Friday, 14 October 2011

'Married To The Music, For Better Or For Worse' - A You Me At Six Special Edition Blog, 12/10/2011

Me with Josh Franceschi of You Me At Six
 As this week has been pretty much dominated by one band and one band alone, I figured it made sense to compound all my recent writings about them into one article, and post together for your reading pleasure. You Me At Six may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I personally am a big fan, so when the Huddersfield Student Paper offered me the chance to interview the band and see their gig at Leeds 02 Academy in support of their fantastic new album 'Sinners Never Sleep', I jumped at the chance. Here below are my thoughts on the album itself, the gig in Leeds and the full recording from my interview with guitarist Max Helyer.

Sinners Never Sleep - Album Review
Being a musician these days is tough. Being a young musician is even tougher. Circling the world in a beat up van, wondering where your next meal is coming from or where your next sleep is going to be is quite enough to deal with, and can only be exacerbated when you look around at your band mates and realise that you’ve grown to hate the very people that you began the dream with. For You Me At Six, it seemed that things couldn’t get any worse.  But sometimes when you’re at the bottom, the only way is up.

For an album that may never have come about due to tension between band members (as a result of the cabin fever-fest that is a spell on Warped Tour) , the tragic deaths of both drummer Dan and guitarist Chris’s dads and the eventual leakage of demo material weeks before the album proper was due out, Sinners Never Sleep is nothing short of a miracle. Quite frankly, the 12 tracks it consists of simply personify everything that is great about British Pop Punk, and then some. You Me At Six have always held a strong line in emotive, soaring melodies, but the likes of LoverBoy, Jaws On The Floor and Reckless positively fizz with ‘Screw You’ sass and darkness that casts no illusions over the periods of hatred within the band, and with the outside world. Forthcoming single ‘Bite My Tongue’ makes for some very uncomfortable but ultimately rewarding listening, as Josh Franceschi bitterly sings ‘You say I’m privileged/ but your gift is my curse/I can’t recall the last time someone asked how I was’. In the hands of any other band, this may come across as pitifully self-indulgent, but with Franceschi vocals stronger and more versatile than ever, and a charismatic guest turn from potty mouthed Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon taking the track into harder territory still (‘You’ve become what I hate/Sold yourself for a bit of fame/Now the wolves have closed the door/You want to drag me down some more/Fuck you!’), they pull it off with aplomb.

Whilst these heavyweight tracks may be at the heart of the album and the focus of the press surrounding its release, the true wonder of Sinners Never Sleep lies in it’s softer moments.  Finally developing into the songwriter he always had the potential to be, Franceschi’s words are beautifully desperate and longing on both Little Bit Of Truth and Crash, two ruminations on a past lover. Running on a similar theme, No One Does It Better also proves to be a highlight, the influence of being recorded in LA obvious in its summery melody. However, it is closer When We Were Younger that is the true surprise and triumph. Clocking in at just over 6 minutes, they weren’t joking when they said it could belong on a Snow Patrol or Coldplay album: washes of melancholy that Brand New would be proud of coat a sentimental tribute to the fallen You Me At Six fathers, as well as carrying forth a more general message of family, and the need for solidarity. Considering the period it was born from, this is a touchingly profound moment for the band and their fans alike, and will hopefully become a staple of their live shows.

With many of their contemporaries giving up for far more fickle reasons, You Me At Six command respect not only for staying strong, but for making one of the most unexpected, and dare I say it, mature rock records of the year. By exploring new avenues and pushing their best features above and beyond what may have been expected of them, they have set a precedent for themselves which I only hope they live out long enough to follow.

9/10

Gig Review - 02 Academy Leeds 12/10/2011
 'So, do 12 year old girls know how to moshpit or what?!' In one simple phrase, Lower Than Atlantis frontman Mike Duce manages to sum up the mood of the evening instantly. Starting a rock show at 6pm is frankly embarrassing and almost unheard of, and for the most part, the admittedly very young girls at the front look nothing short of impatient, indifferent and in need of some You Me At Six. Lower Than Atlantis don’t do a terrible job, but they appear to be fighting a losing battle as they encourage the crowd to circle pit; no floor clearance stays open longer than 20 seconds as fans use the shifting crowd to merely push further towards the barrier in the hope of snaring that prime spot for the headliner. When even an ill advised mash up cover of Foo Fighters Everlong and The Pretender fail to ignite they are forced to admit defeat, which is a shame as Deadliest Catch proves to be the best song in the set.

Next up are Deaf Havana, who use their drummer Tom Ogden’s  frantic limbed prowess as their ace up the sleeve to get the crowd going. Opener Friends Like These incites the first vocal warm up of the evening from the crowd, and Smiles All Round and the following untitled new song keep the pace up. Admittedly, they do suffer a little at the hands of some rather sludgy sounding amplification, but as a six track opening act they’re affable enough.


And so we put the adolescents out of their misery. As the air raid siren that signals the beginning of fan favourite single The Consequence fires up, and drummer Dan Flint strolls onstage, positioning himself in front of the kit like a warrior ready for battle, the screams reach dolphin like decibels, turning all the way up to 11 when Josh Franceschi himself bounds out, all cheeky smile and ruffled hair, bouncing around like a prize fighter. Straight from the off, it’s obvious how far he has come as a frontman: originally fixed to the spot either out of nervousness or overreliance on the microphone stand, Franceschi 3.0 is a powerhouse, dominating every inch of the understated staging, begging the crowd to sing even louder and even throwing out some pretty cool impromptu dance moves. When the inevitable chants of ‘YORKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE!’ pipe up in between tracks, he merely replies ‘When we were first playing, I didn't understand, thought you were all saying ‘you're shit. But now I get your vibe.' In short, the 21 year old has finally become a rock star.

Whilst the crowd might be full of youngsters, You Me At Six stay true to themselves and do not compromise on their all-out rock show. The air is thick with good natured profanity, tentative middle fingers thrust forth from the crowd member in mimic of Josh as the band rip Bite My Tongue and rarely outed Trophy Eyes a new one. It’s been a long time since I’ve been at a gig delivered with so much determination and vigour: you know you have a formidable setlist and that your fan base is dedicated when the songs that are sung back the quietest are the singles. That said, Save It For The Bedroom and Liquid Confidence have lost none of their charm, and new single Lover Boy, delivered in the encore, has clearly already earnt it’s place at the head table of rock; the irresistibly hummable intro could probably be heard in the car park due to the loudness of it’s delivery. Finishing with the regular closer of short, sharp and snappy Underdog and leaving with smiles spread wide across their faces, this was quite simply You Me At Six at their peak. So impressive that I might even forgive them for finishing at 9.30…

 Interview with Max Helyer 12/10/2011
(disclaimer: anybody offended by bad language should probably not listen to this audio... naughty Max!)


2 comments:

  1. Hey Jenessa, thanx 4 helping me 2 discover this awesome band named You Me At Six. Sinners Never SLeep is a bomb album. It's a rare occasion when I dig almost every track on an album. And this is 1 of those rare moments. "Time is Money" and "Reckless" are like super dope. I enjoyed your interview with Max as well...my favorite line was "If you like it or not, suck it"...Your reviews are the best! PeAcE

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  2. thanks for your feedback as always Doug, glad you like!

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