“Music shouldn’t be about asking, 'Does this fit us?' It should be about having no boundaries and experimenting creatively so you’re able to find out what you can do and achieve as a musician,” says Max Helyer of prolific British rock band You Me At Six on their latest record SUCKAPUNCH. This latest sees the quintet channel the darker experiences of their personal lives into creativity, positivity and empowerment.
The band, consisting of Josh Franceschi, Max Helyer, Chris Miller, Matt Barnes, Dan Flint, decided not to question their sonic direction for this album, as they told me via phone.
Undoubtedly the most personal and experimental record of the band’s 15-year career, the album reflects not only turning points in the band’s own lives but seeks to provide solace to anyone going through a tough time. Helyer who experienced the breakdown of his engagement during the writing process tells me that theme of the record was “rebellion and redemption.”
“Instead of becoming bitter and resentful about the pain or trauma you’ve experienced, take a moment to remember how lucky you are and that you're in control of your own future. I think whatever you’re going through in life, find something that you love or care about and focus on that. Pick yourself back up again and move forward because it's not helping to sit there and wallow in it,” he explains about the message of the album.
The band chose to move forward by changing up their sound, and this commitment to taking sonic risks took them to Thailand where they found creative escapism and revived their strong bond.
With every body of work they put out, You Me At Six aims to challenge themselves as a band and as individuals. What made SUCKAPUNCH different is that for the first time in their career, their mentality was “ let’s make a record that make us happy, let’s make something we want." Approaching the record with this mindset and also treating it like it could be their last record allowed the quintet to make it the best it could be.
They’ve achieved what they set out to with the album, but Heyler reiterates that their goal is getting better with each song they make and pushing themselves as far as they can go over the course of their career.
Reflecting on their past, present and future as a band, Helyer tells me,” The fact we’re a band after 15 years itself is surreal. That five people making music have influenced so many people and we still continue to do it after so many years blows my mind," he continues, "This album has proven to us that we can do things that our outside of our comfort zone so for the future I want us to continue being imaginative and creative, to listen and absorb information and stories around us so we can keep impacting people with our music.”
Impacting and connecting with listeners is the heart of You Me At Six’s musical endeavor and being unable to do it at the moment is hard as Helyer reveals to me. But as SUCKAPUNCH reminds us there is inspiration to be found in hard times – you just have to actively seek it out. For the band, this inspiration is the knowledge their album will continue to touch lives and help people until their able to see them in person again.