“If you make something with love and, you know, passion and you tell a real story, I think it will always find an audience somehow.” – Anton Corbijn.
This quote from the distinguished Dutch film director and photographer who has worked with the likes of Joy Division, Nirvana and even famed actors such as Philip Seymour Hoffman and George Clooney is a near flawless description of the process of art creation and even story-telling. Anton begun his career in music photography where the periodical NME (New Musical Express) started publishing his work in practically every new magazine in the late 1970s, including images of even David Bowie which then graduated to his own signature medium utilising his black and white pictures – his work with Siouxsie Sioux was a pivotal turning point in his career. The post punk movement and its rise in popularity took Mr Corbijn to new heights and a grand diversity of projects which brought him to conceivably his best strength as an artist: Music videos – namely Depeche Mode’s ‘A Question Of Time’ as a launch pad. It was around this time that he soon: “Started to realise that [his] visuals and their music went really well together.”; it could be argued that with this intermixing of two mediums and connection between the music and movie from his unique touch, altered the history of the music video and storytelling and how we perceive it.
For the British melodic metalcore outfit While She Sleeps, story-telling in their art and music has been an integral part of their output since their inception in 2006. Whilst not necessarily conceptual at all times, lyrically many of the songs are describing a reflection of life in tale, for example the government and religion on the single ‘Be(lie)ve’ – but, if we were to fast forward 12 years to now, this quintet undoubtedly have an audience, matter-of-factly it is larger and more widespread than ever before. This in turn, creates a growth in the band’s imagination which is remarkably shown in the five-piece’s latest film clip for ‘Eye To Eye’, embracing a very modernised Anton Corbijn “band and narrative” design; a short film with a Quentin Tarantino deciphering William Shakespeare motif under the guise of metalcore. Most impressively is vocalist Lawrence “Loz” Taylor’s performance as the protagonist of the tale, a true centre-piece in a rather astounding work of acting, emitting a young Crispin Glover madness; as he describes from the tour bus somewhere in the USA, this was to a degree a pretty new endeavour for himself:
“I never really acted that much. The only thing I used to act in were like, stuff at school a little bit when I was a kid. Since being 16 it’s been screaming my head off basically.” Loz laughs in his charmingly honest manner, then continues – “But yeah, I enjoyed it a lot man. It was good to get to sort of play a role and get into a character and think about what that character actually feels in that moment. It was completely different and slightly out of my comfort zone, but I really enjoyed it.”
“Without the rest of the guys in the band; it wouldn’t have come out that way. You know, it wouldn’t have looked how it looks and Aaron (McKenzie) the bass player did an amazing job filming it and all the other guys were there doing scene dressing and choreography and it was a really cool team effort- it was really fun. We had a good time. Plus I have never worked with prosthetics and fake blood before, so that was interesting.”
An important facet to notice is Mr Taylor’s mention of his bandmates/brothers-in-arms in the generation of this movie project and how While She Sleeps embraces the DIY (do-it-yourself) ideal. As some may not know, WSS have been “hands on” with every element of the group, whether production and the release of music, running their own merchandise store, artwork – the list goes on and have employed this working nature since day one. The five men from Sheffield have even assembled their own warehouse workplace where they run the business from which also includes pop-up store events, live music, recording and meet and greet showcases. It is an all-hands-on-deck situation that, as Loz elaborates, could not be more rewarding.
“It feels good man; it feels like we’re in control. Feels like we’re more in control than we ever have been about what gets put out there and the way it gets put out there and how we interact with our fan base. And more-so what our fan base wants from us, if you like. I think that’s an extremely important thing.” Lawrence recounts with an overwhelming heartfelt sincerity – “Sometimes you are kind of just in this bubble of being in a band – where you can’t just assume that everyone just loves everything that you do in that situation. So having close knit relationships with Patreon or the ‘Society’ (Sleeps Society is the interactive fan-base, this is also the name of the quintet’s latest LP) that we have, it’s incredible it gets that REAL contact.”
