An Interview with While She Sleeps: A Hunger That Drives

With Sheffield, UK as their hometown, While She Sleeps are taking a leap of faith in their journey to America to tour for the first time this spring. Still performing on the success of 2012’s This Is The Six, their first full-length released via Search And Destroy, the group has a bunch of shows scheduled alongside Parkway Drive, Veil Of Maya, and The Word Alive. Immediately following the conclusion of this tour cycle, the metal outfit will hop onto the annual summer standard, the Vans Warped Tour.

With positive attitudes and great support backing them at home in England, the guys of While She Sleeps are due for a warm welcoming into the American scene. While preparing to take this country by storm, guitarist Mat Welsh spoke with me about the Warped Tour, their latest single “Death Toll,” and more. Below is what he had to say:

Aside from touring the U.S. as part of the Warped Tour, what are your plans for this year? Is this your first Warped Tour?

The beginning of the year is going to be very focused on touring, because although our album came out last summer, there are loads of places that we have not been through yet. We knew that this year was going to be a constant year for touring. It’s just shaped up really well, we’re doing Warped Tour like you said; from the end of January until the end of Warped, we’ve only got a few weeks off in between.

Is this your first year on the Warped Tour?

Yeah, first year doing Warped Tour, and this tour with Parkway Drive will be the first time we’ve ever been over to play in the States.

Members of the group will be participating in the Bandhappy demonstrations during Warped Tour. How did that come together?

Someone just basically said, “Are you interested in doing it?” and we were just like, “Yeah, totally.” It’s just kind of good to do something beneficial, like for someone else. It’s a really cool way to hopefully meet some fans and spend a bit of time with them, find more out about people and stuff.

Are you personally going to be instructing people in the demos?

Yeah, I’m going to be there.

What are you planning to show the fans coming out to see you play?

You just kind of have to teach them what they want to know, like one of your songs you could teach them, that sort of thing. I’m just sort of up for the sort of experience of it, like if there’s a chance for me to do something like that, I think I’d be an idiot if I didn’t take it.

You recently debuted the single “Death Toll.” What is the story behind that track?

The song is basically about good and evil. Although it sounds really horrible, the track, it’s basically about choosing what you want to be and what you want to do. It’s about sort of taking the right, making the right decisions to make yourself a better person. Not including the bad people in your life, sort of just weeding out the shit people from your life and getting better in a way.

How does songwriting work for you as a guitarist?

Guitar-wise, I write a lot of the rhythm parts—I don’t write too much of the riffy stuff. My main sort of songwriting thing is I write the lyrics and the melodies and all that stuff.

What did you listen to growing up?

I’ve been one of those kids who’s always getting into new, different stuff all of the time. I’ve sort of dabbled in a lot of different parts. When I first started like, hearing heavy, alternative music, I got really, really into punk music. I sort of spent a vast proportion of my childhood listening to stuff like Bad Religion and Pennywise and stuff like that. Then I started to get into heavier music like Killswitch, Slipknot, and shit like that. It’s kind of funny because now I’m swaying back to my old ways—I’m just back into the same punk bands that I used to be as a kid. I’ve sort of come back around to it.

It sounds like loving that stuff early on has shaped you as a player.

Yeah, definitely. I think it taught me a lot of good things about what makes good songs. Now I feel like I can see things more clearly, like I know if I like it or if I don’t like it. It’s just easier. I feel like it’s allowed me a clearer head in the sense of what’s good and what’s not. I’m so bothered by the things that try and win you over without the track being good, almost like tricking you, which I think is something that kind of could happen in music nowadays.

How does the metal music scene seem different in England than here in the U.S.?

I’ve haven’t been [to the U.S.] yet, so I’m about to find out about the American music scene. All I know are American bands that come and play over here.

Do you think that While She Sleeps are better received in England as opposed to the States?

Yeah, definitely. I think in the States, we’re going to be a new band to a lot of people. Hopefully this Parkway tour will do good for us and people will like us and make us a little more well-known for Warped Tour.

We’ve been on tour around Europe about 20 times or whatever, we know America is going to bring up issues like the first time we went to Germany—no one is going to know us. That’s cool, that gives us an attitude that we should prove ourselves more—it’s like we’re a new band again. We get a lot of people being like, “America is so tough to get into” and I’m like, “Don’t tell me that!” (Laughs) Like, let us go out and find out for ourselves. I’m just excited to get to go and explore a new place. I’m very hopeful. If it goes good, I’ll be very stoked.

What have you been listening to recently?

I listen to loads of Billy Talent—I’m quite fond of Canadian bands as well. I like Comeback Kid and stuff like Alexisonfire. I’ve been listening to this cool band called The Flatliners a lot. I’ve started listening to a lot of He Is Legend as well. I just try to do it in the moment—I always try to find out about new bands. I listen to so much music that I exhaust it quite quickly, especially when you tour and don’t get a chance to get new music. You just listen to your iTunes over and over. I’ve done that to mine now and I think I know all of it inside out.

Are there any contemporary guitar players that motivate you to work harder at your craft?

Yeah, I just saw Ian [D’Sa] from Billy Talent play at Soundwave in Australia, and he blew my mind. He’s the only guitarist as well, I was just like, “What on earth?” They were so tight, they were only a four-piece, and they all sing. They killed it so bad and we came back from Soundwave just wanting to practice every day, just try and make ourselves tighter. He definitely is a pretty inspirational guitarist.

I’ll always be a sucker for Dave Grohl—I really like good rhythm guitarists and vocalists. He’s the king of that shit.

What are some achievements that While She Sleeps still want to have under their belt aside from conquering America?

Conquering America, yeah, that’d be great. When I got brought in to be in a band, the goal was just to be successful and do it for a living, to do it with my best mates. I just want it to last and continue and be well represented and not sort of run away with it. I don’t want to sell anything out, I don’t want to have to do anything for money, I just want to do it for the enjoyment and shit like that. America is going to be a very big step for us to do that. If we do well and come back liking it and stuff, I think that will be the biggest achievement. Just to continue and to prove to ourselves that we can write another good record and sort of maintain what everyone expects of us already.

While She Sleeps will play at Philly’s Theatre Of Living Arts on April 12 and NYC’s Irving Plaza on April 13. For more information, go to