While She Sleeps: Raise The Flag

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After the most frustrating year of their career, it’d be easy for While She Sleeps to feel uncertain about getting back in the saddle. Following singer Loz Taylor’s throat surgery in December 2013, a six-month break in the midst of a prolific run of action could have finished off the momentum of a lesser band. A lesser band, however, they are most definitely not.

With a new album, Brainwashed, some new tours and endless possibilities ahead of them, this is a band very much still looking to the future. And, as Hammer discovered when we caught up with guitarist Sean Long for a chat, it’s a future that could yet prove vital to our scene.

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT 2014 WAS A MIXED YEAR FOR WHILE SHE SLEEPS?

“It was an insane ride of writing and, ‘What the fuck is going on?!’ We were trying to write in between getting all this shit sorted with Loz [his second surgery] and practising for the In Flames tour at the end of the year. It’s been insane.”/o:p

HOW BIG A YEAR DO YOU SEE 2015 BEING FOR YOU GUYS?/o:p

“We’ve all definitely got high hopes with the amount of consideration and effort that’s been put into this album. I’d like to say the silver lining of this record is made of effort that no one will ever know about. We put so much time and effort into little bits that you wouldn’t even think took that long to write, but the way that we like to distinguish it and get it perfect for people to hear takes us so long. We’re very picky and controlling over what’s going to be good for the record. We all do hope it’s going to be a big year. I want to blow This Is The Six out of the park.”

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS FOR WHAT SLEEPS CAN ACHIEVE THIS YEAR?

“First and foremost, I want to see the album do well and see what that brings with it, tour-wise. I want to get a great reception for the album. I want people to be like, ‘Ah shit, this two-year wait’s been worth it’.”

HOW FAR DO YOU SEE WSS GOING IN TERMS OF SMASHING THROUGH THE GLASS CEILINGS THAT SO MANY HEAVIER BANDS EXPERIENCE?

“When we first started out we were like, ‘Does that sound good? Yeah, but we can’t use it because it’s not our style.’ Now it really is like, ‘Fuck this; if we feel good about it, then fucking use it.’ I’m hoping this album has put our foot in other doors. Even my grandma told me that she likes Four Walls. I want to write music to last.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE REACTION TO THE NEW MATERIAL SO FAR IN GENERAL?

“I’m really stoked with New World Torture, that went down really well, but I’m just going to keep people on their toes, so they don’t know what’s coming. It’s going to be sweet.” /o:p

BRAINWASHED IS A PRETTY POWERFUL TITLE FOR AN ALBUM. WHAT INSPIRED THAT? “It’s just this whole world of bullshit. People taking advantage of other people for their own benefit; when you actually think they’re doing you good, it’s pretty obvious they’re not.” THERE DO SEEM TO BE SOME POLITICAL TONES TO THE NEW SONGS, IS THAT RIGHT? “Yeah, it’s just the things that we live through, and the things that piss us off, and the things that some people won’t say, but we’d like to say because in our eyes, it’s real, so we’ll get it out.” A LOT OF PEOPLE FEEL DISILLUSIONED WITH THINGS AT THE MOMENT – DID YOU WANT TO ADDRESS THAT? “Yeah, the scale of it is so tremendous, how fucked-up the world is. It’s so huge it’s hard to pinpoint it. I think that’s why we’re [all] so brainwashed. Everyone knows what it means because brainwashing is going on 247, and you know it is.” WSS ARE OBVIOUSLY A BAND WHOSE LYRICS GO FAR DEEPER THAN ANGSTY WHINING OR LAZY INTROSPECTION. HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THAT’S CONTRIBUTED TO FANS FEELING SUCH AN AFFINITY WITH YOU? “I like bands where I’ll read a lyric and think, ‘Shit, I knew that but I didn’t say it myself’. I think maybe that’s what they’ve got with us. They read these lyrics and think, ‘I know exactly what they’re talking about, I understand it’. It’s almost like you’ve thought of it yourself but you never said the words.” WITH THIS IS THE SIX, UNITY ALWAYS SEEMED A STRONG PART OF THINGS. DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO MAKE THE FANS FEEL LIKE THEY’RE INVOLVED? “This album has much more of a unity vibe. It’s all about everyone putting their fists up and being united together in this clan. We’ve always had this unity as a band, like brothers, and we’ve known each other since school, but now it’s almost like we’re turning the fist around to everyone else to be part of it with us.” MANY PEOPLE HAVE POINTED TO SLEEPS BEING “LEADERS” OF THE UK METAL SCENE AT THE MOMENT. HOW COMFORTABLE DO YOU FEEL WITH THAT KIND OF TITLE? “Bloody hell, it’s a heavy title, that! But this is the reason I’m so stoked to get the album out. I want to get it released and then people can be like, ‘Maybe they’re the band to lead UK metal’.” THE LIKES OF ASKING ALEXANDRIA AND BMTH HAVE SHOWN THAT HEAVIER BRITISH BANDS CAN STILL FIND SUCCESS IN THE UK. HOW MUCH AFFINITY DO YOU FEEL WITH THE SCENE’S MOST SUCCESSFUL MODERN BANDS? “Mat [Welsh, guitar] used to say to me he’s not got a lid on the places he wants to go. You always think there will be a lid, but fuck it, keep Wembley in mind! Why on Earth are we putting ourselves in a range of where we could get to? We’re here to do the best we can. I mean, fuck it, I hope we’ll be playing the moon!” IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK THE UK SCENE HAS CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

