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ATP Interview: You Me At Six

You Me At Six has spent a lot of time in the US this year. They recorded their long-awaited new album Cavalier Youth in Los Angeles in the spring, have two nationwide tours already in the books and don't plan to slow down anytime soon.

2013 has seen the rise of fellow UK acts such as Ed Sheeran, The 1975, Ellie Goulding in America and now You Me At Six want a piece of the action.

ATP! spoke to drummer Dan Flint and guitarist Max Helyer about breaking America, Cavalier Youth and much more.

ATP: Did you recent headlining tour feel like going back to basics?

Dan Flint (drums): Definitely.

Max Helyer (guitar): It's a nice reality check. It makes you want to work harder too.

Dan: We're actually surprised how many people have been coming out as well.

ATP: With the current success of British artists like Ed Sheeran, The 1975 and Cher Lloyd in the US, this has to be the best time for you guys trying to break America.

Dan: It's definitely a great time. The Americans seem to be into the whole British scene at the moment. It's going to be the first time we've had a label release an actual album for us. We've never even really been pushed over here. We're already doing decent numbers everywhere and our fan base is growing. We're just excited to see what's going to see when we have a proper release on a proper label and have a team behind us backing us. Everyone else is doing so well like Ed Sheeran and now we want a piece of the pie.

Max: I think it's our time now with our new album Cavalier Youth. I think it's the first time our band actually sounds fucking good. Neal Avron (producer) has done something to our band that makes us realize that this should have been happening before.

Dan: It's definitely more of the right place and the right time for us. Everything is falling into place nicely and a few albums before, it wouldn't have been right for us to blow up in America where this one feels like it could do really well for us.

ATP: Your new single "Lived A Lie" is available in the UK, Europe and Australia but not the US.

Dan: We haven't actually decided which label that we are going to sign to in the US so we're going to figure it out soon. This tour has been great to come over and all the different labels and see who we could work best with and once we decide that, literally in the next couple of weeks, we'll have "Lived A Lie" out or we might actually do something different in the US - we might go down more of a rock route to start with and do "Lived A Lie" later on to introduce us.

What we're worried about is that with "Lived A Lie" being one of our more poppier songs, we may not want to be represented in the pop light straight away. We still have a few decisions to be made. It's going to be a well thought out strategy that we need to put in place first.

ATP: In the UK/Europe, You Me At Six is definitely breaking more into the rock world, such as your fall tour with 30 Seconds To Mars. Is this what you want to achieve in the US?

Dan: Obviously going out with All Time Low and Pierce The Veil was a great way of introducing ourselves to a big market but I think we don't want to pigeonhole ourselves into a scene. We want it to be like it is in the UK where You Me At Six are a rock band where if you're just pigeonholed, it holds you back a bit.

Max: When you listen to our new album, you'll see that it's a straight up rock record. It does have elements of poppy moments but if you musically listen to the backbone of what it really is, it's straight up rock music. Playing with bands like All Time Low and Pierce The Veil really helped us out and it's now just finding other bands that we could potentially play with. For me, some bands that I'd like to play with over here are Muse, Foo Fighters and maybe going down the route of playing with someone like Kings Of Leon or The Killers. It really depends on where we want to go but it's just introducing ourselves to as many people as possible.

ATP: Can you see yourselves going back to Warped Tour again?

Dan: We love Warped Tour and it's a great way to get your band exposed, especially when you're first starting out but I feel like if you start doing it every year or every other year, you get pigeonholed into that scene. It's not something that we don't necessarily want to do again but it's something that we're conscious about that we don't want to be just a Warped Tour band.

Max: It has to be the right bands playing and the right offer too. The last two times we did it, we played the same stage and as a band, we always set ourselves targets so the next time, if we did it, would have to be a main stage offer. That's just not me being dickish about it, I just don't want to take a step back.

Dan: I think maybe we would like to do some other touring first, like going out with a band like Foo Fighters or Muse, then maybe go back to Warped Tour.

