By the end of touring their second album ‘Hold Me Down’, You Me At Six had achieved more in their six short years together then most will do in their whole careers. When the champagne corks were being popped at the end of 2010, the Surrey band were looking back on a year that had seen them fill Hammersmith Apollo three times over, seld over 60,000 copies of their second LP and be lusted after by bookers for every major festival going. Given this is a band whose oldest member is only 22, that’s pretty darned impressive.
Speaking to NME, a few days after getting back from finishing their new album in Los Angeles, singer Josh Franceschi tells us all about living in L.A, recording with string sections and how he accidentally revealed Noel Gallagher was making his solo album in the studio next door…
So, how was L.A?
It was a good experience. For the first week or so, I don’t think any of us could believe that our band had taken us to America, we were so excited and we just wanted to get in the studio. We got to record at Sunset Sound, which is the last place The Beatles all recorded together, all that history and heritage made it all a bit more exciting.
We got these really great apartments with a super nice gym, a pool, a hot tub, it was so nice. We went out and bought an X box, watched loads of football, had poker nights and we got really into it.
Did you ever think “I could move here”?
No, we were living in Hollywood and if there’s one place you don’t want to live, it’s Hollywood. I was ready to come home by the time we finished and I ended up getting really ill.
Yeah, in our third week out there, I got really ill. I had loads of chest problems and on the day of the Royal Wedding, I was actually in hospital having treatment. I think me being ill cost us about 12 days in the studio and I meant I had to do all my vocals in about two or three weeks.
Are you all right now?
Yeah I’m fine now. There was just a lot of stuff going on. There was stuff going on with our label and the Blink-182 tour being cancelled really bummed us out.
How did you find out about that, did you hear the news like everyone else?
Our label came out to talk to us and we were planning the next few months, and then they said “We need to talk to you, Blink have postponed their tour.” We were so bummed out by it. Doing that tour would have been one of my highlights of being in this band. We were desperate to do it, but we’ve already committed to a lot of big slots at festivals next summer and we realised we can’t have two summers of not doing many festivals.
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You must have been down about it?
I was. But I get it though. I really do. We had the same thing, because we had to pull out of the Parkway Drive tour in Australia because we knew we couldn’t get on a plane with a half-finished album. We just couldn’t. I don’t feel bad towards Blink, it was frustrating.
So, the album, have you got a title?
No, not yet, we’ve been throwing ideas around, but we want something that really sums up our band, without being too corny, if we can do that.
Where’s it at right now then?
It’s being mixed by Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Blink-182) and I’ve heard a few mixes and it sounds unbelievable. So good.
What can we expect from the album?
It feels like a different scale of production, a big step up. We’re used to working with one engineer, but we got into it. I think this is the perfect record for You Me At Six to step up. ‘Hold Me Down’ was the bridge from ‘Take Off Your Colours’, it needed to be stronger and better produced and it was. But with this one, we wanted to show that we’ve got a really wide spectrum of sound.
There are songs on the album that could be on a Coldplay record and yet there are songs that could be made by a far heavier band. It was good to be taken out of our comfort zone and made to try new things. Before we knew it we were really thinking big and writing parts for strings and horns and working with conductors. We even had toy pianos and we added samples to a few songs. I really think that if there’s going to be a You Me At Six album that takes us out of the scene we’re in, then this is it.
Are you writing songs for bigger crowds now? You were playing pretty big venues by the end of 2010
We made an agreement that we weren’t going to write any songs for anybody else. We wanted to write songs that our fanbase would enjoy and to write songs that would reach a new audience. We’re kind of trying to maybe to go away from straight-up pop punk into the kind of place bands like Foo Fighters occupy.
Is that reflective of where you’re at now?
Yeah, I mean I don’t really listen to the music that I listened to growing up anymore. I don’t stick on Senses Fail or the Starting Line anymore. I mean you’ve got to remember that we wrote our first songs when I was 16 or 17 and that right before ‘Hold Me Down’ I’d just broken up with a long term girlfriend. To me that was the biggest thing in the world.
Do you regret any of those lyrics now? Bits of ‘Hold Me Down’ are quite angry
I’m incredibly proud of that album. And those lyrics were so therapeutic; I don’t regret writing any of them. There’s maybe some lyrics I should have sugar coated a bit more, but I’m glad people could really relate to it. When me and my girlfriend got back together, she said to me a couple of times “Did you have to write that?”, but I think she understood and she’s glad with this new one, that’s there’s nothing that personal.
So you’ve definitely moved on lyrically?
Oh yeah. I mean take a song like ‘Gossip’ from our first album, which is about going to a house party, which is what I used to every fucking weekend. We’ve got to move on from that stuff, people ask us know why we don’t play it live and it’s because it’s the shittest song in existence.
Have you ever thought about dropping that stuff?
We did actually. On our last tour we really talked dropping a lot of stuff from ‘Take Off Your Colours’ and then we all remembered when we were younger and we went to Finch and they refused to play ‘Letters To You’ and not understanding it. So we felt we could take one or two out, but not them all.