WHAT ABOUT GLOBALLY? DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE’S A STRONG UNDERCURRENT OF YOUNG BANDS READY TO MAKE THAT STEP UP? OR IS THAT LACK OF ORIGINALITY A BIG PROBLEM? “It’s definitely a problem, but in no way am I saying there are no other bands. There’s some serious bands getting the respect they need now, and the heavy scene is always getting stronger. I’ve seen a few myself that are really killing it!” WHO DO YOU SEE PERSONALLY MAKING A STEP UP IN 2015? “Dead Harts from Sheffield are doing really well, and those fuckers are brutal, heavy as shit. They don’t even record with a click track; they’re really heavy and are getting the respect that they deserve.” WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ONGOING DEBATE OF WHO WILL STEP UP TO HEADLINE FESTIVALS ONCE IRON MAIDEN, AC/DC, METALLICA ET AL RETIRE? “The bands that are around these days will be those bands, it’s just taking its time. I know that Metallica and Maiden were the pioneers, but by no means does that mean it can’t keep going strong with new bands. That’s what we want to do.” HOW DOES THE VIBE AROUND THE WSS CAMP COMPARE NOW COMPARED TO THE BAND THAT RELEASED THE NORTH STANDS FOR NOTHING? “It’s a lot more professional. Not that we don’t get wasted, but it’s a lot more productive. We go camping to write, we’re a bit more chilled out on the drinking. We’re all still close – I live next to them all, everyone’s 5-10 minutes away from me. To be honest, I’ve only got about seven mates, and it’s the band and crew. You think you’ve got all these mates, then you get home and realise there’s the band and that’s it!” FINALLY, IF THERE IS ONE GOAL FOR WHILE SHE SLEEPS IN 2015, WHAT IS IT? “To be Christmas number one.”

THE SLEEPS STORY SO FAR…

2006: A group of schoolmates from just outside Sheffield form While She Sleeps, gigging locally for a couple of years as they begin to find their feet within the city’s fast-growing alternative scene.

SUMMER 2009: As the band go full-time, original vocalist Jordan ‘The Face’ Widdowson opts to leave the fold, and is replaced by Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor.

JULY 2010: After setting the UK underground alight on a number of tours, Sleeps release their much-anticipated debut ‘mini-album’ The North Stands For Nothing – an opus that was included with that month’s issue of this very magazine!/o:p

OCTOBER 2011: With a rapidly expanding, fiercely dedicated fanbase behind them, the lads land their first UK headline tour with support from chums Bury Tomorrow and Feed The Rhino. You may have heard of them, too!

AUGUST 2012: The fruits of their labour thus far, This Is The Six, is unleashed to widespread critical acclaim, heralded as one of the best debut metal albums of recent times and earning a “mindblowingly stunning” score of 910 in Hammer. They hit the UK for another headline run the following month.

JANUARY 2013: The band land their biggest UK show to date, serving as main support for Asking Alexandria at Brixton Academy, before going onto smash the US on that summer’s Vans Warped tour and bringing out a huge crowd for the Reading and Leeds festivals in August.

APRIL 2013: In the midst of this productive run of live action, Sleeps find the time to casually release a brand new song – Death Toll. Unsurprisingly, it rules.

DECEMBER 2013: Just as the band are building up a serious head of steam, a rather large spanner is thrown into the works as it’s revealed that Loz will have to undergo throat surgery in early 2014 – effectively putting Sleeps on hiatus for six months.

JUNE 2014: With Loz’s surgery deemed a success and his recovery finished, Sleeps make a triumphant return to action at Download, dominating the main stage and underlining that the comeback is most definitely on!

OCTOBER 2014: With progress for the next album finally given the boost it needed, a ferocious new single, New World Torture, is unveiled and quickly followed by the similarly ace Four Walls. Sleeps are back, baby! Loz has just had a second throat surgery, so fingers crossed for a speedy recovery./o:p