YOU Me At Six have experienced euphoric highs as one of the most successful British bands of the last decade.
But frontman Josh Franceschi, 30, reveals the extreme contrast of performing to thousands of adoring fans and the mundanity of life off the stage has left him crying on the floor.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, he says: “Imagine having the high of playing the sunset slot on the stage at Reading on the Friday and Saturday at Leeds, at 21 years-of-age, and being home at your parents’ house watching Match of the Day in your pants on the Sunday.
“The extreme highs and the extreme lows; no one prepares you for that. From the age of 17 I’ve been trying to handle those highs and not get carried away, and the lows and not lose myself. It’s a balancing act. The band has acted as a vehicle to navigate me through the good and the bad times.”
The singer is keen to dispel any remaining stigma around mental health, and talks openly about seeing a therapist.
He also insists that he’s not looking for “a pity party” and is only too aware of the privilege of being in a chart-topping band.
Recalling the first time he spoke to a friend about the sessions around three years ago, Josh says the conversation took a “strange” turn as his pal struggled to make sense of his feelings.
“They were like ‘you came across as so put together and strong. How can you go on stage and command thousands of people and you look so assured, and when you take that away in your house you’re lying on the floor crying? What’s going on.’
“Everyone should talk. If you don’t want to show vulnerability to someone close to you, talking to a therapist is a must, in my opinion. It doesn’t matter how strong you are.”
The band, whose angsty seventh album Suckapunch was released on Friday, is carrying out a series of virtual workshops today in a bid to beat Blue Monday – officially the most depressing day of the year.
Backed by charities Calm and Young Minds, the YOUMonday initiative will see the lads bake sourdough bread, cook vegan dishes, circuit train, and skate on their social media pages to spread positivity.
“We were always going to do something like this,” says Josh. “We’ve been working and talking with people like Calm for a while.
“Now to have this conversation openly, transparently, full of support and warmth is a really important thing, especially with what we’re going through. Now is not the time to close the door on those conversions. We’re going to let people in a little, let people know what we do. Just stuff we use to unwind and we use as a vehicle of escapism through the doom and gloom of January.”
Critically-acclaimed Suckapunch was recorded in Thailand over six weeks at the tail end of 2019, and Josh says it felt like “musical rehab”.
The record has continued to prop Josh up and motivate him through the low moments in past lockdowns, inspiring him to get out of bed and tackle life head on.
Coronavirus has decimated the music industry with touring, the lifeblood of many acts, grinding to a halt.
And Josh criticised the government’s “shameful” attitude towards the industry that brought £5.8billion to the economy in 2019.
“This really has been the forgotten industry,” he says.
“People that keep the wheels in motion, all of our crew, for example, can’t furlough themselves and don’t have financial aid. I don’t think it’s been handled very well.
“Without live music, we don’t really make money. It’s been really challenging for us and our peers. We’re fortunate enough that we haven’t had to go out and, as they suggested, retrain.
“I think about those acts who were just coming through. Who’s looking after them? Where’s the support network for that, and I’m not just talking financially.”
However, he remains optimistic that the band will be back on the road at some point this year and believes the album is a soundtrack for the happier times that lay ahead.
Joe Alwyn to Tom Hiddleston the colourful love life of singer Taylor Swift
“I take hope in the fact we’ve got through so much bulls**t already,” he says. “Whatever comes our way as a nation, we’ve proven to ourselves that we have the capacity to still be positive in the face of adversity.
“We should take great courage and confidence through that. If we can get through this, we can get through dark s**t. We’re not there yet, but good times are coming, and this record is a statement of intent.
“This year will not be like last year. It might be in parts, but people should start getting excited about getting their lives backs.”