Spending the day with a band I’ve never met is always intimidating at first. Of course I’m not there to get in the way or invade anyone’s personal space, but there’s always a small concern in the back of my mind that I’m somehow doing something wrong and they’re just too polite to tell me. On top of that, I try not to get too comfortable because I never intend on overstaying my welcome. But somehow, I found myself unintentionally spending two days with While She Sleeps.

On the last day of the British Invasion Tour in Montreal, I woke up from my post-exam nap to a text from Mat saying the guys had arrived at the venue. Once I showed up to Metropolis that afternoon, I waited outside until Sean happened to come out and ask me if I was “the photo lady.” He brought me inside, where I met the rest of the band and their merch guy/photographer, Trev.

We hung around for a bit until the guys had to load in. Then Mat and I made a very important trip to the UPS store, where we found out it would cost $77 (or was it £77?) to ship a card to the UK. After mulling it over for probably way too long, we left to get bagels on Saint Denis instead. I, personally, am not a huge fan of Montreal bagels, and Mat confirmed that I’m not just a biased New Yorker. According to him, it tasted as though “someone had walked it from New York to Montreal before making this sandwich.” #realtalk

Luckily, our Uber driver was still waiting for us at least twenty minutes later (bless that man), so we got back to the venue just in time for soundcheck.

Because Mat took on the role of tour manager for this North American run, we headed backstage to get some work done and hang out a bit. We all ended up watching the killer new Architects video for “A Match Made In Heaven,” and the guys also figured out who could and couldn’t fart with his armpits… because… well, why not?

As it was almost time for them to take the stage, warm-ups included stretching, jumping, relaxing, and attempting to sacrifice Trev to the Montreal concert gods in order to ensure a great show.

Unfortunately, While She Sleeps only had time for six songs, but, with the performance they put on, they should’ve been headlining. Their set consisted of “Brainwashed,” “This Is The Six,” “Death Toll,” “Trophies of Violence,” “New World Torture,” and “Four Walls.” Midway through, someone from Bullet For my Valentine’s crew came on stage in panties and a pig mask to give the Sleeps guys some shots. Not a sight I ever expected to see.

After the guys loaded out, we headed to merch for a bit to hang with fans. Mat, Sean, Trev and I then walked over to Pho Thanh Long for some highly sought-after soup, and Sean got “drunk off ramen.” We came back to Metropolis only to be greeted by free beers in honor of Sav’s birthday (thank you!), as well as countless fans–including a moose–coming by the merch table. Towards the end of the show, someone ended up orchestrating a small party around the merch area with chants of “While She Sleeps!” on repeat. Once Bullet For My Valentine got off stage, the Sleeps guys were kind enough to take “Max from Buffalo,” a very cool ten-year-old fan who had previously interviewed them during Warped Tour, backstage so that he could meet the other bands and get a real VIP experience.

We hung around backstage for a bit before heading over to Foufounes Électriques. I slipped and fell on my butt (*“she’s beauty, she’s grace” plays quietly in the background*), and Sav ironically followed suit while telling everyone to be careful because the ice was slippery. I realized it was probably time to put my camera away so that we could give him a proper Montreal birthday celebration.

Earlier in the day, I told the guys that I had a disposable camera with me in case they wanted to take any photos, and 4AM seemed like the perfect time to finally use it. Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for any of these masterpieces.

The next day, as they had a day off in Montreal, Loz, Aaran, and I headed to the Lower Plateau sans camera in search of some vegan-friendly breakfast… at 4 PM… My typical breakfast hours. As there was no vegan poutine closer than La Banquise, I took them to my favorite cafe, Chez José. The guys had been craving soup, and, conveniently, the waitress informed us that there was a soup and sandwich special. Unfortunately, two minutes after they ordered, she came back to break the bad news: they were out of soup.

Once we finished eating, we went to wander around a bit more, and Loz and Aaran couldn’t stop thinking about soup. They were “soup-er disappointed” because they thought the “soup-erior” soup would make them “feel like Soup-erman.” The food puns continued for several minutes. I thought it was a bit soup-erfluous, but who am I to judge? Everybody loves a good food pun.

We ended up at a little antique store where Loz bought a couple of gifts before we walked back to the bus to meet up with Sav and Sean. Once we regrouped, we decided to explore Montreal in the other direction, heading through Chinatown all the way to the port in Old Montreal. There, we made some cute puppy friends: a five-month-old white husky and a pit bull.

We admired the sight–which essentially consisted of some light sculptures, a lot of ice, and a frozen St. Lawrence River–for roughly two minutes when someone asked, “So, where’s the nearest strip club?” We were a bit too far from Saint Cats, so instead we kept walking through Old Montreal until we ended up in a souvenir shop. Then, on Aaran’s command of “We’re going in this pub, we’re going in this pub,” we walked into Pub St. Paul, and I left to find Mat so he could join us for dinner.

After dinner, we went back to the bus to meet up with Trev, who asked me to take a couple of group photos of him with his Sleeps brothers (#WhileSeanSleeps).

If you don’t already know this, WSS is a very DIY band. They write their own music, they design their own merch, they often sell it themselves during their shows, and, recently, Sleeps even custom-made t-shirts in their trailer because they ran out of stock mid-tour. What shocked me, though, was how much this DIY mentality extends beyond these aspects. That night, once we got back to the bus, Mat showed me some incredible photos while explaining that the guys are currently in the process of converting a Sheffield warehouse into a studio and living space (which you can track the progress of here). When I asked how they learned to do all of this, he modestly replied, “Watching videos on YouTube, really.”

After spending two days with While She Sleeps and documenting their show while getting to know them a bit, I walked home not long after that conversation feeling inspired and surprised by how much I could relate to these five strangers. Between the show and the laughs (mocking or otherwise) and the drinks and the strip clubs, I feel as though I walked away having too many memorable moments and just as many insightful conversations. As an artist, I love meeting and talking with other artists of any medium. You can learn from and be inspired by anyone, and While She Sleeps definitely proved that to be the case. These five guys are incredibly passionate and incredibly talented—both on and off the stage—and their drive to consistently create something out of nothing has definitely had an effect on me. Thank you for that, and for being so welcoming.

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