While She Sleeps - Lawrence 'Loz' Taylor

While She Sleeps - Lawrence 'Loz' Taylor

WHILE SHE SLEEPS is a Metalcore / Punk Rock band from the UK that is currently on its first headlining tour in the US. Their DIY approach in music and the relationship with their fans speaks volumes on the WHILE SHE SLEEPS mentality and overall attitude. METAL KAOZ wanted to learn more about these Brits, so got Lawrence Taylor, aka Loz, on the phone to learn more about the band and how things are going in the US tour. Read on!

While She Sleeps - Lawrence 'Loz' Taylor

Hi Loz and welcome to METAL KAOZ!
How are you doing, bro?

I’m very good, thank you. What about you? You’re in Atlanta, right?
I’m doing good, man. Yes, that’s right.

I know that you have a show there in a couple of hours, so let’s start right away. Before kicking off this US tour, you played at Brixton Academy, so how was it having a full production in a historic venue like that?
Yeah, incredible, man. The whole vibe was really great and to get to the UK and finish the show at Brixton was amazing! Our team, our people we’re working around, was working so hard, and like you said, production was very DIY and it had a very Punk Rock feel to it but the production that we did in there really suited Brixton Academy. It was really great and the show was awesome!

You posted some footage on the band’s Facebook page so did you film the show or at least part of it in a format that can be officially released?
There some weird new rules that we come up at Brixton Academy saying that anyone does any filming there, does have to pay like a couple of thousands of pounds to be able to put that footage anywhere, so we took some footage but I really don’t know about a video format. I just know we had a few guys there, friends of ours, that came along and did some filming and some editing afterwards, you know, to be able to remember the show and look back at it, you know. And yes, there’s always the chance of releasing something in an upcoming release, but we’ll see what happens. We have the footage, so we’ll see what will happen in the future.

That will be great! What do you think is the major difference between headlining EU tours and American ones?
I think for a lot of English bands that are where we are, for example DIY Punk Rock / Metalcore kind of bands going from the UK to America is quite difficult. Initially, if you’re an upcoming band, you have the costs of the flights and then wherever you’re touring, you have to rent some van or a tour bus, and that is thousands and thousands of pounds before you even start the tour, so I think that’s one of the initial difficulties for any band coming to the States. And then, for an English band, you know, you can play different shows in different cities quite quickly in the UK whereas when you come out to America, you’re driving a lot further and for a lot more hours, so what you’ll find out quite quickly is that America is so big compared to what we’re doing in the UK. And I always say, like, bands coming from America to the UK for example must think that it’s a breeze because the biggest drive that you’re probably gonna do is five hours and that’s if you’ll drive quite a heavy distance across country or from the UK into Scotland. So, I think, I imagine – I haven’t really spoken to anyone about this – US bands will be like “this is just so easy” (laughs) to get in a van and drive for a couple of hours to the next city. So, yeah, I think that’s one of the difficulties that could do any sort of dent and getting known out here is also really tough. But the internet in that perspective is a good tool to use and get people know your band.

Do you think Brexit will make things even more difficult for bands to travel either way?
I do think so, yeah. I think we’re already seeing weird changes that are happening. Probably a fair amount of English bands won’t be able to tour across Europe – we’ll have to have visas and make sure that all the right documentation is there, and the cost for going through a visa, all that could potentially change for UK bands. We already have to do quite extensive checks and the costs to get out to the States but yeah, I can see getting quite difficult to move around more freely. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what the people who run the countries kind of want. I think they wanna keep tabs on everybody and they wanna make it difficult for us to travel and I think the majority of people who were into this probably didn’t know what Brexit was gonna bring and that was a lot of uneducated people in the UK voting in a certain way which was a way that WHILE SHE SLEEPS definitely didn’t want it to happen. As a band we believe in bringing down the wall and sort of being more unified and I think Brexit is the complete opposite of that. I think it makes it more difficult and makes everybody less unified.

Interestingly enough, I think the song you released “Elephant” might have something to do about this because when they were talking about Brexit, no one was talking about the elephant in the room and it’s about what you’ve just described; making the life of everyday people difficult.
Yeah, exactly.