Max: Even something like Bamboozle would be different for us because we've played Warped Tour a few times. I would love to do it because it's getting to be so diverse but it's still in this world.

ATP: What is the difference between Cavalier Youth and the YMA6 back catalog?

Max: It sounds fucking good for once. Drum-wise, I said to Dan for the first time that you can actually notice the drum sound. It's got its own unique character and gives the record a groove. Rhythm is a massive section on an album and I don't think we nailed that before. I think what you'll notice differently is drums, it's a massive step up. Song-wise, for me personally, I like taking risks and I don't think many people in this industry do and we're in a position where we can but you have to do it smartly and there's definitely a different side to You Me At Six on this record but it works.

Dan: For the first two albums, we were still really young. Like Max said, down to songwriting, we were nowhere near the ability of where we are right now. It's the first time we got to work with a big producer and got on with him really well. The first two albums we did were with our friend, which were perfect for that time then we didn't have a great time with Garth Richardson, we didn't really get on very well and wasn't a fun environment where this time, we had so much fun doing everything and had so much fun.

Max: It shows in the songs. In my opinion, we weren't rushed into writing this CD. We spent a lot of time working on this album.

ATP: Would you say "Lived A Lie" is a good representation of what is yet to come?

Dan: It's a good bridge from the old You Me At Six but it's not a song that sums up the whole body of work.

Max: I think that's why we chose it. It went top ten in the UK, A List on radio. For us now the next single we're thinking of releasing is an even better song. There's a lot of good rock out there in the UK right now and for us to be recognizing in that position after being away for nearly two years shows that we're still growing.

ATP: And with that progression in the UK, are not looking to go down a Hopeless Records or Fearless route. Are you hoping to go for a major label?

Dan: We've always been a bit weary of majors but as we have this really creative deal with BMG in the UK, it gives us the opportunity to license the tracks to anyone we want. We've been meeting with some cool independents who go through some majors. Of course, we want to take our stuff to radio and have a major label backing you slightly but I can't see us signing solely to a major because the trouble is that they throw something at the wall for five minutes and if it doesn't stick, they give up.

We want someone who cares about the band and cares about longevity. We're not a flash in the pan, top ten single, sell out shows then next year, nobody cares. We rather build it up slowly and have a real core fan base that cares about the band.

Another option is that we could potentially build our own label where we could employ radio and press people ourselves and have BMG operate that for us. It's such a creative and cool deal where we keep so many of our rights and control it. There are so many different exciting ways that we could do this and that's something we're taking out time with to nail it right but our management are awesome and really on top of it.

ATP: Do you have any plans to return the US at this stage?

Dan: We would love to support in the spring with a band like 30 Seconds To Mars in Europe, that would be an awesome next step in the US and set us up nicely with the record.

Max: All I know is that it's going to be a fucking busy 24 months.

Dan: Another idea we've spoken about is going out on a co-headliner, it has to be a nice package but something like that with the 1975 would be cool. I can imagine they have quite a different crowd to us where they could get a lot from our fans we could get a lot from theirs. It sort of bridges the gap between two markets.

Max: And it's music that we like listening to. When we were here last time, we were listening to them loads.

Dan: We listen to more bands like that.

ATP: Do you have any goals already that you would like to achieve in the US next year? Ed Sheeran sold out three nights at Madison Square Garden.

Max: I'm not going to say I'd like to do three Madison Square Garden shows obviously because that's impossible! For me, if we can start our way getting to selling out 2,000 capacity venues would be great. Just to have more awareness of our band over here and that's what we're aiming for.

Dan: Hearing one of our songs on the radio would be really fucking cool. A couple of years ago, our goal was playing to a couple hundred kids across America and our New York show sold out in two hours. Obviously it's not three nights at Madison Square Garden but for us, we were blown away.

- Jon Ableson

Cavalier Youth will be released in the United Kingdom on January 27th, 2014. A US street date is yet to be announced at this stage.