Waterfront editor Declan Murphy sat down with Josh Franceschi from You Me At Six ahead of their Swansea gig in Brangwyn Hall. Here’s what he had to say.
So, you’ve been in the studio working on new content. How would you say this content differs from your previous stuff? Or would you say it’s relatively on the same track?
The album? I’d say it’s different in the sense that we’ve never made a record in this manner – like recording it live. Rather than before we’ve had Dan recording to a click track, Matt recording to a click, so on so forth. So it’s nice to record as a live band. We made it Nashville whereas the last two we’ve made in California so it’s a different pace – different sort of tempo and vibe to the record so that’s cool. This is an album where YMAS have really found their sound.
Billy Joe Armstrong recently came out about his dislike of the word “pop-punk”. I was wondering what your thoughts where on genres in general. Do you think it’s right to have terms like pop-punk, or would you rather they be something more fluid?
That’s a good question. Honestly I’ve never looked at music and tried to categorize artists. For me a song is either good and it resonates with me, or it is bad and it doesn’t resonate with me. It’s always pissed me off when people go “Oh, YMAS, I preferred them when they were a pop-punk band”, verses now. Or it’s like ”Oh, why did you turn your back on pop-punk”. And the reason I find it ridiculous is because, you know, I’m not comparing us to them obviously, but no one ever tried to box in a band like The Beatles. No one said “what are they doing with Sargent Pepper, what the fuck is going on there?”. Know what I mean? They’re making music, and we either like it and embrace it and enjoy it, or we pass on it. I think streaming platforms such as Spotify are actually changing music and they’re blurring the lines.
So would you say things like Spotify are good for the industry in that sense?
In that sense, they’re not good for the industry overall. Actually, nah that’s unkind. They have their benefits and they’ve engaged people. They’ve given the power back to the people, in terms of people can go and discover any artist they want. It’s a new way for artists to come up and develop. It’s a new set of statistics that you can give labels or agents or whatever to try and create tours or opportunities and in that there is lots of benefits. But the main thing that I found is that I don’t believe- maybe a few years ago, there felt like a time you were either an emo band, a pop band, a punk band, a rock band, a metal band, a scar band or an indie band, dance, R&B… And it was all like you’re either like that one thing and you were a part of that clique; if that makes sense, or you weren’t. I remember the backlash we got when we did a song with a Hip Hop artist, Chiddy Bang. And at the time I couldn’t believe it, I was like, I don’t understand how people can get that wound-up over something. What’s the point in being involved in something creative if you don’t have the licence to do something creative?
I can see why Mr. Billy Joe Armstrong would say something like that because when you think of the pop-punk world right, there’s a few bands that really come to the for-front of that: Green Day, blink-182, a handful of others, sum 41. And that has almost in the past, and even now as 40-year-old men, they’re still labelled as Green Day, the pop-punkers. They’ve been writing songs like – what’s that song on American Idiot? I don’t actually like Green Day that much but I like that record… “I walk a lonely road”.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
Mate, is that a pop-punk song?
No. It’s a fucking epic Aerosmith-like rock ballad in a sense. So yeah, that’d piss me off. Fair play to the lad, saying what’s right.
So, you’ve got a long tour ahead. Few different cities – few different countries even. How do you stay sane with all that travelling?
Well Dan and I, have made an agreement of sorts, that we’re not going to tour anymore unless we do it a different way. I mean that in the sense that I want to get up in the morning and want to go and truly embrace my day. So, the way we’re trying to keep it interesting and not mundane is that we start of we go to the gym or health club and we work-out, go for a swim. Maybe try and find a nice restaurant and have a nice lunch. And it sounds stupid but coming from a place where we never used to do that. We’d get up and roll out of bed at 3 in the afternoon, hungover all day, roll yourself onto stage and play a show. Love that and that’s all great but I want to go and explore and I want to right the next record on this tour – not this exact tour but next cycle, 24, 36 months. It’s all about the mind set you have. If the mind-set you have is just to solely exist on tour then I don’t think you’re doing it right. We’ve only done two shows [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][this tour] so far but already I’m singing better – being told I’m singing the best I have ever sung on stage. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling healthy, and I’m feeling baggage-free.
Where are you most looking forward to playing? Apart from Swansea of course.
I was going to say Swansea. Well the beautiful thing about this tour is that we really wanted to play [smaller venues]. In fact when I look at the list I only see one place that a promoter would call the “A-market”, the Londons, the Birminghams, the Manchesters, and the Glasgows. When overseas bands come over they play five or six arenas. I’m enjoying going to places like Folkestone, yesterday was beautiful; today in Swansea, went for a nice walk along the beach, all that sort of shit. Nottingham, Oxford and Cambridge, we’ve never been to Cambridge. Iverness, we haven’t been there in close to nine years. Places we’re not going to go again for another few years. It’s nice for us, we know these people; we know the fans that come to the shows. This is our first time in Swansea by the way. It’s nice that they don’t have to travel forty miles up to Cardiff for a show.
Going on from that, big venue or
I think they’re different animals entirely to be honest. This is the smallest stuff we’ve done in England [and Wales] for a long time. The energy in the room – these are died hard fans that are coming to see the show. They’re also fans that are on board with this album campaign way before the album has even come out. Their like “they haven’t released any new music since 2014, I want to go and listen to their new stuff”. The last two shows have just been silly- silly, silly. The reaction is just mental. I just think that arenas are good for the artist cause it’s a milestone and you want to keep seeing that progression and success in a sense but playing these smaller shows is completely different success for me.
When you go to an arena show, when I’ve gone to them in the past it is very much that we’re trying to put on a show, show, a spectacle. Big screens, big lights, flames or whatever the cheap thrills are. Whereas this is like can five guys go on stage and have you like that, based on just their instruments. I like that challenge, I like that the show relies purely on how good we are.
You get a slight advantage when you play arenas. People are set up to go to a big show. When you go in there you’re already feeling a different sort of vibe. Also I think people that go to arena shows – I used to live opposite the O2 for a few years. I used to go once or twice a month and even as a fan of music I used to turn being like “right, got the snacks? In your seat? We got the drinks?” We will be sitting there planning our night around our food and drinks. You’ll be waiting for the artist to come on and people behind you are like “sit down, I can’t see” and you’re like “what’re you doing?”. It’s a whole different sort of show. Not every artist, but a few experiences I’ve had, especially when I’ve gone to pop shows because they’re only five minutes across the road sort of thing.
So yeah, I like the smaller shows currently. I’m sure if you interview me on an arena show I’m going to be getting paid a lot of money and there will be ten-thousand people there and it’ll be massive, and I’ll think that is what it is all about but right now this is what it is about.