AP recently caught up with You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi while he and the band were recording in Los Angeles to talk about the direction of their upcoming album, how it compares to their past work and what it's like in the studio with the band this round.
Interview: Rachel Campbell
Where are you chatting from today?
JOSH FRANCESCHI: I’m currently sitting in the house that me and the dudes have for the summer while we’re out here recording in Los Angeles. Everyone’s hanging out by the pool, and we’ve got some friends over.
So you recorded the whole new album in the States?
Franceschi: Yeah, we recorded the new record with Neal Avron who has done Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park, Say Anything and a bunch of really cool bands. We met him when we were on the Spring Fever Tour with All Time Low and Pierce The Veil. We met a bunch of different producers, but with him, there was something different. We could all really feel comfortable in his presence–playing the songs [and] talking about them–then we decided to basically make a record with him. We did drums at one studio, and then recorded the rest at his house. It was cool–it was a really good experience.
If I’m not mistaken, you recorded your first two albums, 2008’s Take Off Your Colours and 2010’s Hold Me Down, in the U.K. and your last release, Sinners Never Sleep, in the United States. How is it different between the two countries in terms of recording?
This experience has definitely by far been the best we’ve had recording. For many reasons, but mainly because the environment in which we recorded in and the way Neal and his team–Eric and Scott have also worked on the record–have made it a very relaxing experience. At the same time, it’s a very organized and structured experience. You have certain deadlines for certain things, and we were always meeting those deadlines under them, but often at the same time, making a really great record and it sounding really good sonically as well. I think including him was the right thing to do, and I think the know-how and the gear and the equipment that Neal and his team had definitely brought out a better sound for our band.
How long have you been working on material for the new album? Did you do it all in the studio or had you been working on it before going in? When we finished our cycle in December, we went straight away to this [restaurant] called [Shaun Dickens at] the Boathouse on Henley-on-Thames back in England. Imagine a very, very typical countryside in England. I think it was [where], during the Olympics, it’s where the rowing went through–that river. It was very British, but we went to this local pub scene where we our buddy has a studio there. We wrote the first [part] of the record there for two to three weeks, then we came out here and did a week or so of pre-production dissecting the songs. That was another thing that Neal brought to the table: He really made us think about ourselves as songwriters more so. The first thing [Neal] had us do when we got there was take off and come back with three or four new bands or new artists from any genre of music that we thought were cool and that we thought we could benefit from by surrounding ourselves with a new kind of inspiration, which I thought was a really interesting exercise because we discovered new music that we really enjoyed. That experience was very beneficial.
Stylistically, how do the new songs compare to what you have released in the past?
I think we’ve definitely mixed it up. I think what’s interesting about this record in comparison to the others, is it feels more cohesive, like an overall body of work. With the last record, we’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that we produced potential fans or new listeners based on the fact that we had songs like "No One Does It Better” and “Crash,” which are slow love songs. On that very same record, we have our friends in hardcore and heavier bands like Oli Sykes [from Bring Me The Horizon] and Winston [McCall] of Parkway Drive coming in and doing what they do with their bands on our sound. I think that’s because on our last record we were just trying to figure out exactly what kind of band we wanted to be. I think what was good about that is that it allowed us to be in this position where we can go down and rework it, whether it be straight-up rock or a bit more aggressive and harder or songs like "Reckless" and "Jaws On The Floor," which are a bit more of pop-rock sort of thing. If someone was a fan of You Me At Six before than this is definitely for you, and a lot of people will see that, and if not, then I feel like new people coming to the party could also really get attached to it because we’ve tried a lot of different things.
We’ve never really had this level of production with our music, and even just the way we recorded things. I’ve never recorded a song [while] sitting down on a rocking chair in the garden. It sounds very hippie-ish, but we’re just trying new things. [I’m] trying different ways of recording vocals, and it’s the first time I’ve ever done a record where I’ve gone to the other guys in the band, and said “Here are some lyrics. What do you think? These are the messages I’m trying to say with the songs. Do you think the lyrics have captured that?” [and they’ll say], “Yes, no, maybe, try harder.” There are a few instances in this record where we actually have a lead line in a chorus for example, and any other record they’ll be like, “Yeah, yeah, man, that’s cool” and not approach it, and be like, “You know, dude, it’s good, but we really think you could do better.” I’ll go off and spend an evening with a demo version of that song just writing riffs. There were two songs, I think, where I basically would rethink the melody and they lyrics completely. At the time it was frustrating because it was like, “Oh you fuckers, I just tried really hard to write these lyrics and my part, and you’re kind of not into it.” At the same time, if they don’t like it I have to reconstruct it in an ambitious way. No one was like, “Oh that’s shit.” It was like, “They’re good, but why don’t we try making that a bit better?” Sometimes it would be a line here or there, or you have to look at the song in a different way. I’m sure, as with any record that anybody puts out, it will hopefully finalize an opinion, and they’ll either love it or hate it, but that’s kind of the deal with music. The people who are a fan of your band, they’ll either be really into it or not the fuck at all, but at least you know where you stand.