Playing on the main stage tonight at the Isle of Wight Festival will crown You Me At Six’s best year so far. Bassist Matt Barnes spoke to CHRIS BROOM about their unstoppable rise and what lies ahead for the rockers.
Their first three albums were certified gold, their fourth and most recent, Cavalier Youth, went straight in to the charts at number one, and earlier this year You Me At Six played their biggest headline tour to date, including a show at The O2 Arena in London.
And later tonight the anthemic rock band will be playing at the Isle of Wight Festival, fulfilling a long-eld ambition for the five-piece.
The Guide caught up with bassist Matt Barnes a few days before the festival gig.
‘It’s always been on our wishlist of festivals to play,’ he explains.
‘Everyone’s always seen us more as a Reading and Leeds or even a Download kind of band, but we’ve always been trying to push towards stuff like the Isle of Wight, and we’re playing right before The Black Keys are on, so it’s going to be amazing.
‘We’ve been trying to push towards more of a straight rock band thing. Since our first album we’ve been trying to make it more rock and roll.
‘It’s exciting. And we’re staying for the whole weekend too – we’ll get there on Friday, and then we’re staying to the end. You’ve got to stay for Fleetwood Mac.’
The hard-rocking band first formed 10 years ago when they were all still teenagers – have they had the chance to pause and take stock of what they’ve done?
‘We had most of January off and we were practising for the UK arena tour,’ says Matt. ‘So we had time to sit back and reflect on what we’d achieved since Cavalier Youth came out, which was quite nice, and we had the discussion about when we wanted to start working on new music and what we wanted it to sound like, all that sort of thing.
‘Once we’ve done the Isle of Wight we’re going to go into the studio, lock the door, put the phones on silent and it’ll be like: “Here we go.”
Their last two albums were recorded in America, where the band have made significant inroads with several appearances on the annual Warped travelling festival tour and their own headline tours.
They’ve previously spoken about mixed experiences of recording Stateside.
‘We need to write some songs first, and then we’ll decide where we’re going to record. We’ve done the last two in the States, so we quite like the idea of recording it somewhere in the UK, but not near where we live as we get sidetracked too easily.
Everyone’s always seen us more as a Reading and Leeds or even a Download kind of band, but we’ve always been trying to push towards stuff like the Isle of Wight, and we’re playing right before The Black Keys are on, so it’s going to be amazingMatt Barnes, bassist for You Me At Six
‘And we feel like we’ve done the American thing. We want to keep it fresh and do something different.’
The arena tour back in February, which they co-headlined with All Time Low, represented a high point for the band.
‘We did the O2 last year with 30 Seconds To Mars when we supported them, so we got a taste of it. When we were talking about where we should play on our next tour, it was like: “Well, the O2 was fun...”
‘It’s something to tick off of the bucketlist, playing the O2 Arena.
‘I remember back in 2000 I went there with my school when I was 12. Looking around again now, and thinking about it, it was a life-changing day for us – to end the last proper tour on this album cycle with that was incredible.’
Considering how much the band, who grew up in Weybridge, Surrey, have achieved, they say they’re trying not to let the pressure of creating a successful follow-up get to them.
‘We’ve been a band 10 years this year, which is pretty crazy.
‘When we started Josh (Franceschi, singer) was 16, I was almost 18, we were all not even legally supposed to be drinking and we were touring the UK. We were asking for beers, and when we got them it was like (whispered cheer) “Yes!”
‘Before this, we’ve always been fairly chilled because it’s been a steady upward slope. On the first album we headlined the Astoria in London which is 2,000, then it’s been 4,000, and so on, it’s never been a massive leap.
‘I think that’s what freaks bands out – the first three albums do okay, then they get huge on the fourth, and then they find that they need to follow it up. We always feel stressed like you should do, if you’re not feeling that at least a bit, then you’re not going to push yourself.
‘After just playing the O2 we did feel it the most – it was so massive. What if this is the pinnacle and it’s a downward slope from here, back down the way we came up?’
Matt credits the fact that they all had part-time jobs for the first couple of years of the band for keeping them grounded.
‘We had to keep asking them for time off when we went on tour but when it got too much and they said: “no”, it was like, okay then, I guess I’ll just have to be poor for the next year and hope the band kicks off.
‘I think that helped keep us grounded. Especially with how young we were, growing up in the band, no-one’s had the chance to get an ego or anything stupid like that.’
Back in January, the band played their smallest UK show in some time at the 300-capacity Boileroom in Guildford as part of Independent Venue Week – an event they felt it was important to support.
‘That was a great week. Everyone’s trying to shut down all these tiny little venues that we grew up on. Nine or 10 years ago, we would tour the circuit, and be playing up and down the country in these venues of 2-300 and that’s how we got to be the band we are today.
‘I don’t understand how people could do what we’ve done the same way now.
‘It’s pretty crazy that so many of these places are closing. It’s fun to come back to somewhere like the Boileroom though.
‘Hopefully what we did will help make a difference.’
...The Wedgewood Rooms
We played there five or six times.
We supported New Found Glory about eight years ago and basically got booed off stage. We’ve got a lot of love for The Wedge though.
...his tip for the weekend
There’s a band on Saturday
called Twin Wild who I’m really looking forward to seeing - they’ve got these big guitar riffs and they’re kind of halfway between The Script and Muse.
...places they still want to play
India has got a good music scene, but not many Western bands go there. There’s this DVD that Iron Maiden did, it’s amazing – when they go to play a stadium in India it’s absolutely mental.
Where & when...
You Me At Six join The Prodigy, Blur, Fleetwood Mac and many more at the Isle of Wight Festival this weekend. Weekend camping tickets are still available at £195. Go to isleofwightfestival.com