You Me At Six: '˜I think we've got a lot of things up our sleeve'
You Me At Six refuse to go away. In a career spanning over a decade, they remain one of Britain's most-loved alternative rock bands.
Formed in 2004, they have toured with the likes of Thirty Seconds to Mars, Paramore and All Time Low. In 2011, they won the holy grail of rock awards, the Kerrang! Best British Band Award, and four of their albums have been certified gold.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the release of their first album, the critically-acclaimed Take Off Your Colours. The group celebrated this milestone with a series of one-off acoustic gigs in which they played the debut LP in its entirety for the first time.
However, always a band to keep looking forward, the bigger event for them this year is the release of their sixth studio album, the aptly titled ‘VI’.
Speaking to guitarist Max Heyler, he explains that these in-store signing sessions and acoustic shows were a chance to celebrate what’s passed and showcase what’s in store: “We wanted to give a taste of what there is to come,” he begins. “It was really cool, it was great to go out and see all the fans and really appreciate everybody buying the record and supporting our band. It’s still phenomenal to this day that people still like our band.”
VI was produced by Dan Austin, who has worked with other alt-rock giants like Biffy Clyro and Queens of the Stone Age. The new LP incorporates more R&B than previous releases by the Surrey five-piece. Distorted rock has also been replaced by a poppier approach for the new offering, showcasing a more pastoral side to You Me At Six.
The band insisted on recording in England, despite pleas from the label to use studios in France and Los Angeles. They stuck to their guns and headed to VADA Studios in Alcester. Heyler states that, to achieve the flavour they wanted, it was essential they stayed in Blighty. “Our main objective for this record was to have UK people work on the entirety of the record because we hadn’t done that since (their second record) Hold Me Down.
“We’ve done different studios across the world; as great as they are, we had a vision for what we wanted to do for this record and, luckily, Dan Austin came back into our lives again and suggested VADA Studios. I can’t imagine anywhere else that would have worked.”
With regards to the change in flavour, Heyler explains it’s mostly down to a merging of YMA6’s personal music tastes. “I probably listened to too much R&B, hip-hop and urban music over the last couple of years. I think we all have, though; I would describe the record as light and shade. There’s variations, there’s light and dark on it. It’s us incorporating more of our own interests in music, and we five have such wide tastes that we were a bit more adventurous on this record. We said that from the start we wanted to push it.”
This adventure is set to continue; VI has only just been released, but Heyler says the band is already thinking of their follow-up. “We’re already thinking about two or three albums ahead. The music business is so quick and instant now; before, you’d live on a record for ages but now you’ve got everything on your phone. The demand is so high now so we need to keep the listener engaged.
“It’s also good for us because where we’ve left it with VI, we can go anywhere. We can be adventurous and try different songs, and I think we’ve got a lot of things up our sleeve. People will, hopefully, be pleasantly surprised by a few things; we’ve already got plans for 2019 and even for 2020.”
You Me At Six will be calling at Leeds’ O2 Academy tomorrow night for a plugged-in headline performance. As bands progress in their career and create more music, setlist crafting can become a nightmare. Nonetheless, Heyler says it’s going to be a good mix. “We’re trying to make sure we’re playing songs from each record so, hopefully, they’ll enjoy the songs we’ve chosen. We’ve gone in for something a little different on our production, so I think the show will look and feel like where the music’s gone now. Fresh and a bit more contemporary... a bit more colourful, like the record.”
You Me At Six play at O2 Academy Leeds on November 21. www.youmeatsix.co.uk