You Me At Six Aren't Hiding Behind Production

The U.K.’s very own rock band, You Me At Six, have been in the U.S. writing, recording, and touring for their recent and fourth album, Cavalier Youth, for months on end. Headlining and playing arenas all across the U.K., the British rock band toured the U.S. this past fall to smaller crowds to promote themselves and their music. I sat down with lead guitarist, Chris Miller right before the show in Cincinnati on October 30th at Bogart's and spoke with him about this tour, the new album, and much more!

You guys have been on this tour for some time now.  How is this tour different from your previous tours?
It’s been quite a long time, but we’ve all really really enjoyed it. It hasn’t really been too different to previous American tours we’ve done. Obviously the venues are a bit smaller because we’re headlining the shows instead of being like a support band.  It’s just great to see everyone coming out to the shows and we’ve been getting really involved with the radio side of things and going to stations everyday and playing acoustic sets, so it’s been different in that way.  It’s been a lot more promo and things like that.

What do you think is the difference between performing here and performing in the U.K.?
In the UK, we do arenas basically as headline shows.  It’s basically a difference of doing a 10,000 cap show coming over here to like playing to like 300 people. It’s very different. It’s really good and it really keeps you grounded because it makes you remember why you’re in a band in the first place, like trying to win people over and like just like playing sweaty clubs. Yeah it’s a lot of fun and we really enjoy coming over here and play the smaller shows again because it’s just a breath of fresh air really. It’s nice, it’s fun!

How do you do that transition, mentally, from playing in front of 12,000 people at like Wembley Arena or something to playing in front of 300 or 500 people here?
For me anyway, I often find it more intimidating playing in front of 200 people than I do the bigger shows because the bigger shows, there’s so much more to think about. Obviously you have a bigger production, you may have pyro-techniques and video screens and crazy shit where over here it’s just like if you suck, you suck.  So the thing is, you can hide behind production and stuff if you’re not having the best show or if people aren’t really into it, it’s kind of harder and intimidating to win people over and get it going in your favor again, but yeah we really enjoy it and a lot of people do say it’s more daunting to playing to less people and it actually really is.

That’s actually really funny because I actually know a lot of people who would be more afraid to sing in front of one person than they are in front of hundreds. 
Oh yeah, definitely.  I’d be petrified.

How exactly has your music changed since you guys have first started?
I think we’ve sort of matured over the years like in a really nice way.  It’s never been like one minute you’re in a metal band and the next you’re in an acoustic band.  I think that as we got older through the years the music’s got basically a little slower, but it’s still matured in sound and things like that. 

For your latest album, Cavalier Youth, how did the whole process for the album come about?
We basically went to this place; it’s a little place in the woods in the U.K. called The Doghouse.  There’s a band called Jethro Tull from a long time ago. Their drummer owns this huge house and he basically turned his garage into this practice place where you just demo songs and it’s got living accommodation and stuff.  It’s pretty sketchy, but it’s a good place to go to do that so we basically went there 3 or 4 weeks in, so we’d go there for a week then go home, a few weeks later go for a week and sort of did that for a few times.  Being there, because you’re in the middle of nowhere, you can play whenever you want, you can write, and you can do whatever you want.  So some nights where we’d stay up all night and play music and other nights we’d be like “Oh we’ll write during the day today” and then we’ll go out in the evening and we’ll go party or whatever.  It was just a really nice way to do it being  all stuck in this little house with nothing around you to do and you’re sort of forced to play music the whole time. Yeah we wrote all the songs there and took it to L.A. and met up with Neal Avron and basically went into the studio with him, run through the songs until we got them until where we wanted them to be and started recording.

How long were you in L.A. for?
We were in L.A. for about 2 and half months and then the whole writing process over about 6 months but just in little patches here and there. 

What does the title of the album mean to you guys?
The meaning we see behind it is sort of just being carefree and I really think it was just where our heads were at that point in time when we were recording and writing. We really just did feel like we could just take on the world, like everything was just going well for us then so we really felt like we could do what we wanted and we were happy and in a good place.  We just wanted  it to be a positive message that anyone could take different things from, but ultimate it’s just be yourself, just go for it, and  just be positive. 

Who exactly where your influences for the album?
We all listen to most stars in music. There’s nothing we really cancel out because as a musician, you should have a diverse taste. Even if you don’t immediately like something you should give it a chance because you never know where you can take influence from. I mean the rockiest songs on this album, say “Room to Breathe”, you can look at Linkin Park and Foo Fighters, stuff like that to “Be Who You Are” that’s sort of John Mayer influence. 

Do you believe that this is your best album to date? Why or why not?
I think we all believe that it’s our best piece of work we’ve done. I think the reason behind that is as a sort of full record, I think it all works together really really well.  I think some troubles we’ve had in the past is we’ve tried to fit too many different genres into one album where there’d be a ballad, where you can compare it to like Snow Patrol.  Then you’d have song like “Bite My Tongue” where it’s heavy as fuck and “Time is Money” and it’s like pop tune. It’s all over the place really. I think people like that about our band. We wanted to basically do that, but kind of rein it in a little bit so it still felt like one complete album where it’s the same band from start to finish, not being like “Oh I like that song, but I didn’t like that song” sort of thing.

What exactly did you guys do differently on this album then you have on previous albums?
The way we recorded it was a lot different, just having a producer that we really loved and we just got on like a house on fire.  Neal (Avron) definitely worked us really really hard, but at the same time we were still friends at the end of it whereas we’ve done albums before with people where after a week you end up hating them. It really pisses you off and a lot of people do that.  A lot of producers do do that so you get aggravated. So you’re like, ‘I’m going to prove you wrong and do the best I can’ whereas I think Neal’s way of doing stuff was a lot better and that definitely worked a lot better for us.

Yeah I meant to ask you, how was it like to actually work with him?
Yeah he’s really, really cool.  He’s a very sort of modest person.  He’s sort of recorded and mixed all these huge albums yet you walk around his house and there’s no discs on the wall or anything.  We were just like, “Neal where’s all the discs? Where’s all the good stuff?” and he’s just like, “Oh I don’t keep it in the house” and we’re like, “Yeah you do!” and he’s like “Alright.” So I open the door to the basement and as you go down the stairs, he’s got all these discs in to the basement and a drum kit and stuff.

So what exactly would be your long-term goal for the band in the next 5 or 10 years?
I think we’ve always had the same goal since we first started really.  When stuff started happening for us, we actually felt like we were in a band.  I think our goal has always been longevity so we want to basically just do this for as long as we can and just be the best that we can be really.  We always have little side ambitions about we’d like to like play certain festivals or play certain venues and get to certain points growing up in our career, which we’ve matched so far. I think for us, we’d love to be a stadium rock band like the Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, The Used, any of those bands. That’s our goal and we’re just going to do it for as long as we can and we’re going to do whatever it takes to get there.