Ahead of You Me At Six’s gig at the Southampton O2 Guildhall; I sat down with lead singer Josh Franceschi to discuss everything from the bands ten years together, their personal favourites and of course their new tour Night People. Here’s what the frontman had to say…
Has it been fun playing in the smaller venues again?
Its been good, we’re back to lots of different places we haven’t been to in a long time, looking at places like Southampton and Middlesborough, Inverness. If you see the line up you know we haven’t hit the major markers this time. We want to remind people what a great live band we are especially in smaller rooms, which I think for the most part of it we’d like to achieve. And from a selfish standpoint I just love being able to see everyone’ expressions. I’ve definitely been feeding off the crowd. Sometimes I think when I’ve been playing in bigger rooms, yes its a bit more grand but you rely pretty much on yourself to really dictate how the show is going, where as in a smaller room you can see for yourself. Plus in the arenas there is this massive pit gap between you and the crowd which sucks as well.
For me shows are like dogs; you get small ones and big ones but in theory if you like dogs you like dogs. If you like playing live music, you like playing live music!
Has the response to Night People been positive?
Yeah I think so. I mean we play it last almost as a point to show how this is the start of a new chapter, a new era; in the sense that we have been a band for ten years and most bands aren’t fortunate enough to get to ten years so playing it last is a sort of gentle reminder to people as they are leaving the venue about that song and they can hum along to it on their way to their car or whatever it might be. But I think it is a really cool live song as well; I think after talking to a lot of people after the shows, people have been surprised by how it sort of manifests as a live song.
What was it like working with the new producer Jacquire King? Was it intimidating coming into the studio with a Grammy winning producer?
Well it wasn’t intimidating mainly because we spoke to so many producers and we kept on going down the list and crossing people out. The thing I really enjoyed about Jacquire when I first spoke to him on Skype is that he’s made a lot of great records; Kings of Leon, James Bay Nora Jones, Tom Pay, you know he’s made some great records, but his main thing was that he really wanted to record a ‘band’ band record for a long time, probably since Kings of Leon so he was really drawn to doing this and he said he loved the demos we had been sending. And he really helped me, along with my fiancé and my family, rediscover our love for music and really reinstalled some confidence in me again which had been missing for a while. I had a good relationship with him and he is a top top producer.
What was the best part of recording? It sounds like you guys were having a great time out in Nashville! Thirsty Thursday’s is definitely something I need so suggest to Nerve.
Thirsty Thursdays yeah. I think there has been a lot of gentrification around Nashville, so its not just the strip with the honkey tonk bars and a bunch of ice hockey ringers and barbecue food. Not saying that was always its staple but a lot of work has been done on that area and that part of America. I found it very beautiful. I found that east Nashville in particular is very much a young person’s place, with young musicians in any bar that you go in. Its all very social with all sorts of s**t going on. There are a lot of musicians that I’m friends with that live there now from LA and New York because it is a place for songwriters to talk about song writing. You’d be at the studio and its not about you making a record in LA, its about social climbers and being invited to parties because it makes them feel better about themselves – not to be nasty but that is just what goes on over there. However, in Nashville its like you don’t even have to invite people, you just bump into people because everyone sort of goes to the same sort of places, and no one really talks about doing people ‘favours’ and that, its all about genuinely talking about songs you love. Yeah, I just really enjoyed being there.
How was it being one of the secret sets of the Reading and Leeds festival?
Yeah it was great. Although It was weird, kind of like throwing a last minute party and not knowing if anyone was going to come. When you’re announced on the bill for a long time people are like ‘right that’s the band that I am going to watch at this time’ and people do make plans. I know festivals are like these beautiful places where you can discover stuff and stumble across stuff you know depending on how battered you are and who you are with at the time and they can influence who you go see but the secret set is very much like fans saying ‘f**k they are playing today I’ve got to go see them’. But it was so much fun, we’re glad the fans enjoyed it as much as we did.
Did you know about the in-crowd proposal before the show?
I didn’t know about the proposal beforehand but I did hear that a young gentleman proposed to his girlfriend in the crowd which is wicked. I saw them tweet me some stuff about it after.
How do you guys get ready before a show? Have you got any pre-show rituals? Is Prince of Bel air still brought out?
