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INTERVIEW: Sean Long – While She Sleeps

After they announced they were venturing on with their career independent of record labels last September, everyone was immediately wondering what drove WHILE SHE SLEEPS to make such a drastic shift in direction for their career. Well, as their new record You Are We looms on the horizon, ready to blow everyone’s mind with how good it is (honestly, its bloody brilliant, read our review here) we got the chance to chat with guitarist Sean Long to get the scoop on what is one of the years most anticipated albums and the motivations behind the band making the decision to go independent.

You and WHILE SHE SLEEPS remained pretty quiet over the reasons behind wanting to continue on independently. Would you care to open up on what drove the band to this decision?

Sean: It weren’t really a separate event that made us what to what to do that, know what I mean, there wasn’t a separate thing that made us go ‘fuck this, we’re out of it’, it was more of a growing up with the industry and the system and the way it works that we became more aware of how it works. We worked pretty closely, obviously we were with Sony, with big labels and we’re working with a big management label we’re still with and we just slowly found out that there are loads of people work for bands, and there are so many people that work on a single band that so many things go wrong and the people that make the mistakes obviously don’t really give a shit as much as we do, and they never will, it’s not their band. It’s just another job for them, so we slowly started realising that if you want something done right you gotta do it yourself because there were so many fuck ups that were immature of a big label, and we were just like this is so not right. We wouldn’t make those fuck ups so why is a big label making those fuck ups? And we were so excited by the fact of a pledge and a crowd fund campaign anyway, just to kinda see where we’re at and how many people care about us, and it’s so nice to see how it turned out. So it’s not like we hate the industry and fuck the industry, especially what the bands about, it made more sense for us to at least give this a try. It was just a growing up decision I think.

How scary was it for you guys when you made the decision?

Sean: It wasn’t really that scary, if anything it was more exciting. Obviously there was a little bit of ‘it might not work’ but that was the whole excitement of it. Obviously it’s worked and it’s been like, look what you can do, instead of being told this it the only way to do it. We’ve just proven to everyone that what’s prescribed for how you need to shit isn’t always right, and its not like ‘you NEED a label to do everything correctly’ and I mean obviously we had a fan base so I’m not recommending anyone go do it, but you can do shit on your own, and its not crazy to try stuff like that so I think that’s the main thing.

How was the whole process? Where there any near disasters or did it all go swimmingly?

Sean: It’s all been pretty swimming, because obviously the people that pledge, they work with bands that want to make this move all the time, that’s what they specialise in. So they work with people like us all the time, so we have gone independent but on the other hand we do have a lot of people helping us. So they take care of the fulfilment and all that, but probably the hardest thing that came about was just making everything we decided to make.

But that’s also got to be one of the best things about the whole process?

Sean: Well it is, because we got the chance to make it that little bit more special. But it just got so heavy on top of us, because in the process of that, we have the album coming out that has its own needs to take care of and we’ve got to practise the new songs. There’s so many things that came on top of us and that was probably the hardest things about cause we realised the workload.

WHILE SHE SLEEPS probably has the strongest band to fanbase relationship out of anyone in the scene. Was this always an objective when starting the band?

Sean: I honestly think it’s just how we are, and when we realised that we just promoted it a little bit. Obviously y’know there are some rock star dickheads, these people do exist, and we’ve come in contact with people, and we’ve seen how people react to people they actually support their band and we think it’s disgusting. We’re just used to showing people respect that show respect to us, for allowing the band to do what we do. Each fan is responsible for us to be able to for this cool lifestyle so it’s not fair not to take them seriously and not respect ‘em.

You guys have frequently said that You Are We is WHILE SHE SLEEPS at their best, was it a liberating experience writing without the pressures of big labels?

Sean: People have asked me this before and it’s because even with a label there is for some bands, absolutely, they will come in and try and change it and make sure you’re not doing stuff but we’ve never allowed that happen anyway. There’s never been someone coming in saying ‘you need to do it this way’ because we’d just laugh at them if they tried to do that. The only person we can take on advice in that sense is our producer Carl Bown, he is the only one we connect on a way that we can talk about songs, but as for labels we never had that input anyway.

