After wowing US audiences coast to coast on the 2009 Warped tour, hot Brit newbies You Me At Six are back in the studio putting the finishing touches to the follow up to last year’s sparkling debut Take Off Your Colours.
And they’re playing a few dates over here. And they’re preparing for the deluxe edition release of the aformentioned debut. And they’re doing interviews. And they’re finalising a huge 2010 headline tour of the UK. And… Frontman Josh Franceschi picks up the story.
rushonrock: After a spell on the Warped Tour are you winding down for a bit?
Josh Franceschi: Er, no. It’s been non-stop since we returned from the Warped tour. We got back less than two weeks ago and the day after we returned we were straight into the studio and practicing. We headed up to Leeds and then down to Reading and both of those shows were crazy – all of last week we were either in the studio or doing press and we’re kinda hoping for some time off sometime soon. Will that happen? Who knows?
rushonrock: In the meantime the deluxe edition of Take Off You Colours is due this month. Are you selling out already?
JF: We’re just glad the deluxe edition is seeing the light of day because we still feel our first label didn’t really do enough to get Take Off Your Colours out there. It was basically a means of distributing the album but they didn’t offer much more and that’s why we moved as soon as possible. We went to Virgin and they’re just so excited about the record that they wanted to do their own job on it. That includes releasing the expanded edition and they reckon it can reach a few more people and from our point of view it fills a bit of a gap before the new record’s released in 2010.
rushonrock: Back to Warped and how do you look back on the whole (often harrowing) experience? Did it boost your sales in the US?
JF: Warped was great for us and in the US TOYC is a phenomenal CD. It’s got 20 tracks on there including all the B-sides and stuff. In fact the only thing it’s missing is Kiss And Tell and I think we managed to shift 3-4,000 on the Warped tour. The USA is a tough place to go and play and sell records and we’ve only just really kicked off our push there with the Warped tour. But it’s such a great tour for a band like us – it’s a brilliant opportunity to go across the country and play to a lot of people.
rushonrock: Are you one of the many UK bands who dream of breaking America?
JF: I think any band which crosses the Atlantic believing they’ve got to break America is heading for a fall. They go over there with the wrong intentions because they expect it to fall into place without really connecting with the fans. We went over there to tell people about our band and meet the fans who might buy our records. It wasn’t about selling a load of CDs. We just wanted to introduce ourselves and gauge the reaction. I wandered around the festival sites seeing people wearing Paramore and Jimmy Eat World T-shirts and I thought they might like our band. There was the potential for YM@6 to make some new fans and so I went to talk to people about us.
rushonrock: So did you meet and greet a few folk then?
JF: Looking back you have to say the Warped tour was a big success for us because we played to an average of 500 people a day. But that didn’t just happen – a lot of it was down to our work rate over there. The US bands we played with said don’t come over here like every other UK band does and start off supporting a big international band on the arena circuit. They told us we had to tour our arses off and visit as many places as possible. There’s a reason why All Time Low were headlining the Warped tour most days – they have done that for years and now they’re one of the biggest bands in America.
rushonrock: A strong work ethic doesn’t seem to faze you?
JF: I’m just the type of person who works hard and I’m always looking to push the boundaries as far as marketing the band is concerned. As a group we set ourselves a target of shifting $1,000 worth of merch a day on the Warped tour and after day one we’d sold $3,2000 worth of T-shirts. Some of the other bands wouldn’t do that on the whole tour but we were playing to crowds of 600 or 700 people and a lot of them were kids I’d talked to earlier in the day.
rushonrock: A frontman talking to fans! What kinda crazy shit is that?
JF: That personal touch got them to our show and helped us sell a few T-shirts. Interacting with fans is a dying art but I’ve been a fan who’s waited outside venues long after the encore to meet the band and some guy will simply wave out of a window on his tour bus and then head inside for a few beers or to meet a few groupies. If you read back interviews with YM@6 the past you’ll see that journalists will often talk about us standing in the rain with fans hours after shows just talking to people who like our music. I remember being that guy who just wanted to hang out with the band and that’s why we do it. Everybody likes getting drunk and getting laid and we’re no different. But we always make time for the fans – they’re the heartbeat of the band.
rushonrock: Did the Warped tour mean you faced a few fresh challenges internally?
JF: Warped is like no other tour you can imagine and we did find out things about the band which we never imagined. I thought we all knew each other really well but when you’re working so intensively and sharing the back of a tiny tour bus things become clear that haven’t done before. We’d learned how to tolerate each other in the past but the circumstances of that tour brought out a whole new side in all of us.
rushonrock: So what kept you going?
JF: Our tour manager is like the sixth member of the band and we have a lot of respect for him. But he was hard on us on that tour because he knew he had to be. We went into it with good intentions but there were times when we couldn’t be bothered with this or that – he made sure we were bothered. We wanted to tell him to f**k off and probably did. But the first thing he did every morning was hand us posters to write advertising our gigs and he didn’t let up all day.
rushonrock: Would you do it all over again?
JF: It’s a brutal tour and at times we did struggle. But we had a great deal of support, not least from the organiser Kevin Lyman who became a regular visitor to our shows. He told us we were killing it and said we’d made the biggest impact as a British band since Bullet For My Valentine – they’re playing to 1,000 people a night in America these days.