So, you released “So What?” that was the fourth full length album of the band and it’s the second via Sleep Brothers label, right? So, what was the turning point that made you decide to create your own record label?
I think from the very beginning WHILE SHE SLEEPS has always had a Punk Rock approach to how we run things; we’ve always been very, very hands on with the way we approach albums and our artwork and the way that the band is run. We had so many problems in the past with management and labels and just the people that you kind of employ to help you run the band not doing their job properly or not being able to do it properly, or not having the same vision as what we have and the way we want our band to be perceived, so through many years of going through all this bullshit, it was becoming more and more apparent that we were gonna have to take more control. You know, every member of this band is pretty opinionated and has a strong personality and a strong vision, so sometimes can be pretty difficult to deal with and other times can be amazing to deal with, but I think just going through multiple situations where things didn’t work out like we planned them to, stupid mistakes, like we take the time to record songs and making music videos for these songs and then someone at Sony Music for example would release it accidentally at 3am on a Sunday night, and then you’re like “how did this happen?” I do not want to badmouth anyone but seeing all those mistakes kind of makes you think that no one could be as much passionate for your band as you are and we just kind of learned that the hard way. So we decided that the best thing to do was to release our music.

Now, at the time, we also moved out from a really tiny practice room – this was just after we lost our original space which was a barn in Yorkshire in the UK – so next there was any space and it’s quite dingy. I think bands like BLUR and DEF LEPPARD and THE ARCTIC MONKEYS, BRING ME THE HORIZON at some point have been through the same like dingy, awful practice spaces. We decided that it wasn’t gonna be enough. We were coming back from tours and loading our amps and gear off five flats of stairs and it was mental! So, eventually we were like “we need a new space, we need a new way to approach music” because the things we were going through and the management wasn’t really working for us, there was no passion from that side of things, so eventually we came up with this idea that what we’ll do was that we wouldn’t take on a label to put out our albums, which turned to be “You Are We”, and at the same we were trying to figure out where we were gonna practice and what our creative space would be, so we decided to pledge our record. And it all happened exactly at the same time; we got the space that we’re like “this is gonna be awesome” and then at the very similar time we’re like “why we just don’t put a pledge campaign together?”. So that anyone who’s into the band can put a few quid in and there could be so many different bundles and packages the people will be able to get, and if it works out, then it’s great, and if it flops, it flopped. What we saw was so much love and so much support for our band that really opened our eyes, and we’re like “this is fucking awesome”, credits to our fanbase for being like one of the best fanbases in the world, in my opinion. They were so supportive and the pledge campaign was a big success. So, that just got us thinking from now that would be the way to do it. With record sales being at an all-time low, it was hugely important for us to have a successful pledge campaign and we’re very lucky that our fanbase supported it.

However, you did not follow the same pledge-campaign approach for “So What?”, right?
Yeah, it was still released through our label. Basically what we realized by doing the pledge-campaign ourselves was that it was so much work to be done and I think what happened with “You Are We” is that we kind of underestimated how huge that fulfillment was in terms of getting the bundles together, staying on top of making sure that everyone gets everything and outlaying the funds to print records and do all these. Because, obviously Pledge just don’t just release the money to you; the money that we would use to produce all these items that everyone had purchased they hold on to it until the campaign is fully finished. So, there was all these crazy little twists and turns that put a lot of pressure on the five dudes in the bands. For the second album we brought someone onboard to help us fulfill the orders but we still maintain all the creative control.

Awesome, man! Well, the record labels have changed simply because the profit is not as big as it used to be and therefore, they do not put lot of effort. This hurts the bands and practically the scene. With this in mind, the DIY approach may be the only way to go, but it is not for everyone.
Yeah, I think so too. For more mainstream artists like a Pop artist, perhaps a label is the best the way to go. But if you are a Punk Rock band or a Metal band or anything that is a bit heavier and not that mainstream, then I think the best way to go is DIY. Like I said, at the end of the day no one cares about your band more than you do, and if any of the labels or management see any success, the only thing they want to do is take a percentage of that. Yeah, your best bet is to try and figure this on your own. If you are a good band and people care about it, then you will succeed. I think this is the future for these music genres doing things DIY, use pledge campaigns or whatever will help to raise the funds and keep releasing good music.

