You Me At Six have been nothing but a powerhouse staple in the realm of modern British rock music. Having ascended to new heights with each new album, playing bigger and better shows and reaching new ears every single day, they show no signs of slowing down with their new record, ‘Night People’ slated for release in January. And thanks to this new album cycle, I got the absolute pleasure of interviewing the band’s lovely and charming frontman, Josh Franceschi. We talk about the album’s singles, my distaste for said singles, dreams, goals and the almighty clusterfuck that was Brexit.
Whereabouts are you in the world at the moment and what are you up to today besides interviews, Josh?
I’m in my London house at the moment and yup, I’ve been pretty much-doing interviews all day around London town and a few radio ones as well some phoners. I did just watch the Arsenal football match and I’m now waiting for my dog to come inside. So been a good day, how about you, what’ve you been up to?
I quite literally just got out of bed and am now sitting on my veranda in the morning sun. It’s 9 am, at the moment.
Oh shit, that’d be right. Just having a coffee and getting started.
Exactly it! Well, let’s kick this off. The first thing I wanted to ask was what made you go with these four singles, in particular, to be the teasers for the record?
For us, we wanted to release our safest sort of tracks first. Well, the title track, people hadn’t really heard us like that before but there was still a mix of the old and new and that but with ‘Swear’ and ‘Plus One’ those were just some really energetic rock songs and I wouldn’t by any stretch say that these are the best songs on the record but we were playing to the old fans a bit there. I guess it depends on which way you look at it as well. What do you think because it sounds like you’re not too keen on them?
I’ll be straight up with you, Josh, I wasn’t keen on any of those songs you put out. The title track was alright, but after spinning the record for myself I ended up loving every song you haven’t released yet funnily enough.
That’s actually fantastic! That’s music, isn’t it? I don’t know what your knowledge of our band before this was or if you were into us at all but it’s just really interesting to see that you didn’t like the four songs we put out but the rest you did. So there might be some people out there exactly like yourself that aren’t convinced quite yet but may come around when they hear some other tunes on the radio. ‘Night People’ isn’t an album where there were two obvious “great songs” on there and that was it. The other six songs on the record when people hear them will definitely be ones that have a true, classic You Me At Six sound.
We’ve also been living with this record since June and ever since then we knew that ‘Night People’ and ‘Plus One’ will be tracks that would definitely be singles. It’s just the sort of thing you put out as an instant grat’ for fans. It’s a bit different now I think with the way people consume music on a digital landscape. I do wanna ask if you had to pick, what songs would you have put out for us if you were choosing our singles?
Well, I think from an objective perspective, ‘Night People’ would go out as the title track but from the subjective I would say ‘Heavy Soul’ (which has become the album’s latest single since this interview was conducted) or ‘Brand New’ to fulfil the old You Me At Six fans with your older sound and maybe ‘Take on the World’ for the softer, ballad-like song. But at the end of the day, as you said, that’s just music. It’s all subjective and you’ve given us a lot to be subjective about. Four songs! That’s almost half the damn record, so what made you go for four as oppose to one or two?
Well, I feel like we thought we should just give our fans a lot of songs then drop the rest of the record because a lot of bands are now putting a fair few songs up on Spotify before the record comes out as oppose to just dropping the whole record. We saw Catfish and The Bottlemen do it and we decided it’s what we wanted to do based on our relationship with Spotify. We were going to play these songs live so rather than just have people record them on their phone and everyone hears them that way, let’s put them out the way they were intended to be heard. We now have that opportunity to play those songs much earlier live in the setting where they can really come to life.
Great to hear! It’s been a really great year for British rock bands, you had Twin Atlantic and Young Guns drop their albums as well as Catfish like you mentioned, and now Lower Than Atlantis are gearing up for their new record alongside you guys. It got me thinking, however, looking at some of the venues you guys have been playing and are about to play, You Me At Six are kind of the leader amongst a lot of those bands. What do you think makes your band stick out and be the kind of band that sits above the rest?
