“…our mission statement for every record from the start has always been that we don’t want to make the same record that we just made and with ‘Cavalier Youth’ not that there’s any sense of regret but there are some things we would’ve done differently…”
Now a decade into their career, the five friends who form You Me At Six are focused on the serious business of becoming Britain’s biggest and best rock band. With four previous albums under their belt the band has returned with what is destined to be their best yet, ‘Night People’. A raw, real album that shows maturity and growth in a band that can only go up from here and expect to hear more about this band as the year continues.
Downstairs in his living room at home, Josh from You Me At Six gave us a call to catch up and discuss the band’s amazing new record ‘Night People’, delving into its creation, tracks, touring Australia, and much more as they’re ready to take on the world… Check it out!
It’s been about two and a half years since we last chatted, so let’s catch up, how have the last two and a half years been for You Me At Six?
Yeah they’ve been great, man, you know we’ve obviously put out a record and we’ve been touring a record called ‘ Cavalier Youth’ and then we took a year off and just sort of behind the scenes were creating music and writing music together but with not sure when or how the record was going to come out. Yeah, we’ve just been taking out time and obviously made ‘Night People’ the record and we’re about to get into it and go touring again and all the usual good stuff the comes with being in a band really.
So in that time since ‘Cavalier Youth’ was there anything that did end up inspiring what became ‘Night People’?
Actually in Australia we played a festival called ‘Groovin’ The Moo’ which I think sort of was an interesting thing for us to do, playing with a lot of different artists and travelling in that way and I think actually, again in England we played a festival called ‘The Isle of Wight’ festival, a very prestigious crossover festival which I don’t think we were ever going to have an opportunity to play and we played main support on the main stage to The Black Keys and that was an almost a career affirming moment where we’d been waiting for that opportunity for a long time and when it eventually came I think the heritage of that festival inspired us to try and move the band I slightly different direction and also celebrating our ten year anniversary we decided that we wanted to make sure that the next ten years would be a completely different chapter in the band lifespan and to try new things and to try and evolve as much as we could and yeah, it’s been an exciting process putting this record together.
In listening to it and loving what you’ve done, it’s like I’m hearing a band that’s continuing to grow and mature, do you find that when you go into making a new album you’re taking experience from the last and developing on that?
Absolutely man, also our mission statement for every record from the start has always been that we don’t want to make the same record that we just made and with ‘Cavalier Youth’ not that there’s any sense of regret but there are some things we would’ve done differently, and from an individual perspective from myself I wish I’d contributed more in writing guitar parts because I basically didn’t pick up the guitar for a few years and I stopped contributing to the band in that sense. I think just making ‘Cavalier Youth’, I believe that every record is part of the process for the record that follows, I don’t think you can’t be that band without making the record before. I’m sure it had a very valuable impact on this record now.
So what was the feeling when you got to hear the album in full for the first time?
Nothing can really ever… it never stops feeling special when you get in the car with the band for the first time after leaving the studio and usually it’s like we’ve just tracking a song or something like that way, but nothing can ever really replaced that feeling of listening to songs for the first time. For me, when we got the mixes back from Andrew Scheps that’s when I knew we had something pretty special, he’s the guy that is an incredible mixer and he really took our band to a new place it feels like, and it was very exciting to have the sort of tag team with Jacquire King and Andrew Scheps working on our band.
I wanted to ask about Jacuire King actually, because you worked with him for the first time, what did he bring to the band that worked for this record?
I think the main thing that he brought was a much needed injection of confidence to our band, and I think also him encouraging us to record the record live, he couldn’t believe that we’d never made a record live together and we’ve been playing music or ten years and he couldn’t believe that no one tried to capture this band in a live capacity. So that was a new challenge for us but I think it really refocused us as a group and really when you’re recording a record live you need to all be in synch and you all need to trust each other’s abilities and also encourage the evolution as individual musicians but as a collective, so that was a big thing for us recording the record live, I don’t think we’d never even considered doing it like that before so that was a massive step for us to do that.
I’ve seen you live many times before and I feel that’s where you guys truly shine so it is surprising to hear that you haven’t done that before…
Well that honestly was the thinking behind it, we’ve actually had feedback en masse in the past that people think we’re a better live band than we are on record and they actually feel like they rediscover the band when they see us live. We thought that if that’s the feedback we’re getting from fans old and new then why are we not trying to see what it would sound like just recording a live record. Then obviously of course there’s punch-ins and there’s re-tracking and almost none of the vocals that you hear on the record were taken from one exact perfect live take but they’re taken from multiple live takes, and I think that in itself gives the record a whole new energy and perspective and I feel like it’s something that now we’ve done now I’m not sure I could go back to making music with people in different rooms just recording to a metronome. I feel like it’s given our band a new lease and now when playing these new songs live on some of our recent touring, we’re already so well-rehearsed and it’s not like we’re struggling to play songs live for the first time, we know it like the back of our hand and I think that’s really given the songs and extra edge when we’re playing them live.
I always like to single one song on the album to ask about that stands out, but that was hard, so I’ve gone with two… the first one that stood out for me was ‘Brand New’ especially with that hook in the chorus, can you tell us about that one?
