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Healygate - The 1975 24 Hour Phantom Promotion

theguardian.com

When well known people leave social media, it makes waves, both before and after. We're usually given at least a few days' warning, along with some reason why the person or people have decided to go dark. Usually, and especially recently, it's because they're trying to hoist themselves free of an ever-rising pool of bile dispensed by nasty Twitter and Facebook trolls. Every now and again though, somebody just outright buggers off, no rhyme, no reason, at least not initially. That's what The 1975 did over the weekend. 

Known for being pretty left-of-field with their promotion, the band hinted at the impending disappearing act on Sunday afternoon when Matt Healy posted an odd cartoon on his Twitter and Instagram which ended with the addendum "So we must leave, with a parting 'we love you'... We are already gone."

Needless to say, the band's already voracious fan following set about trying to untangle the mystery (re-posting the image thousands of times in the process) but before any overbearing conclusion was reached, the band had vanished. All their social media pages shut down, along with the personal Twitter and Instagram accounts for all the individual members. If the fans were getting unsettling before, it was at this stage that they went utterly berserk.

Others were more sceptical of the sudden move, with many music programs and publications decrying it as a publicity stunt (including NME, a magazine that the cartoon seemed to be attacking in a roundabout way). That didn't stop the continued re-posting of the image or the increasingly heavy trending of the absentee band on Twitter, but lo and behold, on Monday the band were back. Almost immediately upon reactivating all their accounts the band posted a new image, a white square featuring the band's name in neon, suggesting that this stunt was the first step in promoting an upcoming album.

Judging from the testimony of those who have spoken to the band since then, it was less intended as scare-tactic to encourage people to pay them more attention (remember threatening to run away when you were a kid? Yeah, same thing) and more a way of wiping the slate clean and starting over with a new coat of paint. Supposedly new images will continue to be released on a daily basis, but what information will be revealed alongside them is a mystery.

This is the kind of thing that bands used to do all time back when word of mouth was still the cornerstone of good, memorable promotion. Nowadays it seems like the most daring thing most artists do is leak an album a week before it's supposed to come out just to make sure everyone's awake. Publicity stunts are arrogant, sure, but they encourage a kind of competitive bombast between artists and the idea that we'll start seeing bands and artists competing to be the most ridiculous again (kind of like in, I dunno, 1975) is pretty exciting. It's certainly more interesting than tracking super-rich pop-stars arguing about which streaming service people should use.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Healygate - The 1975 24 Hour Phantom Promotion Reviewed by Callum Davies on Wednesday, June 03, 2015 Rating: 5

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