I: How has tour been so far?
Matt Barnes: Really good. We haven’t been on tour for quite a while now, so it’s kinda weird to be back on the road. It’s even weirder doing the old songs, as well because we normally sort of play the same rough setlist every single time we go on tour. Where now we’re playing the whole of the first record one night and then the next night we do like a headliner show but it’s fun, it’s different.
Max Helyer: It’s definitely nostalgia. It’s definitely like a lot of people that are coming to these shows that we haven’t seen for a few years that may have dropped out of You me at six’s radar because their taste has changed. But when it’s been the “Take Off Your Colours” shows, it’s a very wide range of people coming, which is really nice to see, but humbled by the fact that people still want to see that record after 10 years.
I: Speaking of your first album, it’s been almost exactly 10 years since its release. How has the band evolved both as people and musically since that?
Max: Massively because we were just teenagers, kind of idolising our peers at that point and then 10 years later we’ve been playing music for a long time now with each other, so our skill as writers has improved, the way we are with each has, we know how to talk to each other now. So, it’s like any amount of time you spend with somebody, the more you spend with them, the better it gets. I think it’s been a great experience, really. [To Matt] How do you feel about it?
Matt: Mm…Yes. [laughing] It’s crazy. It’s been about 10 years.
Max: Yeah, we didn’t sit here when we first started, going: “Oh, in 10 years time we’re still gonna be a band, still doing this”. For us, it was: “Oh, this is really fucking cool. Let’s go as long as we can”. We’ve always wanted to have longevity but the fact that it’s been 10 years and we’re still doing this album, now what’s the next milestone for us, and hopefully that will be like another 10 years, as well.
I: So, you guys are playing your first album in its entirety. How do you think it’s different playing it now 10 years later?
Max: Yeah, we can actually play the fucking songs now. I feel like that’s the most important thing because even when I think about it when I’m playing the guitar parts, I still go: “Wow, this is quite hard” 10 years on. And I remember 10 years ago I used to go really mad live on stage, so god knows how I was playing then.
Matt [interrupting]: Terribly, I remember it.
Max: Honestly is the best policy. [laughing]
Matt: It is what it is. When you’re 16-17 playing an instrument and when you’re almost 30 playing an instrument, you’re gonna get better. Practice makes perfect.
Max: It’s really like a nostalgia but I think it will be like kinda closing the door for this record.
Matt: It’s a goodbye.
Max: I think when you listen to our music sat right now, it’s quite hard to integrate some of these songs into a set. But I think for us, we knew how much the fans wanted to hear this record live in full again and for us, we wouldn’t be here without them. We have had a career because of our fans and how dedicated they’ve been. So, that’s the reason why we’ve put it on. It’s 11 shows out of the tour that have been “Take Off Your Colours” shows, so the “Take Off Your Colours” show will be tomorrow night here at the Barrowlands, tonight it’s just a normal “VI” show.
I: We can talk a lot about your first album but obviously your new album’s released. What was your biggest inspiration since it’s a bit of a shift from what you usually do?
Matt: I think the inspiration for “VI” was doing what we wanted to do. We’ve had records before like “Cavalier Youth” where we have just done a heavy song, a poppy song, a slower song, a more alternative song and then on “Night People” everything was quite rocky, everything a bit similar and this time around we just went back to what we wanted to do. Didn’t listen to anyone at record labels and thigs like that, and I think we achieved what we wanted to do with the producer.
Max: He co-produced with us.
Matt: Yeah. He was amazing.
