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'Nothing About It Feels Easy': Josh Franceschi Talks You Me At Six's New Direction On 'Night People'

Thursday, 05 January 2017 Written by Laura Johnson

Following their appearance at the Isle of Wight festival in 2015, You Me At Six decided to take a break, albeit a short one. A few casual hangouts aside, the five friends waited until the autumn to pick up at drummer Dan Flint’s home studio and start laying the groundwork for the follow up to 2014’s ‘Cavalier Youth’.

Eighteen months along the line, ‘Night People’ is about to make its way into the world. For album five the band flew to Nashville to record at Blackbird Studio with producer Jacquire King, a veteran of records with Kings of Leon, Dawes, Modest Mouse and many more.

We caught up with frontman Josh Franceschi to discuss the LP, King’s ability to capture the live dynamic of the band and navigating the new direction they found themselves taking as the songs moved further away from their pop-punk beginnings towards heavier rock influences.

Why did you decide to work with Jacquire?

Jacquire’s been on our bucket list for a while to be honest. We’d been talking about maybe doing ‘Cavalier Youth’ with him but we didn’t approach him because we weren’t confident that he’d do it. We wanted to try and do something different, and keep it fresh and exciting. Jacquire figured us out pretty quickly. He was like: “It’s the original line up for the last 10 years, you’ve been touring the world for so long, why has no one ever recorded you as a live band? I don’t understand why no one’s tried to capture that energy or that sort of musicianship between you guys on record before.”

He’s known for his specialising in analog methods of recording. Was that your experience on ‘Night People’?

There was some stuff that was done digitally, but for most part it was recorded live through the analog board. You don’t go to Blackbird and keep a sheet on all these amazing boards they have. You play with them, you figure out the best way to do it. Some people mix, or edit, sitting at a computer late at night with a pot of coffee, whereas he was in the live room and he could see us through the glass and he was mixing and doing levels on the tracks as we were going along.

During the recording of the album I heard you were listening to the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Have you always liked these bands or have you begun to appreciate them as you’ve matured?

When we were making our first records, when we were 15 to 18, I was listening to my favourite bands at the time: Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Blink 182, Brand New or Taking Back Sunday. Your music tastes evolve as you get older. On this record we were saying: “Let’s not listen or worry about what’s being played on the radio or what our peers and other guitar bands are doing right now, let’s just concentrate on ourselves.”

Max [Helyer, guitar] has always been an old rock ’n’ roller at heart and he’s always had the most crazy, eclectic music taste. My fiancée has always been a massive fan of Black Sabbath and I was spending a lot more time at home listening to more and more of her music as well. Over the last three or so years I’ve also fallen in with bands like Tame Impala, MGMT and just stuff that I wasn’t even necessarily listening to when I’d been making other records. I only properly got into the Arctic Monkeys in 2014. So I had the opportunity to backtrack and listen to four or five other world class records with incredible songs that just completely passed me by. When you do go back in time, you listen to the Stones or the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or Sabbath, whoever it would’ve been, you’re discovering rock ’n’ roll all over again.

Did these new influences find their way onto ‘Night People’?

I think there’s a heavy influence of that on ‘Night People’, the title track in particular. You really get that sense of old school classic rock with a sort of...well there is a hip-hop influence. We’ve always been heavily influenced by hip-hop, and this is the first record that we decided to chuck it in with some of our songs. We say we’re listening to the new Post Malone or Kendrick Lamar or J.Cole or Frank Ocean and people look at us like: “What the fuck? I thought you guys were in a rock band?” I think people find it weird.

With ‘Night People’ moving in a new direction, how do you feel now about the older material?

I think we’ve got to that point now, in our mid-20s, where I don’t think any of us ever thought we’d be fortunate enough to make five albums and have three of those albums be top five records, including a number one. Crazy, crazy shit has happened to our band over the last 10 years. We owe it to ourselves to really do what we want to do with our band, because if not, then we really, honestly, might as well be doing day jobs somewhere. Because if you’re not doing what you want to do then you’re really missing the point.

I think there’s parts of ‘Cavalier Youth’ that I can understand why some of our fans loved it and bought it initially, but when they were reliving the record they were like: “I don’t really feel like you’ve even really tried to do something that was challenging for you.” If there’s one thing you can say about ‘Night People’, there’s nothing about it that feels easy. We made a real effort of writing 10 great songs and putting them on a record and trying to make it feel cohesive. I think it’s a ‘record’ record.

How have fans been reacting to the new tracks so far?

