More about: You Me At Six
Split between the familiar coast of Cornwall and the sunny landscape of Santorini; You Me At Six has no idea what direction their next studio album would take. Following the success of SUCKAPUNCH as frontman Josh Franceschi took to warmer climates; it all could’ve kept straying further and further away from the scene that birthed them. But instead, the warmth seemed to let the pulse come through clearer. There is one thing embedded in You Me At Six’s DNA that is ultimately the beating heart of Truth Decay - it’s everything they were, everything they are and everything they will become as a band. Truth Decay is vintage YMAS at their best, at their purist.
Born out of a desire to do all the things YMAS are good at, finessing them with a hunger to be wholeheartedly honest and pour every ounce of emotion they have left in their bones into this record, Truth Decay is the sound of an emo renaissance and a British rock band making their identity as nothing but the underdogs abundantly clear.
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In the build up to You Me At Six releasing their eighth album Truth Decay, I caught up with vocalist Josh Franceschi to ask him about reclaiming the band's vintage sound, tackling taboos and why honesty is always the best policy.
Gigwise: If we are looking at Truth Decay as a whole, it all stemmed from single ‘DEEP CUTS’, which really dictated the direction of the themes found throughout Truth Decay, getting to the core of eliminating trauma and emotional hurt by letting people go. How did that track get the ball rolling on the topics you ended up addressing throughout the remainder of the album?
Josh: Every record has the catalyst song, where everything clicked and there is a universal understanding within the group where we know we are doing something that feels right. ‘DEEP CUTS’ was the trendsetter and the trailblazer for the record; that song really encouraged us to follow our convictions and be aware of the fact that we were able to make a record that is quintessentially You Me At Six without it feeling the same old same old. That was really important to us, we didn’t just want to do something that people have already heard ten years ago. We wanted to try and still have the spirit of the band, but still be challenging the way we would present that sonically and lyrically and ‘DEEP CUTS’ was that song that paved the way for the sincerity, earnest and unapologetically raw emotions that make good music.
I think another centrepiece moment lyrically for the album is ‘Mixed Emotions’. Even today when it feels like it’s getting less taboo, men still struggle to open up emotionally, whether that be within themselves or in wider society. With a song like ‘Mixed Emotions’ that directly addresses mental health in men, I was wondering if you had any hopes or positive outcomes you think the track might be able to accomplish?
Ultimately I believe that the starting point for any band or artist when they are making a song is about how it is speaking to them in that sense, asking what am I getting out of this and am I fulfilling the intent of the song? For me, ‘Mixed Emotions’ has already done what I wanted it to do by curating a far more fluid dialogue between us five as a band, helping us look at how far we have come from boys to men. It’s not up to me who it impacts next, but if one young person can find within that a sense of familiarity then they are able to communicate better with people then that’s a really powerful thing. There is always the potential within music to be able to transmit this energy between strangers and I want our music to be enjoyed first and foremost, but over the years it has become quite clear to me that it means more to some people than just background noise on a night out. it becomes part of their identity along with other great artists and great bands. Ultimately, people see a band more than just a couple of dudes, they see them as people who were there for them perhaps when other peoples weren’t, and I think ‘Mixed Emotions’ could be a song that understands them when others maybe don’t.
The incredible short film that accompanies ‘Mixed Emotions’ was made with Static Dress’ Olli Appleyard who has worked on a bunch of videos for bands. How did Olli help in bringing that story to life?
Olii has taste and I mean that in the sense that he understands how to do something provocative, whilst it is not just being shocking for the sake of it being shocking. I think what was really interesting was that when we were putting together the mood board and writing the treatment for the song, we were tapping into his experiences and his trauma as well as my own. With Jake Dunn who played the protagonist in the video who is actually a friend of mine, we actually spoke a lot about toxic masculinity and his experiences within his sexuality and the impacts it has had on his relationship with his dad. I think Olli has similar experiences, so with the short film, we realised we could do something here, even if it influences positive change in just one person then that’s something to be proud of. and
Olli is just a very creative person and a very creative soul - I’ve loved working with him, I think he’s got a very bright future. But moreover I think he understands the intricacies of people and how to be sensitive to those uncomfortable topics and how to address them with a sense of stability and duty of care to push the boundaries, but not open wounds for the sake of it and that’s what he done with ‘Mixed Emotions’.
"I think Truth Decay is going to feel like an old friend has walked into the room."
On the lyrical front then, I think it’s these themes we talked about of addressing trauma and toxicity, but also endorsing self love and self acceptance that makes Truth Decay one of the most open honest records You Me At Six have ever released. Does it feel that way for you too, Josh?
I think sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing when you’re doing it. But in this case I was sober which was an interesting experience because I would argue that the last couple of records we’ve made have been cloudy and the process of delivering something really great has been secondary to the experience and having fun whilst doing it.
I think when you’re taking part in sobriety, the inevitability is that you are way more in touch with what you are confronting, whatever it is. Whether it’s ongoing relationship issues, mental health or just throw away stupid arguments; you have no other choice but to face it head on. With that playing out in real time, alongside making a record it just enabled and encouraged me to confront things. I look at every record we make as our last; I think that’s a healthy mindset to be in because you go into the process thinking whatever has gone and whatever may come is not a given. And I think in this record we were able to really tap into that and it allows the relationship between myself and the listener to be that bit more earnest and substantial.
It truly feels like a record for the people out there struggling to find their voice or even for people who need it to ignite their frustrations. It’s almost as if Truth Decay is acting like their rally cry, especially for a generation facing some of the biggest challenges the world has ever seen and trying to find their place in that world. It feels like a collective album, not only for the band but inviting your fans to find solace in it too…
That’s why I think emo is having this renaissance and the alternative scene that I recognised a decade ago is having this renaissance is happening because I feel people have felt a little bit alienated by society. I think someone like Machine Gun Kelly, or YUNGBLUD who is polarising in opinion and has gotten quite a lot of stick, and that’s not me saying I subscribe to everything he says, but what I do think they have done is they have unlocked a door in the mainstream consciousness that serves as a reminder to this whole generation of the voiceless. It’s been imperative to launching this rebirth of the emo scene - but I think Truth Decay is going to feel like an old friend has walked into the room.
"I’m measuring the success of this record in the real time feedback we are getting from our fans. That to me is way more important."
Right now this version of You Me At Six is needed and is necessary for us and we feel like our fans need a record like this right now. What has been cool is already getting a sense that we have woken a large sector of our fan base to realising they’ve got their band back and that already feels really good. At the start of this campaign, the cornerstones for a successful album campaign weren’t coming together; we weren’t getting the radio play, we weren’t getting some of the festival slots we thought we would get straight away - these victories or these milestones we were relying so heavily on and thought we’re so important to us weren’t the actual victory. I’m measuring the success of this record in the real time feedback we are getting from our fans. That to me is way more important.
Truth Decays arrives February 10th
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More about: You Me At Six