“I prom­ise we’ll have new mu­sic ahead of play­ing Down­load in June,” says Josh.“the song we’re com­ing back with is one of our best ever.we’ll be in the stu­dio ev­ery day for the next two months, and our pri­or­ity now is mak­ing sure the songs are per­fect. If the mu­sic is right, ev­ery­thing else will fall into place.” At present, there are just three live dates on the band’s docket for 2018: their Down­load ap­pear­ance, a July 1 show at the Com­mu­nity Fes­ti­val in Lon­don, and one Ger­man fes­ti­val book­ing. Rest as­sured, fur­ther dates are pend­ing.

“We have tours on hold in the UK and Europe this year,” Josh re­veals. “The al­bum will be out this year, and we’ll re­veal more on that in time. My only re­gret is that we didn’t feed our fan­base more new mu­sic be­tween Cavalier Youth and Night Peo­ple. There’ll be lots to get fans ex­cited, I prom­ise.”

Rewind fur­ther to Novem­ber 30, 2016 andyou Me At Six are in a Lon­don bar to con­duct a ‘come­back’ in­ter­view and photo ses­sion for Ker­rang! to pro­mote Night Peo­ple, then still two months shy of its re­lease. The band are in high spir­its, ea­ger for fans to hear their first al­bum in three years; a stylish, slick, big bud­get af­fair recorded in Nashville with Grammy-win­ning pro­ducer Jac­quire King (Kings Of Leon, James Bay), and their lead singer is un­der­stand­ably bullish about their prospects.

“I want this band to be as big as it can be,” Josh told this writer.“i want to head­linewem­b­ley Sta­dium, I want to head­line Emi­rates Sta­dium, I want to head­line Read­ing Fes­ti­ have to be­lieve that what you’ve done is good enough to ful­fil those as­pi­ra­tions.”

Back in East Lon­don in Fe­bru­ary 2018, sit­ting in a busy cof­fee shop, Josh will re-it­er­ate these am­bi­tions, sin­cerely and with­out em­bar­rass­ment. This is to be ex­pected: if the singer didn’t whole­heart­edly be­lieve his own words, there surely would be no point in him con­tin­u­ing to ded­i­cate his life to the band he, gui­tarists Max He­lyer and Chris Miller and bassist Matt Barnes formed in 2004 (with drum­mer Dan Flint join­ing in 2007).What’s be­yond dis­pute or de­bate, though, is that Night Peo­ple didn’t pro­pe­lyou Me At Six into the strata to which they still as­pire. Ex­actly why this was the case is open to con­jec­ture, and to­day Josh in­sists that,“night Peo­ple was a record we had to make”, that the al­bum “opened the door for us to try new things mov­ing for­ward”.this be­ing said, he’ll also con­cede that the past 12 months have seen the band part com­pany both with their record la­bel In­fec­tious/bmg and with their for­mer man­agers, and that to­day he has been is­sued, by his new man­agers, a list of top­ics re­lat­ing to their fu­ture that are not to be dis­cussed.what he can say, how­ever, is that 2017 was “an in­ter­est­ing year”, a pe­riod dur­ing which “a lot of learn­ing was done.”

In the sec­ond week of Jan­uary 2017, Dan Flint in­vited You Me At Six’s fam­i­lies and clos­est friends to a party at his house, on the Fri­day evening on which the Of­fi­cial Charts Com­pany were due to re­veal Night Peo­ple’s first week chart plac­ing. Dur­ing the pre­vi­ous week, Josh had come off a con­fer­ence call with You Me At Six’s for­mer man­age­ment and told Dan,“ei­ther this sit­u­a­tion stops or I’m out.” What ex­actly this sit­u­a­tion was, the singer is ex­pressly for­bid­den to say.“i can’t go into specifics be­cause I don’t fancy get­ting a call from our lawyer,” he confesses – but he will use words such as “ugly” and “bull­shit” when ten­ta­tively skirt­ing around the de­tails and its af­ter­math. Such busi­ness wran­gles had damp­ened the band’s spir­its ahead of their own cel­e­bra­tory gath­er­ing, and when it was an­nounced that Night Peo­ple had en­tered the UK al­bum charts at Num­ber Three, slip­ping from its mid-week po­si­tion as the coun­try’s best-sell­ing al­bum, the five young mu­si­cians found it hard to hide their dis­ap­point­ment. A year on, Josh will con­fess to be­ing “gut­ted”.

“All any­one spoke about at the la­bel and man­age­ment was,‘let’s get an­other Num­ber One record’,” he says.“cav­a­liery­outh topped the chart in 2014, so that was the min­i­mum ex­pec­ta­tion.that was in­sane pres­sure.and so that was a big dis­ap­point­ment. All our friends were like,‘lads, you’ve got an al­bum at Num­ber Three, take a step back, and think about how many bands can do that.’ But for us, it was a blow.”

As the Night Peo­ple cam­paign con­tin­ued, there would be fur­ther dis­ap­point­ments.the re­lease had been po­si­tioned as a more ‘grown-up’ record for the band, a col­lec­tion which would tran­scend the group’s pop-punk base, and sit­u­ate them along­side the likes of The Killers, Kings Of Leon, Foo Fight­ers and QOTSA, where they might an­tic­i­pate broad­sheet cov­er­age, prime TV slots on Later… With Jools Hol­land and The Gra­ham Nor­ton Show, and Ra­dio 2 air­play. Court­ing this new de­mo­graphic how­ever, would be more dif­fi­cult than per­haps their record la­bel and man­age­ment en­vis­aged, with the in­dus­try ‘gate-keep­ers’ seem­ingly im­per­vi­ous to their charms.