You are right, I think. While checking the videos WHILE SHE SLEEPS have released, I watched the one for “The Guilty Party” and of course I have to ask; why do you have captions in Ukrainian?
The guy who produced the video thought it would be fun to have them and I think it was a way to check a different aesthetic and give the video something new. It felt like a lot of themes in the video and the clips we had gathered had some sort of a feelings from that part of the world and then we quickly realized, after that, it almost kept the “You Are We” theme going. We never released a video with subtitles to match the cover artwork of “You Are We” with the most common languages in the world. On top of this, the aesthetics of the words in that language are really beautiful and we just found quite interesting. I mean, just like you, so many people picked upon it so it kind of did its job in a way. There were people from that part of the world saying “I can’t believe you did this" and reached out to us, so in general I think it made the whole thing more interesting and put a different twist on the video.

I hope or maybe I should say I wish that your message about bringing people together will get out because nowadays it seems that we are more divided than ever. We are divided for pretty much any reason under the sun.
Definitely, and I think the trouble with the internet is that everyone gets an opinion now and people get to see those opinions very quickly and it is very easy to see how this divides them and choose to go separate ways or disagree on certain things. Like you said, this becomes more of thing now and we do feel divided. What people feel when they come to a WHILE SHE SLEEPS show is unity. We definitely feel  the passion and the unity and it is awesome to be in the same room with people who relate to your lyrics and it is awesome to be in the same room with like-minded people and everybody is enjoying the show without any animosity or unnecessary violence. For WHILE SHE SLEEPS, this has been always important and we have always been a sort of a community band. Speaking for myself, I still put Rock shows in my hometown where I grew up, and if I didn’t do that, there wouldn’t be any Rock show really. We still go and watch bands live and we are still involved in the local music scene. So yes, community is an important part in the band with a very passionate fanbase. We have always been transparent with our fans and it is lovely to see this because we are all on the same level. It is amazing.

Considering the US Visas that last for a year, do you see the band returning to the US this year?

Personally, I have no idea what is happening after this tour (laughs). I basically, I am told where I have to be and I am “right, cool, we are going to America” without thinking much. I think the best move and this is not a reflection of anyone else in the band thinks, is do this headlining tour and see what comes after this. We did the first show in Orlando and from the stage I said “I did not expect anyone to be here”. I mean, we are not a well-known band here in the States and just a handful of people knows WHILE SHE SLEEPS here. Hopefully, the word will start spreading. We have done so many supporting shows here in the States and we have always gotten good response. We had some troubles in the past with throat surgeries and we could not come here as much as we would like but we like American and we like the people we meet here so hopefully with this headlining tour we will get our foot in the door. I’d like to come back as soon as possible and maybe support a bigger band like A DAY TO REMEMBER or anyone really. We are happy to be here.

Based on the release dates, it looks like you’re releasing one album per two years; so, does this mean that the fifth WHILE SHE SLEEPS album will see the light of day in 2021?
Yeah, potentially. We have some time after this tour; we have the European summer festivals, but we do have some writing time there. So, we will be writing new music and that will be an exciting time for us. But we are on a relaxed schedule, and I think this genre and the surrounding genres are quite interesting; I do not know if doing a full length album is the best way to go or whether dropping singles more frequently and EPs is a better way, because we can stay on the road more time which is a more sustainable way of being in a band. I mean, you don’t have to pay crazy amount of cash for your time in studio, and WHILE SHE SLEEPS spend a lot of time in the studio because we are so picky. You’ll definitely see new music, but I am not sure if this will be a new album.

Although keep in mind, for us, the old guys that is, we still like getting the physical product, especially on vinyl.
Oh yeah, we will still release our music on vinyl. I love vinyl myself.

Ok man, thank you for taking the time to speak to METAL KAOZ. I wish you the best for tonight’s show and have safe travels.
Thank you so much, Dimitris. I appreciate this.