'SO WHAT?' is out right now through Spinefarm.
Today's the day! While She Sleeps release their fifth studio album today! 'SO WHAT?' is as full of social commentary as it is with riffs, so we had While She Sleeps guitarist Sean Long talk us through the album track by track. Over to Sean:
"This all stemmed from me writing the “I’m not anti-social, I’m anti-bullshit’ line. For me personally, I don’t have a problem with socialising, but there are aspects of it that make my stomach turn. It’s almost like you have to put on this act to be accepted with your close friends. You have to put on this face and play your character for the day. There’s a point for me where it becomes draining and I don’t have the energy to do it. Yet even if you don’t have the energy, if you don’t keep it up you’re seen as rude. I think it’s bullshit because you should be able to be your complete self outside the constraints of social acceptance. If you’re not in the mood, you shouldn’t feel like you have to chat shit just to fill the silence. Silence is powerful and you don’t always need to fill it. So this is kind of a cocky way of saying that it’s not that I don’t want to socialise, I just don’t want to hear any of your shit."
'I’VE SEEN IT ALL'
"Society kind of brands you in this way of having to go out and get all of these things to be happy. Imagine travelling the world or buying all these nice cars or going to the Amazon rainforest and living in a tent. There is always something to go and get. Something that I’ve learned in a liberating way from touring the world is that nothing is actually out there for you to go and get and make your life any better. I’m not being arrogant, but I’ve travelled the world five times. When I’ve seen so much and found nothing, it means that it’s not all out there. Don’t keep looking for so much out there away from yourself. If you want to go and meditate up the top of a mountain because you think it’s more peaceful, you’re still going to carry all of your problems up there. It’s not about going after these things, it’s about staying fully grounded in yourself and where you are rather than thinking that it will always be better. With life when you finally get what you are after, you’re already onto the next thing. I think there is a certain beauty about that and it is part of life. The ‘show me your sins’ part stems from the fact that people have done everything that society tells them to do and they’re still not happy. That’s when they start doing bad things. They’ve got a job, kids and car and their problems are still there."
"When I meet fans and they say that I inspire them as a guitarist, even in a little way, that actually inspires me more than anything else. For me inspiration is one of the most exciting things in this world. When it appears in your mind and you can take it and something happens out of it. I think that’s really precious. So when a fan says to me that While She Sleeps inspires them, that just inspires me even more to keep inspiring them. It’s a cycle that I really like. In the context of the song, it only takes one person to start a chain of events that could inspire loads more people. I know how important a feeling it is so it’s really cool to be able to capture that."
"We felt like this whole song was a really digestible version of the whole ‘SO WHAT?’ idea. With the lyrics ‘so what if I die young, so what if I live forever’, it’s not too complicated. It’s straight to the point. It’s quite an easy way to show people how to let go. This song has so many lyrically inputs from people. It’s all about how we all felt at the moment. It’s interesting for me to be able to look back and now listen to these tracks and this attitude that we’ve created from an outside perspective. I remember getting back the masters to this record and thinking that so much of this album sounded wrong and didn’t work. Yet I forgot that with While She Sleeps you need to listen two or three times to really get into it."
'THE GUILTY PARTY'
"In some way or form we are all hypocrites at some point. It’s impossible to be a part of society without feeling a little bit guilty or without feeling wrong or feeling smug. ‘The Guilty Party’ is basically saying that we all make mistakes and we are all victims of our own intellectual power. We never asked for this way of living but we are in it together. But with all of that it’s important to never forget how much a life force you are. In a sense it existing brings the universe together. You never see something like a rose and feel like it is wrong. It has been created exactly like that and it is perfect that way. For some reason us as people feel like we can tell other people that the way that they are is wrong. At the end of the day there is so much more about life that we don’t understand."
"This is quite a classic Sleeps song. In many ways it’s a protest song. It’s very much about the world around us. We all know that it’s all going to absolute shite but everyone, including me, are guilty of not doing anything about it. Everyone tries their best, but there are moments where you do nothing because you’re sat on your phone and not helping the planet at all. Everyone is a do-gooder but everyone slips up every now and then. It’s all about contradicting yourself constantly. It’s a case of whatever you say someone will bring it up again at some point."
"The thing about this is that the elephant can be anything to do with your own life, and that’s one of my favourite things about my band and the music we write. I’ve had shit going on where I’ve pretended that everything is alright when it really hasn’t been. I still do it now. That’s my elephant. On a bigger level, if you look at the history of mankind nothing has ever really been ok. That’s the real elephant in the room. Everybody is trying to achieve world peace while some people are trying to blow everything up and god knows what is happening in the middle. Has no one ever noticed that everyone has never been ok with each other? The only way world peace can happen is if people realise that not everyone will be the same. That’s the true elephant in the room."
'SET YOU FREE'
"This was the moment that we decided that we really do love Oasis. This may have been the song that was the driving force behind some of the lighter stuff on the record. It was us going ‘fuck it’. The song is basically about when you look out at fans and they are crying as the sing along with absolute joy. It’s about people being in a mind-set that going to our shows is something that can set them free."
"This is about how I can help someone going through the same things as me better than I can help myself. I can help them out with a problem that is similar to mine but also leave myself in a mess. There’s something good in experiencing this particular pain because you get to know all of those little demons and how they work and then eventually train someone else to combat them when they go through the same thing. There’s something really positive about it. For example I was struggling really badly with a relationship but a friend of mine was going through a divorce. Weirdly I didn’t know how to help myself but I knew exactly how to help him out."
'BACK OF MY MIND'
"Some of the lyrics here are actually about 4 years old. When I first started experiencing feelings of anxiety there were points where I didn’t want to go to sleep. My insomnia was keeping me awake but when I was actually waking up after finally falling asleep, my day was pure hell. I didn’t like being awake and I didn’t like being asleep. It was a really dark time. So it’s based around the voices and people’s opinions and demons that live in the back of your head. It’s about the arguments you have in your mind with people who aren’t even there. The mind loves to suffer. When you understand that your brain wants to take you down a dark rabbit hole as often as it can, you start to watch it rather than playing a game with it."
'GATES OF PARADISE'
"We knew we had to make a song like this. It’s one of those songs that came together from 7 different sections but it was about bringing it all together. The reason we wanted to encapsulate the whole record with this song is because of how it ends. ‘Safe to say you’ll never know how it would have been if you’d asked to go the other way’. That sentiment of it speaks to people on whatever level that they are on. I wouldn’t know how it would be if I didn’t go down that way or have that relationship or experience. It’s a positive spin on something that could be quite negative to some people. We wanted to keep people in awe of things all the way up to the very end of the album."