It’s seems that all that glitters is purely metal when it comes to While She Sleeps. Winning pretty much every accolade going in their first 18 months is something a lot of bands, in any genre never mind metal, rarely get close to. We met up with While She Sleeps’ Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor and Aaron McKenzie as they prepared for their homecoming gig at Sheffield’s Corporation to find out a little bit more about the band.
The history of the band follows the usual path highlighted by most acts today, people become friends form a band and hey presto. Aaron begins to tell us While She Sleeps history, ‘we’ve been going for about six years now, but we’ve been doing it seriously for about three years. Loz you’ve been in the band for three years now…’ Loz continues ‘yeah, it was like 2006 when we first performed and me and Aaron were sort of mates of the band and eventually Aaron started playing bass guitar and a few years down the line I started doing vocals’. Aaron follows on ‘at the time we’d quit our jobs and stuff and our previous singer weren’t ready for the commitment, we knew Loz from playing in bands and stuff and then he hopped onboard and we’ve been doing it ever since. We quit our jobs and went on the road’.
It’s good to see a couple of nose bleeds, like accidental nose bleeds and stuff when people have been getting into it
Arriving in the band three years in Loz worked as a learning support assistant at a school, something totally different to the lifestyle of a rock star, ‘yeah a bit of a weird one but at the time I’d given up on being in a band. I just wanted to get a job I enjoyed doing and then when they asked me to join the band I was straight off, ripped the shirt off, got in the van and right’, Aaron finishes his sentence ‘let’s go on tour, fuck it!’.
Discussing their first few years in the band and the early days of touring, Loz describes the experience as ‘horrible’, while Aaron simply states ‘complete dog shit’. They continue their explanation, Loz further describes the experience as ‘immensely fun but like quite a struggle really. We ate horrible Tesco’s sandwiches and lived on £1 a day and that was it, anything else was for petrol to get to the next show. It was difficult.’ Reflecting on it all, Aaron ruminates ‘when you look back at it now, you’re like it was a good time but I don’t know, it’s the like stepping stones’ as Loz interrupts with ‘leaky vans and all that’. Seems a world away from the tour bus we’re all sat on, as both which Loz describes as ‘insane’ and Aaron reservedly ‘it’s extravagant for us really, not used to this…it’s awesome!’
Music wise, things couldn’t be going better for the five-piece. With the recently released album ‘This Is The Six’ gaining critical acclaim from national and international music press and a follow up tour While She Sleep just keep going from strength to strength.
Looking at their progression when it comes to their own sound, Loz tells me that with regards to This Is The Six they ‘feel like it’s kind of in the same vein as the North Stands For Nothing. We had more takes, more studio time and more time to really focus on sound. When the North Stands For Nothing came out it was, kind of, going to be a demo of me joining the band. We ended up writing lots of different interlude bits, so it was a bit too long just to be an EP. At that time they [management] were like if you write a mini album we’re more likely to get it into the shops and stuff and get coverage on it, so we just wrote stuff and put it on there’, Aaron continues ‘we didn’t expect it to do as well as what it did. We were just like, we’ve always recorded our own stuff ourselves and it was just like another one of those really.’
When it comes to how the album has been received by the media, the band are rather modest in their replies, Loz tells me that ‘for the new album it’s been positive’ and then finishes with ‘I’m sure we’ll get a lot of negativity as well’, Aaron adds that he’s ‘not really read any negative press’ but admits ‘that we had a bad review for Slam Dunk last year, but I’ll let that one slide’. Loz is quick to point out that ‘we’re not robots, we’re dudes in a band’ as Aaron quickly laughs at the comment he states to Loz ‘I’ve seen you doing the robot’. Eager to make a point Loz admits that ‘we’re waiting for it all, we’re waiting for the haters, so whichever way it goes, so as long as people still enjoy the music haters can hate.’
Having been gigging for pretty much all of 2012, Loz exclaims ‘it’s just madness how it’s gone down with all the kids and stuff. We’ve been on this tour so far we’ve only played two shows and we’re seeing push pits. I’ve not seen a good push pit for years and I like that.’ Aaron continues ‘and no one’s doing that fucking dancy shit are they?’, Loz answers ‘no, well at our shows anyway there’s not much of that smashing peoples’ heads in, which to be honest for us it is better. It’s good to see a couple of nose bleeds, like accidental nose bleeds and stuff when people have been getting into it, but it’s kinds got heavier. We just want a good vibe.’ Aaron continues ‘we just want to go on and keep rocking out, that’s what we want to do.’
Coming from a city that is steeped with music history and with a number of metal acts such as Rolo Tomassi and Bring Me The Horizon making names for themselves, I asked Loz and Aaron how they feel about Sheffield’s place within the music. Loz replies, ‘I think the industry dips up and down a lot. You’ve got new stuff coming in and going back out, but I think it’s always been pretty strong in Sheff. There’s been young bands emerging and doing their own thing. It’s had its ups and downs like anywhere really, but it’s really coming through.’ Aaron continues ‘well in the UK as a whole, there’s a lot of new bands coming out there are a lot of fresh stuff. I think it’s strong in the UK.
Looking at their gig that night at the Corporation Loz tells us ‘we’ve put a local band on tonight, In Arms. There are a few good bands out there that are on the right tracks and getting there so it’s just like we’re trying to give them a helping hand, we’d appreciate it back in the day. We’re just trying to give them the right stepping stones really to help them.’
Having recently completed their UK tour promoting This Is The Six, the band are currently touring Europe with Architects. It seems that the boys actually relish the lifestyle as Loz admits ‘I prefer playing long stints on tour to just playing festival weekends cos you get in to more of a stride with it. Your body just gets used to it, that whole rocking out thing’. Aaron explains that ‘in summer, literally, all we did was play festivals every weekend it was like we went on a stag do every weekend. We went out got leather face and had three days off every week’ concurring Loz follows ‘but it’s nice to roll on and have 9 shows in a row or whatever as you get into your stride then. It’s better for me anyway I just feel like we play better.’
When it comes to future plans, there’s not stopping While She Sleeps. The plan according to Loz is ‘to keep writing music and hope that people are still enjoying it. Also, just be on the road and live it up as much as we can while we can for as long as we can.’ Aaron’s ambition is to ‘try and be bigger than The Beatles.’
Loz explains further ‘there’s no big thing, we all enjoy writing music together and so as long we can’ with Aaron again completing his sentence ‘so as long as we’re enjoying it we’re going to keep doing it.’
When asked if there’s any advice they could give to new bands and up and coming artists, Loz simply states ‘just do what you want to do, don’t follow too much of what other people are doing and write music if you enjoy it and have a good time’, to which Aaron replies ‘seconded’.