Carrying many successes on their shoulders as a band of 10 years, it’s You Me At Six’s live energy that has always set them ahead of the game, and after leaving their dedicated Irish following for around 3 years, the five-piece returned to the Academy, Dublin last night to both take people back a few years and also give them a refreshing taste of what the future of You Me At Six is looking like…
We sat down in Wigwam on Dublin’s Abbey Street next to the venue to catch up with the boys over a bowl of nachos…
Firstly, what’s it like being back in Dublin after all this time, and just after a gig in Belfast last night which I’m sure was pretty decent!?
MAX: Yeah it’s really nice to be back in Ireland you know, normally it takes us quite a while in a cycle to get over here and this time we haven’t really played many shows, we’re only four or five shows into the cycle and we’re already back in Ireland so it’s really nice to be back. And the gig last night was really… sweaty! We’re looking forward to tonight. Me and Dan had a bet earlier, I was saying I don’t think we’ve ever played the Academy before, and Dan won the bet ’cause we played in 2008 – eight years ago!
DAN: You didn’t pay me for the bet though did you!?
MAX: Well I did try pay you for the bet but you were such a gentleman you handed the money back!
Obviously being a band for a long time, over the years you’ve played venues right up from when I saw you first back in 2008 in Whelan’s to a major Wembley show. How does it feel to come back and do these more intimate gigs?
MAX: Aw, Whelan’s! That was our first ever show over here.
JOSH: Well we definitely enjoy it. I think to do right by the show you have to treat every show as importantly as the next one. Each show is its own mountain to climb and something to enjoy. So you know, the size isn’t always the biggest thing. But as Max was saying, we haven’t been in Ireland for 3 years now when we were here with 30 Seconds to Mars, so there’s a lot of people who’ve waited a long time to see us and a lot of people who’ve never seen us before at all so the intention is to go out and give them what they paid good money for. Which hopefully is a good show.
MAX: I think also, on that – seeing as it’s been such a long time, we’ve taken time out writing this record and for us it’s like we didn’t want to jump straight into big venues. You kind of want to make people reignite with your music again, and for me personally, some of my favourite gigs I’ve ever been to are the ones that are up close and personal and you’re being reminded why you like this band in such a close environment, you know. And it’s great playing big venues because it’s such a special feeling but when you play intimate venues people are really just there to see the band. And for this tour we’ve thought heavily about what we’re playing, and gone back and said “well we’ve only played that song once in our whole career so let’s throw that in”, so it’s a different show from a fan’s perspective.
I think one thing that sets You Me At Six apart is the live show – there’s a real energy there, and a serious skill with crowd engagement. Even for someone who’s never seen you live, you could get it from the Final Night of Sin album, so for an atmosphere to translate over to a record that well I think is incredible. How do you guys get geared up before stepping on stage?
DAN: Last night was a couple of Guinnesses wasn’t it!?
JOSH: I think the thing that makes You Me At Six a good live band is that we rehearse a lot. It’s the same line-up it’s been for the last 10 years – I think that helps. We’ve all grown up learning our instruments essentially, in both the studio and a live environment, so we tend to read each other quite well on stage. But I think it doesn’t take much to get us pumped for a show because at the end of the day, if someone’s paid good money to come see a show, it’s up to you to make sure that show is worth the money. And this is what we enjoy doing, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Every time we go on stage it’s a nice general reminder that life isn’t always gonna be like this. We’re not always gonna be a touring band, so you have to enjoy it while you’ve got it.
DAN: Also we haven’t done it for 18 months ’cause we’ve been writing and recording. We had a little secret set at Reading and Leeds and I think that sort of ignited the fire in our bellies to get out there and play shows again!
You’ve unveiled two tracks from the new album ‘Night People’ set for release in January. They seem, to me anyway, to hold a slightly heavier sound to previous albums. What can people expect from the release?
JOSH: It’s interesting that you say it’s heavier ’cause we didn’t go into the studio saying lets make a heavier rock record. But I think a lot of the stuff we were listening to at the time was old school Zeppelin, the Stones, and then Hip-Hop really. And I think that’s kind of where this new record’s sound is derived from. But I think we just try make a record that we’ve never made before – that’s what makes it interesting for us. And we just allow our natural evolution to continue as recording artists. We just wanted to make something that we didn’t feel anyone else was making. ‘Night People’ is a beautiful blend of our love of rock music and our love of hip-hop in one song, and ‘Plus One’ is just a very hard-hitting middle finger rock song – and not middle finger as in Nickelback and Budweiser…
MAX: It’s a f**king punky song! It’s got attitude and grit to it. And I understand what you’re saying when you say it’s heavier because something like ‘Plus One’ is something you haven’t really heard us do since ‘Safer to Hate Her’ where straight away you bounce your head to it, you know. It’s a quick, punchy, in and out song. Like before you even realise it, the song is finished. I think that song is quite an integral part of our record because when we went away we did it in two sections, we did it in February for two weeks and recorded eight songs and went back two months later and added four songs. And ‘Plus One’ was in the last batch of songs but I think it’s an integral part of where this band is. Especially with ‘Night People’ as we released it because it was like nothing we’ve done before and we wanted to catch people off guard.
