Interview with Matt Barnes of You Me At Six

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Interview by Rob Moody / Photo by Carla Mundy

We met up with You Me At Six bassist Matt Barnes just prior to their recent gig at the Birmingham Ballroom…

MR: Thanks for meeting with us – we saw your show in Nottingham a couple of weeks ago, how has the tour been since then?

Matt: It’s been really good. We’ve been able to expand our show in some of the bigger venues – Rock City wasn’t big enough to make use of all of our lighting and effects. We have brought in two new people just to work on the lighting, so these are definitely the biggest shows we’ve ever played.

Which part of being in a band do you enjoy the most – the writing, playing or performing?

Performing is definitely the most important part for us. The writing just comes to us, you can’t force it, we’ve tried to sit down and write songs before and it just hasn’t happened. It can be fun when everything comes together in a practice, but even that’s not as fun as getting out and performing the songs to everyone else – playing is the best thing we do.

One thing that stands out across your 3 albums is that you have shown how comfortable you are playing a wide variety of songs, from slower acoustic songs through to upbeat numbers and heavier rock songs – what are your favourites play and perform live?

I prefer the heavy stuff personally, because you can get into it a lot more. When we’re playing the slow songs sometimes you’re just standing there, everyone’s looking at you, it can be a bit awkward, whereas with the heavy stuff you can just go absolutely mental!

How has the preparation changed now you’re playing to larger crowds?

I think we have to psych ourselves up a lot more now. With smaller shows, it’s not that you don’t worry about them, but there’s less stress in playing them, compared to playing somewhere like Brixton in front of 5,000 people where you think “if this show is terrible, 5,000 people are going to know about it”.

You’ve brought Mayday Parade on tour with you after supporting them in the US last year, how did this come about? How do you feel it has helped the reputations of both bands?

We first met a few years ago on tour in the States, through a tour run by Alternative Press magazine, we opened that tour and Mayday Parade headlined it. We got on really well, so then we played some more shows with them, as well as some shows in Australia with them, we’re just mates really – so after everything they’d done for us in the States, we wanted to bring them over here. I definitely think it’s helped our reputation as on our last US Tour we were playing to 500 people most nights and not many American bands get to achieve that.

What venues and shows that you’ve played are particularly memorable?

Glasgow on this tour stands out as it is the biggest headline show we’ve ever played – 6,000 people, all standing. When we told the crowd to jump, everyone jumps and you can see all the faces, it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. We also played a venue in Australia once, a small venue which doesn’t usually have rock gigs, and we played the upstairs room, and we were told we’d have to stop the show, because people were jumping around, and downstairs there was stuff falling from the ceiling. We were told “you’ve got to stop jumping, or stop playing entirely”, and at first we thought “whatever, just carry on”, but very quickly they were saying “no, seriously” and at that point we had to calm down!

The singles from the current album are now making the major UK Charts – how much does this mean to you as a band?

I think initially it meant quite a lot to us, the idea of being there at all is just amazing. But since then we’ve not paid too much attention to it, what’s most important to us is that people are hearing the songs, we’re not getting caught up in exactly what position it’s at, who we’re ahead of, and so on. It’s amazing to be there at all, but it doesn’t affect us too much.

We’ve seen a lot of bands reforming this year, who are you most excited about? 

It’s good to see The Stone Roses back together, also I’m hoping we can see Black Sabbath at Download, that would be great.

And if you could tour with anyone, past or present, who would it be?

For me, in a dream world, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin. They’re both massive influences of mine, and I’m a huge Reggae fan, I think Bob Marley is the King.

Do the rest of the band share the same influences?

Yeah, quite similar. Dan and Josh would definitely say Led Zeppelin and Max would probably say Marley as well. Chris would probably say someone like Tool, he’s into a lot of Prog Rock.

Finally, what are your plans and hopes for the band in the next year?

We’ve got some time off after this tour, but then we’re looking to play more shows, get back out to the States, maybe Australia, and of course the European festivals as well. Our plan is always just to keep making it better – we’ve been lucky to keep going on an upward slope over the past few years, so we just keep working to make things bigger and better.

Well we look forward to seeing you again soon, thanks for your time.