Between the making of their looming release, You Are We, building their very own band headquarters, and crowdfunding the whole endeavor to boot, it seems like While She Sleeps never sleeps. But it’s no secret that the Sleeps-Brothers are passionate about and dedicated to what they do, working like crazy to spread their message and music across the globe. Like always, they are using their platform to speak about the issues that plague our world, but this time around they are taking a more internal perspective, acting to insight change and build hope within those who take the time to listen.
With April 21st quickly nearing, we had the immense pleasure of speaking with bassist Aaran McKenzie to get the lowdown on You Are We from conception to culmination as well as the intention behind and hopes for their highly anticipated record. Here’s what he had to say:
The space you guys built appears to be less of a studio and more of place that celebrates community where bands, in addition to yours, can convene and come together. How has it been working in that space thus far, and what bands have stopped by?
A studio is just one aspect of the whole place, although it does lay at the heart of the whole idea of the place. We felt we needed a space (a band headquarters if you will) to come and be creative in whenever we pleased. Whether that be writing new material or making DIY merch items, our creative hub allows us the freedom to have a space to do that. We do have bands come and hang when they are passing through on tour, which is nice to be able to facilitate.
The new space in addition to the new record seems to of made the Sleeps-Brothers stronger than ever. What was the vibe like during the making of You Are We, and how has it affected you as a band?
It felt like it took us back to our original writing ethic having the warehouse and all of us moving in together to write and bounce ideas around. Which is what we did with our first mini album TNSFN and felt that we lost over the debut and second album. Not that it affected the quality of those albums because they have got us to where we are today, but I think having our own creative hub again really shines through the material on this new album.
You guys don’t abide by the whole concept of genre, and that’s awesome. Yeah there’s a sound to what you do, but you aren’t afraid to deviate from it. How has You Are We evolved from Brainwashed, and in what ways have you explored or experimented with your sound this time around?
I feel we’ve just pushed the boundaries further than we ever have. We wanted to stray further from the “metalcore” scene and initiate our own sound more than ever before.
You crowdfunded your upcoming record. How was that experience?
It was always going to have a sense of risk going forward with a new album without having a stable platform to put it out on. But we felt we needed to step away from the major label system. We have a lot of DIY ethic in our band and this is just another aspect of that. To gain more control with our band as we put out our most anticipated album yet is something we needed to do.
Any advice for bands who are considering crowdfunding their next album?
You have to have a hard working ethic. Everything you have has to be poured into the campaign because you’re not going to have anyone to help you apart from your fanbase. And to be honest, make sure it’s the right time to be doing this in your bands career. Make sure you have a strong fanbase behind you.
There’s this feeling of liberation coming through. What’s it been like making your own album in comparison to going through a label?
Well Sleeps have always had complete creative control over everything that we produce. So there was no difference really. In terms of writing and recording the album. Obviously the campaign is a whole other world from the label side of things. It just means we have more control over marketing and enforcing our own ideas with more freedom than ever before.
I also feel that You Are We is channelling a lot of aggression and negative energy, but it is turning it into something positive. People are going to naturally have different responses or connections to it, but is there anything you are hoping fans will take from the record?
We hope that people will take away a sense of hope that we can change the world if we change ourselves on an individual level. The answers aren’t external, the answers are within, and when everyone realises that the one makes up the many, then thats when we can see true change.
I’ve heard about Brexit on the news, but it’s never the same as hearing about it from someone of the population who’s dealing with it every day. How has Brexit affected both the state and morale of the UK, and is this something that is touched on in the record?
While She Sleeps always talk about current world affairs. The band is a platform for which we can voice our opinions about it and is almost a catharsis to relieve us from the frustration it causes us. We are forward thinking people who ultimately just want the world to be free of prejudice and segregation. We feel that things like Brexit are a step in the wrong direction and we definitely feel it creates a divide in our nation.
You Are We seems to include not only personal issues, but also world and political issues. Do these two tie in together, or are they separate issues that are touched on within different songs?
The 2 subjects kind of symbolise each other. The points touched upon with politics etc are supposed to show how world problems can reflect internal battles. That essentially they are one and the same, just on different scales.
You recently released, “Silence Speaks”, featuring Oli Sykes. I know you guys had some differences in the past, but it’s awesome to see you coming together and putting water under the bridge. What was it like collaborating with him, and can we expect any other guest appearances on the record?
It was really last minute actually. We had sent Oli Silence Speaks because he’d become really excited about the material we were putting out. Then he came back to us with an idea for the middle break down (which we all really loved) and asked him if he wanted to guest the part. We also had he video shoot for the song the following week, so it only made sense that he’d appear in it. It was all really swift and kind of fell into place itself.
I watched one of your interviews with Daniel P Carter, and Sean mentioned that Thrice’s record came out around the time you were making yours. It seems that other killer records, not necessarily influence you but motivate you. What other albums or things got the blood pumping and the creative juices flowing during the making of the record?
Architects released their banger of an album ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ the same day Thrice released their record during our writing period. That definitely got played just as much!
Unity seems to be a big theme on this record as well as community. For me, especially, hearing that is really giving me this sense of hope with everything that’s happening right now. Do you think, now more than ever, that musicians have a responsibility to bring people together and insight change given the platforms they hold?
If those people are aware of the true nature of current world affairs then yes I do! We need change and we need it now. It’s too late to not give a shit. Everyone holds that responsibility on a personal level too.
We always say here at CS that Architects are coming over for a tour, now we just need While She Sleeps and our year would be made! Any plans for a North American tour anytime soon?
We tried to get a tour in for earlier in the year but unfortunately it didn’t work out. We love touring the States so hopefully we get another opportunity for later in the year!
Much thanks to Aaran for taking the time to speak with us! Share your love for While She Sleeps with us in the comments, and let us know your thoughts on our discussion with Aaran. While you are at it, make sure you get your preorder in–if you haven’t already–for their projected banger of a record, You Are We here.
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