Watch Max with his Vox guitar here:
It’s fair to say that this last year has been a pretty big one for pop punk band You Me At Six. The Surrey based group have toured Europe, sold out their headline UK tour, released a hit second album and were nominated for not one, but three Kerrang! awards; including Best British Band, Best Album (Hold Me Down) and scooping the coveted Best Single award for Liquid Conference.
Vox: When did you start playing guitar and why?
MH: I wanted to play from the age of 8 and nagged my parents for years. Four years later, at 12, they finally let me have a guitar. They could see I was really dedicated to it - I’d play every day for four hours, so they let me carry on. Then I started getting into music a lot more, playing in bands and stuff. So I’ve been playing for about 8 years now.
How did the band get started?
MH: Me and Josh used to play in a band together back in the day, the band broke up and then we started a new band. Josh knew Matt so us three started it off…. Matt lives two doors away from Chris, we met Dan at college…so it just evolved. We’ve all been friends for years now.
VOX: Your second album ‘Hold Me Down’ is out now. How does it differ sound wise from your debut or is there a constant You Me At Six sound/formula?
MH: With our first album, ‘Take Off Your Colours’, we wanted to be like bands that were around at that point. We wanted to get ourselves a name and be like Blink 182 or Paramour. We wanted to hit that market. With ‘Hold Me Down’, we were like, let’s just write this CD for ourselves, enjoy it and create our own sound, but still have the essence of catchy melodies and the big riffs. It was just a more mature approach.
VOX: That’s pretty fast work, with the second album coming out within a year of the first. Was the basis of that material already there or was it a case of writing it all from scratch?
MH: It was from scratch really. We had a couple of ideas already there, a few riffs and verses…some of which got put into the songs, but it was more like lets write a CD. So we all went off after we had finished our first headline tour and did just that. We took about 4 or 5 months of writing and we were like, this is cool, lets go and record it. We went into the studio to record it for seven weeks, then had another week long session just before we went on the Warped tour. If we hadn’t done that extra week we wouldn’t have songs like “Hard To Swallow” or “Stay With Me” on the album, as they were the last songs we recorded.
VOX: Are you all involved in the writing process?
MH: Yes everyone’s involved. The main writers are Josh and I. Either I’ll come in with a full song or we have ideas and piece them together, jam them out. But everyone has their say. We talk it out and come to a compromise for what will work best.
VOX: So it’s been a pretty eventful year, including touring with Fall Out Boy and Paramore. How was that and what’s your favourite memory from the experience?
MH: We did 3 shows with Fall Out Boy including Wembley in 2008 and then we toured with Paramore too last Christmas. That was amazing. They took us out to Europe as well. Europe’s a hard market to crack and it gave us a great boost over there. It was amazing. They are really nice guys…
VOX: Which guitarists, from recent years, inspire you?
MH: Growing up it was all about Tom DeLonge. Even though he’s not the best guitar player in the world, he played with Blink - 182, my favourite band. Also Michael Einziger of Incubus and Teppei Teranishi of Thrice, he has a wicked style. I also met Jim Atkins of Jimmy Eat World at the start of this year when we played Soundwaves. I was playing throwball with the guys from Paramore and Jeremy said, ‘This is Jim’. He had sunglasses on and I said “Alright Jim, how’s it going?”. As I was shaking hands he took his sunglasses off and I realised who it was. I was like ‘oh my God. Is this happening’.
I would say Jimmy Eat World are one the bands we are mostly influenced by.
VOX : Jim uses a Vox Custom classic AC30, as do you. Was that your first Vox.
MH: Other than the DA5, yes it is. I’d wanted a Vox AC30 for years. A lot of the stuff we are writing now for the third album is going to make an impact for the Vox sound. I wanted to invest for the next CD as there will be a lot more sounds on it that will be suited to the AC30. I love the amps. I was talking to Steph (of Gallows) about it. He said changing over to Vox was the best thing he had ever done. That’s the way I’ll go for the next album.
VOX: As well as amps you’re also using a 55 series Vox guitar. What drew you to that?
MH: It’s a really nice guitar. It’s just slick, really slim and smooth. One piece of wood. The pick ups are amazing and so quiet! It’s got a really great tone to it as well. The amount of sounds you can get out of this guitar is unbelievable and it sounds great through my Vox AC30. From the current songs it works really well on ‘Fireworks’.
VOX: So your playing Hammersmith Apollo tonight, then you have a few more dates on the UK tour. What does 2011 have in store for You Me At Six?
MH: Well - It’s been one hell of a year. Early next year we will be writing the new CD. Then in February we are off to America to record it. We have a few producers in mind at the moment, which we are really excited about. We want to go for that natural rock sound. Then we will be doing all the summer festivals, then we do the Blink - 182 tour in the summer. We’re just grateful to be on tour with a band we have grown up listening to.
For more information on You Me At Six head to www.youmeatsix.co.uk