Editors’ Notes For some bands that get that far, a seventh album can turn out to be a landmark moment—the point in an artist’s career where they take stock of what’s gone before and map out a thrilling new path ahead. History is certainly dotted with era-defining examples from some of rock’s greatest acts. AC/DC’s Back in Black, U2’s Achtung Baby, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., and Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde are just a few lucky-number-seven records. That sense of reset and restart hangs over You Me At Six’s SUCKAPUNCH.“Maybe there’s something in the universe with the number seven that makes you want to shake it up a little bit,” vocalist and frontman Josh Franceschi tells Apple Music. “We really went into it with a no-fear mentality.”

The follow-up to 2018’s VI, SUCKAPUNCH sees the British quintet inject their trademark rock anthems with an array of influences, eager to make their own music sound like the stuff they actually listen to. Across its 11 songs, the album takes in trap, rave drops, hip-hop beats, and electronic soundscapes as part of an ambitious sonic voyage. “When you’re making a body of work, you don’t want to put the same thing out again,” says guitarist Max Helyer. “As a creative you sit there and go, ‘How do I challenge myself again?’ And that’s taking inspiration from absolutely anything and everything.” Here, the pair take us on a tour of the group’s brave new world, track by track.

Nice to Me
Josh Franceschi: “This is Max’s brainchild. He basically had the song written musically, and from the moment that I heard that riff I was like, ‘Yeah, that needs to be the opening track of the record.’ Max had a very clear vision for the song, and when somebody in the band has just a very, very distinct direction they want something to go into, you just have to trust that.”
Max Helyer: “It’s probably one of the best songs I’ve done, in terms of presenting to the band. I had a vision and wanted everyone to be part of making it as well. I was trying to emulate something like Radiohead, that kind of glitchy drum sound, but also kind of marrying it with a Guy Ritchie movie and how that would be interpreted. I just had that vision of it being like, ‘It’s got to be like building a chase into something, and then when the chorus hits, it’s just got to slap.’”

MH: “I’d been sitting on this riff for a while. It was in an angry phase of my life and I was reminiscing on some of the acts that I’ve seen and grown up with, from Marilyn Manson to The Prodigy. I think it was around the time Keith Flint passed away and I was inspired by that. I remember watching The Prodigy when we played with them at Isle of Wight festival and it was so insane. I was like, ‘We need something with energy and a raw breakbeat kind of thing.’ I took the idea to Dan [Flint, drummer], we spent a couple of hours on it and showed the rest of the guys. It came together so quickly.”
JF: “I think I was just caught up in lots of things that were happening in society that made me angry and a little bit devoid of hope in the system that we’re intertwined with—whether it be politically, but also slightly culturally and socially. I wanted to write a song that felt would be like an anthem for the misfits.”

Beautiful Way
JF: “With the ‘We’re fucked up in a beautiful way’ line, I wanted that feeling where people would turn round to each other at our live shows and scream the lyric in each other’s face because it felt like it was their mantra. I think that’s a really powerful thing when people accept who they are and what they are. This song is a celebration of that.”
MH: “The minute Josh came up with the tagline, it was such a statement, but the music wasn’t matching the lyric. It just felt ploddy. We needed to pick up the tempo. I was going back to when I was younger, watching all my friends go to [London club] Fabric and come back being drum ’n’ bass heads. I was like, ‘We need to channel that old-school sound, The Prodigy, Pendulum. Bring in that absolute beat where you can bop to and it can be a driving tune.’ The minute we started doing that, there was a groove, there was swag. It had movement but it also had pace and energy that kind of felt anxious, and you felt on edge.”

JF: “It’s an acronym for ‘What you doing right now?’ I was trying to get down with the kids, man. It doesn’t feel like a You Me At Six song that you’ve heard before. It was trying to emulate the stuff that we really enjoy listening to—J. Cole, Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar. I remember turning to [producer] Dan Austin and saying, ‘Don’t you dare flood this song with guitars.’”
MH: “I knew that was Josh’s angle on this song. Knowing the music that he liked, I approached this song as more, ‘I’m just going to track stuff that’s going to be sample-based, make it not sound like a guitar.’ It was a breath of fresh air to approach a song on this record that wasn’t the same way we normally approach a song.”

