Thursday, 17 November 2011

Interview: You Me At Six

You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi talks about the struggles the band faced with their new album and his brutally honest view of the music industry and fellow artists…

Sinners Never Sleep got to number three in the album charts, are you secretly a little bit bitter that Adele and James Morrison beat you?

Not really because ultimately we had the midweek number one which, within the industry, is the one that everyone looks at. Literally our manager was getting phone calls and emails from everyone saying ‘who are You Me At Six and why are they ahead of James Morrison and Adele?’ So that was really cool and what I really liked was Zane Lowe at Radio 1 and Kerrang! Radio and everyone from the rock world was really getting behind it and saying ‘lets keep a British rock band up there in the charts’. And to be honest, had we come behind someone like Ke$ha or some other pop shit, then we’d have been beaten to the post by nothing special at all. But you’re talking about two world class household names, James Morrison and Adele. If you’re gonna lose out to anyone it’s got to be someone of that stature.

You went to LA to record the new album with Garth Richardson, how was that experience?

We recorded at Sunset Sound and the Sound Factory as well. It’s a very weird experience living in LA. We lived there for just over two and a half months and we all got apartments. It was really cool because although we made a few friends we quickly discovered that LA is the kind of place where everybody wants to be famous. And so as soon as a few people found out that we were in a band, we had people who would just show up at our apartments, that we’d met once at a bar, and be like (in a bad American accent) ‘lets hang out and go get coffee!’. And I was just like ‘look I don’t really like you mate, fuck off’. But what was cool was that we just spent a lot of time with each other so in terms of our band regrouping and enjoying each others company that was really cool. 

You then got John Mitchell & Matt O’Grady to finish off the record, what sparked that decision?

It’s very hard to get a good connection with somebody, especially when you’re recording, and we’ve had that connection and vibe with them for the last four years.  We were excited to work with Garth Richardson but there was a part of me that was like ‘I don’t know if I want to, I think I want to keep working with Matt and John’. When we got back from America and sat with the album for a few days we were like ‘this is shit’. They don’t get it, they don’t get what we’re trying to do. So I called up John, when both of their studios were fully booked with bands, and I was like ‘look, you know I wouldn’t ask this of you if I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary to salvage our album’. I’m not happy that we dicked over other bands, but they told all of them that we needed two weeks to do our thing and they dropped everything. And when you’ve got someone that cares about you that much, it really shows in their work. We also learnt a few things because we sat with them and did it. They’re both some of the most talented people I know, they’re like the sixth and seventh members of You Me At Six. So I think we learnt our lesson and next time we’re just going to go to America or somewhere but record it with them because it’s just such a better vibe. But that’s not me shit-talking Garth, because Garth is a legend…but he’s no Matt O’Grady.

Oli Sykes (from Bring Me The Horizon) and Winston McCall (from Parkway Drive) feature on the album, how did that come about?

A lot of our friends are in hardcore bands. I don’t really connect with people in some of the softer, poppier bands, especially American bands because they’re all just fake, horrible people. All they care about is what they can get out of you. The first year we did Warped Tour, literally every day there was somebody with their head up our arse just trying to get on our UK tour. But then you’ll meet a band like Parkway Drive who are like the Australian version of us and again, it’s the same with Matt and John, it’s the same with all of our friends, when you meet people it shouldn’t matter from what walk of life they are. And I’ve always wanted to do something with Oli because I did ‘Fuck’ on their album and he’s always said he really want to return the favour. Then when we wrote ‘Bite My Tongue’ and the middle eight needed something that was going to make everyone realise just how pissed off this song is meant to be. Oli was in LA at the time and so he came down to the studio. And then with Winston, we had the song called ‘Time Is Money’ and at first the middle eight was completely different but it was shit. It sucked big time. He was on tour in England at the time so I did some guide vocals for him and he went from Cardiff to John Mitchell’s house in Reading for an hour, recorded it and then went back to Cardiff and literally as he arrived back at the venue went straight on stage. I don’t know many people that we’ve met in our career or any sugary pop American band that would have dropped everything to come and help out their mates. I think we’ve got quite a few similar fans as well. 

