On the 8 December 2012, Surrey five-piece You Me At Six headlined Wembley Arena – the final date in their Sinners Never Sleep album cycle.
It was the crowning achievement of their seven years as a band, but as the crowds parted the question remained: what next? Even the largest contemporary bands don’t dare to dream far beyond Wembley and the top 10. Crucially, though, You Me At Six don’t think in terms of don’ts.
And it’s a good thing, too: young UK rock groups don’t headline the Astoria as an unsigned band. They don’t crash into the top 30 with an indie-released debut album. And they don’t have three gold records before they’re 25... But that’s not stopped You Me At Six from doing all of the above.
So how do you top that? Well, returning with a number-one record in Cavalier Youth is a good start. We met up with the guitarists at YMAS’s London label HQ the day after their chart victory and found the place in full party mode. Fortunately, Max and Chris opted to share the afternoon (and a few beers) with TG to recount their six-string success story...
How did you celebrate your first number one album?
Max: “Well, I was quite a wet boy! I had a beer with my parents and they cracked open a bottle of champagne. Then I had a roast dinner and we all went out to the pub.”
Chris: “I may have had some midday pub action – a few pints of Peroni and some chips – and then I’m off on holiday, so I was packing my suitcase!”
What were your aspirations when the band formed eight years ago?
Chris: “We didn’t have any!”
Max: “No, it was just fun. All of our friends would go down to the same venues every week. Guildford Backline was basically a hub for us when we were growing up because you could put on your own gigs there. You’d get between 200 and 500 people in this really small venue, all just having a good time.”
Chris: “Half the people there were in bands as well – so we’d be taking turns to play each week. We had no expectations, but people started coming from further afield to see us, and it went from there.”
Who were your guitar influences back then?
Max: “For me, I grew up on a lot of Nirvana and Blink-182. It was more or less Kurt Cobain and Tom DeLonge that I was looking up to. I loved how simple, but hard-hitting Kurt Cobain could be. And then Tom DeLonge was the pop-punk king of guitar.”
Chris: “Mine was very blues-based, really. My dad was a guitarist, so he would always be sat with an acoustic playing John Lee Hooker. Then my cousin, who is probably one of my biggest guitar influences, was always big on blues. Then, from there, I sort of branched off into Tom Morello territory, and Mike Einziger of Incubus.”