Matty Healy Has More Than 20 Tattoos, Each With a Different Meaning and Backstory

Some people love Matty Healy. Others hate him. But The 1975 frontman isn’t just a controversial guy — he’s a tattooed guy.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Apr. 19 2024, Published 11:44 a.m. ET

matty healy shirtless showing tattoos at coachella 2019
Source: Getty Images

The songs and sounds of The 1975 are often the least talked about aspect of the alternative indie band.

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Frontman Matty Healy is an expert in drawing controversy and attention to the band, from his dating history (which includes megastar Taylor Swift) to his decision to drink onstage during the latest tour.

But some of the biggest question marks about Matty are his tattoos and their meanings.

Matt Healy's tattoos showing while he plays at 2023 Lollapalooza
Source: Getty Images

Matty has at least 20 tattoos, which means he’s gone under the needle many times. Luckily, the musician has some dedicated fans who’ve done the work to figure out what each of his tattoos means, so we’re here to explain all of them.

Twitter user @102SWIFT led the way to understanding a bit more about the enigmatic singer-songwriter.

"True Love Annie" tattoo

One of Matty's biggest tattoos in the center of his chest says "true love Annie" and honors his late grandmother. He spoke about it with Shazam Top 20 in 2015: "My favorite tattoos are the ones for my nana on my chest ... My nana hated all my tattoos. She made me promise I would never get a tattoo of her when she died and about 16 hours after she died I got a tattoo of her on my chest."

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"We Are Kings" tattoo

Before The 1975 chose their band name, they were called Drive Like I Do. Their song "Wolves" incorporated the lyrics "We are kings," which is about how they're not afraid to start a war to get to the top.

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Deer tattoo

While Alexa here guesses that the deer tattoo could be dedicated to Matty's parents, deer are also a symbol of "spiritual authority," according to Faena. Matty is atheist, but he likely has a spiritual side to him as well, and because the deer's antlers fall off and regenerate, this could be a symbol of Matty's "rebirth" after his struggles with addiction.

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Allerton tattoo

Matty added in 2015 that Allerton in a heart is his other favorite tattoo. It's a reference to his favorite book, Queer by William S. Burroughs, who is one of Matty's heroes.

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"Weak messages create bad situations" tattoo

This tattoo is based on David Shrigley's book Weak Messages Create Bad Situations: A Manifesto. "Lots of individuals in society today are feeble-minded. They don’t know what the HELL is going on," David wrote on his website. "Unfortunately many of these people are responsible for running THE COUNTRY. They don’t know the difference between a PRECIOUS JEWEL and a piece of animal turd. Their ideas are MEANINGLESS, illustrated using RUBBISH imagery (often made by a computer). The stupid words they write are always in BAD FONTS."

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Anchor tattoo

Anchors typically represent grounding or stability, or just a love for the nautical sides of life. We're not sure what it means exactly for Matty but it could be anything.

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"DAD" tattoo

Matty isn't a dad himself, so this is clearly honoring his own father, Tim Healy.

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"Newcastle United" tattoo

Matty is famously a Newcastle United fan, supporting English football (i.e., soccer), so this tattoo signifies his love for the football club, despite being born in London and raised in Cheshire, near Manchester. He did spend many early years on a farm in Hedley on the Hill, which is close to Newcastle upon Tyne.

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Mortal Kombat tattoo

Matty has a tattoo of a dragon in a circle, which is the symbol for Mortal Kombat. Yes, Matty is a gamer, and he's so dedicated to gaming that he even got a tattoo to signify it.

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2023 cross tattoo

Matty's not religious, so this tattoo of a cross is a reference to the album F♯ A♯ ∞, by the rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

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1975 tattoo

This one should be obvious, but Matty actually got it when critics said a band name can't be a number so they would be forced to name themselves a number. Clearly it paid off.

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"Love" tattoo

What does "love" mean? Well, that's a bigger societal question. But Matty loves love, and so do we.

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"Timothy" and "Denise" tattoos

Who are Timothy and Denise? Matty's parents! Even if they don't support his tattoo addiction, at least he honored them with tattoos of their own (albeit on his feet).

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Cross tattoo

Even though Matty is an atheist, he has two crosses tattooed on his body. Both of Matty's parents were working actors and he was raised without religion, so the cross likely isn't a religious reference. It could have just been done by an artist Matty loves and respects who specializes in cross art.

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The Box tattoo

The Box from The 1975 is basically a representation of the band's logo and aesthetic. It's seen on several of the band's albums and is considered the trademark tattoo for The 1975 fans as well.

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Rose tattoo

Matty Healy and the band often adopt a floral aesthetic in their merch, so Matt's tattooed rose could simply be that. There's also a six-pointed star as part of the tattoo, which could tie to the Star of David. Matty isn't Jewish at all, but that also signifies a tribal state of mind, ties to a spiritual homeland, and rooting for the underdog (David vs. Goliath).

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Girl tattoo

Matty has a tattoo of a girl on his shin, which could mean something or nothing. In the same Shazam Top 20 interview, Matty revealed that when a tattoo shop opened down the street, he and his friends let the tattoo artists practice on their legs. From the looks of this tattoo, it does look like an older tattoo, so it could just be one of his meaningless leg tats.

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"I'm a Man" tattoo

Matty has a tattoo that simply says, "I'm a man." According to fans, he actually got the tattoo onstage during a concert in Newport, R.I., when a fan also got the classic box tattoo onstage.

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Wabi Sabi tattoo

Of course Matty has a gum tattoo. These tend to wear away over time, but Matty told Fader, "It’s a Japanese aesthetic paradigm about the impermanence of beauty.” Considering his experience with karate and his black belt, it makes sense that he has strong ties to Japanese culture.

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"I have killed him for you" poem tattoo

The poem on Matty's stomach is a quote from Andrew Durbin's Mature Themes, which is a hybrid text incorporating poetry, art criticism, and memoir. It's all about "disingenuity," which fits into Matty's efforts to be authentic and, at the same time, emit the image he desires. Plus, the form of the book matches The 1975's use of mixed-media.

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"SK9" tattoo

Unlike in the United States, United Kingdom postal codes incorporate letters and numbers. "SK9" signifies the postal code for Wimslow, which is where Matty grew up, went to high school, and met his bandmates.

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Number on his wrist tattoo

Matty has actually spoken about this tattoo and said that it's his passport number because he doesn't have his passport on him. Of course, putting the number on his wrist as a public figure isn't the most secure option, but at this point, he's probably too famous to get his identity stolen.

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Louis ship tattoo

Matty is really close to his brother, Louis, so this tattoo is in honor of him. While ships typically represent home and direction, there could be another meaning between the brothers that we're not aware of.

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Unknown tattoo

Even Alexa, who is arguably The 1975's biggest fan based on her Twitter thread, doesn't know what this tattoo is or what it means. Perhaps as Matty's fame grows, we'll learn more about the unknown tattoos covering his body.

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