Sunday, December 17, 2017

White Lung’s Mish Way says haters gonna hate

December 4, 2014 by Jason Schreurs, assistant editor

White Lung vocalist Mish Way is not only the front-person for one of the best punk rock bands going right now (even though she’ll be quick to point out they “don’t play punk”), with one of the best albums released in 2014 in Deep Fantasy, but also an accomplished freelance writer for publications such as Vice, Salon, and The West Ender, where she recently started writing a sex-advice column.

Signed to the Domino Recording Company last year before the release of Deep Fantasy, the four members of White Lung (Way, guitarist Kenneth William, drummer Anne Marie Vassiliou, and bassist Hether Fortune) have, deservedly, been exposed to a much bigger audience than the underground Vancouver punk scene that spawned them.

Vancouver’s White Lung plays “pop songs at the speed of hardcore,” according to vocalist Mish Way (photo provided).

Way is always outspoken and direct, qualities that can be sometimes rub people the wrong way, yet demand respect. As we found out in our recent interview with her, what people think of Way and White Lung is entirely up to them, because this is a band that’s not willing to let what others think change their musical vision: kick ass, take names later.

Last time we talked, the Domino signing was pretty fresh and you weren’t sure what the response would be. Have you noticed much difference in attendance at your shows and the size of your fan base?

Yes, I notice a difference, but that’s expected. There’s more people interested because more people know about us, but, look, it’s not like Domino waved a magic wand and things transformed. We have been touring for years and years; pushing ourselves, sneaking into the USA to play any show we could for next to nothing. That’s what happens. Anyone who thinks our minor success is undeserved can say that to my goddamn face.

Every time I write about White Lung, there seems to be a lot of backlash and debate about it. Why do you think White Lung is such a polarizing band?

I’m not sure about the flak you speak of, because I don’t read comments on articles about my band. I learned years ago that it’s pointless. I imagine the flack has something to do with undeserved success, or calling us a shit band, or calling me a whore, or posers, or whatever: the usual, unoriginal hate. It’s no skin off my back. I really could care less, and I don’t care to analyze why someone would hate on me, or my band, because we all know exactly why.

Do you think people mistake the band’s social awkwardness for being aloof or stuck up?

Probably, but what can we really do about that? Is it really our problem? Kenny [William, guitars] and Anne-Marie [Vassiliou, drums] are both witty and sick humans, but they don’t come out with that right away. I’m not aloof. Hether [Fortune, bass], who has been playing with us for the last year, is not shy or aloof either.

You once told me that playing with Kenneth is like watching a professional skateboarder, just marvelling over how he pulls off what he does. Can you explain what he brings to the band?

Kenny’s guitar is the most important element of this band. I mean, okay, we are all essential, but his guitar playing is unique and he’s an excellent melodic writer. No one plays like him. I’m so glad you asked about this and not about the “girl thing,” because nothing makes me angrier than when our three-quarter femaleness is focused on more than his guitar work. When Kenny sends me what he’s working on, the vocal melodies come so easy. We have been writing together for five years now and it’s like this unspoken thing… we don’t need to talk about it. It’s really psychic. His frantic, anxiety-ridden guitar playing complements my direct vocal delivery. We are such opposite performers, and it works.

Some of your live shows seem like the band is on the brink of implosion, like everything could fall apart at any given moment. How does that uncertainty and riskiness feel when you are performing?

Things are different now with Hether in the band. We are much tighter. We move as a unit. It’s a better live show. I have stopped getting so fucked up before we play, for a few reasons, so it’s a more powerful performance now. We haven’t played in Vancouver in almost two years; we’ve grown a lot.

What does punk rock mean to you?

We don’t play punk. We play pop songs at the speed of hardcore.

What’s been the most fulfilling part of being in White Lung?

Look, all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a child is perform, to sing. I found punk rock when I was 16 and finally realized I could do it and feel excited, fulfilled, and welcomed instead of being inadequate. I started a band with my friend Anne-Marie and we worked our asses off. This is my career now, as well as my writing, so the most fulfilling part of White Lung is everything.

White Lung
8:30 pm, Saturday, December 6
$12, Lucky Bar

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