See, I don’t even know man. It’s interesting because Catfish and The Bottlemen have got to a place in England just in the past eighteen months where they played Wembley Arena, their album charted and they won BRIT Awards and they’re doing really cool things at the moment. It seems like in the North East of England there’s a whole 90’s revival thing going on. I feel like with a band like Catfish, they’re reminiscent of Oasis and they write great songs whilst Lower Than Atlantis have been around for quite some time but only now they’re really at their best. I don’t really look at our scene and kind of think of why people are having such a great run. I just simply think the UK is producing some great fucking music. See, I think that ourselves and Australia are producing better young bands than America is at the moment. Look at Tame Impala and what they’re doing for Australian music. Kevin Parker [Tame Impala’s vocalist] and all the stuff he’s doing with Mark Ronson and Lady Gaga is just some insane shit. I’m confident that the British and Australian bands are going to keep providing people with the great stuff they are producing. Something that British bands need to do is bulk up their tours and take it international because British guitar music is having a massive, massive moment. So putting some great tours together, I think people would really appreciate that.
Whilst you mention big tours and what not, there was something in the press release for this record that I loved. You mention how you want your band to be headlining Wembley Stadium four nights in a row and playing headline slots at Glastonbury. Now, having interviewed a lot of bands myself, who are all just overly humble, it was really great to see you be so publically ambitious.
Well, I think some of the bands we just talked about are like us in that way as well. Catfish said that if you look at bands the UK put out like Muse, Biffy Clyro, all bands that headline festivals and Wembley, it took them almost decades to do so but that stuff is now happening to this generations bands. You look at Bring Me The Horizon with what they’re doing and I think we’re at a point where you have to get up out of bed and think those things and only then will they happen. You don’t want to accept the people who are standing in your way – fans, friends, journalists, anyone who doesn’t want you to succeed – so you might as well get up in the morning and have milestones, even if they are out of the realms of possibility. I think you can forget that You Me At Six was a band in our early years that were never said to be going on to headline Wembley Arena and well…we did! I feel like you’ve got to have those sort of crazy dreams because that’s what keeps the journey going and helps with the touring and the press and the promotion, which we get a kick out of doing, but it is a lot of work. That’s the reward at the end. Getting our music in front of and heard by as many people as possible. Give it complete cultural access and see what happens; will people like our band? Will they not like our band? Will they come see us live? Whatever it may be!
A lot of the bands I look up to have had that “Fuck yeah, let’s be successful” attitude. At the end of the day, whatever you say people are gonna form their own opinion. Our band can be quite real, though, and trust me when I say that we have some of the most pessimistic people on planet earth. But our overall thinking has to be that whilst we have this life, we’re gonna have a fucking good go of it and try and do some of the craziest shit we can. The stuff we find scary or impossible is stuff like headlining Glastonbury or Reading and that’s what keeps it interesting. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. The thought that I might be able to keep growing as a person and grow my career. If people take that mentality any other way then that’s alright, it’s really just there to inspire and encourage us to go and do something with our lives. Not to say we’re better than anybody else or to say we deserve it more; it’s just our personal ambitions. Look at athletes, doctors, or just look at anyone else who gets into their respective field and they wanna be the best that they can. It’s no different. I mean, that’s just my excuse though for saying that shit out loud on the recording! [Laughs]
I was just gonna say that it is no different to a suit wanting to get a raise or a promotion. Getting to that next level in your job. Literally no different.
Exactly! Like, wherever you are in your position, you have to picture yourself at the very top to give you that injection of confidence to go and do your best! People like you and I, we’re lucky because we’re in a portion where we can sit down have those goals that are even attainable if we work hard when there are people whose main sort of thinking when they get up is, “Fuck, can I get through the week? Can I pay to eat?” I think that whilst I’ve got the chance to do something with my life I may as well go and do that, you know? The other thing is that when things don’t go the way you want, it can be tough to take. You do have to accept that not everything will go the way you want it in life but you have to at least try.
