“When I was 15, I started the 5 year plan. So if by 20 I haven’t played Brixton Academy, Then I’ll be real pissed off!” declares You Me At Six front-man Josh Franceschi . Still only 17, and with his band amassing fans at a staggering rate, thanks to boundless energy and effort etched into every performance and storming debut single ‘Save It For The Bedroom’, his dream of playing Brixton Academy is looking more like reality with every passing plaudit. “Our ultimate goal is world domination” Josh jokes to Gigwise, his tongue firmly placed in his cheek. But the lads have already conquered the hearts of many UK fans, as You Me At Six are a band seriously going places, powered by their youthful exuberance and dogged determination. Originating from Surrey, the quirky quintet are completed by guitarists Chris Miller and Max Helyer, bassist Matt Barnes and drummer Dan Flint. Their sugar-coated emo pop/punk sound is as infectious as they come and with over two million plays on their MySpace page, they are indeed a band in demand!
This December marks the start of their UK headlining tour and the anticipation and excitement is evident: “We’re all completely stoked!” admits Josh. “We can’t wait. We get to tour with our buddies Flood of Red, so it’s going to be crazy. We’ve headlined tours before, but we feel this tour is a great way to finish off a great year, and I reckon there’s a lot of expectation of us, and I promise it’s going to be a great one!” Their rapid rise to fame is being eagerly embraced by Josh, he states: “It’s really fucking cool! And very surreal, it’s the kind of thing I never expected from this band, but kind of always felt would eventually come. And I mean that because I’ve always been told, if you work hard enough for something, you’ll get it eventually. It’s also a huge confidence boost that such well established magazines care enough to write about our band! It’s truly amazing.”
Massive opportunities at such a tender age soon resulted in some big decisions having to be made, and even greater sacrifices. The balancing act of education and band commitments soon became impossible for Josh. “I pulled out of college after the first year” he reveals. “I am only 17, and both my parents and I agreed that this was a once in a life time opportunity that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Max and Chris are still doing college though, but I don’t think they like to, it’s all getting a bit too much!”
Many fledgling bands have their moments of “lets just fucking give up, it’s never going to happen” when they’re faced with rock bottom, and not a penny to their name, but for Josh the only thought of failure, or packing it all in, has been post- fame. “Funnily enough, not until our band started getting recognition did I get these doubts,” Josh explains. “I still don’t feel like I am good enough for this position, and on some of the tours I’ve done it’s been a bit overwhelming. But I have no right to complain, so I am not going to!” With fame and notoriety comes the plastic brigade, ready to latch on to any potential success the lads are working so hard for. They maybe long lost ‘friends’ from school, or serial lead-singer dating girls, staking out every tour-bus door, but Josh is determined to use, rather than be used: “I don’t know. I’ve always had a very close circle of friends in the sense, I only have time for my real friends and I know who they are. But freeloaders usually come with free pints at a show or something, so I’m going to rinse it for all it’s worth!”
The lads may still be taking their first tentative steps into life in a successful band but they can already draw a big tick next to ‘trash hotel room’ on the ‘how to be rock’n’roll’ list. A Travelodge may not be the most impressive of victims, but you can only work with what you’re given. “The hotel loved it, and we’re not rock stars at all,” claims Josh. “I still feel bad about that Travelodge, but it sounds a lot worse than it actually was!” Down to more pressing matters then, an eagerly anticipated debut album is well in motion, but Josh is rather secretive, unwilling to disclose too much information about their sound and direction. “The problem is, if I tell you, then I’ll ruin the surprise,” he teases. “We’ve started writing our album, and I am so excited, it’s quite different to what I originally expected us to come up with, and it potentially could be a fucking good debut.”
The fivesome’s sound is evidently influenced from the plethora of pop-punk bands from across the pond, and Josh is not going to hide that fact. His drive and desire to form a band was sparked by a certain gig. “Probably when I went to see one of my favourite bands of all time, The Starting Line,” he recalls. “Man, that show was incredible!” When asked if being an English emo/ pop-punk band helps or hinders their chance of making it, Josh ponders: “Bit of both really, I guess right now the fact the American bands are popular and in the limelight means that kind of vibe might rub off on us. Either way, we don’t really want to make it, we just want to play our music to as many people as possible, the whole idea of us being in a band to be famous is not what we’re about.” Ah so innocent.
With three of the YMAS lads still under-18 they, more than anyone, know the trials of trying to get into certain gigs. Therefore, with many of their fans being of the same age or younger than them, attempts are made to bring down the venues age restrictions. “I make a conscious effort, but our fans aren’t that young! It’s kind of out of our hands though, venues have licensing issues etc which have to be priority, otherwise some amazing venues may be in jeopardy.” Gigwise spied that on the YMAS MySpace page under ‘Sounds Like’ the lads had typed ‘Sex with your hot girlfriend’. The obvious question this hack posed was ‘What if you had never had sex with a hot girlfriend? How do you relate to their sound?’ “Ah I guess those people just can’t comprehend what we honestly sound like, shame,” jests Josh. How about a band that sounds like shagging a munter? Josh states: “Gallows”.
The lads have had several ‘pinch yourself’ moments over the last year, if supporting Fightstar and chilling with Charlie Simpson wasn’t surreal enough, they managed to tour with one of their all-time idols. “Playing with Paramore has been the biggest highlight so far,” states Josh. “They’ve been one of my favourite bands for 3 years and now they’re some of my favourite people in the world!” Josh seemed to have made quite an impression with the red-haired siren that is Hayley Williams. “She said she’d give me her last Diet Coke if I gave her a free tee,” he jokes. Well if that’s not love....
Josh and the lads have plenty more opportunities to make a winning impression, and with a support slot on The Audition’s UK Tour this February just announced, many more teenage hearts are sure to be stolen.