British metalcore masters While She Sleeps seem to be etching closer to royalty status with each passing album. The Sheffield-based band consisting of guitarists Sean Long en Mat Welsh, bassist Aaran McKenzie, drummer Adam “Sav” Savage and singer Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor achieve a whopping 1 million listeners a month on Spotify and toured with the likes of Parkway Drive, Bring Me The Horizon and Architects. On top of that, there is also the prospect of hopeful end to a raging pandemic, coinciding with the release of their brand new album Sleeps Society, named after their fan base. Writer Karin Leijs sat down for an open-hearted Zoomcall with frontman Loz Taylor to talk about the albums themes, as well as the importance of underground music.
For the Dutch version of this article click here.
Tekst: Karin Leijs
It was about time I did my first interview with an international band, and it just so happens to be none other than frontman Loz Taylor. A baptism of fire for me, leading to a virtual conversation about the new album Sleeps Society being released this Friday April 16th, as well as the importance of underground music and being open about your emotions and feelings. Important and relevant themes, that are also featured on the new record.
Hey Loz! How are you! I’m a little nervous, but it’s a good day to dive into that, I think. Especially with your #imnervous campaign for the new single Nervous ft Simon Neil (Biffy Clyro). A shout-out about sharing difficult experiences, breaking down basic boundaries that exist and just letting people know how you feel and that you’re enough. So let’s dive into that first.
Loz: “Yeah definitely! Like you say, it’s a great time to be interviewing about this song. It’s was released recently and we kinda dedicated this to opening up, raising awareness and trying to speak more openly than we ever have before, definitely as a band. About how we feel and how certain emotions and feeling affect us as people.”
A very powerful message to convey, especially as a band with such a platform and the feeling that you’re not alone in this is very important to know, for everyone dealing with this.
Loz: “We kinda wanted this song to do exactly that for people. Even before the pandemic was as serious as it is now. We had already written that song pretty much before any of this hit and it was very important for Sean Long, our guitarist. When Sean wrote that song he needed to write that song for those very reasons. For the reasons of his own mental health and I feel like that’s why on reflection hearing the song as a demo, it got pushed to the back of the demo’s a little bit and we weren’t really talking about it. I remember being in a bit of a heavy low myself, if you like. And just thinking, wow, this song has really got potential to dig people out of the hole.”
”Maybe Sean had his doubts a little bit and just needed a bit of confirmation from the rest of us that it was a phenomenal track. And as I said that was before the pandemic even hit. I think now it resonates with people even more than it did a year ago. It’s got a huge potential to be such an amp in uniting people in the way that we feel and the way that we go about opening up to each other and just talk about our feelings more rather than closing the doors and shutting down. So hopefully that’s exactly what it does.”
That feeling that you’re not good enough is something everybody feels in certain situations, me included. It drags you all the way down. It’s your mind playing tricks on you. It doesn’t actually mean that you’re not good enough.
Loz: “It doesn’t at all. I feel exactly what you said. It’s about trying to understand how these feelings and thoughts manifest in your mind. Somebody once said: ‘People always talk like we need to be winners. So when it doesn’t go that way you’re kinda left with this awful feeling of ‘I’m not doing it right’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘how do I deal with this feeling.’ That’s just something that we need to learn to live with and learn to feel like it’s okay to feel like that sometimes.
Let’s talk about the Sleeps Society Patreon content where you, among other things, offer your knowledge and guidance to upcoming artists and bands to help achieve their career in this industry.
Loz: “For us, releasing the record with the Sleeps Society (which is also the nickname for our fanbase) on the forefront of the campaign was a way for us to use the platform that we created for ourselves. This by trying to outline some of the main concerns as to why we think that the industry is, to a degree, failing artists. We’re not gonna stand there and slag off the music industry all together because there’s plenty of positive publicity that comes from it as well. But it’s just the way that streaming and the internet over the last ten to fifteen years has come into play in terms of how people are digesting their music and I think that it’s all just about trying to find some balance in this. The main genres that get hit with the struggles in trying to balance are the genres that there’s demand for but are sort of the undercurrent. Stuff like punkrock, hardcore, metal. You know, popstars are always gonna get their payout because it’s for the masses. But what about the genres that are a bit more underground? That’s something we wanted to address and use our platform to bring up. It’s so easy to listen to bands and kinda forget how much it costs bands to create that music in the first place. And that’s what I think the important thing is: trying to balance the demand of the band or the artist with how these streaming sites pay out. It takes about 7.000 streams to generate twenty bucks. It’s crazy to think that that’s the case, when you consider a time when everybody had to pay 10 pounds to listen to your CD.”
