Interview: Wax Idols x White Lung

The members of WHITE LUNG and WAX IDOLS may hail from opposite sides of the West Coast, but their impact on alternative is of equal magnitude. The former released Sorry last spring, a record that adds a lot more venom to traditional punk, and the latter is readying their sophomore kick, Discipline & Desire, a portrayal of how modern pop can stretch itself to sharpen the edges of post-punk. They both hold more intensity than a pack of wolves when they hit the stage and the groups’ absurd levels of adrenaline can be traced back to their vocalists that steer it.

MISH WAY and HETHER FORTUNE are incredibly honest and not afraid to share their love for Danny Brown or their hate for an art-focused industry that “doesn’t give a flying fuck about art”, so it made sense to feature the two. On their way to Austin, they sent over a pretty open convo about music etc., and you can read it out loud below.


MISH WAY: We were just talking about, okay…

HETHER FORTUNE: We were talking about weed.

MISH: And I was saying I think that pot sucks and the only thing it’s good for is for fucking, like having sex.

HETHER: I agree. It is good for sex, but I also love weed in general.

MISH: Can you smoke pot and play on stage?

HETHER: No. God no. I can sometimes with Blasted Canyons because that band’s sort of like retarded.

MISH: I can’t… and one time, for a White Lung show which was so long ago – like before Kenny was in the band – I ate some Scooby Snacks before I went on stage. You know, like mushrooms and pot. I said it wouldn’t do anything and I got so high, and we were playing this weird dance party thing and this girl got up on stage and started grinding on me. I was so tripped out that I dropped the mic and started laughing because I thought that someone had sent her up to fuck with me. It was so fucked and like mushrooms always make me vomit so I can’t be like high when I’m playing. It’s crazy because I don’t understand people that can.

HETHER: I can’t do it because I get too much adrenaline.

MISH: Me too!

HETHER: It’s just too much. One time I was really stoned on stage with Blasted Canyons, and as I was playing drums, my right hand just stopped working. I was holding the drumstick, but not really holding it, and it was just kind of bouncing in my palm so I was like, “OH MY GOD!”. I felt like everyone knew what was going on.

MISH: Yeah, you get totally tripped out! You’re like, “Fuck, everyone’s looking at me”, and it’s because they are! You’re on stage so of course everyone’s looking at you. It’s like when you’re stoned in the supermarket and you think people are looking at you, you start to trip out, but when you’re on stage and you think the same thing, you notice they actually are. Do you remember the first time we met? Let’s tell the story.

HETHER: Yeah, we met at that park in Oakland when you were on tour with Nu Sensae, and you guys showed up with Seth from Hunx And His Punx while I was there with Tamaryn who had her dog. I don’t know, you guys were all there and we all just sat together. I had vodka or something…

MISH: I’ll never forget. You had vodka and grapefruit juice, and I had been craving a Greyhound so bad, and you were like, “Let’s drink this!”. You also had chocolate covered almonds, like some Trader Joe’s treat and it was really good.

HETHER: And I had my Edward Gorey tarot cards too, and I made like a fake reading because they don’t really work and they’re just funny.

MISH: It was fun. You had like blue in your hair…

HETHER: Yeah, my hair was part blue at the time. That’s true.

MISH: Actually, you go through a lot of different hairstyles. So do I though.

HETHER: I’m a hair freak. It’s anxiety driven and when I get really stressed out or something happens when I don’t think I have enough control over things, I do something to my hair. I can control it and it’s like a form of therapy.

MISH: That’s funny because my need to always change my hair is a bit different. It’s more because I’m sick of my own clothes, and if I change my hair then maybe I’ll find something in my closet that looks a bit better with this new hair. Buying new clothes is just kind of expensive.

HETHER: It is! When I finally found a collection of suits that all fit me really well, I discovered that in order to wear them, I’d have to cut my hair really short so my neck could “pop” it. I was always trying to put my hair up with hats and stuff, and I ended up looking like a drag king. That’s one of the reasons why I cut it really short this time around.

MISH: When I first started, I was like, “I don’t need to be fashionable and I don’t need to wear makeup on stage or do any of this”, but now I find such joy in it and I really love it. I think I was just afraid to embrace that feminine side, and maybe it’s like a… young thing, you know?

