From their humble beginnings and the release of their debut album Take Off Your Colours back in 2007, to surprising everyone (including themselves) with a headline show at Wembley late last year, British rockers You Me At Six have gradually made their way up the rickety ladder of the UK rock scene. After almost a year out, the London lads have finally returned with the release of their new single ‘Lived a Lie’ in September of this year. The first single off their forthcoming album Cavalier Youth, ‘Lived a Lie’ has already caused a stir with a new, more mature and rock and roll sound on show, a far cry from their early pop-punk days. The fourth offering from the five-piece is due to be released in January 2014 after the bands UK stint supporting 30 Seconds to Mars this November. Dominic Moffitt caught up with their bassist Matt Barnes to ask him about the new album, his filthy tour habits and why he decided to play drums on their upcoming record…
You’ve just been on a headline tour of America – How does touring differ across the pond than in the UK?
There’s a few obvious aspects. The drive’s an absolute pain in the arse when getting the bus. It’s 9 hours after every show and when you’re trying to get some kip and we’re going over bumps and s***t it means that you can’t sleep properly for a month, so that’s one of the main differences. Other than the drives and all the food being deep fried and crap there’s no real difference. The fans are still the same; they still want to hang out and stuff and they’re still as responsive. We don’t get as big crowds over there because we haven’t toured there as much so that’s different but really it’s kind of the same.
You’ve mentioned previously that your first Warped Tour in America was quite a hard experience – Do you think that Warped Tour is different to touring in general?
I think ‘Warped Tour’ is one of the most intense tours you will do as a band. The first time we did it, it was just us, our tour manager, and our sound guy. So every morning we’d get up at eight and wheel our stuff through a car park with gravel everywhere and you know what us English people are like when it’s too hot! We were just sweating and complaining. So it was a very interesting experience for us but it is a hard tour. We’ve done it twice since then and it’s not easy. Plus if you do the whole thing it is very long; it’s two and half months which you spend within a few square feet of the same people all the time.
Now that we’re talking about touring – Who has the worst touring habits?
Well I stay in bed until the latest possible time so I’m going to just say me! On this last tour we had sound check at four o’clock every day so if I was hungover I wouldn’t get out of bed until quarter to four. So I would just lay in bed, hearing everyone else get up and chatting an I was like: “F**k that, I’m staying in bed until twenty to four, then I’m going to get out put on some tracksuit bottoms, do my teeth and go do a quick sound check”. There’s only so much sitting around you can do on tour!
You had the chance to dish the dirt on everyone else then!
I know! But the thing is everyone else is actually quite good.
Your upcoming fourth album ‘Cavalier Youth’ is due to be released in January – Is there an overall theme to the album?
There isn’t really an overall theme to it. We just tried to make this album a more straight up rock album than before. We thought that Sinners (Sinners Never Sleep) was a bit moody and maybe a bit heavy in some of the songs we were writing. I think people are still expecting us to release songs like ‘Bite My Tongue’ (which had vocals from Oli Sykes) on this album but there’s no screaming on this one. It’s just a straight up rock and roll album; we’ve been listening to bands like the Temper Trap and stuff like that, weird sort of rock indie bands and taking some inspiration from the way they write music. We’re always trying to mix it up; it gets boring writing the same song over and over again.
You’ve mentioned in recent interviews that you have had more time to record and work on this album then previous releases – how has this affected the finished product?
I would say in a very positive way. We recorded it with this guy called Neal Avron whose done Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy and then like more pop-punk bands like Yellowcard. We sort of had a lot more time to sit down with him and talk about what we wanted it to sound like, what specific guitar parts we wanted to sound like as opposed to old albums where we’ve just gone “yeah it sounds great record it, put it in”. So I think that was one of the main positive things to come from the album, the time we spent and all the effort we put into it.
You mentioned working with producer Neal Avron to make the record, because he’s worked with such big bands like Fall out Boy and Linkin Park, bands who have influenced you and you look up too – does this change the way you record the album?
We were pretty scared to be honest. For the first meeting he came done to our LA show when we played with All Time Low and Pierce the Veil in the states. We were like “oh my god, what’s he going to be like? Is he going to be cool?” He came down and we had a chat on the bus for about thirty to forty minutes and he’s the most down to earth dude ever, we were just talking about touring and family and stuff. He’s just like a normal guy – a very nice guy – who happens to be one of the best producers in the world. He’s not like other producers or people that do jobs in music that have such big egos and are so up their own arse. We’ve met a lot of them and meeting this guy was like “holy s***t, he’s the daddy”.
