“We’re through the worst and we’re stronger for it” – hmv.com talks to While She Sleeps
Bands can grind to a halt for all manner of reasons; sometimes it's excess, drink and drugs, sometimes its internal feuding, members who once loved each other driven apart by spending too much time together, and sometimes it’s something no one plans for, like your singer nearly losing his voice completely.
The latter is what happened to Sheffield metallers While She Sleeps. In December 2013, part way through their extensive tour in support of debut album This Is The Six, their vocalist Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor admitted defeat after months of vocal problems and underwent career threatening throat surgery. Fortunately he recovered, but it took time, time that the band have spent working on their new album, the searing Brainwashed.
We sat down with the band to talk about the new album and the road to recovery…
How long have you had the album finished for?
Sean (Long, guitars): “We closed the door on it in November. We came back from Japan, came back in, did a few bits and then closed the door on it for good.”
With all that’s been going on with you guys, you must have had to do the album piece by piece?
Loz: “With me having surgery, we’ve had to kind of stop and start. We’d do little bits and then have to stop, so it’s been quite a long process.”
Adam (Savage, drums): “Overall it’s been about 13 months from beginning to end. It’s been nice though, normally you’re looking at the clock every three minutes because you’re permanently running out of time, you had to use bits you don’t want to because you’ve not got time to do anything else.”
Sean: “We were lucky in that we had a producer who just took us off the clock and understood how he’d get the best from us. It all worked out well in the end.”
Aaran (McKenzie, bass): “When you sit with any music for too long, you end up picking it apart, over-analysing it, we had to be quite careful to not fall down on that.”
Sean: “It felt like quite a good test in a way, we had a five month gap between recording and then going back to do the vocals. Luckily we felt as excited about the tracks when we went back to them.”
It must have been frustrating to see your previous campaign literally grind to a halt…
Adam: “At first, yeah. We had about a day of being pissed off about it and then we just figured we’d get on with it. What could we do?”
Loz: “It was hard, because obviously it was on me and it felt terrible to kill all that momentum we had from touring. I was coughing up blood after shows, I ignored it for a while, I got complacent during the first time I had treatment and was in recovery I went back to drinking and smoking. I’d be raising my voice in pubs and over loud music and I had no idea what damage I was doing to myself. It was frustrating making the rest of the guys wait, but we’re through the worst of it now and we’re stronger for it.”
The four of you must have been particularly frustrated…
Loz: “I think it would have been really easy for them to turn around to me and say ‘You need to sort this out and really wind your neck’. It had given us all inspiration too, we had frustration to channel.”
Sean: “But then we couldn’t practise it because you were still in recovery.”
Loz: “I couldn’t raise my voice for ages and there was no way of practising all these cool things.”
Mat (Welsh, Guitar): “It was a really tough thing to go through. If we break strings and sticks we can get new strings and new sticks, Loz’s instrument was just taken away from him.”
Loz: “By the end I didn’t want to go onstage because I knew I’d end the night coughing up blood.”
Have you got new techniques?
Loz: “I’ve learnt how to give everything without completely shredding my throat. We’re going to tour this album and it’s going to be great.”
You worked with Carl Bown on the album, what does he give you a producer?
Adam: “He’s mad, but he’s so easy to work with. He doesn’t push us, he makes us feel comfortable.”
Mat: “We’d heard loads of horror stories about producers being absolute bellends and making recording a nightmare. But Carl is one of our best friends now. He gives us as much or as little as you need. He’s not an ego as a producer.”
Aaran: “He works with Colin Richardson too and Colin is an absolute legend, it’s like he’s passed all his knowledge down to him.”
Sean: “Colin’s a wizard. He’s Dumbledore and Carl is Harry Potter.”
Aaran: “So who’s Voldemort?”
Did you want to make sure you kept things raw?
Mat: “We wanted to make sure it wasn’t over-produced and too slick, we needed to keep it stripped and angry. That’s what we want with every record.”
Finally, how much touring have you got lined up?
Loz: “We’ve got Cancer Bats co-headline tour and then we’re off doing festivals and Warped Tour across the summer. We cannot wait!”
Adam: “This whole year is mapped out, we’re going to be going hard.”
While She Sleeps’ new album Brainwashed is released on Monday (March 23rd) and is available to pre-order now in store.