual, and wanting to filter life through a visual aspect. They found this box of pictures by Andy Warhol that he never (published). Because he was just so particular about what he wanted, he shot his whole life in Polaroids, and you can find it. But his whole idea of knowing that when he was famous, people were gonna find his stuff, and he wanted to be seen in this form. He knew he was gonna document his life this way, and that’s what he did.
Like tangible memories…
And it’s a way of saying, “If I die, this is how I want to be seen.” That inspires me.
No Rome will be performing at the Market! Market! Activity Center on Oct. 6.