I want to talk about your new single ‘Lived a Lie’. Obviously the first single to be released from the new album is quite important – how do you choose these singles and why did you choose ‘Lived a Lie’?
Well we sat down with all the tracks on the album and it was between two songs. We were either going to do one first and the next one second or vice versa. We chose ‘Lived a Lie’ because it’s more like the old You Me At Six’ sound mixed with the new influences; you could almost see it on Sinners Never Sleep but not. It’s half way between that album and the new one, so we’re easing the fans into it. The next single which we’re releasing in the coming weeks is going to be more like what the new album is going to sound like and what the new record entails. We’re really excited to release it, it’s the one we’ve been sat on for a long time. It’s got huge production on it; Neal went to town on it – it really sounds great.
Are you allowed to tell us what it’s called?
I can’t I’m sorry! I nearly said it then, I was like oh s***t.
As you said ‘Lived a Lie’ shows a real progression – is there a story behind the single?
I think what we were thinking of with ‘Lived a Lie’ was that some people haven’t believed in us in the past, even one of our promoters. He told us that we would never play Wembley but two years later we put it on sale and I felt like we had blagged it up until that point. So the singles almost sort of saying: “Have we blagged it, have we lived a lie?”
I heard that on some of the tracks you have Josh playing guitar and Dan switching from drums to bass – why did you do that?
Well we were doing all the drums and there were these big ‘Tom’ hits on one of the tracks and I just said to Dan (Flint, Drums) “can I play it?” and he said “yeah” so I went in and smashed these toms because it was quite fun, so I got to do some of the drums. We then came to the last track recording bass and Dan asked if he could play a bit so he played for two seconds, flapping at the strings, then I played a bit of guitar on the album, Josh (Franceschi, Vocals) got a bit jealous and said “this is bullshit all I get to do is sing I want to play an instrument” so we gave him a guitar and told him to strum this chord. So we were all just trying to get as involved as possible on the album but I got to play drums, play bass, do vocals and gang vocals on the album. I got everything!
You’re almost You Me At Six on your own then – do you think you could ever go solo?
Oh hell no!
You talked about headlining Wembley. Obviously that was a huge event – how do you follow up an event like that?
Well we’re going to do Wembley stadium next year, which we’re going to be putting on sale soon which will be great…no, I’m only joking! That’s eighty six thousand people, which would be crazy! No, I don’t really know. Wembley was the absolute highlight of our careers and we didn’t ever think that we’d get that far as a band. If this band ends tomorrow and this album is s**t and no one likes it – at least we made it that far and did Wembley. We were stoked on that. We have no idea what we’re going to do next. The dream would be touring the UK doing Wembley-like arenas like the MEN Arena in Manchester instead of the one off gigs. That’s what’s on the cards next and obviously Wembley Stadium in 10 years!
You’re quite a down to earth, carefree band – do you actually feel pressure after Wembley to do something bigger?
Well ‘Cavalier Youth’ actually means ‘carefree youth’; that’s what cavalier means. We’ve always seen ourselves as carefree and not really worrying about what’s going to happen in the future, so that’s really why we’ve named the album ‘Cavalier Youth’. We take everything as it comes and we won’t stress about what’s coming in the future.
You’re touring with 30 Seconds to Mars very soon – do you feel pressure touring with such a huge cult band?
There is. They are a huge band and they’re very unique; their fans are 30 Seconds to Mars fans who are dedicated to them. We’re just hoping that we can convert some of them to being You Me At Six fans as well. It’s quite scary going on tour with bands with such intense fans but hopefully they’ll be nice to us and listen to what we have to say but yeah, we are quite apprehensive about it and we don’t know what the tour will entail. But it’ll be great; we’ve heard that three hundred and fifty thousand people are going to the tour in a month which is crazy.
You’ve been out of the rock scene as it were to record the album – do you feel any kind of pressure coming back?
Well when you go away for a bit it’s always a bit scary going back in – it feels like someone may replace you. You can never take too long out which is why we didn’t want to take longer than necessary out to write and record this album. Our management said we could record it late in the year but we wanted to get it done as early as possible for Neal Avron to produce it.