You Are We sees a far more focused attempt at utilising more melody in the music. Was this progression a conscious decision or a natural progression?

Sean: Well, to be honest no. So basically I’ll start writing as soon as we finish a record, and that gets produced as that goes along anyway. So the process has been pretty similar to most records except we had the space and everyone was round the music more, but never do we have a band meeting and be like ‘this is how we want the music to go’, never, it’s just that’s how it is. I guess your barriers get dropped with each album because as you grow, your music taste grows, and maybe that does link up with it being more melodic, I don’t know, but no we never sat down and decided to go more melodic metal, it was more of a natural blossoming.

How important was having Sleeps HQ to the success of the album?

Sean: Super important because not only is it cool to have our own studio but it’s an incentive for us to all work harder and be more productive. We were getting up super early and getting to the warehouse to write just because it was there and we know that we’ve made it and I guess it was empowering to get into it more and use it properly.

Did Loz’s throat surgery push you guys to consider how to alter the vocals in future WHILE SHE SLEEPS songs?

Sean: In a sense, because the kinda toned screams have always taken our interest anyway, but when Loz’s surgery got sorted out his scream got better. So it wasn’t a question of how we have to mould the sound around his scream because his scream is actually stronger now. The toned end of screams is something we’ve always been interested in anyway so I think we’ve developed that a bit more.

For those that are still unaware, what does the title You Are We mean to you?

Sean: It just means, quite blatantly, we wanna make it loudly apparent that it’s the fans that make this go round. We don’t wanna stand aside from them, we want them to know and feel maybe a new relationship with a band, where it’s not like I’m standing here and the band is over there. It’s together, clearly, because if they support the band then that’s where that connection lies. So the You Are We would be like if we played a show, you are the we, so what ever we do, you are the we in that.

Do you think crowd funding is the future for future bands?

Sean: I think it’s super interesting to see. Because basically, when you sign a big deal and there’s noting wrong with that, it’s essentially just a big loan, what they give you. So I do think that doing it this way, starting this off on a small scale then moving up is a way to change the industry, because the industry is a bit shit in some aspects for musicians. Especially with smaller musicians, it’s almost impossible to make a living off it from scratch, so I think this is a way of shining some light on it to make it more common. Even we’re doing really well but it’s still a struggle to get through everything, so I think this is an exciting time.

Is this the future for WHILE SHE SLEEPS?

Sean: I don’t know, cause obviously we went independent just in the UK to begin with and licensed the record out to the rest of the world because we don’t have the power to control everything, yet. But I do see potentially that we will self-release maybe in the UK and the whole of Europe, and then the second step would maybe be UK, Europe and Australia. I don’t know honestly, I couldn’t say because it was such a one off kinda decision. We might get a great label off [You Are We] that really care for us and understand what we wanna do and that might be the way we go, but like I said its very hard to find people that really understand you that work within these infrastructures.

So the future is open to change then?

Sean: Yeah totally, but at the moment, I do feel like the independent thing is where WHILE SHE SLEEPS new power lies.

Have you guys though about being role models for future generations who want to follow in your footsteps?

Sean: No I haven’t actually. That’s pretty cool, if people are gonna do it, then just make sure you’re doing something a little bit different with the way you present it. Obviously you don’t want people to see what we’ve done and think it’s easy because it has to work a specific way for each band. I think it’s quite cool if people look up to us, because at the end of the day, labels are like anything, like the yin-yang of things. There’s good and there’s bad to everything but obviously we had a little bit of the bad side of it, so that’s why we’re speaking the praises of pledge and that now because it was the way to go for us, especially In a financial aspect that it’s almost impossible to make a living out of it and none of us have any other jobs so this is actually it for us.

Just going balls deep in it…

Sean: We’ve been balls deep in it for so long that it’s hard to not keep our balls from being so deep.

If you weren’t excited for You Are We by now then there is something wrong with you. The record represents a band taking their future into their own hands and succeeding with flying colours. It’s a testament to the bands hardwork as well as the stellar relation they have with their fan base. WHILE SHE SLEEPS are ascending to the top of the mountain quicker than anyone.

You Are We is set for release on April 21st via self-release.

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