When your vocalist blows his voice out, and after a few years of hectic touring, maybe it’s time to take a break for a bit. This is what happened to U.K. metalcore crew, While She Sleeps. After releasing their brilliant debut full-length ‘This Is The Six’, the band toured relentlessly, including two appearances here while supporting House Vs. Hurricane in 2012, and again for Soundwave in 2013. But, last year, singer Lawrence Taylor encountered some major problems with his voice. Thankfully, a year off saw the band re-group and write their new sophomore effort, ‘Brainwashed’. Killyourstereo.com caught up with guitarist Mat Welsh for a great chat about the new album, the state of his country’s healthcare system, and the distinct sound and tone of hardcore bands from across the pond.
Hey there Mat, Alex from KYS here.
Hey man, how are you?
I’m good thanks, you?
I’m good too. It’s nice to hear an Australian accent for a change; we haven’t been out there for ages.
Yeah, it has been awhile. The last time was Soundwave 2013.
Yeah man, it feels like such a long time ago. I can’t wait to get back out there.
Me either, I saw you guys on the first tour you did out here with House Vs Hurricane – it was sick.
Oh thanks dude, I appreciate it. That was a really fun tour too.
I bet! What are you up to right now?
I have literally just got up, and will be off to band practice in an hour or so. I’m making this flyer, as we’re taking over the House Of Vans in London next weekend. We’re doing a shop in there, and an acoustic show –it’s the launch party for the new album too. Should be good.
On the topic of the new album, ‘Brainwashed’ has been a long time coming now for you guys, with you being inactive for most of 2014. So has it been worth the journey for you guys to get to this point?
Oh, for sure. It’s a nice milestone to get over. It’s something that we’ve been working on for so long that it felt like it would never come out. We had the record for so long without anyone else hearing, not finished but in a work in progress for so long too. But to actually complete it and being so close to release, it’s nice to just let it go and give it to everyone else. I am just hoping it’s well received, but we all know that we worked are asses off for it. Now we just have to wait to see what people think.
You guys were inactive for basically all of last year due to Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor’s vocal issues, so I’d like to know how that affected the writing and recording, and how he’s doing now?
In the process of recording it did affect us, we were mid way in the studio when we found out he couldn’t track the record and we had to put it all on hold. It put us into a weird position, though it became a blessing in disguise. It gave us this huge amount of time to put our soul into this record. At first it was like, “Holy shit, this is the worst”, but by the end, it worked out really well for us.
Loz has recovered vocally, and we all have this new lease on life. After touring for so long and so hard over the past couple years, it was nice to take that time off, even if what brought it on wasn’t something that we would have planned. You can get lost in a bubble really easily when touring for so long.
I’m glad to hear that it’s all back on track now. Regarding the title of the album, is it meant to be political based?
Basically. It’s based on politics and the media. We want to make it really clear that we aren’t saying that everyone is brainwashed and we’re not. We’re just trying to remind people that you have a choice for yourself and it’s very easy to forget that and just take what the media are pushing down your throat. Things like girls getting told what to look like because of fucking make-up companies or how you’re taught to aspire to be like people on T.V. are.
We’re just trying to encourage people to think for themselves, and understand how brainwashed we all are. It’s not something you can really get away from, it’s just so you can have a more conscious view of it.
That message plays into the band’s sound as well – the hardcore ethos of the band and what not.
Yeah, we’ve all come from a punk rock background, and we’re still a very DIY band. I think it’s kind of come from that, but you don’t need to have all these things that people say you need to be happy or to be successful. There are a lot of routes that no one teaches you. Like rather than doing what the people in schools tell you to do, or going to university and putting yourself in a lot of depth and not having a job at the end of it, just follow your heart and do what you want to do and you may go even further.
That kind of idea is something I’ve loved about this kind of music, the thought of “Do what makes you happy”.
We’ve gained some amount of success in different parts of the world, and if we’ve been given that gift of a stage or a place where people can hear our songs, then I think we should say something positive. Not just something bullshit or negative.
Definitely man, this is a bit of weird question; Enter Shikari’s ‘Anaesthetist’ takes a jab at the English healthcare system, and Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy went on record recently and gave some scathing comments on it too. Living in Australia, I don’t know first hand what it’s like over there, and while we have a decent healthcare system our government can be a bit shady about it. So, my question is do you have an opinion on how the system operates over there?
