While She Sleeps drop new version of SYSTEMATIC featuring Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds
Listen to While She Sleeps’ new version of SYSTEMATIC, featuring a guest spot from Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari.
We’ve been treated to some incredible tours so far this year, but the bar has already been set unbelievably high for 2020. With an absolutely blistering start to next year, While She Sleeps have just announced that they will be joining forces with Buffalo heroes Every Time I Die and Boston mob Vein to take on London’s fabled O2 Academy Brixton and Manchester Academy on January 24 and 26, with the goal of causing utter chaos from the front to the back of the venues.
The biggest headline dates of the Sheffield crew’s career, the band are intent on putting on shows that are remembered for a long time to come – and a killer line-up is just the beginning. With frontman Loz Taylor sitting out of things right now for personal reasons, we caught up with While She Sleeps guitarist Mat Welsh and Every Time I Die vocalist Keith Buckley to find out more. Spoiler: both of them are just as excited about these gigs as we all are…
Kicking off 2020 with these two shows is quite the way to start the year, eh?
Mat Welsh (While She Sleeps, guitar): “It’s a mad way to start the year! We’re still trying to get our heads around it. When you’ve grown up listening to a band like Every Time I Die and then you get to the point where you can take them out to support you, it always feels upside-down. I can’t really acknowledge they’re going to play before us, because in my head they’re like older brothers, or the year above us at school! I look up to them thinking, ‘Yeah, you guys have got your shit together!’ (Laughs) But the idea that we can put that kind of package together makes me so happy.”
Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die, vocals): “It’s a really, really good way to start the year and something we’ve never actually done before. Normally, right after the winter show we do in Buffalo, we stay at home and do some writing, but it’s going to be exciting to get out and hit the road. Manchester and London are some of the best places we ever play – some of the most memorable shows we’ve ever had are in those cities.”
Does playing on bills with other bands who have great live reputations also up the ante?
Mat: “I think it does. It’s all good having bands with great records and having shows that are a great audio experience, but when bands really turn it up live it adds a whole new dynamic. Plus, how can you stand onstage and expect a crowd to go wild and jump all over the place and lose their minds if you’re not? It’s a collective feeling and energy, and it’s all about everyone being in that mode.”
Keith: “It keeps us on our toes because we’re definitely elder statesmen and have been doing this for a long time, and individually we’re getting a little older and a little creakier. But playing with other bands that put on such a good live show helps keep us young. You’ve got to bring it, because you don’t want to get blown out of the water. It’s a fun sort of competition to see who can go harder. While She Sleeps have a great live show; I caught them at Unify festival in Australia and it kind of reminds me of us a little bit with some of the energy they have. The way they interact with the crowd makes it an all-inclusive experience. Everybody watching is a part of it.”
Often when you ask bands what band they really would not want to have to follow, the answer is Every Time I Die. Is it at all intimidating knowing you’re going to have to play after them?
Mat: “Yeah, but I think that’s the best challenge and the sort of situation you should put yourself in. If anything’s going to make me play better or play harder it’s playing with bands who play that much harder themselves. We experienced that earlier this year when we had Stray From The Path out with us. They’re an incredible live band: you watch them every night and they’re so tight and full of energy. It’s the best thing to get you revved up to go onstage. We’re not backstage calmly ignoring the situation around us. We’ll be at the side of the stage watching Every Time I Die and getting pumped up.”
Keith, does knowing that the headliners will be feeding off your energy get you pumped, too?
Keith: “Absolutely. When a tour package is put together properly, as the night goes on each band is inspiring the band that goes on after them. It’s a domino effect of pure, unadulterated energy, so by the time the headliner gets onstage everyone in the place is caught up in that. The kids aren’t tired out, even though they’ve been bringing it all night, and it’s something that’s just built and built, both on and off the stage. Everyone’s going to do their part, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the crowd at one of these shows it’s definitely going to be an extraordinary evening.”
These shows will also be opened by Vein. Are you both fans?
Mat: “Definitely. What they’re doing is really interesting, and I admire people who try to push things in a different direction. When a band sound like they’re not just being heavy or experimental for the sake of it, but because there’s some meaning behind it, then it feels outside the box, and I really connect with that.”
Keith: “We toured with Vein a couple of years ago and they’re an amazing live band. Musically they’re like a tech-goth-dark-hardcore and a lot of the vibe is very weird – it reminds me a lot of bands I listened to growing up. They’re also just so young and sincere about what they do. Having gotten to know them offstage they’re in it for all the right reasons, and really when you watch them live you have to stand in awe.”
What have you got in store for the fans who come along?
Mat: “I’m not gonna tell you anything! But it’s going to be magic, and it’s going to be incredibly special. When it comes to [Brixton], it feels like if we were gladiators then that would be our Colosseum. We saw Thrice there when we were kids, which was a real moment, and I saw Alexisonfire play their last show before the hiatus there. We’ve played there in a support slot, but it’s a real milestone venue in the UK. We want to do something more than our usual show – part of us doesn’t know what that is yet, but we want it to be a really special night that you never forget, where we look back at different parts of our career. We want it be about everything and make it as interactive as possible. Part of me wants to make what’s a huge show feel like a really small one. I don’t necessarily know what that means yet, but I’m asking, ‘How do we turn Brixton into a floor show?’ But we’ve got a lot of time to think about it (laughs).”
Keith: “I don’t know yet – we’re going to play it by ear. We’re not bringing any real production with us; we honestly just rely on the live show being its own production. It’s not like we need a distraction like fire or cryo or people won’t feel like they’re getting much of a show. Usually all that we require is to eliminate the barricade so people can stage-dive! We’ll be playing a good mix from across our catalogue, too, and there might be a new song or two. We just relearned [2003 album] Hot Damn! from front to back for 2000trees last weekend, so we’ll likely keep some of those older songs in the set.”
Keith, do you think there’s a sense of prestige to playing Brixton?
Keith: “Definitely. The idea that we can go over there and play shows at venues with such storied histories is pretty remarkable for a bunch of hardcore kids from Buffalo, New York. It’s a journey to some other world with these buildings that have had tons of acts that you’ve only dreamt of being associated with, and we’re very, very grateful to have the opportunity.”
How has 2019 been for Every Time I Die?
Keith: “It’s been a lot more active than we expected it to be without a new record out. We’re used to having a record out every two years, so there was a part of us that was dubious if people were even going to care if we played shows. But we just finished this Coheed & Cambria and Mastodon tour, which is probably the biggest tour we’ve ever done in the States, and the reception was incredible, and the bands were perfectly matched. That came kind of out of nowhere, and it’s proven to us that you don’t need to micromanage your ‘career in music’. Rather than follow a formula, we’ve learned to wait and see what opportunities present themselves, and that was the best thing we could have done. We’re fortunate in that sense, and it’s kind of a testament to live bands who really put a lot of energy into their performance.”
Mat, do you feel you’ve been on quite the journey to reach this pivotal moment in your career?
Mat: “Quite the journey’s an understatement, I think. We slap ourselves on a daily basis, to have been able to get to this level! We’re not the sort of dudes who go, ‘This bus is so normal.’ Everything is still crazy to us, and this summer in particular has been so insane. The shows have left us speechless how big they are and how together the audience has been, and how much bigger this thing has become than we ever imagined it would. To be doing that on a headline level feels completely out of this world, and we’re just grateful that people have stuck with us for so long. It doesn’t just feel like the five of us anymore – now it feels like this connected community.”
Mat, you’re an independent metal band playing Brixton. There aren’t many who can say that…
Mat: “Again, I think that comes back to that connection I mentioned. Oftentimes, when you do something, everything is so third party – I’ll buy this thing from that website, which has nothing to do with who actually made it. But there will always be people who want to go to the shop where the guy behind the counter made the product you’re buying, and you’re giving your money directly to him, and it’s as simple as that. There’s something that feels really special about being in that position, and we feel empowered by that. People know what they’re supporting directly when they’re buying our record.”
Where do While She Sleeps go from here?
Mat: “Just trying to keep ourselves excited and trying to do other things outside the box. We’ve gotten so empowered by the independent thing that we want to try to change things we don’t like about the industry, and make it more fan-to-band oriented. We want to get more excited about how we record music, too, and maybe that means collaborating or doing smaller releases more often. It feels good to be asking the question, ‘Well, what do we do next?’ As long as we remain creatively inspired it should be exciting. We’re definitely not about to take a massive break because we’re not into it anymore. In fact, we feel the exact opposite!”
While She Sleeps, Every Time I Die and Vein play London's O2 Academy Brixton on January 24, 2020 and Manchester Academy on January 26, 2020. Get your tickets now.
Listen to While She Sleeps’ new version of SYSTEMATIC, featuring a guest spot from Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari.
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