Josh, what you just touched on there I was actually going to ask you about – it’s not obviously intentional to go in and say “let’s make this album with this exact sound in mind”, it’s a real natural progression and evolution of the band as you say? Can you tell us a bit about the writing process for this album in comparison to the others?
JOSH: Well first of all, we recorded the whole record live musically. So, yes there were some overdubbing but for the most part it’s five guys in a room together bouncing off and feeding off each others’ energy and I think you can really hear the energy in the tracks. And in terms of writing the record – Dan made the decision to build a studio in his house, and I think it’s been one of the best things this band has ever done. Just being able to have a hub – you know, he’s obviously a very good host as well as an immaculate drummer!
MAX: He goes through a lot of digestive biscuits when we’re around! Got the boiling tap put in there especially for us!
JOSH: But yeah I think what’s always been good about this band is it’s always been five peoples’ vision for a project rather than just one person trying to get everyone else on the same wavelength. We all write together, and yeah sometimes tracks come together in different ways but for the most part it’s five guys on the starting riff saying “where do you wanna take it?”. We decided to take a bit of time off after the ‘Cavalier Youth’ cycle – some of us, me in particular, I was a bit tired – not physically tired but mentally tired, and I think I needed to really miss music to want it again.
MAX: Yeah I think that gives you something to talk about as well in a different way. If you keep doing something, you do kind of get sick of the same routine, but then taking that time away you almost become a different human being again and you sort of recreate yourself. You’ve got to be able to do that, and if you’ve got something to say when you’re writing music you’ve got to not be writing about the same stuff and I think with songs like ‘Plus One’ and ‘Night People’, even from the instrumental side we’ve tried to push it outside the box because as a band we don’t listen to the same stuff we did three years ago when we were writing ‘Cavalier Youth’, and I think that’s the biggest transition you can notice so far.
JOSH: And I think that’s what I found most interesting about peoples’ feedback online sometimes with songs. And I do understand it because we’ve all got our own favourite bands and artists that we grew up listening to or have memories associated with certain friendships we started, or family events or whatever because of music, but people who are asking us to create music we created when we were 16 or 17 is just unrealistic. Mainly because just in the same way you guys would have dressed when you were 16 or 17 and the way you dress now, or that your musical taste has changed, so have ours. And I wouldn’t want to be part of something that wasn’t real and authentic and a representation of us five as men and where we are in our lives right now.
MAX: Just look at the best bands – The Beatles, The Stones, The Who…
JOSH: Yeah, not that we’re comparing ourselves to the Beatles or the Stones! But they weren’t afraid to evolve and do what they wanted to do.
MAX: They all changed and weren’t afraid to push the boat out because that is what you try and do as a musician. I think it’s almost a bit greedy if you rewrite the same thing over and over again. It’s about reinventing the wheel and how do you push the sound barrier and how do you really engage with people now these days, ’cause there’s so much out there, you’ve got to be pushing it to reach new levels.
JOSH: There are bands out there whose fans can pre-empt exactly what their new record is gonna sound like because they haven’t tried to do anything new for the last five or ten years. And like, each to their own and if that’s the model that they want to tour and advertise then that’s fine, but I don’t wanna be in my 30’s, or if we’re lucky, in our 40’s, playing Pop Punk music. It was good and worked when I was 17 ’cause that’s what I liked then, but it’s not where I’m at now. I mean, I understand it why Billy Joe Armstrong lost it the other day saying he resents being referred to as Pop Punk – it’s like, ‘American Idiot’ is the least Pop Punk record that Greenday have ever made – it’s their most successful record. And like, if you’re just a Pop Punk band, you don’t write songs like ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and some of these beautiful classic rock songs. Journalists have been allowed to get away with – and not saying yourself by the way, but cheap journalism over the years – where rather than think about what an artist has been trying to do, they’ll just continue to use the same stigma of a sound attached to a band for their whole career. And sometimes that’s fair and honest but sometimes it’s just lazy, like “Pop-Punkers You Me At Six release new record ‘Night People'” and it’s like “dude we haven’t made a pop punk record since literally ‘Take Off Your Colours'”.
Finally, what do you have planned for tonight’s set list and for the rest of the tour? Is there a nice mix of the old and new, or are you trying to give people a taste of the newer stuff before the album?
MAX: I think really our goal when we were starting to write this set list was that we wanted to make it a journey for people so when you’re watching the set you’re reminded why this band has been going for ten years and what we’ve got up our lockers, and try do something a bit different to the other sets we’ve done before…
JOSH: That was a hybrid of “what we’ve got in our lockers and what we’ve got up our sleeves” … what we’ve got up our lockers!
DAN: There is a good mix of tracks though definitely!
MAX: It’s a journey and I think it shows where our band is at now musically and I think it also kind of resembles our album we just made because I do think that’s a journey in itself, it’s 10 songs, it’s probably 37 minutes but you listen to it and by the end of the album you’re like “it’s a journey, it’s done”
JOSH: … stick it back on again!
Thank you so much for chatting to us guys, it’s been a pleasure.
JOSH: No worries, thank you for giving us your time, really appreciate it.
LISTEN TO ‘NIGHT PEOPLE’ BELOW: