Josh Franceschi from You Me At Six talks mental health the music industry and more
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
We caught up with You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi before his performance with the band at Sundown Festival on Sunday 3 September to chat about new music, mental health, the music industry and more.
It's great to see you again in Norwich! What's it like being back?
I love coming to Norwich. My mum actually went to the University of East Anglia, so it's a special place for her. We were here in March or April 2017 playing a show and they are always really fun. So yeah it's good to be back.
Have you managed to catch any of the acts so far today?
We are leaving straight after we have played unfortunately but I saw a bit of Jonas Blue. I'll be honest; I wish we were playing yesterday. A bit of Craig David, a bit of Rag N Bone Man, but Sunday's good.
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What's it like performing at such a different festival to the usual ones you are used to?
Yeah it's cool! We always said that if you can get booked as the guitar band at a pop festival then it's a good sign. We've done V Festival and stuff like that in the past where I think before us was N-Dubz and after us was JLS.
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We haven't really done a pop festival, other then Radio 1's Big Weekend, but even then there's so many guitar bands playing. But yeah it's fun. I don't know if or how many fans of ours are here but we might make some new ones.
Are you excited to be wrapping up your UK performances here at Sundown?
Yeah definitely! We've got Australia, Germany and I think one show in Mexico left and then the cycle is done, so I think after that we will just get into the studio and knock out an album or some songs as soon as possible.
It was great that You Me At Six hit No.1 in the album charts with Cavalier Youth. How important do you think it is for you guys to break into mainstream media and be that role model for rock music?
We sort of did it a little bit with that and some of the Radio 1 stuff in the past. Even with Night People we were battling it out with Little Mix for No.1 and ended up No.3. It's not something that happens all the time, having guitar music at the top.
Before this album came out I was really focused on being accepted by the elitist mainstream media. I'm not entirely sure why. All that you learn is that it means absolutely nothing.
I got invited to the Brit Awards this year for the first time ever because of this thing I have been doing. I said, I am really sorry but I don't want to go and they were like why not? I'm not nominated for anything, I don't need to go and be in a room full of people to feel like our music means something to the people that I actually want it to mean something to.
We had a few interesting reviews with this album as well. I know any journalist should be able to review an album and not have an agenda but I feel like they gave it to people that were so detached from what we do.
That's when you realise, so what! The way people listen to music is so subjective and you can form your own opinion about it.
The one thing that really came out of this year is to stop caring about that and care just as much if not more about how we relate to the people that are coming to our shows.
More recently you all took some time out between the release of Cavalier Youth and Night People. How important was this for you all as a band to step away for a while?
I think it was important. Max and I both bought houses. When you do that with your partner you want to do it properly.
When we were younger, 18 to early 20's, the foundations and the roots of what we had at home weren't as integral to our happiness as they are now.
At that point you don't care if you're on tour for 250 days. When you're older, you want to make sure you're setting up something so that when you're not Josh from You Me At Six you have a purpose.
Some of us came out of the Cavalier Youth cycle and thought, do you know what, I just need to tap the breaks for a little bit.
I needed to miss everything about it to know what it was like to not have it. I don't want to sound egotistical but I needed to walk down the streets and not have people recognise me.
You give up a lot of yourself to be in the public eye. I just needed to figure out whether or not I wanted to keep rolling that dice.
There's also not a single person in a band of any level, us included, that hasn't had very low, dark moments. I imagine it's like having the biggest night in Ibiza and then getting to the airport and your flight is cancelled. There are no more flights home and you're on a massive come down.
That's what it's like going from headlining Wembley arena to the next day watching match of the day in your pants. There's no middle ground with that sort of stuff.
It almost encourages the demons to have a life of their own and take over, especially when you rely on the good vibes to come through the music. When that's taken away from you it's easy to get into a bad space.
Music has always been for me, and lot's of other people, a therapeutic thing and it allows you to remove yourself from reality. That's a powerful thing to have.
I know you all faced a few difficulties during the Night People cycle. Are you all feeling more positive now and looking forward to your next chapter?
I feel like we are going to take the power back a little bit. In anything you do in life if you give the reigns to the wrong people you can get taken off course. I think this whole album campaign as been a by-product of bad decisions on our behalf that were made by other people or us not keeping an eye on stuff.
We've met with a bunch of major labels where they ask us, what is it you really want to achieve? We may not be the biggest band in the world but we have achieved more than most in this country. And it's like, you're not going to get how to sell this band, so why don't we just do it ourselves.
We are more and more looking into setting up our own record label. Even with Night People when we were number 1 in the midweek's, we went to our label and said if we want it then let's push for it and spend some money.
When you're not in charge of that you just sit back and they say it's not about week one it's about week twenty but by week eight the album cycle was over.
A lot of my friends said that the songs are good but everything else just felt really half-arsed.
My opinion on the flaw with the major label system is that there are too many cooks. You just need one or two head strong people with a vision who discuss and delegate to other people. Usually it should be the artist that's able to do that.
People like Skepta and Drake are basically self sufficient. More and more you're going to see a big shift in artists accepting that as long as you can utilise the different platforms available, you don't need people from the top messing it all up for you.
New chapter-wise it's going to be about how we maintain but in parts rebuild our relationship and our connection with our fans.
You have five albums out now; did you ever imagine that your journey would take you to this point?
My parents had given me a pass to take a year out of college. So worse case scenario, I'd had a good year.
It's only when we got signed to EMI and big money figures started getting thrown around that we were like, ok this isn't just us having a bit of a laugh.
We were ambitious but we didn't have any grand aspirations.
Without Radio 1 I don't know where our band would be. They've been incredible supporters of this band.
It's really been the fans that have carried it as long as they have. We will keep making music as long as there is a demand for it.
What's it like knowing that your music has played such an important role in people's lives?
There was a time when I was fearful of that. You'd have people coming up to you and saying 'you've saved my life'. That's a mountain sized statement. When I was a 19-year-old kid, that wasn't what I thought came with this.
At first I was like, I'm not a Doctor; I haven't got a PHD in Psychology. Where are their parents? Where are their friends? It used to really anger me. They shouldn't be limited to one opportunity after a show to be able to talk about the way they feel.
Now I look at it as a really fortunate position to be in, that people feel you've played such a role in their life.
In the last three or four years I've just really embraced it. Whether we are the band for someone to stick on when they are getting ready on a Friday night, or the band for somebody when they are travelling and they want to sit back and reflect on different memories.
Sometimes I listen to songs that will purposely make me sad, and I know it's going to hurt, but you just have to do it.
It's cool that in some way, at some point in different people's lives we have played those different roles.
When I look back on my life I will be able to say, was I Bob Marley or John Lennon? Absolutely not. Did I get anywhere near that? Probably not. But to somebody our songs did something really profound.
Last year you did a lot of work surrounding ticket touts. Why did you feel this was so important?
I think it was very important.
I've just seen this row between Enter Shikari and Taylor Swift fans. With this Ticketmaster thing you're buying the record just to be in a queue to potentially buy a ticket, that's mental. It's 100% exploitation of fans, most of who are young and impressionable.
That's the big thing with the ticket tout stuff, there's still a lot of work to do. A part of me right now feels it's gone a bit quiet. I've been away, but now I'm back more I'm going to be calling a meeting with everyone. We've got to do more.
Anything else you'd like to mention?
I've done a lot of stuff this year around the stigma that surrounds what it's like to be a man, and men's mental health. Not knowing that in a way I was exercising some of my own demons.
When the news of Chester Bennington's suicide broke, the thing that made me really sad was that I am sure he had people around him that were like, come on mate you'll be alright. If people don't talk about it then they get sucked into this crazy black hole.
I think it's remarkably sad that that's how they are remembered.
And lastly, what's next for You Me At Six, can we expect any more new music in the near future?
I'm excited about releasing music again, which I wasn't when we were with our last label.
I think we are going to release music differently. People aren't going to have to wait the three years that they waited between Cavalier Youth and Night People.
This year would be a push, but I am pretty confident we will have a new album out next summer.