You Me At Six are back and ready to fight: they’re older, they’ve learned some valuable lessons, and now they’re putting them all to the test on their sixth outing, ‘VI’.
“I felt very much like ‘Night People’ was a halfway house to going nowhere,” frontman Josh Franceschi starts, speaking about the band’s 2017 full-length. “We didn’t really execute any of our ambitions or visions that we had for the band, be it creatively or just in general, to be honest. A lot of darkness and negativity around making that record was…”
He pauses. “It’s been quite integral to this record coming together.”
“When I listen back to the new record, and how it’s sounding and feeling, it sounds like a band who knew exactly what they wanted to achieve. They had the confidence to go for it. They cut out all of the distractions and bullshit that can come with being an artist, and it was great to make a record again in England.”
Returning to their home shores to carry out ‘VI’ gave You Me At Six a chance to re-kindle their faded passion. Instead of letting life get in the way – be it clock watching due to commuting between drummer Dan Flint’s house in Surrey to London, or simple dinner plans – it all went out of the window in favour of a far more centred method.
Focusing on finding themselves again, they set up shop in a residential studio. Cracking out fifteen-hour days, only stopping for sleep – and the pub, of course – what it’s led to, is a genuine movement forward for themselves. They’re progressing, they’ve re-found the fire, and it sounds better than ever.
Dropping not one, but two new tracks in the form of ‘Fast Forward’ and ‘3 AM’, you can immediately hear the development they’ve undergone. There’s aggression littered across Josh’s vocals, and the instrumentation is fierce.
“’Fast Forward’ is very much a self-assessment song lyrically, and I’ll be honest with you, my personal life, and also my life within the band during the whole ‘Night People’ era, was just sort of coasting. Whether it be coasting through bad stuff or good stuff, it was just coasting. There was no flag in the ground moment.
“Sometimes you have to lose something to know what it meant to you in the first place. With You Me At Six, we felt like we’d lost our way a little bit on the last record, and therefore it made us so hungry.”
Josh attributes the discourse around the time of ‘Night People’ to the breakout success of 2014’s ‘Cavalier Youth’.
“We came off the back of it with a number one album, O2 Arena, main stages at Isle of Wight and Reading, T in The Park. In terms of everything we wanted to achieve as a band, if it was a video game, we’d completed it,” he says matter of factly.
“Everything we’ve wanted to do, we’ve done. When you come out of that, and you’re surrounded by people that tell you that’s what you’ve done, and encourage you to just coast…” he tentatively trails off.
“Anybody that works in the industry knows that it’s full of complete cunts, but there are also some truly pure and wonderful people in there. It’s about surrounding yourself as often and as much as you can with your eyes wide open as to who those wonderful people are, and keeping those that are going to cause nothing but aggravation at a distance.”
He’s not going to name and shame those who failed to help them capitalise; instead, he’s staying firm with the belief that beyond having achieved what they felt they needed to, all that matters now is keeping that fire alive.
“It won’t achieve anything… Actually, it does. It’s moulded us into becoming as wise as we are now.”
It didn’t just lie with various people who, intentionally or not, didn’t have the band’s best interests at heart.
“I felt like we were, and had been, losing our identity,” Josh freely admits. “Because it was like, ‘OK, you’ve done stage one of turning into a band’, now it’s about having that Kings of Leon ‘Sex on Fire’, or fucking ‘Mr Brightside’ moment.”
A bold claim, but what do you expect from someone who’s re-found the love for something that’s given him more opportunity than anyone else could imagine? ‘VI’ is the culmination of all of these ideas and a future that feels brighter for You Me At Six.
There’s no grand statement album coming out. It’s not a piece of art that sits on a station way above anything else around it. Instead, it’s something purer – that missing identity.
“I generally feel that the music will say everything we need to say, and sometimes, giving the album a title you’re almost encouraging some sort of identity to come alongside that,” he nods to the simplicity of the title.
“Whether it be branding or marketing, and with ‘Night People’ it was very clear when I look back on that whole period that we were trying to make something of our title, and that being our identity, whereas our identity is ‘six’. You Me At Six, it’s a part of our name! It’s what we’ve done the whole time, and why we’re dropping new music on the sixth of the sixth because that shit’s just meant to happen. There’s something quite poetic about that, and we’re just trying to keep it real simple.”
Feeling as if they’re in a better place than ever, the road ahead looks prosperous. The fight is a lesson they’ll never forget, and the industry can try it all it can to taint them, but You Me At Six have made it this far. “Bands like us never do that,” he quickly admits.
“They say [that it’s] the difficult second or third album, but our difficult album was our fifth album,” Josh finishes laughing. “And it’s like we had to get some shit out of our system to be able to make this record.”