Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Josh Franceschi, You Me At Six

YES! You read it right. It's the return of NME's legendary, long-running feature Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells, in which we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. We begin this brand new run with You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi

1: In the ‘Save For The Bedroom’ video, name the title of the talk show you appear on and the subjects covered in it.

Josh Franceschi: “The talk show name…not a clue. But I’m sure one topic is ‘My Grandson’s A Hooded Yob’, another’s about bestiality or ‘Is My Husband Having An Affair With The Dog?’. There’s one about ‘Is My Grandson A Know-It-All?’. I remember Chris [Miller, guitarist] wearing a Slipknot shirt which I feel is about necrophilia. Looking back, it’s harsh to imply that if you like Slipknot you enjoy sex with dead people! That’s all I’ve got. I do remember the actor playing the host was in Saving Private Ryan.”

CORRECT-ISH. HALF A POINT. The talk show is called Lazarus Ironside. The subjects are: ‘Is Our Grandson A Hoodie?’, ‘I Suspect My Husband Is Having An Affair…With The Dog!’, ‘Is My Son A Necrophiliac?’, ‘My Boyfriend Is An Exhibitionist’, ‘Our Son Refuses To Be An Intolerant Bigot And Is Bringing Shame On Our Family With His Liberal Thinking!’

“I did alright then, didn’t I?”

You dress as women in the video. What would your drag name be?

“I sweat loads so Sweaty Betty. It’s not sexy but it’s at least honest to the other side of me.”

2: What did you once tell a fan you’d rather do when he requested the track ‘Gossip’ at a Brixton gig?

“Someone sent this to me on Twitter the other day. It was probably self-inflicted violence, but I can’t remember.”

WRONG. You responded: ‘I’d rather someone punched me in the balls for the rest of my life, every single day, with a sledgehammer, than ever, ever, ever admit to writing Gossip. Ever.’

“Ouch! Yeah…playing that in a few weeks. On the ‘Take Off Your Colours’ anniversary shows, so bring your sledgehammers!”

Will you incorporate that into your stagecraft?

“We could get quite American Horror Story about it and set up different areas onstage with different methods of torture throughout the song.”

Have you views on that song changed?

“Before I made that sassy comment, I’d said ‘Gossip’ wasn’t my favourite song and I didn’t enjoy playing it, and then our fanbase were cheeky and would bring it up or hold banners requesting it. I listened to it the other day and it’s indicative of that record’s spirit – a young, teenage band writing their first song. It’ll be interesting to play that stuff live again. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t understand and respect where you’ve been.”

For a bonus half-point, according to Setlist.FM, how many times have you played ‘Gossip’ live?

“Chris told me this. We’ve played our Lady Gaga ‘Poker Face’ cover, like, 40-something times and we’ve only played ‘Gossip’… am I right in saying 16 or 22 times?”

WRONG. You’ve played ‘Gossip’ 48 times, compared to 71 times for ‘Poker Face’.

“Never mind. Almost there!”

3: How much does the cranberry hoodie currently cost from your Down But Not Out clothing range?

“Shit! We don’t do that anymore, but I think maybe my dad’s left a little line. I’m assuming somewhere between £25 and £40?”

WRONG. It’s £18.50p

“Cheap! Must be trying to flog ‘em!”

What’s been your worst fashion disaster?

“At college, I’d wear Nike trainers and baggy Adidas tracksuit bottoms with a Drive-Thru Records or Finch T-shirt and one of the worst haircuts ever, which explains why I didn’t get much action then.”

4: ‘The Swarm’ soundtracks Thorpe Park’s roller-coaster of the same name. How tall is it?

“Fuck! I have absolutely no clue.”

WRONG. The 2,543-foot ride stands at 127 feet. Bonus Wikipedia fact: on the one-minute twenty-five second ride, riders experience speeds of up to 57 miles per hour.

“The reason I’ve never been on it then! Hell no! I don’t go on roller-coasters. I know I’m going to die at some point, but it’s not going to be at a theme park.”

What’s the closest you’ve come to death then?

“There were two times I genuinely thought I was going to die on tour. In Nebraska, we cut someone up on the freeway and he tried to run us off the road, barging his truck into our van. We ended up in a dead-end trying to lose him, and he got out brandishing a chainsaw. Then we saw his daughter – no older than five – emerge from the truck and ask ‘Daddy, can we go home now?’. He was like: ‘My daughter just saved your life!’. The other time was on an internal flight in Indonesia during an electrical storm. We got hit by lightning and the plane plummeted. Everybody was saying how much we loved each other. A few of us were actually crying. It was intense.”

