Josh Franceschi You Me At Six
Josh Franceschi of You Me At Six | Credit: Mike Lewis/Redferns

Josh Franceschi on ‘Truth Decay’: “This Album is a Homecoming For You Me At Six”

You Me At Six are back and they’re kickin’ it old school. In good news for YMAS purists, after years of experimenting with new genres and songwriting techniques, the UK band’s eighth studio album, Truth Decay, draws inspiration from their emo origins.

The Surry quintet’s new record is full of hard rock guitar riffs, heavy drums and anthemic choruses. But lyrically, Truth Decay delves deeper than the band’s previous efforts, touching on heartbreak, men’s mental health and toxic relationships. It also features collaborations with Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds and UK up-and-comer Cody Frost.

Music Feeds spoke to lead vocalist Josh Franceschi about why Truth Decay was You Me At Six’s easiest album to write, the prevailing emo renaissance, and opening up and being vulnerable in his lyrics.

You Me At Six – ‘God Bless the 90s Kids’

Music Feeds: You’ve said that before you started working on Truth Decay, you all sat down and spoke about who you thought You Me At Six were and who you’d like to be. So, where did you settle on that?

Josh: I think post-SUCKAPUNCH, we had the realisation that, although we had a very colourful album that flirted with lots of genres, it’s difficult to nail down an artist and what their position is or how they’re trying to make you feel if they’re trying to make you feel like R&B, dance, rock, punk, all in the same sort of thing. It becomes quite confusing. So our mission statement in this was to really nail down our tone of voice.

When we went back and listened to all of our previous records, we spoke about the ones that we enjoyed making the most as a group. On SUCKAPUNCH, me and Max [Helyer, guitar] went away, wrote it and then brought it in. Then we were together in Thailand and a few songs came out during that process.

So, what was really great about Truth Decay is that it was all five of us on writing trips together. We’d get Airbnbs down in Cornwall and listen to old school You Me At Six, listen to music that we used to listen to at house parties or growing up.

There’s not a better time than now to do old school You Me At Six, but freshen it up. We’re more experienced, we know how we can make the songs sonically current without it just sounding like emo karaoke.

MF: I mean, that sounds like a good Friday night.

Josh: Yeah, a great Friday night, but I’m not sure if it’d be a great record. Ultimately, we were trying to be our older selves, but now. It was about, “How can we really add to it? And how can we do something that feels familiar, but it’s still challenging our fanbase and challenging the listener?”

To be real with you, I just saw loads of other bands being like, “Oh, yeah, we’re doing emo,” or rappers being like, “We’re pop punk”. We were known as the band from England that did that. And I was like, “Well, it’s about time that we came back and showed everybody how it’s done over in the UK.”

So that was kind of a sleeping giant moment, which I think was fun because it’s good to have that, I don’t want to say competition, but it’s good to feel like you’ve got something that you can say, and that you can probably say it louder than other people.

MF: Do you feel vindicated by the emo resurgence? Or a bit frustrated that people are jumping on the bandwagon?

Josh: I think what I’ve missed over the last five to eight years is there has been no scene, really. And I think that was always the thing that I thought emo offered the most – a sense of community within the alternative rock space. I think there’s definitely some bandwagon jumping going on, but it’s culture. I think if this resurgence or renaissance is bringing people back into it and feeling like they have a place, I think that’s really a really positive thing.

Even Blink reforming with their original lineup, that’s a massive thing for a whole generation of kids. I’ve seen Blink with Matt Skiba. That ain’t Blink-182. Period. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up. I’m not saying he’s not a great guitar player or singer or songwriter, but that is not the Blink-182 that I fell in love with. Or having My Chemical Romance come back, having Paramore come back from a hiatus or whatever – it’s a way of making people feel a little less directionless and have a bit more purpose.

How many fans of alternative music walked away from it to just be like, “Fuck it, I’ll listen to Kendrick Lamar then because nobody’s even bothering making the music I really like that much anymore”? And if they are, they’re doing a really bad job of it.

You Me At Six – ‘Who Needs Revenge When I’ve Got Ellen Rae’

MF: In the writing sessions for Truth Decay, you would come out with four or five song ideas a day. Is that normal?

Josh: Honestly, this was one of the easiest albums to write. On SUCKAPUNCH, whether or not we got it right, it was a constant pursuit of understanding how to execute that sound. How do you make a rock band have cross-genre sounds within their music and it still sound authentic? How can we bring in the fact that I love hip hop, Dan loves dance music, Chris likes blues, Matt likes ska and try to shoe horn it all in? So that took time and that was sometimes just like banging your head against a wall.

