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You Me At Six: CHAPTER IV

Issue #62

You Me At Six are a band still young enough to be releasing their first album potentially. And if 'VI' were that first album, it would likely be hailed as one of the most exciting albums by a British band in years – uncategorisable but familiar, raucous but mainstream.
Jonathan Graham

You Me At Six: CHAPTER IV

You Me At Six marked their return to the international music scene this year with an exceptional brand new sixth studio album in the form of 'VI.' Released in October, 'VI' is not what you might expect a You Me At Six album to sound like as it marks a new direction for the band—switching moods and styles with confidence. Guitar Interactive Magazine editor Jonathan Graham sits down with the band's guitarists Max Helyer and Chris Miller to discuss the latest release, plus we take a closer look at pair's live rig for the band's european leg of the tour.

You Me At Six are a band still young enough to be releasing their first album potentially. And if 'VI' were that first album, it would likely be hailed as one of the most exciting albums by a British band in years – uncategorisable but familiar, raucous but mainstream.

After selling over 70,000 tickets across the UK last year, You Me At Six are undoubted Heavyweights of the UK rock scene, filling the largest venues wherever they go. Their phenomenal live career speaks for itself, having sold out arena tours in the UK, headlining both the NME/Radio 1 stage at Reading & Leeds in 2017 and the second stage at Download Festival this year. November’s tour gives You Me At Six the chance to road test their explosive new show, creating a new batch of future live classics for fans in the process.

The band have notched up a list of considerable achievements since forming in 2004 as teenagers in Weybridge, Surrey, including four UK Gold Records, four Top 10 albums in the UK including Number 1 album Cavalier Youth, three sold-out arena shows, sold out UK headline arena tours, an unparalleled 15 consecutive A-List singles on BBC Radio One, multiple sold-out US headline tours and a Number 1 rock song in UK & Australia and Top 5 Rock Radio track in North America in ‘Room To Breathe’.

You Me At Six are stepping out of their comfort zone and are about to change the way you think about them. Prepare to have your expectations shifted as 2018 marks a brand new chapter for one of the UK’s biggest guitar bands.

Few bands get to spring a surprise six albums into their career. Even fewer do so in as dramatic a fashion as You Me At Six do on their simply titled new record, 'VI'. They know what you probably think of them - "The emo pop-rockers from Surrey," as guitarist Chris Miller puts it - and once upon a time you would have been right. But not for a long time, and certainly not on 'VI', a record that switches moods and styles with breathless confidence, from devastatingly defiant rock to joyously uplifting pop. It all but drips with melodies and moods. It's the kind of record a band makes when they are in love with all the possibilities of music. 'VI' is not what you might expect a You Me At Six album to sound like.

"We're five individual blokes," guitarist Max Helyer says, "but when we mash together in a band, something great happens. I'm not saying it happens every time, but sometimes something unbelievable happens."

You Me At Six needed something unbelievable to happen with 'VI', because by their own admission it didn't happen with their last album, 'Night People', released in February 2017. As a band, they were too tied up with their own business affairs, they didn't write the songs to do their talent justice, and they created an album they felt was too samey, too linear, always travelling in one direction.

This time around it wasn't just that something had to change. Everything had to change. New label - they now have their own label via AWAL / Kobalt - new management, new work ethic. Before 'Night People', they hadn't written any songs for three years, which they think was a contributory factor to the album's flatness. That said, Helyer suggests, it was a necessary record - "It was a step in a different direction for us, musically. It was a breach, and every band needs to have that record where they make a breach."

'VI' was about opening that breach, and letting the full scope of their creativity flood through. They began writing as soon as they had finished 'Night People', but things really started to catch fire last November, when they went for a writing session with Eg White, whose versatility has seen him write with and for Adele, Linkin Park, Florence + the Machine and Kylie, among scores of others. That first session yielded immediate returns in the shape of 'Losing You' and 'Fast Forward', the album's opening track, and one of its two lead songs, along with '3AM'. Helyer and White had been watching a clip of Radiohead at the Grammys playing '15 Step', which gave Helyer the idea for a riff.

Working with White opened the floodgates, not just to songwriting, but to sounds, because of his experience in electronic music. It gave them a vision of how many different directions were open to them. Former Athlete frontman Joel Pott also came on board to write - helping out on '3AM' - and the group were rejuvenated by the outside contributions. "It's about accepting there isn't just one route to the end goal,"

This is very much You Me At Six's album. As frontman Josh Franceschi explains, their new management had warned them they should not assume a producer could magic up greatness. "They were saying from the word go: 'It all has to come from you. Don't go in there thinking you've got a few good songs and they're going to make it into a great record. Everything has to come from you.'" But what Austin gave the band was the sense that there were no limitations on what they could do. "The whole thing was a flow of creativity non-stop," Flint says. "And it bounced from one person to the other."

Only when they made the album they wanted did they think about who might want to release it, and when they played tracks to AWAL/Kobalt, they found people to match their enthusiasm. “From then on they wanted to be involved,” Drummer Dan Flint . “They made us feel we couldn’t really refuse. We’re on our sixth album, but we’re still pretty young. We’re not a heritage band, and no one should market us like a heritage band. So to find another label that can match our ambition is impressive."

What Flint says highlights the most remarkable thing about You Me At Six: they're still only now entering their late 20s - they were teenagers when they made their first couple of albums. That means they still have hunger - they know they're too young to be touring off past glories. In fact, they're young enough to still be releasing their first album. And if 'VI' were that first album, it would be hailed as one of the most exciting albums by a British band in years - uncategorisable but familiar, raucous but mainstream. You can almost bathe in their excitement about the record they've made - they compete with each other to spill out their thoughts and their stories, they nod supportively at each others' observations. "We're not nervous about this record being different," Flint says, "we're excited. Our fans have grown up with us and they want to hear the music we like."

"I'm just excited for people to hear it, because we believe we've made a great record," Concludes Helyer.

You Me At Six are evolving in front of our very eyes. We can only hope the next chapter of the story is sonically just as intriguing.

TRACK LISTING – You Me At Six ‘VI’

  1. Fast Forward
  2. Straight To My Head
  3. Back Again
  4. Miracle In The Mourning
  5. 3AM
  6. I O U
  7. Pray For Me
  8. Predictable
  9. Danger
  10. Losing You

On the heels of their upcoming sold out UK and European treks, You Me At Six will ignite stages across the U.S. and Canada in support of 'VI' in 2019.

For more information on You Me At Six, please visit: www.youmeatsix.co.uk

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