Ever turned down anything more unusual than recording a roller-coaster single?

“A company wanted to make You Me At Six-branded condoms because of ‘Save It For The Bedroom’. Again, with ‘Liquid Confidence’, they thought there was legs in that.” 

5: What were the original two titles for the song ‘Reckless’?

“I didn’t know there were any! Maybe ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’ based on the chorus, but I’ve no idea what the other one could be…”

HALF A POINT. The original titles were ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’ and ‘The Best You’ve Never Had’.

“Oh I remember now! We couldn’t use ‘The Best You’ve Never Had’ because Beyoncé had just put out a song with a similar name and we couldn’t use ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’ because it’s a Nicole Scherzinger single.”

Any big name pop stars you’d like to collaborate with?

“I’ve been saying Drake for years but still haven’t received a call back so I’m assuming he’s not into it. J-Hus is another one. Knowing the kind of music he makes and that he follows us all individually, I wouldn’t be surprised if Post Malone does something with a band like ours.”

6: You famously travelled to your first gigs via Megabus. What is the name of their mascot?

“Not. A. Fucking. Clue. I’m going to say Martin or Michael The Megabus?”

WRONG. It’s Sid.

“Sid?! The guy on the side of the bus is called Sid? Unbelievable.”

What are your memories of those days?

“Just being as young as we were – I was 15, the others were 16. We played in Newport to just four people and the other bands and the venue let us stay in the flat upstairs. We sat huddled watching fights breaking out and scary mental shit on their CCTV, not knowing if we’d make it through the night.”

7: Which three Foo Fighters songs do you cover on the B-side to ‘Bite My Tongue’?

“‘Bridge Burning’, ‘All My Life’ and ‘Best Of You’. My cup’s in the bag!”

CORRECT.

“We met Dave Grohl properly at Summer Sonic last year. We were in the Foo Fighters’ dressing room and I heard ‘Hey do you want some champagne?’ and it was Dave walking around pouring glasses for Rick Astley, us and the guys from Royal Blood, playing host like he’s having a dinner party. Afterwards we all went to a club in Tokyo and had a very jokes night where we all got smashed. Not something I thought I’d ever say when I started the band”

8: Hayley Williams joined you to perform ‘Stay With Me’ at 2010’s Reading festival. Which bands were you playing between?

“Blink-182 and Paramore headlined that year. We played after All Time Low ‘cos I remember watching them and it was raining, so we all went on in big coats, and the sun started shining within the first two minutes of our set. We were fourth from the top, but I can’t remember who was third.”

WRONG. You were between All Time Low and Limp Bizkit

“Fucking hell! Jokes! Er, okay. We’re always grateful to Paramore for helping us up the ladder. I always send new music we’re working on to Hayley, Bring Me The Horizon and Benji from Good Charlotte to get their opinion. I think rock’s lost that community spirit we have. We tried on our new record ‘VI’ to get some collabs with our peers and it was a struggle – to the point where they were literally heading into the studio and outside influences stopped them.”

9: Which footballer did you attempt to psych out before this year’s England V Colombia World Cup?

“David Ospina”

CORRECT

“We’re friends with ex-Arsenal player Tomasz Rosiński and were hanging out with him after a festival in the Czech Republic. Alcohol flowed, and we started talking about football. He sent a video to [Colombian and Arsenal keeper] David Ospina saying: ‘Look at this England band, they think England are going to beat you – go on my friend, you can win it!’. Then obviously we sent him a video of us all singing ‘Football’s Coming Home’. I’m not saying England’s victory was all down to us, but I’m surprised we haven’t had a thank-you phonecall from Gareth Southgate. It was 48 hours before the game – we got inside his head!”

10: According to Metro, what did you ban during your 2016 European tour?

“I got shit for that and it wasn’t true. They said we banned sex, like we’re fucking AJ preparing for a fight! (Laughs)”

CORRECT. Ever read any particularly strange fanfiction about you?

“There was a time when people would write lots of stories about me and Dan but that’s been overtaken by #Fransykes. When me and Olly Sykes did a Christmas photoshoot wasted one year, with him riding me around like a reindeer and us licking each others’ faces, it definitely inspired Tumblr’s peculiar literary passions!”

The verdict: 4/10

“So heartbreaking! Wow, my braincells are fucked then, aren’t they?”

You Me At Six‘s new album VI is out now via Underdog Records. Their sold out UK headline tour begins this November