Max: We changed a lot of things with approaching this record, like working with some writers from writing songs on computers to the classic You Me At Six “let’s get in the room and jam out and get fucked up for a little bit”. So, we’ve had a mixture of all of these different kinds of making music but also deep down in the back of our minds we all knew that we wanted to make a record in the UK after being 3 albums of making in America. You know, we wanted something English to mix the record, so it had this sense of home in the record which I think it was really important to us. And co-producing the record, like we said, with Dan Austin was a key thing because when you’ve worked with the likes of Jacquire King, Neal Avron and Garth Richardson, we’ve watched great people work at the desk. And we’re now at this point where we know where we want to take our music and know the direction we want to go, but that direction is completely not justified by “Oh, I’m influenced by this”. I think influence and inspiration comes from anywhere at any point. If you’re at a good or bad place in your life or just any feeling you have, you got to really latch onto it. And there are definitely songs that kick started that feeling to get the record going. It was a very short space of time. The majority was done in 2 months, so from November of last year to January of this year the record was basically written. So that’s when you’re really raw with capturing feelings but I think it really surprised people but in a good way because after a band with six record you think where you’re gonna go. You think you’re gonna say the same things and we’ve tried not to do that.
Matt: Boring is staying the same.
Max: Yeah. For you guys as listeners and for us as musicians but also fans of music, you always have to challenge yourself because if you’re not challenging yourself you’re not getting the best out of you. But you’re also kind of cheating everybody else that you’re reproducing the same thing you’ve done over and over again. And I think you’ve seen with artists over the time that people that do push it are the ones who have had long careers and longevities that do stand the test of time. Queen, The Who, The Stones, The Beatles. If you look at modern days – bands like Muse, Biffy Clyro. People are always evolving now and it’s about the way music is consumed. You can see it as a big shift and it’s been a lot more towards the urban side of music and we listen to that style, as well. We listen to urban, we listen to dance, we listen to hip hop, country music. We have all these influences that I think for us it’s just going: “Well, here’s a platform, you can listen to our music. This is everything we like into our sound.”
I: Speaking of influences, you did a collaboration with Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon, but is there anyone you haven’t collaborated with that you’d like to?
Max: Loads of people. We’ve been talking about Mike Shinoda which would be really cool. But then stuff like outside of the box, as well, because I like hip hop. So, somebody like Logic – you can tell he likes his rap music but he also likes his rock music. And there’s a lot of very cool upcoming artists that I’m finding right now that I think it will be very cool to collab with them. Like when people say Oli, I think it’s very safe for us to stay and go and do that. And we have done that, not saying we won’t do it again, but I think it’s a very safe and obvious move if a band like us goes and collabs with another band that sounds like we’re in the same kind of world. I think that’s where it doesn’t work. You need to go like Mike Shinoda, if you look, yes he was in Linkin Park but if you look at his minor project it was so different
Matt: It’s fun to mix it up. Like the Jay-Z and Linkin park stuff – it was so good. It was so different. Even in recent times when Maroon 5 and Cardi B did that “Girls like you” tune. It’s sick. It’s a sick tune. You wouldn’t expect Maroon 5 and Cardi B together. We want to do something weird.
I: You announced this week that you’re going to be playing with The 1975 at Summer Sessions. Are you guys looking forward to that?
Max: Yeah. It’s gonna be a really good show. Like for us, we’ve been talking about coming back to Scotland and doing some sort of festival for a while now.
Matt: We were talking about playing with The 1975 boys, as well. We’ve never made that work.
Max: And that’s now happening. It’s a great lineup, as well. Our friends Twin Atlantic are playing, as well and then you’ve got Pale Waves, you’ve got No Rome.
Matt: It’s gonna be so sick.
Max: And for us it’s nice to be coming back to play a festival here because for us, Scotland is one of the best places in the world. And we’ve always said that because of the energy the crowd gives, so when it’s that kind of size and you’re playing outdoors and looking at people having a great time, I think that’s the most important thing for us as artists.
I: What your favourite part of coming to Glasgow?
Max: Going to the Cathouse. Or the Casino. I always end up in Cathouse and the Casino. I don’t know why.
Matt: No, the best thing about Glasgow is “Here we, here we, here we fucking go”.
Max: Or the deep fried Mars bar. It’s f*****g worth it.
Interview By Adam Fraser and