Fed up with the failings of the many fingers in the music industry pie, While She Sleeps has taken the bull by the horns. Guitarist and backing vocalist, Sean Long reveals why the old cliché ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’ still rings true in 2017.
While She Sleeps might not necessarily fit the DIY stereotype, but they went to lengths to convert a warehouse into their own recording and rehearsal space, dubbed Six Audio. It’s out of this studio that the band wrote and recorded – with the exception of drums – its third full-length record, You Are Me. Due out April 21, the crowd-funded album sees long time friend and engineer Carl Bown return to the helm.
“He really understands what this band is about,” Long says. “We don’t need to discuss what to do with the sound anymore, or the songs – he’s so on our level because we’ve known him for so long and he’s done all of our albums. He’s a big part of it for sure.We didn’t want to build a studio to write in and just disappear to someone else’s studio. We thought it was the wrong energy to place on the record. We love the creative space we made.”
Learning from Brainwash, the band's second full-length, Long went into the recording process determined to play a more significant role in the album’s production. “I was really specific with what I wanted You Are We to sound like. With Brainwashed and This Is The Six, I let the producer do his job, because I was new to all of it,” he says.
“You Are We has turned out exactly how I told Carl I wanted it to sound. I went in with a specific set of ideas and sounds. I wanted it to be as heavy as possible, but a lot of times when you want a heavy and raw sound, you tend to lose a lot of clarity and gain a lot more noise. Obviously that’s what some bands want, and don’t get me wrong, I love that.
“For me, there is a big part of Brainwashed that is noisy, which is great for the overall energy, but for You Are We I wanted to get rid of that,” says Long. “I wanted it to be bigger, cleaner sounding and not as harsh to the ears. I didn’t want the cymbals to be cutting your teeth out – basically I wanted to get rid of the high-end mess that was gathering at the top of the mixes.
Further enforcing the band’s do-it-yourself mantra, both Long and Bown learned how to master their own audio, in an attempt to avoid the shortcomings of a third party. Having the advantage of proximity, and understanding the band’s inner workings with Bown at the controls, it was essential to fine tune the sound that Long had in mind.
“I hate mastering,” he says. “There’s nothing I hate more than spending four months doing the most beautiful thing you can do, then you give someone like five grand to put it through a compressor; it’s criminal. It has to be done, ‘cos that’s just the world we live in.
“While we were doing mix changes, we were also doing master changes. Every time we would get a mix back from Carl, he was sending us masters. We would then go back into the mix, change what needed to be changed for it to alter the master. It’s what allowed us, for me, to get a less ruined version at the end of the product.”
Over its ten year existence, the band has endured its fair share of let downs and upsets with record labels. Long reflects on the band's history, not with bitterness, but with a newly found awareness and positivity.
"We’re slowly realising this illusion that you need all these people to look after you, when you can just do it yourself. Especially with record labels – we were with a big label and we weren’t making them enough money, so we weren’t getting enough attention from their team,” says Long.
“This band is our life; anyone you work with aren’t going to love it as much as you, ever. If it breaks, it’s our lives that break, but if it breaks for them, it’s just another band or another job. That’s when we started to see through the cracks. We started to see that not everyone has your best interest at hand.”
While She Sleeps support In Hearts Awake on a national Australian tour, kicking off in Perth July 10, along with Crossfaith and Polaris. Tickets are on sale now. You Are Me is out on Friday April 21 through UNFD.