Matt Barnes, bass player with You Me At Six chats with Kevin Cooper about their tenth appearance in Nottingham, their gig at the MEN Arena Manchester, the release of their new album Night People, and their forthcoming tour of the UK
You Me At Six are an English rock band who have been together since 2004. The band’s line-up consists of vocalist Josh Franceschi, guitarists Max Helyer and Chris Miller, bassist Matt Barnes, and drummer Matt Flint.
Their debut album, Take Off Your Colours, was released in 2008 and shortly after they were nominated for the ‘Best British Band‘ at the 2008 and 2009 Kerrang! Their second album, Hold Me Down, debuted at number five in the UK album charts, whilst their third album, Sinners Never Sleep, released in 2011 finally saw them winning that prestigious ‘Best British Band’ award the same year, whilst the album peaked at number three and was certified Gold. Their fourth album, Cavalier Youth, was even more successful as it reached number one on its release in 2014.
Matt Barnes is a founding member of the group and when he is not writing, recording or touring he has his own clothing line called Cheer Up!
Whilst busy rehearsing for their forthcoming tour, he took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Hi Matt how are you?
Hi Kevin, it’s nice to meet you. How are you doing?
Well to be perfectly honest with you I’m currently having a very bad hair day so let’s see if we can pick things up and make them better (laughter).
(Laughter) I quite regularly have one of those mornings myself so I can fully appreciate where you are coming from.
Anyway enough of my problems (laughter). Let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
No worries whatsoever.
And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?
Life at the minute is really good thanks. We are all currently in rehearsals getting ourselves ready for the tour. Basically over the last few months we have finished recording the album and we have now set ourselves a date for the release, and we really can’t wait to get it out there. These are exciting times for us at the moment.
Are you looking forward to the tour?
I absolutely can’t wait. Being out on tour is where we all really see ourselves as being at home. Whenever we have any down time and we are sat at home, we are always looking for an excuse to get back out on tour (laughter). For me it is all about live music, watching live music, playing live music, and feeling live music; just the whole vibe is what I live for really.
You will once again be playing here in Nottingham at Rock City on the 13th October which I think will be your tenth appearance there. You guys spend more time there than I do (laughter). Just what can we expect?
(Laughter) well to be honest with you I think that you are probably correct in saying that this will be our tenth time playing at Rock City so we know the venue very well and we love it a lot. We started next door at the Rescue Rooms supporting bands and then we finally headlined there. Then we moved over to the Main Hall in Rock City supporting bands and again, we now find ourselves coming back and headlining. It is going to be really good. We will be playing a few songs that we haven’t played for a long time which should be interesting and hopefully the fans will enjoy hearing them again. We will also play a few of the new songs that no one has even heard yet. So we will be giving everyone a sneak preview of some of the new songs on the album. All in all it should be really good fun (laughter).
You have briefly mentioned the new album Night People, what can you tell me about it?
Well, we have been writing for the album for almost three years now. We managed to get hold of producer Jacquire King who has worked with the likes of Kings Of Leon, James Bay and Tom Waits to name but a few. As you can see from those few names he is a broad spectrum producer who doesn’t only do rock or pop but he likes to produce a little of everything. He was great to work with and we recorded with him over in Nashville for two months which was the best time ever.
You were working in the Black Bird studio weren’t you?
Yes we were, and let me tell you it is quite a prestigious place. We certainly did feel the magic working in there with Jacquire. Everything simply came together and I think that all of the tracks that we recorded there came out really well.
Would you agree that it is your best piece of work to date?
Yes I would, I certainly would agree with that. We are all super happy with it. However, only time will tell if the public agree with you and I (laughter). But at least we think that, so all is good, for now at least (laughter).
Where did the title come from?
We had been toying with a couple of titles and we had a song called Night People which we had written about ourselves going out for the night and living for the night and we all thought that it was a really cool title. I thought about it and finally had the courage to suggest that we could call the album Night People, but the rest of the guys were not too sure and said that whilst it was fairly good they thought that we should hold out just in case anything better came along (laughter). We got down to the final day and I was still saying that Night People should be the title of the album because we are literally night people; we certainly are not early birds (laughter). And it was nice when the rest of the guys agreed with me and so that’s how we finally came up with that title.
You have chosen Friday 13th January 2017 as the release date for Night People. Am I to take it then that none of you are superstitious?
(Laughter) the funny thing about that, is that when we were looking at release dates for the album we all agreed from the outset that it had the be the first Friday 13th of the year (laughter). We are hoping that everyone else is a little superstitious and leave that date well alone. We took that date to try to prove that we are all anti-superstitious (laughter).
I was checking out your website earlier and just for one moment I thought that I was back in the 1970s (laughter).
Really, why was that?
I see that you are putting the album out on cassette tape. Whose idea was that?
(Laughter) yes we are. I personally love cassette tapes and our guitarist Chris (Miller) has just bought himself an old BMW and it has got a cassette player in it (laughter). So as you can imagine we have been listening to loads of old cassettes and stuff and we thought just how great it would it be if we could release the album on cassette and see what happens. We thought that it would be great for us to be able to listen to the album in the car and see if anyone else wanted it on cassette. So we spoke to the record label about it and they thought that it was a really cool idea (laughter). Some of the songs on the new album sound a little old school rock and roll, maybe even a little like Black Sabbath, so we were just trying to take it back a little bit and thought that having it on cassette would be a cool thing to do.
What would you say has been your best gig so far?
On the last tour we headlined at the MEN Arena in Manchester and a load of our friends came down to the show. We met up with them before the show and had a few drinks and everyone was being really positive and there was a really good vibe around the place. We went on stage and I personally feel that as a band it was the best that we had ever played. Everyone else came off the stage saying “yes the gig was okay” but I came off the stage absolutely buzzing (laughter). I thought that it was the best gig that we had ever played. I can remember getting rather intoxicated later that evening which was okay but we were playing the O2 in London the following day (laughter).
I was so hung over and the rest of the guys were giving me so much grief. I can remember them saying to me “well done, we have got to play the O2 later today and you can barely get yourself out of bed” (laughter). Despite all of that I honestly feel that the MEN Arena gig is our best gig so far.
Do you have any festivals lined up as yet for next year?
No, nothing concrete as yet. We are currently waiting for offers and to be fair we should know something quite soon. What I can say is that we are hoping to be playing at a couple next summer
You have been together now for eleven years. Looking back are you in a place that you would have liked to have seen yourself in at this moment in time?
To be honest with you I am currently in a place where I could never see myself being. I don’t think that any of us actually saw the band taking off. We started it as a bunch of mates simply to give us something to do at the weekends. We would all practice in the evenings after our part-time jobs and it literally did start off as a hobby. It grew into something where people would come along and watch us play live. So I would say that eleven years ago I honestly had no idea where my life was going. I was like most sixteen year olds; I was sat around thinking that I had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life and then luckily my hobby, the thing that I love doing, picked up. It’s most definitely been a ride (laughter).
Who has musically inspired you?
Personally I would have to say Mark Hoppus from Blink 182. When I was sixteen years old Blink 182 were a band who I really looked up to. I love Mark Hoppus and his ethos towards the music business.
What was the first record that you bought?
The very first record that I bought was The Offspring album by Americana, which I still think is a great record even today.
Who did you first see playing live in concert?
That was a band called One Minute Silence who were a heavy tech-metal band. I saw them in London and they were absolutely bloody fantastic. I stood in the middle of the mosh pit and it was my first time ever in the mosh pit (laughter). And it is still to this day one of the most insane mosh pits that I have ever been in in my entire life (laughter).
On that note Matt let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me. It’s been great.