“There were loads of things that were meant to hap­pen, to take us to X,Y and Z, and those sim­ply didn’t hap­pen,” Josh con­cedes. For an ex­am­ple of the cov­er­age the band ac­tu­ally at­tracted, one might con­sider the sneer­ingly elit­ist, wholly be­grudg­ing Guardian review of their sold-out show at Lon­don’s 10,000-ca­pac­ity Alexan­dra Palace in April.“to You Me At Six’s du­bi­ous credit, they have made an im­pres­sively ef­fi­cient fist of be­ing an ut­terly generic, en­tirely un­re­mark­able arena rock band,” wrote a 50-some­thing mu­sic writer.“like many bands of their ilk, they crave depth and pro­fun­dity while be­ing defini­tively empty and de­void of sig­nif­i­cance. They must be fak­ing it: how could any­body’s in­te­rior mono­logue truly be this trite and ba­nal?”

“That review made me think,‘i don’t give a fuck about any of this [media] shit any­more,’” Josh ad­mits. “It read like it was writ­ten by some­one who was pissed off that they were stuck at a You Me At Six gig on Easter Satur­day. I re­alised pretty quickly into the al­bum cy­cle that we were not go­ing to have that part of the media sali­vat­ing over us – those 50-year-old white dudes who pre­tend to re­late to grime now that they’ve caught up with Stor­mzy and Skepta five years too late. I haven’t read a sin­gle review or in­ter­view with us since, to be hon­est. It doesn’t do you much good as a per­son to see peo­ple tear­ing you down.”

Be­neath this un­der­stand­able hurt, though, it’s pos­si­ble to glimpse a more com­plex truth. For when Josh, by his own ad­mis­sion a highly sen­si­tive, self-crit­i­cal artist, talks about Night Peo­ple now, there’s ob­vi­ously a part of him that feels the al­bum missed the tar­get, ar­tis­ti­cally as well as com­mer­cially. More dif­fi­cult than point­ing the fin­gers at the fail­ings of oth­ers, is the painful self-re­al­i­sa­tion, that maybe he him­self didn’t step up as he might have.with bru­tal hon­esty, this af­ter­noon the singer will con­fess that there’s “maybe only four songs on Night Peo­ple that I’m happy with.” Dig deeper, and there’s a gnaw­ing sense that the singer let the sug­ges­tions of oth­ers dis­lo­cate him some­what from the essen­tial core of his art, that in try­ing to as­sume the sound and swag­ger and per­son­al­ity of an arena rock front­man he lost some­thing of him­self.

“Every­one is in your ear telling you what they think,” he ad­mits,“and I maybe took more no­tice of that than I should have. It wasn’t like we were mak­ing a record and think­ing,‘is this fan­base-ap­pro­pri­ate?’ be­cause five of the big­gest You Me At Six fans in the world play in­you Meat we al­ways make records that we want to hear. But maybe it was the first record that was more… pre-med­i­tated. Peo­ple have a good radar for what’s au­then­tic and gen­uine.what’s al­ways been im­por­tant to me is that our au­di­ence be­lieve in what I’m say­ing.and maybe they didn’t get that from Night Peo­ple. At the time it felt right, but lis­ten­ing back, there are parts on that record that aren’t 100 per cent me.that won’t hap­pen again.”

If 2017 taughtyou Meat Six any­thing, it was to trust their own in­stincts.and to that end, the band are cur­rently shut­ting out the white noise in Dan Flint’s home stu­dio, mak­ing what they fer­vently be­lieve to be the most hon­est, heart­felt and mean­ing­ful mu­sic of their ca­reer.“we’ve played demos to fam­ily and friends and they agree that it’s some of the best mu­sic we’ve ever done,” says Josh. “As a group of friends, we just get closer and stronger. I have no re­grets about the de­ci­sions we’ve have to roll the dice.”

In a mo­ment of can­dour, Josh will ad­mit that there have been times when the events of the past 12 months have threat­ened to drag him un­der; brought on by frus­trat­ing hours talk­ing to lawyers about mat­ters he’d re­ally rather not get into, where the singer has fan­ta­sised about sell­ing his house, hop­ping on a plane and leav­ing the mu­sic in­dus­try be­hind. But in those fleet­ing mo­ments, he’s sought so­lace and com­fort in art, in his four clos­est friends, and in the prom­ise of dreams yet un­ful­filled. He re­calls a con­ver­sa­tion with Dan, the pair ex­hausted from busi­ness wran­gles, where he asked,‘mate, is this worth it?’ The drum­mer as­sured him that ev­ery­thing will work out, that there is still ev­ery­thing to play for.

“He said,‘look, one day you’ll quit mu­sic, be­cause noth­ing lasts for­ever. But wouldn’t you pre­fer to go out hav­ing made the best fucking record you can, feel­ing good about it all again?’ I was like,‘(sigh) I hate it when you’re right!’ It would haunt me for the rest of my life.

“We’ve had an up­wards tra­jec­tory for the last decade and this is our first speed bump.when that hap­pens you don’t torch the car and walk away.there are five de­ter­mined, am­bi­tious guys in this band, and this jour­ney is only go­ing to get more ex­cit­ing…”


Heart­burn al­ways hit Josh at the worst times

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