January is usually a quiet time for album releases, but You Me At Six have decided to kick 2017 off by releasing a new record.
“We wanted to release it as soon as we could, and we couldn’t quite get it out before Christmas,” drummer Dan Flint told Young Post. At least it meant Night People wouldn’t get associated with the dreadful events of 2016, the 27-year-old laughed while chilling at home with his cat.
After four albums, the British pop-punk quintet sought a fresh sound and approach to making music. They rose to fame in 2008 when they were just teenagers, and made their name alongside bands like Paramore and All The Low. But the rockers decided it was time to grow up - with a little help from the industry’s best.
Last February, they headed to Nashville, in the US, to work with Grammy-winning producer Jacquire King at the legendary Blackbird studio, which has seen artists like Taylor Swift, John Mayer and Kings of Leon pass through its famed recording rooms. A younger band might have been daunted, but You Me At Six knew they were ready.
“It’s taken us 10 years to be good enough as musicians to be capable of walking into a place like that and really producing something special,” says Flint. Instead of recording each instrument separately, King encouraged them to all play live in the room. For Flint, this approach was a revelation, and captured the group’s powerful live presence.
“Music isn’t meant to be robotic and regimented, it’s better when it has movement, flow and life to it. And that’s just what King was able to capture.”
Instead of staying in the US until the album was done, the band gave themselves a break and returned to Britain to write more and polish the songs they’d tracked. It was a great way to do it, explains Flint, because it gave them space to breathe and think about what they wanted the end product to sound like, before they went back to Nashville to finish the job.
“That’s when the real work started,” says Flint. Although the whole record changed “drastically” between takes, Give is one of the songs that benefitted the most from the break between the two studio stints. “We knew it would be a special song,” Flint continues. “In the first session, we were getting somewhere with it, but it wasn’t quite making us feel how we wanted it to. We felt there was really something in it, but it took a while to really figure out what that was and mould the different parts.”
Working with King at Blackbird inspired this meticulous approach, he explains. “It made us to want to be better musicians and songwriters and produce our best album. We threw our heart, soul, everything into it, which is why it took 18 months to write music and make a record we were happy with.”
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“It was an awesome experience – the most fun I’ve had making an album.”
After wrapping in Nashville, the band toured Britain and Europe to give fans a first glimpse of Night People. They released the title track and earned lots of airplay for Swear. “It’s a really high energy rock song ... We wanted people to realise we had written a rock record,” Flint says. But the band held back what Flint considers the album’s best tracks – Brand New, Heavy Soul, Take On The World – for release day.
“It’s definitely an album [that] you listen to start to finish,” states Flint. “It takes you on a journey and it all starts to make sense when you listen to it in order. We wanted to do something a bit different – turn some heads with a new sound. We are all really proud of it.”
Though the year ahead will be chock-full of shows and promo work, Flint fancies getting to grips with a new language to balance out the touring.
“My girlfriend speaks fluent Spanish, so I might make this the year I learn it. If I could have a conversation with her in Spanish that’d be fun,” he says. It would certainly prove useful with a South American tour in the pipeline for autumn.
And, according to Flint, a Hong Kong debut could be on the cards. “We love coming out to Asia – everyone’s so nice and the shows are amazing,” he says. “We always say we use this band as a way of travelling and seeing the world. It’s not just about being rock stars on stage, it’s about the life experiences too. I’m looking forward to heading out and seeing new places. A Hong Kong show would blow my mind.”
Night People is out now.