Sheffield metal outfit While She Sleeps have returned with a bang, with a brand new album coming out this month called You Are We, and having just been announced on a massive Australian tour with headliners In Hearts Wake, plus Crossfaith and Polaris joining them (click here for tour details).
It’s been an exciting period for While She Sleeps as they are preparing for the new record’s release, particularly as it’s been crowd-funded.
“It’s probably been the most exciting campaign I’ve ever been a part of since I’ve been in a band” lead guitarist Sean Long says proudly. “I’m blown away by how this campaign is turning out and the album’s not even out yet so I honestly couldn’t be happier with how it’s all turning out.”
Despite having been crowd-funded, Long is convinced that the new record is their best release yet. “There’s so many angles to it that’s made it a little bit more special” he suggests. “Our last album Brainwashed was riddled in a lot of problems, both personal and external and things, and with labels and the industry.”
The band were struggling to write properly and things were not synergistic for quite some time, but things started to finally turn around for them. “For this album this album, a lot of that got cleared up, we got a warehouse, we designed our own space with our own creativity, and it all kind of slowed down.”
While She Sleeps have harnessed fans as their muse for the new record. Having funded the album and taken the band to where it is today, the outfit are ever-appreciative. “The fans know that they’re so much more a part of the band than what they may have believed beforehand. We have made it so apparent that they are the band as much as we are.”
This growing fan-base of the band, is of course made of fellow Aussies who have had a couple of chances to catch them on tour. The first time While She Sleeps hit Australian shores was for Soundwave back in 2013, in the earlier stages of their career. Following that, the Brits came back down-under in February this year to support their no-name-band hometown neighbours called Bring Me the Horizon – not sure if you’ve heard of them? BMTH were returning after having to postpone part of their Aussie tour in 2016 due to vocalist Oli Sykes’ voice giving out.
“Architects were supposed to do our slot but couldn’t do it, so we came down to play some incredible shows.” It was a great opportunity for the band who wouldn’t have otherwise got to have played for crowds of this size. “I think that might have done us some good for Australia and I’m looking forward to seeing what it is like when we return in July.”
Long goes onto say that he reckons that Aussie punters have really connected with the band on previous tour. “They obviously weren’t the craziest gigs of our lives, but I feel like it was a nice vibe. We know it went well when we come off stage and feel like it kind of worked, there’s an energy that people have taken it in.”
“Kids don’t need to be circle-pitting and fuckin’ going mental but even when people are nodding, you kind of get this energy that it’s sinking in and you know they’re going to check your band out.”
The backing vocalist feels close to the thematic elements of the new album and expands on what makes it an important album of today. “From my perspective, our previous albums have been an outlook on life, kind of looking at all the external problems in the world and how we feel about them, but now that is translated into ‘You Are We’ but it’s taken a closer step to a personal aspect of it” – as opposed to a crude world-view perspective.
“It portrays the inner struggles that we may feel personally from day-to-day living, what I feel and how I feel about the world around me, more of a personal outlook on what’s going on.”
As he recognises how cliché it may sound, Long proudly announces that this is his favourite album the band have recorded. “Up until now, each album [we’ve released], there’s a few songs where I could have changed it and I wanted it a little different but I didn’t get the time.” For the upcoming release, the musician is at peace with the final product. “This is the one where I feel like every song that I’ve done, I’m 100% happy with it.”
Not only do While She Sleeps appreciate their fans’ loyalty, but they particularly value their openness to the band’s musical experimentation. “Nothing in this world ever stays the same, everything changes and, like they say ‘let it blossom like a flower’ and this is how our music emerges.” Long emphasises that the band have not intentionally promoted themselves in the ‘metal scene’ and are more fluid than that, and can see fans’ appreciation of that too.
‘Love thy neighbour’ – that’s what they say right? Well in the truest meaning of the word, While She Sleeps have buried the hatchet with Bring Me the Horizon and gone vegetarian (so to speak) without any more beef.*
*Disclaimer: Wall of Sound are aware that we’re off the charts with all sorts of corny.
The band had Sykes feature in their new track (and video) called ‘Silence Speaks’, and it seems like it was a wonderful and seamless experience for all parties involved.
“We released ‘Hurricane‘ and then Oli basically said it was the best thing he’s heard in ages so we got in touch again.” The BMTH front-man chatted to the band and offered to help While She Sleeps in any way he could. “So I was like, ‘I’m not against getting a guest on… should we see if he wants to?’ Funnily enough, that’s exactly what we did, so we sent Oli the track and when he came back with it, he had actually chopped it up a little and proper got into it.”
Sykes was super-enthusiastic to be a part of the track and sent back a flawless version to a very surprised set of musicians. “It was completely in tandem with what we’re talking about and everything was great.” The band realised that this was going to be their next single – “so we spoke to Oli about it and positioned it to him whereby it was obviously his call if he wanted to be in the video” to which he responded – “it would have been weird if he wasn’t in the video” so it was lots of fun [shooting] it.”
Of course, if you’re a fan of these new tunes, you’ll need to grab your ticket to the upcoming Aussie tour they’re embarking on with In Hearts Wake & Crossfaith.
“We’ve played shows with Crossfaith in Japan and also at Vans Warped Tour, but not toured yet with In Hearts Wake. The Crossfaith guys are fuckin’ nuts, they drink like absolute animals and their stage show gets everyone fuckin’ raging so they’re a great band to be on tour with.”
With a song like ‘Jägerbomb’ we’re not surprised to learn that the band like to party!
Long simply can’t wait to return to our shores, because of, well the weather. “Well obviously the sun is absolutely incredible, but I just enjoy travelling to be honest”. We hope they’re not expecting too much sun in July though.
“The joy of not coming back to places too often is that, when you come it’s really special, and that’s something that I’ve realised over time.” At first, the guitarist wanted to simply move everywhere that he loved – “but that would instantly remove the special feeling it gives me every time I arrive.”
It’s the nostalgia of stepping off that plane onto Australian soil that excites the guys, and pumps them up for the upcoming tour.
Interview by By Ricky Aarons