Katie Shepherd talks to You Me At Six about their upcoming album, tackling ticket scammers and how we have yet to see the best of this band
“They say this is a fucked up world,” Josh Franceschi declares in a rare moment of silence at the invigorated and thoroughly sweaty crowd before him. “But I am telling you; this is a beautiful world. Don’t let some fat dickhead tell you otherwise.”
A roar of defiant agreement rips from the body of the O2 Academy Leeds before the band throw themselves into the anthemic ‘Too Young to Feel this Old’. All around me, friends have their arms around each other’s shoulders as they jump and sway, singing every lyric with the same fervour as the men performing on stage before them. It is this positivity, the intensity of the feeling that everything is okay, that is at the very crux of a You Me At Six show. And in that moment, it really does seem like an amazingly beautiful world.
Rewind a couple of hours and I am sat on a small balcony with vocalist, Josh, and guitarist, Max Helyer, above the venue in which they would later be inspiring such zealous energy. This tour occurs at a pretty exciting point in You Me At Six’s career, preceding their fifth studio album Night People, due for release in January next year, and following their tenth anniversary as a band last year. “It’s nice to play smaller venues.” Max tells me, “It’s letting people reignite their love for the band.” Having headlined arenas including the MEN just last year, “smaller” seems almost understated, but it’s the re-connection with their fans that these more intimate shows have allowed them, that is important.
“It’s nice to see fans faces.” Josh says, “We’ve got some really great fans; we’re lucky. It took a long time to make the new record, so it’s nice to be back on the road. It’s nice to miss something. It was so fast paced for the last ten years; constant touring, album, touring, album.”
Max nods, “When you’ve done it for such a long time you need to have a bit of time out to just be normal again.”
“Max and I bought houses, moved in with our ladies… I’m now engaged, got some kittens, a puppy, you know – old man stuff.”
But with Night People exceeding the already high anticipations before it has even been released, You Me At Six are a band far from ready to settle down.
Previous releases, Hold Me Down and Sinners Never Sleep, have established You Me At Six as a staple name in the indie scene and in every misfit kid of the late 2000s’ album collection. There is something compellingly unrefined about these earlier records, and a fierce lack of apology for it, that has defined this band—and a generation—up to this point. It is, however, the journey and growth from this sound that defines the album Night People.
“It feels like there’s actually something to say on this record.” Says Max, “What we’ve tried to achieve over the past year and a half is to write music that we feel is, dare I say, timeless.”
There is definitely something reminiscent of classic 70s rock in the groove of the guitar threaded through latest singles ‘Night People’ and ‘Plus One’, which, combined with their sharp production and gritty choruses, results in a sound that is simultaneously classic and fresh.
In terms of influences behind the upcoming record, Max lists names ranging from The Who to The White Stripes, but also makes it clear that the focus was on developing and evolving their own, unique sound rather than focusing on what anyone else has done.
“I don’t really care what hype the new pop-punk band is making.” Josh shrugs. “I don’t really care what anybody else is doing in general. I spent so much of my career in You Me At Six wondering what other people were doing and trying to emulate that. But you need to focus on what’s important to you as an artist.”
One thing I was eager to talk to the band about was an issue Josh has recently raised on Twitter and clearly something important to him; so-called ‘ticket touts’. “When we put our tickets on sale, the price is based on the show that we are putting on.” Josh tells me, “We want to give value for money. So, when a ticket company that you entrust to do that service also has sister companies within their structure that allow 20-30% of the amount of tickets available to be sold on one of their websites for four or five times the amount you’re selling, that to me is wrong.”
The band has not delayed in putting these notions into action; “There are certain sites we no longer sell tickets through and there’s one MP in particular who is helping me get a bill together.”
“It’s about being socially aware and taking some responsibility. I don’t want to watch our fans get ripped off. These are the people that gave me and my friends for the last ten years the most powerful thing you can give somebody—the ability to do something they love as their job. So in return, if we can be part of something that shows that we care on the same level about them, then why would we not be part of that?”
It isn’t hard to understand why You Me At Six shows have such wonderfully encouraging and truly enjoyable atmospheres, when the unwavering respect for the people that helped get them where they are is evident in every aspect of this band.
The show itself drew songs from the band’s entire discography. Though there was a clear distinction from the latest singles, they received exactly the same heartfelt and elated reception as the older classics like ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘Underdog’, proving their resolute relevance in the here and now. You Me At Six may have been the soundtrack to a generation’s tough teen years, but they are not to be dismissed as that band that you used to listen to. Now that they have been firmly rooted into the scene, they’re exploring all the space they have to grow. Do not let the success of the past ten years fool you into thinking that was it; there is nothing past-tense about this band. They’ve got too much more to give.
“I don’t want to turn into some peculiar nostalgia-fest.” Says Josh, “I don’t want people to come see us, praying we play our first record back to back… We spent a long time making [Night People] and I want to play people that. I want people to hear where we’re at now. Some of the best records of all time were bands fifth or sixth records. I like to think the best of You Me At Six is yet to come.”
Night People is due for release on 13th January via BMG