2020 was a crazy year, I don’t think there is anyone who wouldn’t agree. Whilst there were no tours, there was still a lot of work going on behind the scenes to put out music. Josh Franceschi, the frontman and vocalist for British heavyweights You Me At Six took some time out to chat with us about the band’s seventh album, SUCKAPUNCH (our review here), due for release tomorrow, as well as a whole lot more.
Dive in and get keen for another big year of music with these lads kicking it all off…
First off, how are you?
Not too bad actually, it’s a nice day here and I’ve got my coffee. We’re about to head back into lockdown here so I’m heading out tonight for a few drinks before that happens.
Have you discovered any hidden talents while you’ve been in lockdown, or do you think you might?
I’ve discovered that I can drink a bottle of white wine before midday! Then I realised that was borderline flirting with alcoholism so I’ve sacked that off. Not a lot really, I think the main thing that I’ve taken from it is the maintaining my mental fitness as well as my physical fitness. I think if you can make it through this period of history with some of that in tact then I think you’ve done a pretty good job, that’s the way I feel about it. I’m not getting Rosetta Stone out and trying to learn Spanish or anything like that, just trying to get through every day and not feel like poo.
How have you been maintaining that mental wellbeing?
Having my dog has been…they’re just mental they’re like super natured things. My dog’s not really a dog, he’s more like an alien. He’s a top heavy French bulldog who doesn’t really understand anything but he’s the most loving thing of all time. So having him and going out and doing lots of walking and running. When people started baking and shit I was like ‘well good for you’, but I’m not subscribing to that. It’s not a competition which I think most people have turned it into. I’m not in competition with you but with myself so taking that away has been the best thing. If I wanted to be lazy all day then that’s what my day was and that’s totally acceptable, as long as I get to the other side of it and feel okay, then that’s the most important thing.
Speaking of things that are a little weird, the ‘MAKEMEFEELALIVE’ video…
Yeah, it’s an interesting concept I guess, the message in it is the notion that we’re going through a time where we’re sort of blinded across everything, environmentally, politically, culturally, socially. We have the blind leading the blind essentially. It’s about regaining your position and I think that’s why at the end I’ve found my eye that for whatever reason has been nicked! It’s about getting your vision back and seeing things more clearly.
The song in itself lyrically is a lot of stuff I haven’t looked into before so it was really interesting putting it together and having the consciousness to delve into it. It’s sort of anti-disestablishment in a way, I’m not really a political writer musically. It was about a year ago that we wrote it and it was around the time where Greta Thunberg was coming to prominence, I was seeing so many young people, myself included who are just so fucking sick and tired of not being taken seriously and listened to. Their futures essentially have been written off by the old hierarchy and aristocrat type people.
‘MAKEMEFEELALIVE’ is a song fuelled by frustration and anger. We wanted the visual to be something dark because it’s a dark subject as well.
Yeah that really comes across as well. How much of it was written pre-COVID, and how much have you re-worked it since?
We haven’t touched the record since November 2019. We recorded it in October/November and it’s just been sitting in an iCloud waiting. I think we could have put the record out in the summer, but it didn’t feel right. I mean, I was never anticipating, same with yourself, that we’d be doing things over the phone and via FaceTime. I thought by that point, my time would be filled with interviews face to face, photoshoots, promo through Europe, stuff like that. It’s frustrating that it’s not but that’s why we pushed the record back. But hey, it is what it is. A lot of people have been putting their records out and making it work in this time so there’s no excuse why we can’t make it work too. Record was finished last November and we haven’t touched it since then.
So I bet you’re keen for it to come out then?
Yeah, but you know what I’ve learnt? Time fucking flies when you’re in lockdown! I can’t even believe that we’re in November because I don’t remember and can’t pinpoint things. I think during normal life it’s like oh yeah I did that in July, or I did that in June whereas I’m like what have I done this year? I feel like we’ve been sitting for a long time but now it’s like well it’s out in 2 months, this month will fly by. Before we know it will be out of lockdown and doing all the Christmas stuff then it’ll be out!
Do you have a favourite song on the record? I nearly cried listening to ‘Glasgow’, it hit me in the feels!
It hit you in the feels? Yeah I feel like that’s going to be one of the ones that gets people. I think everyone in their own way has gone through something like that. Sometimes breakups are worse when you don’t hate each other, you just realise that nothing is going to happen there. That song is more about accepting something for what it was, and accepting that it’s gone and there being no bad blood. I would go as far as to say I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation like that. I’m so used to being either party falling out of love, or you both falling out of love at the same time, breaking up and kind of being nasty. I didn’t know it was gonna come when I wrote it or that I was going to feel that way about it but when I look back on it I was glad that I have that relationship with that moment in time versus it being angry. That song is an important one on the record.
