By Andy O’Connor
Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 1, 2013
Vancouver’s White Lung have had a busy 2013, playing South by Southwest, Beerland a month later and touring the US frequently. They’re on tour with rapper Antwon, set around Fun Fun Fun Fest. This hectic schedule matches their busy music, tightly wound and ready to explode with hooks. “Sorry,” released last year through Deranged, was somewhat overlooked at first, but people are starting to come around to it. Vocalist Mish Way is also a writer for Vice, which explains some of the snarl of her lyrics, but she also has an honesty most of her peers, in writing and music, lack. It’s punk for the modern age – more conscious than before, but still packs one hell of a wallop.
Way spoke with us about the catchiness of punk, Beerland, and the band’s new song “Blow It South.”
White Lung plays at 10:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the Mohawk during FFF Nites and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, on the fest’s Black Stage.
You’re set to go on tour with Antwon, who’s also appearing at the fest. How did this bill come about? What are you looking forward about touring with him?
Antwon is my big, bad teddy bear. I love his music and his personality. He and I are getting married in Vegas. I will be pregnant by the end of the year. The tour came about because Antwon and I fell in love in the deep web and we told our agents we had to be together 24/7 or we would kill ourselves, so they were like, “Fine.”
White Lung’s music is tight and compact and punchy as punk should be, but there are also tons of hooks. What’s important about writing catchy music?
Do you know what’s funny? … I was going through a box of old journals and notebooks of mine because I am preparing to move so that kind of forces you to finally confront all the garbage in your home, and I found this journal from when White Lung first started and I had written, “WHITE LUNG WILL BE CATCHY. WHITE LUNG WILL HAVE CATCH, CATCH, CATCH, CATCH.” Over and over. Any good musician is not afraid of melody and hooks. Hooks do not equal a spineless song. Catchy happens naturally for me and most people will have a pop edge inside them. That’s music. Even Discharge is catchy. Look at the Dwarves. Or GISM. “Endless Blockades, endless blockades.” So catchy, but nasty and weird. I love that. There is nothing wrong with hooks. They feel so good. Our brains crave it.
What got you into punk, and how has it maintained an influence in your music and life?
There’s an energy to punk music, the guitars, the drums, the speed and urgency… it’s just attractive to me. I like it. I want it. It gets me excited. It turns me on. That’s it. It’s purely a sonic thing. I am concerned with following some bullshit ethos of punk some stuck-up member of the sell-out police thinks I should follow. Thinking of “punk” philosophically is just, like … so not the point. There’s this great essay that was recently written in the New Inquiry called “Punk Isn’t” by Willie Osterweif (http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/punk-isnt/) that discusses this in relation to current events.
‘Blow It South’ retains the energy of ‘Sorry,’ but with a touch of melancholy on the vocals. What were you going for with this track?
I was having vocal issues when we wrote this song and I sang in a lower register. I was thinking a lot about this one night on tour in Florida, so I wrote about it. The song is kind of a big inside joke with myself, which most of my songs are.
Beerland. It’s a gem isn’t it?
I really do like that place, especially the sign in the bathroom that says, “Please don’t do cocaine in our bathroom.” Sure, guys.