Pre-lockdown, the last live show You Me At Six played was one of the biggest of their career at Gunnersville Festival in west London’s Gunnersbury Park, where they performed every single they’d ever released as a band. A stint in Thailand recording their upcoming album ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ followed; but their busy schedules suddenly screeched to a halt last march, as they did for many musicians, at the hands of the global pandemic.
Now, over a year since their last gig, the band are gearing up to release ‘SUCKAPUNCH’, their genre-exploding seventh album. We caught up with frontman Josh Franceschi to find out how he’s feeling ahead its release, what he’s been up to this year, and why he loves having haters. Here’s what we learned.
Recording in Thailand forced the band to focus
“We’re guilty of finding reasons to leave the studio” explains Josh of the band’s previous recording habits. “When we’ve made records in Los Angeles, it’s like, ‘who’s playing tonight? Which one of our friends is playing a gig that we can jump to?’”
Going to Thailand and recording in a small, isolated village ironically stopped them from being able to escape working on the album. “I think sometimes in the difficult moments of making records, we’ve had opportunities to get out and duck it. Whereas with this if you’re having a challenging day, where you feel like this song isn’t going anywhere or whatever the issue might be, you really have to face it and face it head on – which we haven’t historically done too much of.”
This was almost Josh’s last You Me At Six record
On the first night the band were in Thailand, Josh told their producer Dan Austin that he planned for this to be his last You Me At Six album. Although now Josh is clear that it won’t be his final hoorah as part of the band, this mindset had an impact on the writing of ‘SUCKAPUNCH’. “There was definitely an intensity of feeling like if this is going to be a swan song, you just let rip and it had better be amazing, he says. “I had to give everything.”
“To be honest, I’ve never really felt like that before when we’re making music for You Me At Six. Maybe sometimes I’ve been slightly too comfortable… I’m glad that I got a rise out of myself by doing that”.
Creating ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ was cathartic – and Josh has been listening to it a lot
While all the band benefited from taking time out to create this record, Josh thinks it may have helped him the most: “It’s turned out that maybe I needed this record more than any of the other guys in the band. It’s been a great help to me actually listening to our record quite regularly, I’m not ashamed to say I listen to it a lot.”
If you’re not rinsing your new record, then why should anyone else? Listening back to ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ has helped Josh process his experiences: “It takes me back to there and being part of it, and it also it helps me mull over some of the things I was feeling then, looking at it retrospectively.”
He was surprised by the reaction to the announcement that it might be his last record with the band
They say you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, and this experience has given Josh the insight he needed. Explaining the response when he initially announced it could be his last record with the band, he says: “I was getting reactions from people both close to me and our fans as well saying it would have been a real shame if that was how it went down. This year has put a lot of things in perspective, and I think for a lot of musicians and people that work in music there’s such a massive void without being able to do what they do.”
He’s honest about how the year has been for him: “I wouldn’t say I’ve struggled, but I’ve definitely had a bit of an imposter syndrome going on. I’m like, ‘Well, who am I?’ If I’m not the guy from You Me At Six? Do I have any true value?’ Being that bare and vulnerable, and understanding that has been important and in itself is equally as cathartic as making the record.”
Having haters is a good thing
You’d think that as a frontman Josh would just want everyone to love him, but that’s not the case: “As an artist, you’re here to polarise opinion, and that’s important. That’s why I think some of the great, great bands and artists of our time have done that. I’m not saying that we’re one of them, but we’ve obviously done enough to be around for 15 years and be on our seventh album, but we’ve got a lot of haters which is good.” Bring it on!
– ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ is out on January 15