We do some basic warm ups and some steaming. Prince of Bel air isn’t brought out anymore unfortunately but me and Max have got this thing that we both really like. Its from a film with Mark Wahlberg and Will Farrell, The Other Guys. In the opening sequence, The Rock and whoever the guy he’s with jump off this roof and they say ‘aim for the bushes’. So I’ll say to Max ‘coming out the same way we are going in?’ and he goes ‘aim for the bushes’ then we pound it and we go on stage. We do that every night, I don’t really know what it means, I just find it funny.
If you could work with anyone, past or present who would it be?
I’d like to be in a pool party or a room with like Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Drake because I think it would be funny – plus I do like him a lot – and yeah Sabbath and some of the old lot. I’m sure they could tell you a load of funny stories about what its like and what it was like. I think to be around people like John Lennon and other great song writers like that just to try and understand where that genius comes from could be quite interesting.
Who is your favourite band you’ve toured with?
The band I found most exciting and interesting to watch was 21 Pilots; we toured with them and Paramore in Australia a few years ago. I always thought then that it was really interesting, reminding me of something corporate in the way that he would stand at the piano and look like that. I think its really interesting how they’ve really taken their show into their own thing. I used to really enjoy touring with Paramore; because we were friends with them. Honestly, when I’ve done festival seasons with bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Parkway Drive or bands that we are really close with or good friends with its great.
What’s your favourite thing to do after a show?
Digest what just happened. Just sort of think wow and then what can we do better. What was good? What was bad? What do you think they would have enjoyed most about our show? And sometimes I like to sit back and think, ‘f**king hell not many people get to do this’. So I’ve gone into a whole new chapter of the band thing and I’m just really thinking that every show is potentially the last time to play a show in that city so I really need to leave nothing to go back with. I actually got really upset the other day because I had a shocker in Sheffield, I had loads of technical difficulties going on with the microphone so I came off stage and I am a bit of a perfectionist; I’m that kind of person that if I hit a note wrong it throws me off for the rest of the song and stuff like that in terms of psychologically. So I had my girl on the phone to me after Sheffield and she said ‘look at the end of the day I know what you are feeling, but tomorrow’s a new day, tomorrow’s new show; and it is important that you focus and whatever went wrong tonight make sure it doesn’t go wrong tomorrow. You may not have enjoyed it as much as you may have liked to but think about the thousand people that did enjoy it.’ For me it [performing] is the best part of my day, other than being around my friends or my family or my partner. Performing is the thing that is the closest to pure pure happiness. So I think that is why I get really upset when something hasn’t gone the way I hoped it would. But I know it is important to refocus, realign myself and getting a grip; but its just because I care so much. Sometimes you have to learn or know that not everything is always going to be perfect, and that is okay because life isn’t perfect.
What’s your favourite song to cover?
I don’t really have one to be honest. I can’t think of one, I’d just be making up an answer if I answered that.
What is your favourite live lounge performance?
Probably Magic by Coldplay. Just because I like Coldplay. I know that’s not the coolest thing in the world to like Coldplay but I don’t really care. Someone came up to me the other day and said “you know Coldplay aren’t cool?” and I think it depends which way you interpret playing four nights at Wembley Stadium, if that’s not cool then fair enough but I think Chris Martin is one of the best song writers this country has ever produced personally.
What song would you like to do next in the live lounge?
Controlla by Drake
Where did the name ‘You Me At Six’ originate from?
Just making Friday night arrangements when we were younger like an abbreviation for a time and a place. And then we stupidly stuck with it, so here we are years later.
What has been the best show of the tour show far?
Cambridge I think. I didn’t realize how historic the venue was until I saw this long winding staircase that starts at the 60s and works its way up to 2016 of all the artists that have played there. It’s a pretty intense experience just walking up and down the stairs overtime thinking ‘fucking hell they’ve played here’; anyone from like Amy Winehouse to The Rolling Stones to Queen, to Black Sabbath. Literally anybody you could think of and if that doesn’t get you pumped for a show, when you are sharing that sort of stage, what will?
What is your favourite story to tell from touring?
It often starts with the opening line ‘do you remember when we were in Vegas?’ and the rest of it I can’t repeat.