”You wan’t to keep the underground scene alive, especially for the younger generation. We don’t wanna say to our children in the future: ‘Well I stayed well away from the underground music industry because it’s absolutely failing’. We want to encourage the younger generation and say: ‘Yeah, get into playing instruments and strive to follow your dreams because it’s actually a great industry to be a part of’. So I think we just need to find some balance there and work out what’s going wrong. And I think While She Sleeps is one of those bands that we will stick our neck out and we will say exactly how we feel in that way. And people are starting to turn heads. Corporate companies and businesses are actually considering: ‘Yeah, maybe we do need to re-evaluate how this is working.’
So the video for You Are All You Need. The lyrics are subtitled in various languages, German, Hebrew, Spanish, etc. Can you tell me more about the inspiration behind the video?
Loz: “Well, when we released music videos in the past there have been times where we just sometimes for aesthetic just throw around a completely different language. Just in the hopes that it would reach more people. Anyone from a different country that liked listening to the band they can sort of read it in their own language for a change. It just helps us feel that we’re uniting more and more people as we go. I think that’s just a strong message that has always been a part of the band, like the community and unity and being at one with each other.”
That’s exactly what you’re doing with the album with You Are All You Need, and the video for Nervous.
Loz: “Yeah, I think it’s just like everything we’ve done in the past but sort of on steroids. It’s hammering home this feeling of community. While She Sleeps fell in love with this scene and industry because we were all sort of young punkrockers and I remember getting beaten up in the back of the school bus for wearing a Slipknot hoodie. That’s just something that happened because listening to bands like that back then, you were just a weirdo. Now it’s like times are changed, genres are clashing more. People are a bit more open to it. I still feel there needs to be a solid place for the outsiders to be and I feel like the Sleeps Society does help that. It just reaffirms the message that we try to deliver with the ongoing themes that run through While She Sleeps. Be at one with each other and as unified as we possibly can because I think that’s the way we will prevail eventually. I’m all about spreading the message.”
About the album Sleeps Society: My personal favorite is Systematic. I love the blend of rawness, electronics and metal. My type of song. Do you have a personal favorite yourself?
Loz: “My personal favorite changes from time to time, depending on how I’m feeling and when I’m feeling it. I have to agree that Systematic is definitely one of my favorite songs on the record. Purely because I imagine hearing it in like a dirty rock nightclub. That’s the sort of feeling that song gives to me. It feels very much like a classic While She Sleeps song. It’s got all the elements in there that I think people love about the band. But there are other great songs on there as well. Call Of The Void is also one of my favorites. And like we have already spoken about, I think Nervous is gonna be a huge song for so many people. If people are open-minded about listening to our record and they like punkrock, metal, hardcore, metalcore, whatever they’re into, I think there’s something on this record for everybody.”
It’s a good gateway metal album for anyone. I’m gonna give it to my kids as well for sure, parenting done right, haha.
Loz: “I think a lot of people say that about WSS. We’re a gateway metal band for sure and that’s amazing. If we can introduce more people to metal and help them understand why rock and metal is so good, that’s awesome!”
So the last song, well, I should say spoken word, on the album DN3 3HT. It’s an homage to the fan base. But it’s a postal code in Armthorpe, Doncaster. What’s the meaning behind that?
Loz: “Yeah that’s right! Well it basically says ‘The End’ if you read it. It’s a bit of an Easter Egg at the end of the record. But that postal code actually relates to the last day job that I worked before I joined the band. Since then, I’ve never had another day job. It’s just a bit of a special place where that initial ‘leaving jobs and going to start a band together’ moment started. Working out how we were gonna sort of change the world with our music and write our first EP together. From that day we’ve been inseparable and doing this ever since so that’s quite fun. And you know, that whole piece of spoken word and music mashed together is not how it used to be. You used to get a sort of thank you note on the back of albums. So I would basically just sit there listening to records skimming through the lyrics and working out what they were saying and I would get to the back of the CD case, take the booklet out and read who the band was thanking and who they worked with and you know, CD’s are practically dead now. It’s our way of doing that sort of gratitude and thanks to anyone making this record possible but sort of give that out in a sort of time capsule if you like.”
