“If you drop people in these high-pressure environments too early on, you kill them before they’ve had a chance to flourish”: You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi on his concerns for the next wave of rock hopefuls

You Me At Six live at Reading in 2023
(Image credit: Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

Back in January, British rock quintet You Me At Six announced that they were calling time as a band and planning to go out with a bang, bringing down the curtain on their two-decade career with a series of yet-to-be-announced live shows in 2025. “When we started YMAS we were kids,” frontman Josh Franceschi said in a statement. “We only ever wanted longevity, to travel and to experience life as a group of friends. We feel like on the eve of our 20th anniversary as a band, now is a good time to call time.” The music industry that the band are leaving is much changed from the one that they entered and, speaking to this writer ahead of their 2023 record Truth Decay – an album that now looks like being their last – Franceschi said the band had learned a lot of things over the years that they are keen to pass on to the next wave of rock hopefuls.

“I think something that’s become worse [since You Me At Six started] is the demand of content, the expectation of content, to sell and tap into algorithms of social networking platforms and that sort of stuff,” the singer said. “I’ve been lucky. I’ve made eight records so I’ve had a really widespread experience with this stuff and been so lucky to have it in different areas at different moments but I worry about some of the younger artists that that are being asked to worry about so much so early on, versus, ‘Hey, what’s your story? Can you play your instrument? You can’t? Okay, can you surround yourself with other like-minded people that can play instruments? Great. Go and play in front of people.’”

Franceschi said he’d spoken to artists who were under huge pressure because of their online presence to the point that it was impeding on their ability to play shows. “I’ve found that if you if you drop these people in these high-pressure environments too early on, you kill them before they’ve even had a chance to flourish,” he said. “That’s something that I’ve found uncomfortable, there’s so many outside pressures on artists now. I’m not saying ‘Boohoo, it’s so difficult for artists’, but I can talk as an artist, which is if I’m feeling it at 32 years of age, if we’ve got to ‘create a viral moment!’ - what is that?! I find very concerning, it’s disingenuous. I wish that artists were protected a bit more… I worry about young artists and the toll that has short term and long term on how they feel about themselves. It’s meant to be about just fucking loving it.”

Turning his thoughts to the wider rock landscape, Franceschi gave a little hint that perhaps he could see the end of the road for his band with the scene moving into an area he didn’t want to be part of. “I don’t feel that there’s enough really happening,” he said. “I’m looking out there, I’m looking around me, trying to see where the fucking next ones are, where are their songs at because again I feel like we’re moving into this moment more and more about algorithm-based stuff and the pressures of the content and building this and that - people are forgetting about the crux of it all is a fucking great song. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some incredible artists but I’m also sitting here going, ‘Where is it?’”.

You Me At Six will embark on one final blow out in 2025, whilst they will also head out on their final North American tour, a co-headline jaunt with Enter Shikari, at the end of 2024.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.