When You Me At Six gathered together to begin the process of writing their new album, the classic-sounding Night People, they set up a whiteboard in their London studio. On it, along with the 50+ songs they wrote for the project, they listed the considerable achievements they’ve notched up since forming as teenagers in Weybridge, Surrey, in 2004.
The list included: playing Ally Pally, Wembley Arena, and The O2; scoring two Top Five albums (2010’s Hold Me Down, 2011’s Sinners Never Sleep) and a Number One album (2014’s Cavalier Youth), and taking 13 consecutive singles onto the Radio 1 A-list.
The purpose was not to slap backs, or to pile on the pressure for album number five; it was, instead, a chance to take stock, and to reaffirm their goals. “We were laughing as we were writing it out because we'd almost forgotten about some of the stuff, it’s all happened over the course of 10 years hard work” says frontman Josh Franceschi with a smile. “The idea was to list stuff that gave us an injection of confidence before we started going. It was us saying, ‘That's what we've done now, but we want to play bigger venues, and we want to headline more festivals. That was the benchmark, and we can't go back, we can only go further.’ It's our launchpad.”
Now, a decade into their career, the five friends who form You Me At Six – frontman Josh plus Max Helyer (guitar), Chris Miller (guitar), Matt Barnes (bass) and Dan Flint (drums) – are focused on the serious business of becoming Britain’s biggest and best rock band.
Promotion of Cavalier Youth ended – as the rest of the campaign had ridden – on a high. The group performed before headliners’ The Black Keys, mainstage at the Isle Of Wight festival, and vowed that next time they returned, it would be their name topping the posters.
For a group with a devoted online fanbase, they then took the brave move of disconnecting themselves for a while, bowing out of social media and heading to drummer Dan’s brand new home studio to begin hashing out songs. “We've been in the limelight for years, so we wanted to go away, be us, enjoy writing music and create songs we'll want to live with for the rest of our lives,” says Max. “Taking that time away and not being in people's faces, it made us reconnect with who we are as human beings and really think about what we want to write and what we want to achieve.”
The time out of the limelight was a chance not just to rediscover their essence, but also to find ways of incorporating new influences and to make the sharpest You Me At Six album possible.
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