Sit Down Series: Lawrence Taylor of While She Sleeps

In part three of my Warped Tour series, I spoke with the frontman for While She Sleeps, Lawrence Taylor. He filled me in on how he views his Warped Tour experience, paying your dues, getting the band’s message across, his inspiration and more.

Alex Obert: How were you brought into While She Sleeps?

Lawrence Taylor: The original members started jamming together during the first year of secondary school, which you call high school. They were into bands like Rancid and shit. Skip forward a few years and I met the guys on a local circuit when they were just touring. And then it eventually came around that their singer didn’t think it was going anywhere. He wanted to get a job and settle down with his girlfriend. I have stood in for the band a couple of times and I knew it was time to step up to the plate. I joined the band and that was in 2009. We all quit our jobs and just went on the road with nothing. (laughs)

Alex Obert: What does it mean to you to take a risk like that?

Lawrence Taylor: I think it’s what gave us the push we needed to be out there and be a hundred percent motivated about making the band work. There was never a doubt in anyone’s mind that we all wanted to do it, so it all made sense. I wouldn’t tell anybody to quit your job and that’s the way to do it, you need the extra funds to back up what you want to do like printing t-shirts or whatever it is. But for us, it was just a case of wanting to put our all into it. The only way we can do that is to all quit and go at it one hundred percent.

Alex Obert: Along the way, how you stay motivated when the band has a show with almost nobody there or you get stiffed on pay?

Lawrence Taylor: The main thing about that is not letting it get on top of you. Everyone has good days and bad days, no matter what it is. Just staying positive is the key. If you have a bad show, put that one behind you and move on to the next one. By the time you know it’s a bad show, it’s already too late. Focus on the next thing. Keep moving forward and keep being positive.

Alex Obert: Who would you say has been your mentor along the way?

Lawrence Taylor: My mum is a very, very, very strong woman and she’s been in very difficult situations. Being around her and watching how she persisted when I was a kid, I think that’s what gives me the drive. I know that she worked so hard when we were all young. She provided for us so we could have what we needed in difficult situations. Maybe that’s where the inspiration comes from in that sense.

Alex Obert: Have you bonded with her over music?

Lawrence Taylor: Yeah, a little bit. She’s not really into all the heavy screaming stuff that I’m into. But she was a performer and my dad was a guitarist and drummer. I definitely got that from them. I think the main thing with my family was that they just let me go for it and make my own mistakes. They let me express myself and it helped me grow up. They were always supportive of me joining a band.

Alex Obert: Who has inspired you in music?

Lawrence Taylor: I’m always finding out about new bands. There’s thousands of bands that are an inspiration for us. We’ve just always been a hundred percent passionate about music. I’ve been in bands since I was twelve years old. Even if I was playing to nobody, I’d still be willing to do as a hobby. The motivation has always been in me to want to go and do that. If I was really young and got in a band that was doing really well, I think that it alters your perception while growing up. But I was already twenty five when I joined the band, so I’m over feeling like that. I’m definitely a humbled person. Having the time off for throat surgery really gave me a chance to re-evaluate the opportunities that we have. Things like that helped make us not take it for granted. We respect the fact that we have gotten this opportunity.

Alex Obert: Do you see aspiring bands making mistakes that you don’t think they should be making?

Lawrence Taylor: I think it’s each to their own. I see a lot of bands with crappy messages, lyrically. While She Sleeps has the platform to say some positive things and help people unite in different ways. We take that side of things a bit more seriously than some bands.

Alex Obert: How do you feel when a fan comes up to you and explains your lyrics mean so much to them?

Lawrence Taylor: That’s honestly amazing. We have a song called Our Courage, Our Cancer and we have a lot of people coming up to us and telling us that it actually helped them through a really difficult time, whether it be in their family or personally. It reflects on other aspects of life as well. The moral behind the song is mindblowing, to be honest. You come this far away from home and people tell you that the song genuinely helped them out, it’s awesome. That’s how it is for us as well, the music that we play is our release. That’s our half an hour to go absolutely mental on stage and let loose. That personally makes me a more calm and chilled out person day to day. And that’s what we hope people get from our set. They come out and they get to express themselves. They feel unified in the way that they can sing our lyrics back to us. And vice versa, we’d be nothing without fans of the band.

Alex Obert: How do you feel about your experience on Warped Tour?

Lawrence Taylor: I think Warped Tour’s great. There’s no hierarchy, everyone queues up for catering together. It’s really cool in that sense. It’s very diverse on this tour and we all support each other. Some of the stuff is not my thing, some of it is. But backstage, we’re all the same. It’s about mutual respect. On stage, we are a band that not many people know about that much out here at the moment and it’s a really honest representation of how the set is going. We start our set, no matter how many people are watching. But by the end of it, it’s always really busy. It says to me that people are enjoying what they’re seeing. It’s a really positive thing. When I was young kid and getting into bands like Killswitch Engage, there wasn’t really much internet. You found out about bands through magazines or the bands that put up flyers, old-school style. You didn’t get a preconception about a band until you actually saw them live. Nowadays, you can click a button and find out if you like a band before you actually attend something like this. So when people come out to our set, it’s a really honest thing. It’s really cool to have people come up to us after our set and say that they’d never heard of us before, but they loved it. It’s beautiful.

Alex Obert: Who were some bands from the US that came over to play in the UK that you fell in love with?

Lawrence Taylor: Unearth, All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage. There was a big surge of metalcore really breaking over into the UK. I just remember reading Kerrang! Magazine and finding out about Killswitch Engage. I knew I had to go out and buy their CD. Really, it was through Kerrang! Magazine and Metal Hammer Magazine that I found out about a lot of the stuff that I listen to.

Alex Obert: Have you gotten to meet Kevin Lyman yet?

Lawrence Taylor: Yeah, I’ve met him a few times and interacted with him. He seems like a really cool guy. His vision for Warped Tour over the years has been awesome. You hear about bands like blink-182 being on Warped Tour and now we get a chance to. I think he’s got it down and he gives a great opportunity for young people to come out and enjoy bands. It’s a great opportunity for bands like ourselves that are trying to make a name for ourselves out here. I just think it’s good vibes and a very positive thing for music.

Alex Obert: Have you also taken notice of the backstage crew on this tour? They are definitely just as important as the bands for making Warped Tour what it is.

Lawrence Taylor: They’re always working hard. The crew that are on this tour, the majority of them have done it before, so they know what they’re doing. Without those guys, it just wouldn’t happen the same. The organization that goes into it like building the stages, it’s just incredible. And they do it every single day at a different venue. But the traveling circus, really. (laughs)

Alex Obert: After Warped Tour, what’s next for While She Sleeps?

Lawrence Taylor: We’re going to be doing a run in the UK supporting Bullet for my Valentine. That should be awesome. Will be going to loads of weird little towns and cities that we have not necessarily been to before, even though England’s not that big. It’ll be cool to experience the different venues and small cities. And hopefully we’ll be coming back out to the states in January to play some shows, but we’ll see what happens.

Alex Obert: I’d love to thank you so much for your time and a great interview.

Lawrence Taylor: Thank you!

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