Intriguingly, the only WSS release that utilised the power of a major label was Brainwashed released in 2015 through Search & Destroy Records/Sony Music. It therefore plagued this writer to ask how ‘Sleeps found the two methodologies of band management in comparison?
“The major label versus the more independent? Well essentially, it just means we get more control and more face time with our fan base. Realistically, we just had so many hiccups and small, actually, kind of big problems with major labels. First and foremost, we’ve never wanted to slog major labels off at all but I think certain bands know which route is best for them to take and I think for us, it was with our ‘hands on’ approach as a band and it always has been; so it makes sense to do it that way.” Loz details with a sense of pride and clarity, then elaborates further – “We are not really stressed about the bigger man at the top taking cash or that decision being made you know? Then things getting very misconstrued. So yeah, I think it was a great decision and we’re really enjoying it. I would urge anyone to try and do the Patreon thing because it seems to be working for us. And I can kind of see it being a bit more of a future thing for us too.”
The last time these sons of Sheffield explored the Australian coastline was just before the pandemic altered our existence in 2019 as a support for the massive stadium venture for Architects’ Holly Hell Tour. Unfortunately, Mr Taylor was unable to “dislocate his neck” with his brethren and Aussie fans due to vocal issues which have troubled the frontman in the past prior (ex-SHVPES frontman Griffin Dickinson replaced Loz on that tour) – it was a wonder how he was progressing with his voice over the last few years?
“Really good man – trying to just live more healthy and look after my voice a bit more. I have been working on vocal exercises and technique and making living healthily a priority, it is what it is good for the body. I mean, trying to treat it a little bit more like an athlete you know? If you’re well and healthy then your voice will come across in the same way so that’s just what I’ve been on, it’s at a state that I have not had any problems for a while, touch wood!” He expressed with a comic grin and giggle then carrying on – “Truthfully though, what was what was a bit scary for me coming out of the pandemic, is that we went into mainland Europe and did like stripped back festivals and stuff like that; they were kind of like one off shows or one or two shows, which all went fine! Then we have now started on a full run of dates for the first time in a while, that was a bit scary as it has been some time. But all seems fine, everything seems cool man.”
This July we will see the return of WSS much to the rapture of the Australian Sleeps Society and anyone who has had the great fortune of witnessing the outfit in full flight as a live act. Having visited numerous times pre-COVID, it was a wonder what these barmy Brits were looking forward to most?
“Every time we’ve been to Australia, we’ve absolutely loved it. From what we’ve seen in the country, it’s very beautiful. And the people you know, we feel are quite similar to friends of ours in the UK and people that come to see our band and similar to people in Canada to be honest. We’ve loved exploring and trying to find vegan joints and stuff like that. We have definitely enjoyed the sunshine. We have definitely done the Brits abroad thing where we’ve come over to like Perth and got absolutely scolded with sunburn.” Lawrence erupts in laughter, almost cringing at recalling the scorched torture the Sheffield residents went through – “One of the guys Jon (Gallant, Bass) from Billy Talent was like: ‘Guys, seriously, be careful out there’. We ignored it, we’ve got sunscreen on, you know? It’s all good. The next morning, mate I think there was actual tears, I mean, no joke, we got SO burnt. We had to go and play a show and when we were crowd surfing, you can just imagine the pain haha! But absolutely love Australia can’t wait to be back out there with Loathe.”
Undeniably While She Sleeps craft their art with love, a passion and have an immaculate audience – so let’s all ‘Reunite’ for their return.
While She Sleeps – Australian Tour 2022
with Loathe and Mirrors
Fri 1 July: The Triffid, Brisbane
Sat 2 July: Newy Hotel, Newcastle
Sun 3 July: Factory Theatre, Sydney
Wed 6 July: Sooki Lounge, Belgrave – SOLD OUT
Thu 7 July: 170 Russell, Melbourne
Fri 8 July: Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide
Sat 9 July: Amplifier Bar, Perth