Well first, I actually love that new Enter Shikari record, I think it’s ace. To be honest, I agree with what they were saying but it can work, it can be a great system. I personally had a bad experience with it last year.
From playing all of these shows, my knee kept coming out of its socket from basically playing too many shows. So I went to hospital to get surgery to fix it, and the NHS [National Healthcare Service] somehow lost my information on the waiting list, so I waited about six months for the surgery. When I went back in and asked why I hadn’t been contacted, they knew nothing about it, so I wasted six months with my leg strapped up (laughs). But then again, Loz has been through this throat surgery. His local hospital has a really good specialist for throats and voice boxes, so he’s had a really good experience with it.
It’s like the police force – I wouldn’t say that every single cop is a dick. Because there’s good and bad people everywhere. There’s always a contrast, you know what I mean?
Oh of course, anecdotal evidence and differing experiences change from people to people. I know it’s a weird question but thought I’d ask anyway.
No, it’s cool man. I always like a wild card.
What I dig is that a lot of hardcore and metalcore bands from your corner of the world have a distinct, unique vocal sound – Heights, SikTh, early Architects, Dead Swans, you guys – do you think that was an unintentional development in the scene or is it because of your accents?
Yeah, I think the accent definitely has a lot to play with it. Although, we have a very different accent to the guys in Architects, it changes between North and South quite distinctly.
It’s quite an interesting question actually, but all we’ve ever done sound-wise is sound like us, to not put on a voice. That’s been our mission statement from the beginning – make sure you’re not impersonating anyone else and just sound like you. I think that maybe that some bands in the U.K. have embraced. The best thing in music is honesty. I don’t like when I can tell another is band is trying to be another band or aspiring to be another band. I think if you be yourself you’ll create your own band. If you go out there with another band in your head, you’ll sound like them. The best way to do it to be honest.
I always find it funny when I see oversees bands out here and they put on the Australian accent, to either be funny or to be serious. Or when they wrap themselves up in the Australian flag or wrap it around a mic stand, it seems kind of silly.
(Laughs) Yeah, I feel you man. People have come to see for you, and you’re trying to win brownie points for no reason. Everyone loves Australia. If you were where we are from, you’d love Australia too, it’s like a paradise over there.
I hear a lot of U.K. bands saying the same thing, I remember Matt from Funeral For A Friend saying something similar on stage a few years ago, about it being like a summer paradise.
It’s just a nice place to tour too. You guys have always taken good care of us. Both times we’ve been over there were a real blast.
Finally man, in what way do you look back on ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ now in 2015 – good, bad, indifference, admiration, or anything like that?
We definitely look back at it and see the age we were. We don’t think the same musically that we did then. We’re not embarrassed about it, it was the right thing for us to do at the time. I listen to it more in the sense of “Oh fuck, that was a long time ago”. I’m proud of what we are doing. It’s got us to this position and I’m so happy of where the band is now and the support we’ve gained over the years.
It was also really handy that Metal Hammer gave away the album for free in one of their issues; I still have the copy of it ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ from like five years ago.
Oh, awesome dude. Do you guys actually get Metal Hammer over there?
Yeah, we get Metal Hammer, Kerrang, and my favourite one, Rock Sound.
Yeah Rock Sound, are a bit more of a grown up magazine. We always have had a really strong support from Rock Sound and Metal Hammer. With Metal Hammer, they put that CD on the cover even before we were signed. Thy just wanted to do something nice for the band with nothing asked for in return.
If I was in a position like that, then that be the most rewarding thing in the world. To find a band I’d love to and put them in front of so many people for the exposure.
That’s the thing you want from the industry – you want that bit of risk-taking and encouragement.
Especially in an industry that can easily become the nastiest place in the world.
Exactly, and with that I think we’ll have to leave it there so you can get onto the next person.
Thanks again man, really appreciate it. It was great to chat with you. We’ll hopefully be in Australia next year so please come out and say hello.
Fuck yeah I will! Hope the rest of your day goes well Mat, bye.
Thanks man, you too.
‘Brainwashed’ is out March 27 through Sony.