Deputy Editor-in-Chief & Deputy Culture Editor – Food & Drink
Back Again and perhaps not how you’d expect
It’s perhaps not an easy task to find somebody who hasn’t heard of music industry veterans You Me At Six. You may know them for their older classics like “Bite My Tongue”, “Liquid Confidence” and “Always Attract’, but the band are back with their new album VI, which dropped on 5 October, and the new release is a surprise to fans and critics alike.
It was unexpected, to say the least when a member of the band’s PR team got in touch with The Glasgow Guardian a couple of weeks ago offering us an interview opportunity with a member of the band. We had the chance to speak to Matt Barnes, the band’s bassist, and ask him some of our burning questions about the new album VI, their upcoming tour and, of course, their much anticipated ten year anniversary tour dates for their debut album Take Off Your Colours.
When asked how they’ve found public reception of VI so far, Barnes enthusiastically responded: “Yeah it’s been amazing. They [fans] didn’t expect some songs to come out, and I think we already released quite a varied range of songs. We hadn’t put out songs like “Straight To My Head” and “Danger” yet so I think the real hardcore fans have still got a bit of an air of You Me At Six. At the same time, we’re still pushing the boat out and trying new things like we have done on every single record.”
VI is undeniably a conflation of different genres, something that Barnes was more than enthusiastic to discuss. With songs like “Fast Forward”, which demonstrates a heavier rock sound reminiscent of songs from the band’s third album Sinners Never Sleep, “Back Again”, a refreshing and uplifting pop song that verges into the territory of synth-pop, and “3am”, a pop-rock ballad, it’s clear to see how pinpointing the definitive sound of the album is far from an easy task.
“We’ve always just written what we want to write as writers and musicians, so I think it’s just showing our different tastes as we grow up. Ten years ago, when we were writing Take Off Your Colours, all we were listening to was pop punk. Whereas now, we listen to everything from hip-hop to country music to classical music to pop music to indie bands. I think that does show on this record because you listen to “Back Again” and it sounds like we’ve been listening to more indie music, and “I O U” sounds like we’ve been listening to more sort of hip-hop.”
So, with such an eclectic list of tracks to put together into an album, it was important for the band to get an expert on board to help with production. That person ended up being British producer Dan Austin, who Barnes only had positive things to say about:
“He’s amazing, he felt like a sixth member of our band and we all felt like producers on the record to be fair. It was such a collaborative process, and it felt great doing it back in the UK because the three [albums] before this we did Sinners Never Sleep, Cavalier Youth and Night People over in America. So it just felt good to come back to the UK. We recorded in Ulster which is just south of Birmingham. It was almost in the middle of nowhere just on this old 14th-century manor house, but they converted these pig sties into accommodation. They weren’t too pigsty-ey anymore, but I think doing it in the UK changed the sound of the record as well.”
Alongside working with such an esteemed producer, the band have also released this new album under their new imprint Underdog Records.
“We’ve been played by quite a few labels in the music industry and we wanted to start up our own imprint. We’d love a sort of forefront for new bands to come to us even if it’s just to ask questions, even if it’s just like an online forum for Underdog Records where new bands can post their music. That and it sounds quite fun to be called the managing director of Underdog records.”
Barnes also highlighted the bands’ interest in helping nurture new, undiscovered artists.
“People always ask, ‘do you have any advice for up and coming bands?’ Yeah, listen to yourself. Only you know your band. Someone who’s been working for your band for a year doesn’t know your band as well as you. It’s from your brain, it doesn’t exist until you make it. You have to put yourself first.”
Aside from the release of the new album, the band are looking forward to their upcoming UK tour for VI and the Take Off Your Colours anniversary dates. When asked what prompted the decision to do the Take Off Your Colours dates, Barnes responded:
“Well, people have been going on at us about doing it for years and it sort of came around to the time and it was like ‘shall we do it? Um… yeah, okay, fine.’ I love paying homage to pieces of work, you know – I went to see some of my favourite bands do their ten year anniversary. A couple years ago I went to see Ideas Above Our Station by Hundred Reasons and I loved it. It was an amazing show and you know in my head I was like, ‘well if our record does what Ideas Above Our Station does to me then I’d wanna go and see it’.”
The upcoming tour dates sold out almost immediately.
“We put a few [tickets] on sale and they literally flew out […] Not many bands, ten years in, get a chance to put something out new, that people still like and want to listen to. With some bands, everyone just wants to hear their first record again and the new one goes under the radar. So we feel very lucky and humbled that everyone is taking our new one on board so well.”
In the past, the band have famously expressed their distaste for some of the tracks off Take Off Your Colours, particularly the song “Gossip”. Given this rare opportunity to interview a member of the band, we couldn’t help but ask if they’d be playing their most infamous song on the upcoming tour.
“Yeah, we’re going to play the whole thing. We haven’t practised it together yet, we’ve all practised it at home a bit and then hit each other up and been like ‘actually we actually don’t mind that song anymore’. There are probably other songs that I don’t want to play more. It’s just gonna be a blast from the past.”
You Me At Six will be performing at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom on 27-28 November, and their new album VI is available to buy and stream now.