Mish Way, the lead singer of the Vancouver band White Lung, is not a “rock chick.”
She said this -- and much more -- in a recent essay she wrote for Noisey called “I Am Not A Rock Chick.” So, whatever you do, don't ever call her one, because she'll definitely hit you. And if Way's punch is half as damaging as White Lung's style of brawling, double-uppercut-to-the-chin punk rock, you're destined to end up a buried bag of broken bones.
“Oh my God, it's fucking 2012, get over it,” says Way about the sexism that continues to bang its toxic head within the rock world. “The only thing different about being a girl in a punk band is that people ask me what it's like to be a girl in a punk band. It's not an issue for me -- the only issue is people asking me that fucking question.”
As White Lung prepare to set out on a North American tour with fellow punk bands Wax Idols and Ceremony, ripping stages apart is foremost on the four-piece's collective mind. The band hits the road hard on the heels of its sophomore album, “Sorry,” released last month on Deranged Records, and they just bought a brand new van for the trip.
“Our old van was dead,” says Way. “The new one has a sliding door; it's a family van. It's just the four of us driving around – like a somewhat dysfunctional family – and we tease each other a lot. We fight, but everyone fights. You can't be friends without fighting every once in a while, but we all love each other.”
Formed in 2006, White Lung's current line-up – Mish on vocals, Kenneth William on guitar, Grady Mackintosh on bass, Anne-Marie Vassilou on drums – has been gaining momentum for the last four years. This chemistry is unmistakable on “Sorry,” a 20-minute long punk-rock panic attack that happily feeds on its own hostility and frustration.
"The only thing different about being a girl in a punk band is that people ask me what it's like to be a girl in a punk band."
“There's an anxiety that I notice in myself and in my bandmates,” explains Mish. “I think our anger is a specific kind of anxiety. We want to get it out, but we can't, and so music becomes the only way to do it – we use songs to outlet a frustration that we don't have an outlet for in our regular lives.”
The band recently made a video for the new album's opening song, “Take The Mirror.” Filmed in the back alley and basement of Alf Haus, a punk hang in Vancouver where White Lung often play, the anxious rage that rips through “Sorry” plays itself out cinematically. With delirious cuts and schizoid strobe-lights, Way kicks over a trashcan and uses her hands like hammers against the graffiti-covered walls.
“We just got drunk and tried to film some stuff,” she says. “It's really funny, too. When I first saw it, I was like 'Oh God, this is sooo ultra-punk with the lighting and the smoking and it's in black and white' but it turned out great. I seem angry in the video, but I'm not. Let's just say I was having fun.”
Follow Elliott Sharp on Twitter @ElliottSharp.