You’re exactly right, mate. One of the last things I wanted to touch on before I let you go is something I’ve wanted to ask for a while but I feel like now is a good time to ask since it’s been a few months. If any, how has the outcome from Brexit affected you and your career as a musician?
…I don’t know, honestly. I haven’t really felt any impact, to be honest in terms of trade, with people going out and consuming music or us touring. My main thing is actually what it means for the rest of the world and their view of us. Like, going out on tour and having conversations with people and asking, “What does this say about us?” First of all, I live in London and we voted to remain because we’re a very multicultural city so I haven’t really seen it in my band. But weeks after, you’d go out and there was this sort of vibe around where you had to prove your vote. If you look at it from the outside and see all the “England was this, England was that. We want our country back”, that was all bullocks! I’m not sure what message that was sending to the world. How was it in Australia? It’s weird because in a sense we are much the same but on different levels I guess. Did you guys have much of an opinion on it?
For me, the issue was really what Brexit was representative of. This racist and xenophobic mentality that’s almost…and I say “almost” very loosely, the beginnings of things like white supremacy; keeping a country “clean” and “pure”. My worry was that Brexit could perpetuate into that. Not sure of it has or will but it was a big concern of mine.
And imagine how much shame that brings on people who voted to remain in the EU? That shame that that is what people are thinking about England. All the talk and rhetoric how “You don’t have your job or your career” or “your way of living is because of foreigners” to me is scary. That people like Nigel Forage can put on billboards: “The three-hundred and fifty million pounds put to the EU will be put back into the NHS” or whatever it was, and then when he went on mainstream TV he just said, “Oh yeah, we didn’t really mean that.” That’s dark. That’s just dark! I didn’t realise I lived in a country where people are like that. It’s the same thing in America at the moment where you have to realise that this is our reality. And moaning about it and saying that anyone on the other side is stupid and doesn’t deserve and opinion doesn’t work! Those people voted that way, they made that choice and all we can do is use our voice positively and set an example by showing compassion and love and that all men and woman are equal. That’s the takeaway, really, not just from Brexit but from the fucking US Elections as well. They had a tossup between “Not Great” (Hilary) and “Fucking Laughable” (Trump) and those were their only options. They could’ve had Bernie Sanders who was someone who was resonating with me as a person who was listening to people.
But yes, it sucks really. I cannot wait for 2016 to be over. I feel like this year has just been one big, nasty pile of shit. Look at all the people who left our planet like Bowie, Prince and the like who just said, “Fuck this, we’re out.” They were not sticking around for this crap! [Laugh] Let’s just hope I see more of what I was brought up on in 2017 with setting a positive example and treating everyone the way you just want to be fucking treated.
Yeah, it’s been a fucking ride. We had the Orlando shooting, the US election, the Brexit vote, and I don’t know if you know but America had a bunch of fucking clowns running around with weapons and shit!
Yeah, what the hell was going on with that, Matty?
I have no idea, man. Seems to just be a bunch of idiots trying to scare people for no good reason.
It pisses me off that there are some people out there who just need somebody to grab them by the face and say “What the fuck are you doing!?” The Orlando shooting was just terrible and added to the boiling pot. America was just a pressure cooker of shit and it made me so unbelievably sad that Trump is now their leader. It makes me sad that there are people in that country who aren’t sure what their life is going to be like anymore in a few months…
But hey, Matty, there is something you can do for me actually while you’re sitting on your veranda, enjoying a nice coffee. And that is to enjoy the bloody sun! [Laughs] It’s fucking cold here in England! Enjoy it for all us British people!
[Laughs] I will, I will. It’s a pretty perfect day so I’ll soak it up for you.
Cheers, man. Have an awesome Christmas and holidays and I’ll hopefully speak with you soon.
You too Josh, have a safe and happy new year!
Man, what a swell fucking guy, aye? You can pre-order ‘Night People’ here and you can stream the title track right below.