INTERVIEW: White Lung
What makes WHITE LUNG so addicting is the fact they’re White Lung. They don’t cling to stereotypes and nor do they even slam themselves against influences until a certain sound pops. They’re a rash that continually begs to be itched because of the authenticity that leaks from their chemistry and their innate ability to make punk sound DIY again without any premature baggage. With tour dates with acts like The Men, Ceremony and Fucked Up on the horizon, vocalist Mish Way took some time to comment on the Vancouver four-piece’s sophomore record, Sorry, and portray the Canadian music scene in a different light – one that strips the band from genres and a “national virus”.
Punk rock can be a touchy subject given its history but compared to its culture in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s, is it still a powerful voice in today’s society?
Punk is still very powerful to me, but obviously it’s not the same voice that was heard in the 70′s, 80′s or you know, even in Japan vs. America. I remember reading this article about what the riot grrrl movement looked like in the Philippines compared to the Pacific Northwest. The author was questioning if localized movements could transgress cultures. Of course the meaning changes and it’s the same thing with time and eras.
I don’t play in a punk band because it’s a political thing for me. I play in a punk band because when my band mates and I write together we make loud, fast music. It just happens and we like it. We don’t know how to write slow songs. Someone called us a punk band one day so I guess we are one, but my motivations for playing music is just instinct.
Did your different perspectives have an effect at all on writing Sorry?
We just wanted our second record to be stronger than the first. I think everyone wants that. They want to progress. The only thing we didn’t want on this record was filler songs and we managed to do that, for now. I mean, when we write our third record I will probably think songs on Sorry are pathetic because that is what happens when you get better at something and look back on old work.
How did the sessions for the new record affect your growth as musicians?
We split the recording process into three sessions, but all it did was create this totally false sigh of relief. We would record four songs and feel finished, but it was not even close as we had another session booked in two weeks and like, six more songs to write.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the new songs is how your vocals seemed refined in a grittier and powerful way – like Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown stripped down to its emotion. Was there a lot more focus put into how your voice would sound or did it just evolve naturally?
Thank you for saying that. That’s a very nice thing to say. I think it was natural, but I was trying to write better melodies so I could actually sing and not just scream. This was for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to not scream as much because screaming every night for five weeks in a row on tour kills your voice. And two, I just wanted a challenge. I wanted to make melodies and write multiple vocal parts. I wanted to try new things.
Which new song do you think had the biggest impact on on you in that regard?
Probably “Bag”. It’s the poppiest song on the record, but it’s actually very sad and personal.
Do you think the new material has made a significant mark in your career or has the process of writing songs and releasing albums just become a part of your lifestyle?
I don’t know yet. Ask me in five years if we are still a band. In the big picture, we are far too green to answer that.
Not to name names but a few bands who aren’t relatively new think punk/alternative’s time in local communities across the country are dead.
It’s not dead. When we tour we play in every punk house, basement and shitty, broken DIY space across the country. Punk won’t ever die or be dead, like ever.
Do you ever think we’ll see a reformation of a time such as 2002-2003 where Canada embodied a specific DIY ethic and wasn’t primarily dominated by EDM or pop music?
I hope not, that era was terrible. I just hope that we see Canadian music being dominated by talented bands. I hope that people beyond the Cancon darlings get attention that surpasses just a local or national level. Canadian music has this really lame reputation when it comes to the rest of the world, but there are so many incredible bands who are making unique material and documenting it – thank God. Two brilliant writers I know wrote this article called “Canadian Music Is Boring” this week which pretty much sums up every problem in our national music industry.
Where do you see White Lung fitting into Canadian music in the next few years?
We’ll see where they put us… if we decide to stay there.