One of the best homegrown metal bands for a long time, While She Sleeps have emphasised hard work and determination to get to a position where mainstream radio have played their songs before their debut album has even dropped. And as bassist Aaran McKensie and Drummer Adam Savage explain, being in a band is all they’ve ever wanted.
What can we expect from ‘This Is The Six’?
Adam Savage (Sav): Just the same sort of stuff as ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ (Debut EP), if anyone’s listened to that, but heavier and with better production. We just kind of got our heads round it this time. We’ve gotten better than before hopefully! It’s just more knarley.
Aaran Mckenzie: If our stuff is not turned up to 10, it’s turned up to 110. That’s all I’m saying!
What has influenced this album?
A: Just various bits, like music we’ve been listening to since before the north. It’s all the personal experiences we’ve had that has given this album an edge and an emotion.
S: Even the north has influenced us with this album. Doing all that has made this album what it is. You couldn’t really plan it, it just happened like that.
You’ve spoken about respect for soldiers in the past in relation to some of the tracks on this album. Is there a political edge here?
A: There are a few messages, and a lot about respect. People need to think about what they’re doing instead of just living through life like they are.
S: It’s like a lot of rebels, just aimlessly causing havoc for no reason. It’s about respect for our grandfathers and forefathers who fought in the war and they just don’t get the respect they deserve. They got drafted into the army when they were 16 and if that got put on the youth today, I don’t think anyone would do that. It’s that level of respect that we’re trying to put across on this album really.
Do soldiers at the moment get more respect than they do?
S: I don’t know, hard to judge when I wasn’t there!
But I mean those people now, as old people…
A: I think so yeah. A lot of people forget what’s happened and they get treated like shit.
There’s a lot of British bands coming out right now. Why this influx of great metal in the UK?
S: I think it’s just on a good streak really…
A: Yeah I don’t think there’s anything behind it, just a lot of good bands coming out now. But I think if a good band comes out of Britain, it inspires others to give it a go and years down the line, they get somewhere.
S: I think there’s a lot more opportunities these days for bands to get places these days, with Facebook and the internet, it’s easier to make videos and put them up too. It’s a good thing!
What sets you out from the crowd?
A: We’ve got a lot of passion in what we do. A lot of bands just rock out on stage, but there’s that and then there’s passion in what you’re doing. Its passion in music too, not just writing a breakdown, in the pattern too.
S: A lot of bands are just bands. We kinda live it in a way. I’m sure lots of others do, but I know some that are just bands in the meet up and that’s all they do.
A: We’re 5 best friends in a band and that’s what we do. We live everything together.
S: That’s all we’ve got, that’s what does it for me.
It must help that you guys have been together for so long…
S: Definitely. Well it’s all we know. I’ve never been in a band that just rocks up to practice then goes and doesn’t see each other.
A: I think that’s why we’ve been lasting out for the long haul, because we don’t have anything else. A few years ago we just quit all our jobs and said “We’re gonna take this seriously”. We started out with nothing but as long as we’re together it’s cool.
You did these road movies (20 Days Of Sleeps) last year. Is it really important to let fans see how you act on the road?
S: I think so. It gives you a connection on a personal level, you get to see what we’re like on a daily basis. It’s like watching a sitcom, you get a relationship with the characters.
A: I remember when I was young, I still do now in a way, when you get to see a band you like, you want to know as much as you can about them. We feel like we’re giving a bit back as well if anyone does want to know a bit more about us. They have the option.
Are fans these days a bit more blessed in that way?
A: Yeah. When I was 14 or whatever and I wanted to find out what a band was like, I had to wait for their DVD to come out. I had the Sum 41 DVD and the Blink 182 DVD and I used to watch them over and over again. Now you get regular tour updates and get to see a band on a more personal level. They’ve definitely got it better.
As a young band you’ve probably had a tough touring schedule for a while, but you’ve done a few festivals this year too. Are you now used to live on the road?
S: Kind of. You’ve just got to get in the flow of it, it’s weird when you have to go back home and go out and then come back home for a couple of days, I’d rather be out or at home.
A: It is hard but once you’re in that mindset of being out on the road all the time you just love it. When I go home I don’t know what to do with myself. I think “I’m just sitting here doing nothing. What’s going on?”
So music is the majority of our life then?
A: It is the only part of my life! I’ve sacked everything else off.
If you didn’t have music, do you know what you’d be doing?
S: I always think about that. It’s weird to think what we would be doing without it.
A: I don’t really because I always had a dead end job, and did the band on the side. I failed college three times; I’ve just wanted to be in a band since I was 13. So no, I don’t know what I’d do! I don’t want to think about that.
Do you feel you have to be totally invested in the band?
S: Yeah but it’s the same with everything, you have to put 110 percent in for something to work. I think some bands are a bit half-arsed and they just do it to just do it.
A: When we quit our jobs we didn’t know where that was going to lead us. We moved in together and released ‘The North Stands for Nothing’ then just got on as many tours as we could.
S: We didn’t really plan it at the time because we didn’t know what we were doing, we just recorded a couple of tracks, called it a mini album, someone put it out, then, Woah! We didn’t know what was happening! We just worked on that for ages.
What is the reasoning behind ‘This Is The Six’?
A: We call ourselves ‘Sleeps’ for short, and there are 6 letters in that. We all have a tally chart number tattooed on us which you’ll see flying around in the next couple of weeks, and it’s basically a self-titled album. Another aspect is that there are five members of the band, and the fans are the six, it’s about getting them involved.
That indicates the whole togetherness you’ve mentioned before.
A: Yeah, it’s an army.
You played Download this year, how was that?
A: Amazing, one of the best shows we’ve done. Bit hungover from the Kerrang awards…
S: Yeah that’s a bit of a wrong bucket (?) night there! [Laughs]
A: Yeah, go Kerrang Awards, get nailed, then play the biggest show of your life! [Laughs]
S: It just went perfect. The set was smooth, everything went right.
A: You never know how a set will go but all the fans were amazing, the crowd was proper up for it, and we just had a good one. Sometimes the hungover shows are the best ones.
Were you privileged to be on a line-up like that?
A: Yeah it was a great slot. I’ve only ever been to download once and this was the first time we’ve played it. I’ve know about the festival since I was 13 years old and I always wanted to go.
S: Some huge bands playing too…
Did you get to meet any of the major bands?
A: We hung out with Jack Black the day before.
S: We sat next to Black Sabbath at the Kerrang awards.
A: But on the day we hung out with Lower Than Atlantis, You Me At Six, who are our friends anyway.
S: It was just nice to come together and chill.
What was your highlight?
A: Playing! Or watching Tenacious D! They were good!
‘This Is The Six’ will now be out on August 13th. A UK tour is scheduled for October.
Words by: Iain Currie