Anything you’ve ever heard about White Lung—and mostly anything you need to know—probably came from the mouth of Mish Way. The ferocious singer of the speed-bagging, melodic Vancouver punks does most of the press for the group both by nature—she’s the lyricist—and by trade, given her moonlighting (or sunlighting, technically) as a writer herself, for publications like VICE, Bust, and artist-on-artist site The Talkhouse. She writes on the Internet about the same things she writes for her terror of a powerhouse quartet: shit that pisses her off.
You’d think, after seven years together, that might get old for bassist Grady Mackintosh, drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou, and guitarist Kenneth William. But beyond agreeing that Way would be the first Lung to die in the zombie apocalypse—she’d either “be way too distracted looking at her phone . . . until it was too late,” per Mackintosh, or, says Vassilou, she would lie down in surrender before the surviving even started—they’re anything but resentful.
“I don’t read the interviews, actually,” says Mackintosh. “I don’t even know what she says [most of the time].”
But while Way covers the whys of White Lung, the rest of the band shoulders much of the how.
Some things you ought to know about the other three Lungs: William always drives the van. Grady controls the receipts. And Mish is the self-appointed boss of “socializing and talking,” though for all their furor onstage, the four hardly ever chat in the car.
Vassiliou has prayed at the altar of Hole drummer Patty Schemel since age 13, while Mackintosh—who played guitar as a teenager before taking up bass to join a previous band—owes much to Courtney Love. William met Way when she worked at the bar where he and his teenage, 100 percent unpracticed band booked shows to drink without fake IDs. This is his first official guitarist gig (he’s only played drums in other groups). The rhythm section is open to space travel, if Justin Bieber passes on his opportunity, but only if they can perform there—and Danzig can come, too. And they all immediately recommend “Take the Mirror,” the seething, bitter opener to their 2012 LP Sorry, if you’ve never heard a White Lung song.
But the best thing about the non-screaming Lungs is that what you see—a furiously tight trio with all attentions zoned in on the next lightning-riff or thunder-thwack—is always, and fortunately, what you get. They’re not interested in small talk or postulating on why White Lung works.
Says William, “It’s just more exciting than sitting around in Vancouver.”
“I don’t know. We just started playing and it ended up working,” says Mackintosh. “I’ve toured the most with this band. It just happened.”
For how little explanation they need, and for how comfortable they seem out of the spotlight, there’s no question as to how they feel about staying the course exactly as is. It’s a perfect model.
“I’d rather quit than play with another person in this band,” says William. “If anyone else [joined], what we have would get diluted.”
White Lung play 4Knots Music Festival on Saturday, June 29.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 26, 2013