Seems like it was just a scant few centuries ago that we couldn’t seem to get away from “mum and dad” – aka Great Britain fast enough. So can someone please explain to me why it is that American music audiences can’t seem to get enough of British bands.
Might it be that deep down inside we miss dear old mum and dad? Or perhaps we’re just partial to an English accent. Or maybe, just maybe we love great music.
Those first rebellious patriots weren’t exactly thrilled with that first British invasion. But I’m certain that they would have traded their very best waistcoats for a couple of front-row tickets to tonight’s You Me At Six gig at The Nile Theatre.
The British rockers from Surrey, England are in town for the Phoenix stop of their “2012 Sinners Never Sleep Tour.” The Blink 182 flavored band first tasted triumph with their successful 2008 debut, Take Off Your Colours, which included the singles “Save It for the Bedroom,” “Finders Keepers” and “Kiss and Tell,” the latter two peaking at #33 and #42 respectively on the official UK Singles Chart.
YMAS’ sophomore effort, Hold Me Down, did anything but, reaching #5 in the U.K. with a trio of charting tunes, “Underdog,” “Liquid Confidence” and “Stay with Me.” Coming on the heels of being named “Best British Band” at the 2011 Kerrang! Awards, the 2012 release of the band’s third record, Sinners Never Sleep, was a real eye opener.
As the band readied for the album’s release and their U.S. tour, frontman Josh Franceschi spoke to modenook.com. Franceschi was eager to kick the 2012 tour off with a stateside swing.
“There’s a few places we’re going out to in the world that I’m kind of anxious about doing, like Indonesia and Australia again. But America is a place we really enjoy playing. We’re just glad to be doing our headline tour there.”
“And hopefully people are as excited about our coming as we are about coming. We have a good show and they’ll all have fun, so I don’t really get nervous about stuff.”
Franceschi’s self assuredness comes in part from knowing what to expect – and what not to expect – from audiences across the globe.
“There is just as much difference between the East Coast and the Midwest and the West Coast as there is between England audiences and American audiences. It just really depends on what exactly you’re looking for and towards.”
“Big crowds in America are the kind of fans that would want to sit back in that situation before they completely consorted with the bands. In England, kids go really crazy at shows.”
The YMAS vocalist agreed with the notion that Americans have had a long-time love affair with British bands – but for a very practical reason.
“We may have a slight edge over some bands purely because we’re English and people know that we may not be back for a long time. Bands are making less money, so when a band makes the effort to tour America, people react to that.”
“The fact that we sold out our show in New York in under a week, and a lot of shows have done really well, if not sold out. There’s a chance that they can wait until next time, but there may not be a next time.”
“That’s not our wish but everyone’s going through such a multinational depression at the moment. Everyone seems to be f***ed one way or the other. The economy is not exactly up for anyone, so the band’s tour is more and more expensive and people.”
“Going to a music show is a luxury that some people will give in to. And then others who love the band a lot think, ‘Well, can I justify spending ten dollars on a ticket when I could use that to buy lunch this week?’ People are coming out to our shows and will get their money’s worth, that’s for sure.”
“You’d rather go into a situation where the show’s really busy or sold out, rather than turning up and having ten people in the audience. There’s a good pressure and it’s what you’ve been paid to do. You can’t really be intimidated by what is going on stage if you’re in a band.”
As the lead singer Franceschi may be the most visible band member, but he is ably joined by Max Helyer (rhythm guitar), Chris Miller (lead guitar), Matt Barnes (bass) and Dan Flint (drums). Fans might think that a vocalist has certain freedoms that an instrumentalist lacks. But Franceschi sees it a bit differently.
“I have more restriction because there’s a lot of responsibility as a singer to keep themselves in shape and not get sick. It’s not all about the singer in the band by any means. But more likely than not, if someone goes to the show and the singer is sick – or doesn’t sing well live or in comparison to what it’s like on the CD – some will leave the show going, ‘The music’s great. But wow, Josh can’t sing live at all.”
“If the drummer’s got a cough, they’re not gonna go, ‘Yeah, that drummer sucked tonight.’ I really have a lot of pressure on me to make sure that I keep up the back bone. So I say, ‘Well, I won’t drink alcohol when we’re on tour.’ And I got really into my running in the last year and a half to build up my lung strength and lung capacity.”
The bandmembers share Franceschi’s settled outlook. And it extends beyond their respective duties as players – to their music. It was no surprise then that YMAS explored a more mature sound on Sinners Never Sleep.
“We definitely were at a point where we had discussions about where we wanted to take this band next and how we wanted to go. There were a lot of options and we could’ve really gone anywhere. You know, ‘Let’s not try and write singles’ and ‘Let’s not try and write regular hits’ and that bulls**t. Because most bands try and do that, it doesn’t work.”
“So we thought, ‘Let’s do what we always do,’ which is we’ll write as many good songs as we can, regardless of the genre, regardless of the sound, put them all on an album, that is a reflection of where our band is right now.”
“So some songs are a lot heavier, a lot rockier, more guitar driven. Some songs are a bit more poppy, a bit more catchy. Some songs are a bit slower and kind of a more mundane approach, like ‘Crash.’ They’re not in a too distant world from the stuff like Coldplay or The Script – stuff like that.”
“Everything’s an organic work. So if we sound mature on a record in comparison to our first few records, it’s because of where we are as a band. It wasn’t a conscious decision to do it but we let it happen the right way, the natural way.”
“Because I really do feel that a lot of bands allow the label to tell them what kind of band they should be and how they should sound. And that has a detrimental effect on that band’s progression and career.”
Franceschi must know of what he speaks. Because YMAS career continues to skyrocket. After being nominated for “Best British Band” three times and failing to win at the Kerrang! Awards, the fourth time was a charm for the group.
“We got sort of used to failure at the awards. We just accepted that we’ve been nominated like I think four years in a row now, there’s an award every year. The year before, we won best single. This time we were home for the awards.”
“There are a few people that know on the night before if you’ve won. Like your manager will know or have an idea or the press will have an inkling, because they’ve got to organize the interviews afterwards if you win and stuff.”
“Literally moments before our award was up and presented, he (our manager) came out and we sat down. And we said, ‘Well, another year, another nomination. It’s a privilege to even be in this building with all these bands that we respect and like.’”
“We weren’t even listening what the lady on stage was saying. I heard her say ‘You Me At Six’ and we just all freaked out! What was cool was that everyone around us knew we’d won the award but wanted the whole building to see a genuine reaction.”
“We were jumping around in a circle, celebrating like we just scored the winning touchdown in football. It was a big for us and we were all moved to be recognized by our peers. We had just finished recording Sinners Never Sleep and we were wondering what was in store for our band next. It was almost like a good omen.”
And it’s definitely a great omen for Arizona fans of outstanding music. See you at the Nile….