By Jeremy Vane-Tempest
Government conspiracy theories about falsified terror attacks, presidentially-sanctioned assassinations and reptilian overlords masquerading as human world leaders before our very eyes sound completely mental. Then you read about Operations Northwoods and Richard Nixon’s vendetta against Jack Anderson, and suddenly they don’t seem so ridiculous (except for the reptilian overlords. That’s a next-level, institutionalised, howling-at-your-own-genitals level of crazy). While She Sleeps don’t like what they see with the current state of the world, and as guitarist Sean Long explained to Jeremy Vane-Tempest, things need to change now.
I’m talking to guitarist Sean Long a mere six hours after the release of their sophomore album, Brainwashed. A much more mature release than its predecessor, the immediate thing that stood out to me is vocalist Lawrence Taylor’s voice. Sean explained that Taylor completely blew his voice at the back end of 2013 and needed surgery to fix it. The amount time it took for him to recover meant that the band had to take a year off, and it may just have saved their damn lives.
“I don’t want to say that I’ve given up partying, but I’ve definitely pulled back. We all have”, Sean detailed. “There’s more to life than going out every night and getting wasted. This break has given us all time to reflect and we’ve all realised that life is better when you’re not hung over every day. We don’t want to all die at thirty, and it’s way too easy to do. We’re trying to be more productive, and were taking the band more seriously now, too.”
Life on the road can be a poisoned chalice, and the sinister thing about substance abuse is that it hides itself from the user. It’s very easy to get lost in the road, and the amount of free time involved in a touring band means that many bands turn to drugs and alcohol out of sheer boredom, before declining into a terrible spiral. Sean agreed.
“It’s so easy to be on a bad streak. We didn’t even know we were on one”, he explained. “We were getting fucking nailed every day; bottles of whisky each every night was the norm, because we’re on tour. This is what it’s all about. Now, we have crew who load in for us, so we’ve got nothing else to do except get hammered, and that’s every night. If Lawrence’s voice hadn’t blown, we probably never would have realised just how hard we were going, so it’s definitely been a blessing in disguise.”
It’s this newly discovered autonomy that their new album Brainwashed is all about. The record is a wake up call to people who are happy to live under what While She Sleeps view as the oppressive thumb of capitalist totalitarianism, whereby everything is a commodity, and currency is the modern deity. Sean sees all of this, but he also sees a change on the horizon.
“There’s been a real shift lately across the globe where people just want to find their own path through life. It’s really inspiring” he enthused. “People are so used to hearing and doing certain things that they think that it’s the truth and the right thing to do. They think that the powers-that-be have their best interests at heart, when it’s really the exact opposite. The powers-that-be don’t have any consideration for the future of the masses, and by extension, the masses learn not to have any consideration for their fellow man. Brainwashed is about stepping back and seeing the world for how it really is, rather than how you’re told it is and conditioned to believe. People watch an ad on TV, and then the next thing they know, they’re in the store buying the stupid thing and they don’t need it. If I could sum up the message of Brainwashed, it’s that people should listen to themselves, and not allow themselves to be controlled by the media and the corporations.”
“The governments are all fucked”, Sean continued. “Money in general, with the economy and its ability to halt environmental action because someone might lose some cash, is also fucked. There are so many aspects to the world that just aren’t right. Everyone’s saving up for this future that’s never gonna arrive. They’re all ‘I need to get this job to save up for a big house and a big car so that I can be happy’, and they’re never gonna be happy chasing the dragon like that. You’ll get the house, and then you’ll see the mansion across the road. Obviously people should strive to do better, but they shouldn’t value themselves purely by the amount of material possessions they’ve accumulated. They should try to find some peace with who they are and where they’re at. The grass is never greener.”
Brainwashed is out now through Sony Music.