You Me At Six have been destroying the charts and rock world for almost a decade, going from strength to strength and only growing exponentially. From playing main stages at Reading and Leeds, to selling out Wembley Arena, the band is nothing short of stars in the alternative scene. With their co-headline Australian tour with Tonight Alive coming up this September, we spoke with lead singer Josh Franceschi about the tour and the serious side to the glitz and glamour of rock music.
Hey Josh, how are you doing?
Yeah, good man, you?
How are you feeling with your co-headline tour with Tonight Alive coming up next month?
Yeah it’s gonna be good fun. Tonight Alive are a band we met in 2012 on Warped Tour and we sort of instantly got along. Must have been a Commonwealth thing, we all sort of liked the same crappy jokes and we like hanging out and doing similar stuff. When the option came along for us to join forces it was
sort of a no brainer as they were doing a headline tour, we were doing a headline tour, it was like ‘Why don’t we do something special?’ I’m sure we have a lot of cross-over with our fan bases and it’s worked out perfectly. Sydney sold out way in advance, we sold out the first over eighteen’s Melbourne date
and the second is about to sell out. They’re all selling great and I think it’s gonna be a great tour. If anyone has any doubt about coming they shouldn’t be! I’m really looking forward to coming back to Australia.
When you first came down under was it economically viable at all to do so or was it something you had to put yourself out on a limb to do, and has that changed to nowadays?
Well, when we first came to Australia in 2010 and we did Soundwave, we were also offered sideshows with Paramore. We got a big Europe and UK Arena run with them so we weren’t going to turn down playing big rooms with them and playing one of the best festivals in the world basically. We didn’t really have
the same kind of label back then at all so if we did a tour and lost money we didn’t give a shit because no one else was going to pay for it. Now we’re headlining big rooms and the shows will be great but I never really like filling in the fans of the music as to how much it costs to do what we do as it’s
not about that for us. It’s about the music. And I know for a fact because I was in a meeting about it yesterday, that we aren’t making a single cent form this tour; we aren’t making a single dollar as it’s costing us that amount of money. All the flights, hotels, the transport on the ground, rental gear,
lights and wages…before you know it what seems like a successful payday on paper turns out to be “Can we literally breakeven?” I don’t even think we’re doing that. But you know what? We don’t care. It’s not about that. We are here for the fans of the band and to play music to them. We make our money in other ways if we can’t make it from a tour but not making a profit has never put us off doing something. We’ve always thought about the bigger picture and the bigger world. There’s no point doing a record if you’re not going to tour off of it to the fans.
Times have changed. I think the reason bands aren’t jumping on the road as much as they used to is because they have to be more calculated; they have to have a business plan [behind a tour]. You can’t just go on the road and lose three-hundred grand because you’re not making enough records to make that up.
It has to be a bit more thought out. It’s different now but it doesn’t faze us. We just get on with it. We’re still young enough that we love touring; we’re all like twenty-four, twenty five and when we have wives and kids I think money will play a big part in doing a tour but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
In regards to family, how do you deal with that distance that touring creates to your friends and family?
I mean, socially, the last nine years I’ve seen the world get smaller. As you get older you grow apart from your friends and your real friends will stick around and vice versa. The Friday night you used to go into a bar and there would be thirty or forty people that you knew and you could have a conversation with all them, you now go into the same bar and there’s three or four people you know or sort of know. People grow up and change, and get real lives and real shit happens. So there’s not a huge impact there I suppose.
In terms of family and girlfriends; it’s never been easy. We’re about to go away next week to Reading and Leeds and then we go away for three months. I’m trying to move out of my apartment whilst going on tours and that’s a bit difficult. Real life gets in the way sometimes. For me, when I’m on tour and I’m
having a bad day and I miss my girlfriend or whatever, I think it must be more difficult for them at home. They see you go off and they have to look at a website to see where you are if they can’t get a hold of you. They still have their routine whereas you’re not there and my days have no routine. I’m on the road and every day is very different, it’s all far from Groundhog Day. Like in anything, when you’re away from the people you love you’re gonna miss them. Also as I said before, if we’re not making a record or we’re not touring then we’re not making the money to pay for the house or flat or whatever. If you get a once in a lifetime opportunity like this handed to you then you don’t say no, you just make it work. Our personal life suffers and the last nine years of touring have gone really quickly. I look back on my life and think, “Fuck the years have gone quick!” We were playing clubs in England and now we’re headlining big rooms around the world. Like, what happened? Where did all this come from, where are our mates bands? Why’d they stop and break up? It’s strange looking at it like that…
A lot of people think it’s all glamourous and fantastic to be in a band but not a lot of people see the hardships and sacrifices made. When you started the band, did you know that if it took off you’d have to make these sacrifices or did you have to learn the hard way and take it as it all came?
First and foremost, don’t get me wrong, this is the best job in the world. I get to see the world and go to so many places and I get paid to do it or at least at no loss in the end hopefully, but it was a lot of work. The way we used to do it was we’d fly out on the weekends. Leave the flat or house at four in the morning to go to the airport, travel on the flight then a three hour drive to where you need to go, play the shows and get to the hotel at midnight then have to get and go at four again. Does that suck? Of course it does! But when you’re on the road with your friends and play an amazing show and you go to clubs or parties or bars as we were into back then, it’s great. There was a part where we would have after-parties after the show and we’d love that. We’d love having a ball and they were great but now we’re a bit older and we all have girlfriends so the idea of going out and picking up girls is not really on the list of things to do anymore but times have changed.
I used to just want to tour, tour, tour, tour! People told me to be careful what you wish for because one minute there’s nothing then the next you can get caught up in this hurricane and it hits you like that! At the end of the day, it is my job. It is my passion and love but it is also my job. Like with any job there are pros and cons and good days and bad days, but you have to put it in perspective, would I rather be at a job in London that I didn’t really like trying to pay the rent or would I rather be in a band and have the experience I’m having?
It’s not the rock and roll lifestyle that it used to be for anything. There are a few bands out there trying to strive and be like Motley Crue but it doesn’t work like that anymore. It has to be more pragmatic and more put together than that. People are paying good money to see you and in the Zeppelin days or the Motley Crue days and you rocked up smashed or hung-over people would be all, “Oh yeah, they’re fucked up, woo” whereas mow you come to a show and people in this generation, people paying good money expect to see a certain calibre. You can’t be out to four o’clock in the morning pissed up every night. So that’s the new rock and roll lifestyle I guess but it doesn’t bother me.
As you said, it’s your passion and it’s what you love. And it’s paid off; I mean selling out Wembley Arena is huge! Would you say that was a defining moment in your career?
Definitely a massive milestone! It was a great mark for us and a great way to end the cycle and make our mark. Especially in England, there was that talk about who’s going to be that next UK rock band that’s going to make a mark. It’s one thing to play clubs and theatres and two-thousand seaters but who’s
actually going to step into the arena world and do a show that sells tickets and is an actual arena show! That was what it was for us, we had to end our cycle by saying “We are an arena band, we can do this!” We spent every little penny we made from that show putting back into the show to make it the best we could and filmed our DVD there. It’s something we can look back on and be very proud of. And you’re right, there are very few bands that are close to doing that and a lot more that are nowhere near it, and that’s the lifestyle. We had to focus on what we wanted to do and achieve and we did it. Now it’s all to the future again, I guess.
Well, Josh, that’s all the time we have. Thank you for your honesty and openness.
All the best for the tour.
You Me At Six tour with Tonight Alive this September. Details here.