HETHER: It’s because you don’t want to objectify yourself or show “I’m just a chick”, but what you end up realizing is that by thinking that way, you’re actually playing into those stereotypes. There’s nothing wrong with femininity because it’s just aesthetics, and it’s like art. Men do, can, and should wear makeup more often, and be fashionable, and dye their hair, and do crazy stuff too. It has nothing to do with having a vagina.

MISH: When you’re on stage, are you pretty conscious of your movements? Because you’re pretty theatrical too.

HETHER: No, not at all. I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing. That’s why I always like to look at photos and videos. Not just because I’m a narcissist – although I am that too – it’s also because I don’t know what I do on stage. It’s nice to see those things and reflect on what others see because in the moment, I don’t know what’s going on.

MISH: When does your new record officially come out?

HETHER: March 26.

MISH: It’s really great. Hether’s new album is Discipline & Desire, or “D&D” (laughs). There’s a song called “Cartoonist” and it’s my favourite song on the album because it’s amazing.

HETHER: I saw some review where some guy said it sounded like “goth Blondie” or something like that. I think he was trying to diss me but I thought it was pretty cool.

MISH: Yeah, that is pretty cool. I’d take that compliment. But yeah, your new record is great, and it’s just really dark but it also has great pop sensibility.

HETHER: I couldn’t stop being a pop writer if I tried.

MISH: That’s your thing though! And you’re so good at it. You do such an intelligent job at branching out and writing stuff that’s new while still keeping all of the core elements that makes Wax Idols such a great band.

HETHER: Yeah, I just want it to be out. I’m really proud of the album, but I’m ready to make a new one. I’m already over it. I haven’t overplayed it live yet but I already have the next two records planned out.

MISH: That’s great. Kenny’s already over playing our record Sorry. He’s over it so we have to write a new one in early summer when we get back from these tours.

HETHER: Kenny was telling me he was feeling really frustrated with guitar and he felt like he had peaked with what he could do. I told him, “So, just go backward”. And he was like, “Oh… I totally get what you mean”.

MISH: Oh my God, thank you. I don’t know what to tell him when he gets frustrated about that stuff. I’m just like, “Oh… you’re a genius. You’ll be fine” (laughs).

HETHER: I relate to him on that level because I was going through that before Discipline & Desire. I was feeling really stagnant as a guitarist and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to play more power chords and I’m just sick of that stuff. I wanted to figure out different stuff so I had to rethink my approach, so I just went backwards and a little bit “loose”. I didn’t write all of the songs on guitar at first, I wrote them on bass. Okay, last question… Mish Way. What is your least favourite thing about being in a band? Tell the T.

MISH: It’s the fact that when you’re touring, you have a complete lack of privacy. Like I work from home and I spend most of my day alone, and I like it that way. I just need to be alone, so when I’m sitting in my van and I’m all fucking jammed up with shit, and Grady’s blowing her nose and Kenny’s asking to move stuff, it’s just too much! Like when you go to the bathroom, it’s like “Oh my God. We’re all in the same bathroom too?”. You can’t even fucking shit in privacy, and that’s just what it is. That’s just what touring is and I’m fine with it…

HETHER: You get used to it.

MISH: It’s just so not normal to spend 24 hours a day for three weeks around the same people because you go crazy. Then when you come home from tour, your friends ask you how it went, and you can’t even explain it to them because “it was good”. I can’t tell you the jokes. I can’t tell you the dumb shit that we do. Like I’m going to tell you something that doesn’t make sense to you. But at the same time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I’d much rather be doing this than sitting in an office somewhere not playing music every night. My friend Scott, who plays in the band Virgin Forest, said to me the other day that you need to think about it this way – every night there’s a part in your honour. And you just get to eat, drink, and have fun and do your thing.

HETHER: That’s totally true. Every night on tour is a party in your honour. I used to always complain about the same stuff you were just complaining about and I feel the same way. Just today, we were in the van and I’m sitting there – listening to Julee Cruise or something and vibe-ing out in New Mexico – and one of my bandmates asked me to do a small favour and my insides twisted into a million knots.

MISH: I asked Anne-Marie once if she could put a bottle of hand sanitizer back, and she just said, “I’M EATING”, as she scarfed down Taco Bell in the front seat. This is what it is and you can’t help it.

HETHER: You do have to be positive about it though and I’ve started thinking about that more recently because no matter how many people show up, or how much money you make or how annoyed you are with everybody, you get to do what you love to do. People show up and pay money to see that, and that’s a privilege. We’re very privileged and we should be fucking grateful (laughs).
 

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