I think ‘What You’re Doing Right Now’ is one of my favourites, ‘Nice To Me’, and ‘Finish What I Started’. I’ve never really spoken about my experience with demons. That song stemmed from a point in time when we were on tour in Europe and there was a lot going on. I was very very close to the edge and it was interesting when I played the record for my parents and my Mum asked me what the song was about and I was like it was about me wanting to finish my life and see it out versus taking it away. I tried to sugar coat it in a way that it wouldn’t hurt a mum hearing their child say that. We went round and round a little bit and learning about that situation.
I think really this record, because of how sincere and honest it is there’s no hiding. I think people will recognise when they hear it that it’s 100% unfiltered. I think that’s going to be an important and good thing. There’s moments throughout that will be a benefit to other people. Music is there for people when no one else is and I hope the record is that for some people.
There’s a lot of talk at the moment about genre and it no longer being important. If you had to put You Me At Six into a genre at the moment, what would it be?
I don’t know, our sound at the moment is like a beautiful car crash of all these different sounds. Like, I simplify it for family and friends, aunties and uncles when they ask that it’s rock music because it’s fucking easy and you don’t have to say too much. I do and I don’t recognise You Me At Six as a rock band sometimes. Say ‘What You’re Doing Right Now’, that doesn’t feel like a rock band to me. It has guitar and stuff but it has so many elements of hip hop and electronic and r’n’b that I don’t really recognise us as a rock band in that. I think if you played that song to somebody and asked how would you classify it and I don’t fucking no mate. The easy answer is rock music, but the elongated I like the sound of my voice answer is way more than that and I won’t bore you with it.
*Laughs* No I like that! I don’t think genre is important I think you’re influenced by what you’re influenced by and you’re gonna write what you want to write. As long as you enjoy what you’re writing, the dedicated fans who care about you guys are going to stick around regardless you know?
Yeah, I hope so!
Who are your influences right now? I’ve been a fan for a while and they’ve clearly changed from Sinners Never Sleep to now.
For sure! You say that, but like, also I guess this is our heaviest record since ‘Sinners’ you know? There’s songs like ‘Voice Notes’ and ‘Nice To Me’ and ‘MAKEMEFEELALIVE’ that have big heavy moments and big rock moments. As usual, I didn’t listen to a single guitar band whilst making this record. It’s not coming from a bad place, it’s just not where I’m at. I listen to a lot of old stuff, I’m a bit of an old soul. When I’m listening to modern day music I’m listening to a lot of UK grime and drill that doesn’t really make much sense but it’s what I’m into. There has been some artists that have come through who I’m really excited about. When we were in the pool in Thailand we were listening to a lot of playlists, like, early 2000s playlists and it’s just old school Kanye West and LaRoux just stuff that took me back to being in my early 20s. I’m not sure if that was prolific but some of our mates put music out while we were away that we checked out, but it’s a lot of hip hop, r’n’b’ and dance music.
What do you want the fans to take away from the record once it’s out?
I think it’s kind of like, it’s open-ended I guess? It’s a constant I’d like them to take away, it’s a record that starts off being foreign, but ends up being something they go back to for years and years. As I said before, if one of our songs is present for a good memory, or a difficult one that turns into a good memory then that’s kind of the point.
You write music, it’s a self-serving model at the start but then when you realise it’s going out into the world and becoming somebody else’s anthem, or someone’s go-to then there’s a responsibility with that. Your wishes and desires for what that becomes changes slightly. I just want people to think that we’re saying something important and emotive with both the music and the lyrics in 2021. My biggest fear has always been that the band, people stop relating or they’re like ‘please don’t put out more music’.
I think it’s a reminder when we do that people are invested and they care that we’re still obviously saying and doing the right thing.
Thank you so much, Josh! I hope you have a lovely rest of your day and I know you’re going out tonight to get wasted but please stay safe!
*Laughs* I’ll be alright, don’t you worry. Have a good one!
Interview by Kelsey Trevan @kelsey_139
Suckapunch is out tomorrow and you can pre-order it HERE.
You Me At Six — Suckapunch tracklisting:
1. Nice To Me
3. Beautiful Way
6. Kill The Mood
10. Finish What I Started
11. What’s It Like