Two years after their last album, 2019’s experimental So What?, Sheffield’s finest While She Sleeps are back with the even more ambitious Sleeps Society. We challenged frontman Loz Taylor to answer all your curious, insightful, and, erm, sometimes just downright weird questions.
When you look at how bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Architects have evolved and gone onto success, is it possible for heavy bands to break into the charts without softening their sound anymore?
Lizzie Mayersbeth (email)
“There’s nothing more boring to me than a one-dimensional band. Bring Me are the kids that got absolutely slated for being pretty boy death metallers, but they’ve opened the doors and opened people’s eyes to the fact you don’t have to have long hair and a beard to like metal. When I was a kid, I just wanted to scream in a band and that was it. But what comes with trying to write heavy music, is writing music that’s entertaining and can also sustain your career. It’s a lot different to how it used to be – it has to reach all different corners now to make it sustainable.”
I always loved the name Loz. What’s the best nickname in metal?
Aidan Delaney (Facebook)
“The best? I don’t know. I love Ozzy. He’s always been an inspiration to me; he’s cool as fuck. ‘Ozzy’ just seems to match his whole character. I always thought the worst nickname anyone could ever have would be Beans.”
“Beans. I had this conversation once with Mat [Welsh, guitarist] about how he’s forever dodged the ‘ginge’ nickname and how much he hates it because it’s not a nickname who represents who you are, just ’cos you’ve got red hair. I agree with that but I said, ‘Imagine if someone had nicknamed someone Beans.’ It’s just an awful nickname, innit? It reminds me of a snotty kid from a Beano comic, like, ‘Oh shit, here comes Beans.’”
What is the strongest sense of inclusion you’ve felt as a fan of a particular band? Have you been part of any fan clubs, communities… things of that nature.
“I wasn’t part of a fan club, I was in the fan club of trying to see as much possible music as I could. Even from an early age, rather than being an outsider looking in on other bands, I always wanted to be part of my own band. It was more about that than being in a fan club. The way I found new music was going out and paying to go to gigs, that’s what I spent all my money on.”
If you compare [Sleeps’ debut] This Is The Six to So What? and the singles from the new album, the sound has evolved and grown. How do you feel about the material on the first record versus what Sleeps are writing now?
George Willoughby (Facebook)
“While She Sleeps have always been that band that wanted to step outside the box. Although we came together for our love of metalcore, we’ve always had an undercurrent of the things you’re hearing now. I figured I don’t want to scream all the time. I’d like to try and develop a voice so I’m not just a shouty frontman. I agree, [the new material] is different but for us, inside the Sleeps bubble, it feels like a natural progression. We’ve got a philosophy in the studio that if it feels like it scares us, then we should probably just go for it.”
What’s your favourite song to play live?
“God, I can’t remember playing live. I always loved playing Death Toll [from This Is The Six]. When we first wrote that song, we came out to it onstage and it’s so explosive and heavy. Actually, someone sent me a video on Instagram a few days ago. He’s in his bathroom listening to Death Toll and when it says, ‘Death Toll’, he shows me a Dettol bottle. Just a bit of funny info there. I’d literally never thought about it.”
How’s your voice at the moment?
Rose Phillips (email)
“When we recorded the record, to be quite honest, it was a bit of an up and down process for me. Everyone knows I’ve had my fair share of vocal problems, I’ve had three surgeries; it’s not been an easy ride. A couple of years ago, I had some lessons with a vocal coach. It was almost like learning a different language. I’d been so used to screaming and singing the way I had, over years of touring I’d got into bad habits. It’s hard to kick bad habits once they’re there.”
Hammer: Have you started singing cleans more often to take it easy on your voice?
“You can do just as much damage if you’re not doing it right. For me, the move towards trying to do more singing is to progress as a musician. With screaming, there’s almost a facade you can hide behind, but stripping that back and clean singing feels so much vulnerable. It’s so much more personal. Maybe subconsciously, I’m trying to sing more because it might gain me a bit more longevity. As you get a bit older you realise you’re not going to live forever, you can seriously damage yourself, and the throat surgeries are always in the back of my mind.”
Besides Party Hard by Andrew WK, which metal bands/songs would you most want to hear at a party?
“Lamb Of God, Redneck. They’re the band for me for club bangers that never get old. It’s the groove. I’m in love with it. I remember when I was an emo kid, I used to go out to nightclubs on my own because a lot of the friends I had back then were a couple of years younger than me. I was like, ‘I don’t care, I’ll make friends while I’m out.’ What emo song did I used to go off to? The Taste Of Ink by The Used. But that’s another song that’s been rinsed. As soon as you hear, ‘Is it worth it…’ you’re like, ‘Fucking hell, this song again…’”
How do you start the basic idea of a song?
“Sean [Long, guitarist] usually comes over with a huge riff, shows it to the band and the song builds from that. It’s rare it happens in any other way for us. I’ve only just started trying to learn to play guitar after all this time of being in a band. I told myself it’s insane that I can’t play an instrument and I’m in a band. Up until just before So What? I couldn’t play anything, so I’d write my lyrics like poetry. I’d take lyrics to Shaun and that’s how we lay down the foundations.”
If you could bring back dinosaurs but you have to make one existing animal extinct, would you do it and what animal would you choose?
James Taylor (email)
“I’d bring one dinosaur back. I don’t know if I’d bring back them all, because that would be crazy…”
Hammer: I think you either have to bring them all back, teeth and all, or nothing…
“That’s scary shit that. OK, I’d probably make something like a crocodile extinct, because we already know what we know about crocodiles. It would be chaos, but the world is chaos anyway so we might as well have some dinosaurs involved.”
Has being so DIY meant you’re closer to making a full living off being in a band than before?
Andrew Olah (email)
“I think we’d still be making a living, but being DIY and taking on all the roles of looking after the band ourselves is definitely a positive move. Having to go through so many different people to get a job done that you know you can do yourself is one of the things that made us want to become an independent. The majority of the time, the people involved with your band are only in it so they can grab some cash off you. The band and the five dudes that are in it, you’re the best people to represent your band and no one cares more about your band than you do.”
If you were gonna give someone three albums to get into metal, what would you give them and why?
Jake Bremmer (email)
“Slipknot by Slipknot, because that was probably one of the first records I heard that melted my face and opened me up to so many other genres. Lamb Of God, Sacrament, because if you get into that groove, it’ll help you get into metal a lot more. I feel like you can play basketball to Lamb Of God with how much bounce they’ve got. Rage Against The Machine, The Battle Of Los Angeles, because it has got Testify and Guerrilla Radio on it, a political message and that bouncy moshpit vibe.”