A lot of people have been saying that your new album is more mature and a lot more honest. Do you think that’s true?

I think that’s what we wanted to do. We got to a point at the end of the Hold Me Down cycle, where I wanted to end it with ‘Fireworks’ as a single because I think that could have taken our band to a slightly different audience. But our label were adamant that we had to at least try and do this collaboration with Chiddy Band. I don’t necessarily regret it because Chiddy is a good dude and actually I think ‘Rescue Me’ is a cool song that got us some attention from different worlds that we probably wouldn’t have been involved in otherwise. But I think a lot of people saw through what we were trying to do with ‘Rescue Me’. At that moment in time the charts were full of singers and rappers collaborating. So then we thought we just need to be ourselves and people will either love us for it or hate us for it. So nothing was deliberate and I think when you go for a straight up honest record they’re your best. And that is why I think Sinners Never Sleep is our best album to date. We have fans out there that were going to love it regardless, even if it was the shittest thing we’d put out they would still say they loved it because they‘ve got that attachment to us. And there were always going to be people who pick it up and think ‘nah, I’m not into this’ but then a few weeks later they’d find something within the songs that they could enjoy. Then there’s people who like Horizon or Parkway and even people who like Snow Patrol or Coldplay who realise that we’ve got songs that sound in that vein and discover that they like our band. And when you’ve got those three things together it’s a pretty cool position to be in. And I’m really happy with it so I don’t really care if anyone else likes it or not.

You’ve had a few disagreements with your label Virgin Records over this album, and ‘Time Is Money’ is about that, is everything sorted out now?

Our label are the best label we could ask for. That song is about our label, it’s about our management but in general it’s just about the music industry. There’s so many dickheads. I got to the point where I was like at the end of the day, you’re not the people who have to go out and represent this, we are, and so we have to believe in it completely. So I put a few people straight, we fired a few people. I went up to somebody who is involved in our international side and asked them what their favourite You Me At Six song was, and I don’t mean any of the singles. They couldn’t even tell me a song title. So I said ‘please, no longer have anything to do with our band, we’ll find someone else’. Bands can just become products and that was something that I just felt needed to be put to rest. And as soon as we came to the label with really clear ideas, like the album artwork was all our idea, they really helped capture that because we made everyone feel like part of the family.

You’re heading off to America for a headline tour next year, are you getting a bigger fan base out there now?

When we did Warped Tour, it was nuts. Especially on the East Coast, we did really well. Texas and other places weren’t as flattering. But I think with America, and I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way but it really is just all about touring. If you put yourself in front of them, there’s a chance you’re going to be successful there. If you look at Asking Alexandria for example, they did nothing over here but then did 18 months of solid touring in America and they now do 3000 capacity venues. And they’re not exactly the best band in the world, they’re not the worst band by any means and I love them, they’re good dudes, but I feel like if You Me At Six could do what we’ve done in England and just tour places, because that’s how we got to where we are in England, we could do well over there. I also feel like we have the advantage of the fact that we’re English, for some reason Americans are into that. 

What’s next for You Me At Six?

We’re booked up until at least this time next year. And it sucks because I just bought Arsenal season tickets. It’s funny because Dan’s never been able to see United play and he’s a big fan so we basically booked our US headlining tour around me and Dan going to the football. Then they said we were going to start our tour January 15th and I was like ‘Arsenal are playing United on January 21st, so shall we start January 23rd yea?’ That’s the kind of band we are.

Where do you see You Me At Six in 5 years time? What’s your ultimate goal?

Well the dream was to be able to have a ten-year anniversary gig. And we’ve been around since 2006, so we’ve hit the five-year mark. Longevity is key for us. I don’t want to be big for a year, making loads of money and then selling out and having no career. We want to keep achieving stuff that ultimately seems unrealistic. We’ve got some offers though for some UK festivals next summer that are just insane, I don’t understand why we’re getting them.

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