Whereas this time, I would be having my morning coffee and write, ‘Who Needs Revenge [When I’ve Got Ellen Rae]’ and be like, “Yep, this is one of the songs. I’ll be back in hour with something else.” It was as much about making a great new album in this current day and age as it was about also reclaiming our position and our voice within a very crowded space which is the music industry.

MF: Did you feel a sense of relief going back to that familiar place creatively?

Josh: It felt like we had years of blocked up creativity within that structure, so it just came out really quick. It was great, because on SUCKAPUNCH, we were trying a lot of different things. Me and Max would go off on writing sessions with producers or songwriters and bring in a song and be like, “This is a song we’re going to record,” or, “We’re going to make the album. Hope you like it.” It wasn’t with the intention of alienating other people in the band or taking away their sense of purpose, but inevitably, that’s what can happen.

So, I think it was really important on this album that everybody felt like this was their album. I’m not sure if we were all honest with ourselves that the last two have felt that way. And so I think that’s what makes You Me At Six, You Me At Six – all five of us not only literally writing and playing together, but all in the same headspace, and that’s when things can happen really quickly.

This was kind of a homecoming for You Me At Six and that’s been really great to see.

You Me At Six – ‘Mixed Emotions’

MF: I want to talk about ‘Mixed Emotions’, which is about men’s mental health and bucking that stigma. Why was that something you wanted to speak about on this track?

Josh: I mean, first and foremost, I didn’t know I was going to do that. I didn’t know that was going to happen when the lads showed me the song. Four or five months before it, I actually thought the song kind of sucked. Then we recorded a few others in Santorini and I woke up one day and thought, “I need to address the elephant in the room for this, and not just for this band.”

Over the pandemic, that was the only time in my life that I experienced emotional connection with men other than my dad. And by that I don’t mean like “Weeee, we’re having a pint. Cheers. Isn’t life great?” It was more like going for walks with some of my male friends in London and talking about the intense insecurities and shame of being a man.

Rightfully [feeling shame] for lots of different reasons, but sometimes I felt like the done thing was just to batter men and cancel men at every turn, sometimes before we even got to the crux of, “Well, have they done something wrong here? Or is it just fashionable right now to hate men?”

There was a time where it felt like that, and that’s cool, because there’s about 99% of men who deserve that. But there’s that little 1% where there’s actually some really good people there. I’m pretty proud to say that I surround myself with good men and people of principle and value, and when they make a mistake, they don’t try and gaslight somebody else for it.

So I wanted this song to be a conversation starter. Men are so absent from wanting to c with their male friends or figures in their life because it’s seen as a sign of weakness – and it shouldn’t be, which is the point of the song.

MF: I also want to ask about ‘Deep Cuts’, because that sets the lyrical tone of the record. What was that songwriting process like?

Josh: For that whole recording process, from January to June 2022, I was sober – and I haven’t been sober for a very long time. I don’t mean like AA sober, but I will consistently drink through gigs or through parties or pubs or whatever. But I wanted to be really clear of mind so that I could completely dedicate myself to the album with no distractions, no excuses, no regrets sort of thing.

Usually, I’ve used the band as an ongoing journal, and I wanted to try and bring in other things that are important in my equilibrium and my ecosystem. And the cornerstone of that is my friends. So there are two friends of mine in particular: one is with a partner and her partner is not a great person and treats her awfully; the other one is my friend who’s a single male in London in this pursuit of acceptance or validation by dating.

The song that was kind of like, “Yo, just so you know, I wish that you saw both yourselves in the same light that all your friends and family see you, which is fucking special and worthy of love and worthy of the right kind of love.”

I remember thinking as I was writing this stuff, I don’t think I’ve ever really written a song about somebody else, without me being involved. I felt almost a duty to the people that I care about.

MF: When can we expect You Me At Six back in Australia?

Josh: We’ll definitely be there in 2023. We’re just working it out at the moment because there’s a few things on the table, whether we do it as a festival or as a headliner or supporting someone else. We’ve got three or four options on the table and we’re trying to figure out which one.

SUCKAPUNCH we couldn’t tour because of obvious reasons, but there hasn’t been an album tour where we haven’t come to Australia. So there’s no doubt that we’ll be down under ASAP.

You Me At Six – ‘Deep Cuts’

You Me At Six’s new album Truth Decay is out now

Further Reading

Blink-182: 10 Essential Tracks

Yours Truly Graduate From Pop-Punk & Become Who They Want To Be

Yours Truly Share ‘Hallucinate’ feat. Josh From You Me At Six & Announce New EP

Must Read