Great modern concept, very 2021!
Loz: “Yeah, at least the Sleeps Society is helping us to stay in our career and the next step of While She Sleeps and hopefully it’s a model other bands can use. We’ve always been a sort of band that tries to break down the smoking mirrors and really let our fan base in on what’s going on with us and why the industry can be difficult. We’re not trying to hide that in any way and wear any sunglasses inside and be too rock-‘n-roll about things. It’s about being really honest with our fan base. We’re not shy about telling them without them we’re nothing. We’re kinda like the guys next door. It goes hand in hand with the message that we’re spreading. Our guitarist, Mat Welsh, said he would practically sit down and have a beer with about 95% of our fan base, ha ha.”
So in these times, you’re making a lot of effort to keep that true connection with the fan base, also outside of Patreon. Even on the album there’s a song that describes the Sleeps Society fan base, Call Of The Void.
Loz: “We just gave out some lyrics and beats per minute and said: ‘Anyone that’s involved in the Sleeps Society that wants to record these lyrics please do. We got hundreds and hundreds of them come back. What’s so fun about that is, that the lyrics that they sing were also in the first song that we wrote together as a band, Give Me Your Hand, This Is The End. It’s a way of keeping things fresh, keeping it fun. Keeping them involved.”
Hopefully you’ll be on stage soon. I saw a you in the line-up for Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds in September. Any other gigs you’re crossing your fingers for in these pandemic times?
Loz: “What’s been very interesting for me, is a lot of people I’ve been speaking to are focusing on the long game coming out of the pandemic. It’s very difficult to have that mindset because you don’t know how long this is gonna carry on for. For me it’s been about focusing on the little victories. Just getting to the end of the week and be like ‘there were ups and downs but another week done’ and focusing on the positive. Trying not to think too far ahead.”
But let’s hope we can enjoy a good concert or festival sooner than later!
Loz: “Yes, let’s hope we can have gigs back the way they were. Socially distant gigs might be a thing for a while but not too long. We need punkrock and metal shows to be played the way they always happened. When it does, it’s gonna be so good! If we can get back to that it might have done a good thing for the music industry. People must be so hungry to get back out there. In a lot of ways we’ve taken it for granted that you could just go and see live bands. So hopefully when it DOES come back people will be so into it!”
You’re all about giving a platform to new bands. So which bands have you been listening to for the past year?
Loz: “Definitely! There’s a band called Teenage Wrist. They have released a new record this year. Really good. A bit more chill and a bit more grungy. Amazing songs on there. I’m really into a band I’ve been cranking for a couple of years now called Greyhaven. If you like stuff such as Every Time I Die or The Dillinger Escape Plan they have a bit of that sound, a really great band. There’s also a band called Holding Absence, with a bit more clean vocals in there. A great rock band from the UK. I got into a band recently called Kingdom of Giants. They remind me of Architect, but with a bit more tech metal thrown around, yet with some awesome clean vocal lines as well.
Since you’re mentioning Architects, Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro is also featured on their new album in the song Goliath and you’re collaborating with him on the track Nervous.
Loz: “We actually had no idea that happened! Simon didn’t tell us anything about the Architects record, ha ha!”
Oh, I thought it was a whole group thing, you coming all together and discussing these tracks and collaborations!
Loz: “Honestly we had no idea. So when we found that out we were like ‘Oh no! Simon didn’t say anything!’ Interesting that he felt the need not to say anything, ha ha! But you know, both songs are quite different and Simon is a great guy and he brought something of himself onto both tracks in a different way. What he brought to Nervous is amazing and helping to push this song and wider spread the message.”
Thank you so much for talking to me. Is there anything you’d like to add, or give a shout out to?
Loz: “Just that if there’s anybody out there that’s reading this interview thank you so much for your ongoing support and as soon as we can we’ll be over there touring! Our new album Sleeps Society drops on April the 16th so check it out if you can. And if you haven’t heard of While She Sleeps… Where the fuck have you been??”
Sleeps Society will be available on April 16th in various formats via, among others, the While She Sleeps webshop. New singles Nervous and You Are All You Need can be listened to via Spotify: