It would have been easy, understandable even, for While She Sleeps to try and repeat the same trick again. The story of ‘You Are We’, their crowd-funded third record, and reaching the UK top ten in April 2017 has passed into history as a true underdog tale – triumph over adversity, celebrations being snatched from the jaws of despair.
In the media whirlwind, the Sheffield band became something of a household name even outside the metalcore world, a feel-good online buzz surrounding them in a comfort blanket of support and goodwill. Hardly the moment then that you would expect them to dust off their old Daft Punk records and delve into a bit 90s trance, easily two of the least predictable influences you could imagine going into ‘SO WHAT?’, the impressive follow-up to its all-conquering predecessor. But with this band, it’s always a case of WHY NOT?
As the band prepare for their highly anticipated Beijing gig, guitarist Mat Welsh reflects on a crazy few years. “It’s manic. But we learnt from the last album that it just stays manic, and you’ve just got to accept it.”
These latest shows in China are laying the groundwork for a huge 2019, with shows at London’s Roundhouse coming in March as well as a prime slot at 2000trees. They also form the world’s first glimpse of the ‘SO WHAT?’ era, a bold release that challenges and swerves any preconceived ideas from the wider world.
“Towards the end of the ‘You Are We’ cycle, we were just so stoked to carry on and do more, get back in the studio. We were on such a high, we were like ‘Fuck it, let’s keep the train running’,” explains Mat. “We felt good, we wanted to write, and we felt creative.”
Returning to the studio in February, the quintet continued with their tradition of keeping things loose and concept-free. “It’s just ‘do what you want’. We are confident that we don’t have to write inside a little box to please the metal world,” is how Mat describes it.
“It’s always about finding something that makes you feel cool at the time, whether it’s a riff or a vocal, if we all feel it then that’s the seal of approval. It’s about how you want people to feel on their first listen.”