Sure, for me one of the most exciting parts of making this record was working with one of the engineers on the record who is a guy names Lowell, he’s worked with The Killers and Brandon Flowers and I’ve always been a big admirer of Brandon Flowers and the way there’s a simplicity to his hooks and his melodies and also he doesn’t try and crowd and drown out the lead vocal with lots and lots of harmonies. ‘Brand New’ is where I really saw Lowell and I was really stuck for how I should finesse and build on the chorus with the melody and the harmonies and he just really helped me simplify it by I guess in a way with the experience he’s had with working with people like him, and the singer from Manchester Orchestra, the guys from Kings of Leon, James Bay and I think predominantly in the past we’ve worked with producers that have recorded bands that have taken similar paths to us sonically, whether it be Neal Avron who of course has made Linkin Park and Fall Out Boy records, or whether it be Garth Richardson who has made Biffy Clyro records, and I felt that this was the first time we were working with a group and obviously Jacquire King is the main producer but engineers who really didn’t know too much about our band previously and they never seemed like they wanted to know what we’ve done in the past because they wanted to make the best record we could make at that moment in time with them and not be repeating and rehashing old tricks. So the melody for that song really I kind of wanted to have a melody that felt in retrospect where the verses are quite moody I guess in a sense, I felt like it was important to have an uplifting chorus. I remember when the guys were jamming that song for the first time and I knew what the lyrics were before I knew what the melody was in that case and I wanted it to be something positive, the idea of waiting for someone else to make you feel brand new, I don’t know what happened but I found it particularly easy to write that part of the song.
Now I’ve discussed my love of your ballads with a few of you guys now, and on this record we have the outstanding ‘Take On The World’. Is writing the ballad style song something that’s now become a must for You Me At Six?
Well you know what, our biggest thing is we’ve written plenty of ballads which our fan base in the past will know whether it be ‘Crash’ or ‘Fireworks’ or ‘Always Attract’ and songs like that, but for us I don’t think we’ve ever written a ballad that we feel is a single, whereas with ‘Take On The World’ I feel like we’ve done that, and I actually feel like it’s one of, if not the most important song on the record for us because I feel like it’s the first time people will hear our band in that way potentially on the radio or that sense. It’s a very important song for us because it’s a song we didn’t actually have, we split the recording into two trips, and the first trip we didn’t even have that song, and we sort of put that song together in the time in between the two recording trips. Jacquire didn’t even know we had that song in the locker so to speak and I remember when we sent it to him for the first time he was like “Wow, this record has just taken a whole new step forward” and he got really excited about it, and I must have recorded and re-recorded my vocals on the song so many times because he kept on saying to me “No, Josh, you sound too stiff, this vocal performance is all about you being comfortable and you really making the listener fee and take them on a journey of I guess feeling fragile at times” because if you listen to the message of the song, it’s a love song but it’s not the typical love song of you’re so beautiful, I love you so much isn’t life so great, it’s more like life is shit and I wish I could make life a little less shit for both of us and I wish I could take some of the pain and frustration out of your life and carry that burden.
I think one of my favourite songs of all time, whether it’s the coolest thing to say I don’t know, but I think the sentiment and the idea behind ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay is so beautiful and I’ve always wanted to try write a song that I felt that I could do something along those lines, you know a selfless kind of love and I think with ‘Take On The World’ we’ve really done that and I think it’s a universal song and I feel like it’s a song that anybody from any age group or any sort of walk of life could understand the idea of “Just say the word and we’ll take on the world” and I don’t know, maybe it’s the kind of song 2017 is going to need more than any other song on the record, really I think I think it’s a song that I hope will bring positivity and an injection of good vibrations into the universe at a time where I think we really need it. We’ll see, that’s the intention behind it and I’m glad you picked that song out.
Well there’s your tagline for the record… ‘You Me At Six, making life a little less shit’
*laughs* Yeah absolutely man *laughs*
Now I have to ask, when do you think we’ll see you back in Australia?
Mate, we’ve been going back and forth over this for the last few weeks because of course Australia is such an important place, for me it’s like You Me At Six’s musical home and I don’t say that just for the sake of headlines and trying to appease the locals, I really mean that. I’ve always felt incredibly liberated and incredibly happy when I’ve toured Australia and played Australia. I think some of our favourite people we’ve met through touring and working in the music industry are Australian and are Australian musicians , and there’s just a vibe over there that you guys have that really speaks to me and really and I don’t think there’s a single guy in You Me At Six that doesn’t love coming to Australia, so we are trying to work it out, we’re trying to make sure we come at the right time, there are actually some potentials to go over and support some bigger bands which we’re weighing up and trying to figure out if that’s the right move for us, but I’m confident and there’s no doubt about it, we’ll definitely be in Australia in 2017 but if it’s the front half or the back half I wouldn’t want to say yet because I honestly don’t know, we will be back of course.
Lastly let’s look ahead to the future, so finish this sentence for me, in 2017 You Me At Six want to…
Be one of the most important rock bands in the world in 2017, that’s our mission statement on this record because I also feel like there’s a lot of people that haven’t even discovered You Me At Six yet that would really enjoy us if they heard us, so I hope this is the year of discovery for people with this band.
From: Surrey, England
Band Members: Josh Franceschi – lead vocals, Max Helyer – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, Chris Miller – lead guitar, Matt Barnes – bass guitar, Dan Flint – drums, percussion.
Latest Release: Night People (Out now – Liberator Music / BMG) – Check out our review of the album HERE