"For a long time there was a sense of imposter syndrome, but now we know we’re a force to be reckoned with": While She Sleeps aim to take their rightful place as metalcore icons with new album Self Hell

While She Sleeps 2023
(Image credit: Press)

It's been a long but steady climb for Sheffield metalcore crew While She Sleeps. Hotly tipped as metal’s bright new hopes when they emerged just over a decade ago, they’ve taken the longer, arguably more interesting, route to the top. 

With every record they put out being greeted with greater and greater acclaim by fans and critics, and having sold out a venue as prestigious as Alexandra Palace in London, their forthcoming sixth album could be the one that finally places them atop metal’s mountain. We caught up with vocalist Loz Taylor and guitarist Sean Long to ask what they’ve got cooking. 

Metal Hammer line break

You’ve taken big leaps in your sound over the last few albums, by including rapping, choirs and electronics. Will this one see similar experimentation? 

Loz Taylor: “I think so. We never like to conform to one sound; we want to push ourselves, maybe to the point we feel a bit scared and uncomfortable.” 

In February, you announced you were working on a new album by Tweeting ‘Everything will change’… 

Sean Long: “We were trying to manifest something. We were quite deep into the recording process. We knew how different it already sounded, so we wanted to put out into the universe that things are going to change. I like doing that; you put it down on paper and things have to change, a bit like how we put Ally Pally on sale - in some regard we weren’t quite ready for it, but you make that statement, and it happens.” 

On 2019’s So What, you guys were pulling from classic Ministry Of Sound tunes. That was already pretty bold! 

Sean: “Music has a lot of nostalgic power, and people are drawn to things that they grew up with. Metal has a lot of restrictions, but those restrictions get knocked down a lot as you get older. I’m influenced by a lot of old club music, so it’s going to find its way through.” 

Six albums in, it must be hard to make compelling music if you’re drawing from the same influences… 

Loz: “Definitely. I’ve exhausted my inspiration from heavy music. I like to listen to things that have nothing to do with what we’re making. People are going to hear that we don’t give a fuck at all this time.” 

Sean: “We keep listening back to it and going ‘How the fuck did this happen?’ It’s a crazy type of music, but it is what it is. If people don’t like it, tough shit, we’re not fucking around trying to please anyone anymore.” 

You’re recording in your own studio again. How’s that working out?

Sean: “Yeah, good. Us and our producer, Carl Bown, have a really good relationship; he knows that sometimes I can go into the studio when he isn’t around and just mess about with stuff, delete tracks, add guitar parts… but credit to him, he doesn’t mind, and it’s good for us because we can sit on a song and make sure we get it right.” 

Sean, you’ve kind of been the architect of all the WSS albums. Have you used the other guys in the band more this time around? 

Sean: “Yeah, I hold on pretty tight with each record, but this has been much more of a collaborative effort. So many more different treasures that are in all of us. Loz has brought a lot more to this album, much more light.” 

Lighter in what sense? 

Loz: “For a long time there was a sense of imposter syndrome with us, but now we know we’re a force to be reckoned with in the UK scene, so there’s less pressure. We’ve always tackled heavy subjects, but this time everything is just a bit more… fun. We’re in a good place and so the music isn’t so dark… we’re not afraid to show that side to us where we’re actually enjoying being in a band and being onstage.”

Self Hell is due March 15 2024 via Spinefarm

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.