Give is a slow song but somehow it’s managed to find a way of not being a toilet break moment in the set. When we’ve played it live once or twice it’s been the highlight. Out of all the new songs people have reacted to that the most. Take On The World seems to be the one that a lot of people who are reviewing it are saying stands out. Maybe that’s the moment where we reach a whole new different fanbase: the mums that go out to Sainsbury’s and do food shopping and buy an album.      

Did you have the conversation of what you would do if the fans didn’t react well?

I personally haven’t had that conversation with the lads. Obviously there’s an element of us believing in what we’re doing. We’re proud of what we’ve done. Also, I trust the situation in which our fanbase has grown up. That doesn’t mean change, but it means the willingness to accept somebody trying something different. It’s not like we’ve gone from straight from ‘Take Off Your Colours’ to ‘Night People’. It’s not like there’s been this crazy “fucking hell they’ve completely walked away from everything they’ve ever done”.

At the end of the day, our fanbase has been with us from our early teen pop-punk stage right through to our dark, figuring ourselves out stage on ‘Sinners Never Sleep’. They like our slow songs, whether it be Stay With Me or No One Does It Better, and they like our energetic, jumping up and down songs, if it’s Underdog or Reckless. At the same time they like us when we’re pissed off with Bite My Tongue and they like us when we’re soppy and sad on Crash.

How do you think the LP will be viewed in the future?

I trust our existing fanbase, but just like every single record that every band puts out there’s gonna be people that walk away and people that walk into it. On our first album we could do the Roundhouse in London and the way we left it with ‘Cavalier Youth’ was headlining the O2 Arena. There’s no way we can say that all of our fans that were at the O2 definitely loved, or even knew about, our first record, or even care whether or not we play songs from that record. The same for ‘Hold Me Down’ or ‘Sinners Never Sleep’. I think there’ll be a lot of people that will discover this band for the first time on this record. I’ve got a feeling about it. It feels like a rock record for 2017.

What’s left on the bucket list?

I want to headline Reading festival. I want to headline T In The Park. Glastonbury, I want to get as high up on that as we can. My goal for this band has always been maximum reach. I’d like to see certain parts of the world that we haven’t been to yet, like South America, we haven’t been to Japan in like five, six years, I’d like to go back there. I just want to be able to travel more of the world and play more shows.

It sounds stupid but we’ve never even been on a talk show in England, never been on a Graham Norton, or Jonathan Ross. I feel like we deserve that, if I’m being brutally honest. I feel like there are artists that get those sort of slots and I think to myself: “Hang on, you’ve not even been around for five minutes. You’ve got one song that’s doing well on the charts and on the radio.” And good on you, but at the same time what about the people who have been sleeping on kitchen floors or travelling on Megabuses and seriously gone through every possible stage of getting to where they are? I don’t begrudge anybody who has had a different path to us, some have had it better, some have had it worse, but I feel like that would be a real moment. If someone like You Me At Six can get on a national talk show and be like: “Look, this is what the UK rock scene is doing right now.”

We should celebrate the people who are not really bothered about the celebrity side of it and really bothered about making great music. Culturally, we live in a time where people are more concerned about what dress someone was wearing at the Victoria’s Secret party last night, not about their outstanding performance, not about the female artist who’s gone out and absolutely smashed it. I feel like everyone’s had that year in 2016 where we’ve all just been fed such bullshit for so long. I know everyone’s been calling it crazy for a while, but I really do think we’re getting to that point now where people have had enough. They want something with a bit more substance going on. I can feel it happening.

After spending some time in Parliament doing some stuff with this ticket touting business, getting to know a few MPs on a more personal level, there are a lot of people that really want to do good shit and really do want to change the world for the better. It’s just suppressed by the mundaneness of it all, the predictability of it all. If it happens, it happens. I’ll definitely be on the front line.

'Night People’ is out on January 6 through Infectious Music

You Me At Six Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun April 02 2017 - MANCHESTER Academy
Mon April 03 2017 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Wed April 05 2017 - PLYMOUTH Plymouth Pavilions
Thu April 06 2017 - BLACKBURN King George's Hall
Fri April 07 2017 - DONCASTER Doncaster Dome
Sat April 08 2017 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Mon April 10 2017 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Tue April 11 2017 - BOURNEMOUTH BIC
Thu April 13 2017 - GLASGOW SECC
Fri April 14 2017 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Sat April 15 2017 - LONDON Alexandra Palace

Click here to compare & buy You Me At Six Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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