JF: “We called the album after this track because it felt like it was the song that really embodied the ethos we had of no fear. And also, it feels like it’s a hybrid of so many of the things that we were trying to bring into the record across the board. It was the perfect mishmash of it feeling familiar but also foreign at the same time. There is a big You Me At Six rock chorus, but then everything else is very, very, like, ‘Oh, I haven’t heard them do that yet.’”
MH: “The words that Josh was putting together for this song felt like the experience of making this record. It managed to articulate the whole entire process of this record, of making this record, but also in our individual lives and what we were going through. And that’s why it resonated with us so much.”

Kill the Mood
JF: “Max does this thing about two years before we eventually go and make a record where he’ll play a riff over and over and over again in sound check, every day in every country around the world, subliminally trying to tell us, ‘This is going to be a song, so you better fucking start liking it.’”
MH: “We were in LA on tour and I was saying to Josh, ‘There’s some great studios here, I’d love to go and be productive instead of going shopping or walking about or just waiting to play a gig.’ We hit up our publishing company and they got us in a room with a couple of guys. We walked in and Josh was like, ‘Do you remember that idea that you always used to play in sound check? Let’s do that.’ And then this song just kind of fell out the sky. I think we were in the studio for four hours.”
JF: “Even less. It literally felt like we walked in, Max played the idea on the guitar, and then we were like, ‘Okay, we want this to feel like classic rock meets West Coast hip-hop, like Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre. Whatever our interpretation of that is and what that means to us.’”

JF: “We always like to try and have a slow song on the album. And this one sort of presented itself in a way that was quite melancholic but without it being overly sad. I think if you put on a record and every song feels like the track before, you start tuning out. Something that we really spoke about was how can we have a bunch of islands, and approach the songs as their own thing, and then colonize them and make them feel like this overriding You Me At Six product. ‘Glasgow’ slotted in and took the role of the slow song.”
MH: “It’s a payoff when you get to that part of the song where it lifts off. You feel a massive release of endorphins. That’s what this song was about to me, the journey. And I think Josh’s lyrics articulate that really well.”

JF: “This is a song that Matt [Barnes, bassist] and Chris [Miller, guitarist] had written. We recorded the album in Thailand, and this was the first one we did. It was really exciting, because you’re getting a sense of what it’s going to feel like to record in this space. For me, this is the song on the record that pays a lot of homage to our past work—it feels like a quintessential You Me At Six song, but with a nice flex on it.”

MH: “I jammed out an idea and a riff and presented it to the guys. I was really inspired by hearing the last Tyler, The Creator record, IGOR. I didn’t want it to become a rock song; I want it to have some feel, to embody some of that hip-hop sound and some of that groove.”
JF: “The thing that we spoke about quite a lot was how none of us wanted to have things come across too ‘rock,’ we didn’t want it to be like middle-of-the-road rock music. It had to be rock that was tasteful, and that we could move into this new era of rock music, which is something that excites us to be part of.”

Finish What I Started
JF: “This song is fucking weird because we wrote it on tour in Germany when we were touring our record Night People. It was originally recorded in 2018 when we were putting together VI. I think there was a reluctance on my side to really push this song to get used because I said some pretty dark, deep shit that maybe I don’t want people to hear me say about myself. But we kept on coming back to it, and I think our manager was like, ‘Look, if you don’t use this song on this record, I don’t think it’s ever going to come out.’”
MH: “This song feels like you are coming to the end of the record. That’s why it fits so well, because it’s a very exposing song lyrically, but I think there’s a lot of people who will connect with that.”

What’s It Like
JF: “I like the sentiment of leaving the album on a question mark. It hasn’t got a full stop. At the end of the whole thing, it’s like, ‘Well, what’s it like being perfect all the time?’ It signs off this love letter to our former selves in that sense. It’s also a song that does provoke conversation. And it has energy. I think [that’s] important as well, to finish on a high.”
MH: “It was also the song for me that really did kick-start this writing period for the record. It was the starting chapter, but it’s at the end because the lyrical content sums up the whole entire record. So it’s like Memento—you’re finishing the record with something that actually started the record.”


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