When I agreed to do this, I had known about Vancouverite punks White Lung for twenty-four hours, give or take. But I had become swiftly and eagerly addicted to the coruscating 'Blow It South', A-side from their forthcoming Songs About The South seven-inch, in that time period, and I still believe it to be one of the year's most fuckin' incontestable guitar-based bona fide superhits. Singer Mish Way's predatory growl, Kenny's McCorkell's painstripping fretboard theatrics, rhythms that hit like tropical storms courtesy of Anne-Marie Vassiliou and Grady MacIntosh. Blow It South is a flagship for how destructive and seductive rock music can be given the right personnel, divesting itself of all that aloof and icy distance that so often comes with what's termed 'post-punk' for something white-hot, close, and dangerous.

So I find myself stalking my kitchen, a few minutes to an interview with Way, fretting and taking alternate hits from a tin of Heineken and a plastic bottle of something gross and cinnamony called Fireball, that my friend Kim brought me from the US. This is nothing all that new. Maybe I'm especially nervous about this one because, I don't know, because men are afraid of Way, as she later notes, explaining the lyrics to 'Blow It South'. In any case, I am very conscious of not wanting to fuck up. There are important questions to be asked here, questions not just about music, questions about gender politics and lifestyle choices, questions I'll be asking a punk with a degree-level education.

As it is, I bottle on nearly all of them and we talk a lot about music.

When the time rolls around I sit down at the screen and Mish appears, sleepy-eyed and gripping what looks like a latte in a glass beer stein. I shoot a panicked glance at the tin of Heinie, just out of shot. Timezones - they do funny things to one's sense of decorum.

"Hi," says Mish. "It's morning for me, so it's night for you, right?"

Yes. It's coming up to seven. You?

"I just woke up. I was just actually on the phone with Hayley from Paramore."

I knew about this - Way sustains herself financially by writing for a number of publications, which is reassuring to me. Most musicians I know fluctuate between abhorring music 'journalism', and simply being a bit baffled as to its raison d'etre. Anyway, turns out Way likes the band a lot ("I have a secret love for Paramore and Hayley, I think she's really cool, I think she's a really good frontperson...she's got, like, this HUGE voice!") which is nice, because I kind of do too.


So, you write about music as a day job...

Yeah, that's how I make money when I'm not on tour. And I do it on the road too. You've gotta hustle for free forever, it's kind of like music.

How'd it start?

I got my degree in Gender Studies and Communications, and I was writing this blog called 'Fucking Diaries' for a while. Someone at Vice Records liked our band, so I guess the blog somehow made it to an editor there. Then Raph, the editor of Vice Canada, asked me to start writing for him, and I wrote for free for all these other publications forever. I worked for Hana May, who taught me so much, at Hearty, and I interned at a magazine here for a while, and then it got to a point where it started to snowball. I was getting more and more offers from places and actually making money.

How does that fit in with playing music?

It was kind of in line with White Lung. I really abused that connection, being like 'I can write from this perspective', and I tried to manifest the two things at the same time. I was like 'I'm never gonna make money from music, so I gotta be doing something on the side that I can make a little bit of money from that I love equally as much.' It kind of snowballed to the point where I could almost survive on it. It's not easy, chasing cheques all the time, but I'd rather do that than something I don't like doing. You do the sellout gigs for money, write Red Bull stings...I've done a lot of really weird copy and stuff.

What do you look for in writing about music?

I think websites are doing really interesting things. There's always going to be Rolling Stone and Spin and all that stuff. And you come from the UK, you still have all the important print media that sets the trend of what everyone else cares about. But a site like Noisey is really fucking with the idea of what it means to be a music journalist. And that can be a really positive thing or a really negative thing, because the information is still being relayed so quickly and there isn't like, a lot of, care, maybe...not care, care's the wrong word...like, I can do a Skype interview with Patti Schemel, and it can be just very casual, and that's still important information for the media to digest. But then, on Noisey, Drew Millard will write these amazing stories, like go down to the South and spend time with R. Kelly and write this proper piece that could be in GQ or something.

I like honesty. I hate writing reviews myself, but I like when people screw with them. The Talkhouse is a great example. Michael Azerrad asked me to start writing for it when it came out, and it's all musicians reviewing other musicians. Kathy Valentine just reviewed Haim's new record, Lou Reed reviewed Kanye. To me, that site's where it should be at.

You were just mentioning a Skype interview with Patti Schemel, which is pretty cool - I was reading an interview of you by Tobi Vail the other day, how was that?

Well, Tobi? OK, she used to come when we would go and play in Olympia before Kenny even joined. We went down to play Olympia and Tobi, like, came to our show and introduced herself to us, so we've known her for a while, and I've always kept in contact with her sparsely. I think she's a really interesting lady, and she's super-nice. I was honoured when that interview came out, she said some of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me, about me and what I was doing, and I was really grateful to have her 'get it'.

In that interview you were talking about having day jobs outside of White Lung. How would you feel being able to sustain yourself through the band?

It's funny, I was FaceTiming with Danny Brown the other day and we were talking about that because he was doing some voiceover stuff. He was like, 'I'd rather make more money doing this so that I don't ever have to change music to make it be what someone else wants it to be.' To me, it's weird, because I feel like so many people that you wouldn't expect to have day jobs, do. Dave from Japandroids lives next door to me, and I'll phone him up and be like 'Hey Dave, blah blah blah', and he's all like (Mish does a little bumbly gruff man-voice which is just killer) 'oh, I'm just at RainCity working'. And I'm like 'OK, you guys make 50k at Coachella and you're still going to do your day job...why are you working at RainCity in social housing? You don't need to do that, you have money.'

Anyways, if we ever got to the point where I was like strictly just making money from the band...I already do, I make enough to semi-survive, but I don't think it would ever get to that point. I just don't ever see that happening. I would always write no matter what.

A bunch of press blew up in the wake of Sorry; have you noticed backlash from earlier fans?

The sellout police? Grow up. No, I haven't really noticed it. I feel like people would maybe make comments on social media, but no one's gonna come up to you and say it to your face. Everyone's been really supportive, we released that new song ('Blow It South') the other day, from the 7-inch, and we're writing a new record now, so I'm just focused on that.

Could you take me through what 'Blow It South's about? I've been listening to it on repeat recently, and I have some ideas which I don't want to say...

It's about a friend of mine...he knows it's about him, because he totally busted me and texted me the other day and was like 'let me see the lyrics', and I was like 'OK, whatever.' It's basically about men being afraid of me, masculinity, and this funny experience I had with a friend of mine in Florida, in a shower, that was really ridiculous. I don't know. It's just funny. I like to write little 'fuck you's to people.

Why did you decide to call the 7-inch Songs About The South?

The other song, 'Down With You', is about another experience that happened in the South, so I was just like 'I'm gonna call it Songs About The South'. And I say 'south' in both songs. Like the first line of 'Down With You' I say something about 'crawling across the south'. They're just songs that I wrote about touring, wrote the lyrics in the van, fixed them when we wrote the actual music.

The world hasn't been introduced to 'Down With You' yet...

It's more metal. There's this really cool swirling guitar part that Kenny does. Sorry is really fast and really aggressive, but there's tonnes of sugar, it's a poppy, sugary record. This one will totally still have pop hooks, that's just in me, but it's a lot darker, more metal-influenced. We've been experimenting a lot with that kind of stuff, because Kenny just likes to play that kind of guitar, it's different. It's gonna be cool. I'm excited.

  • Image by Mandy Lyn

So do songs tend to start with Kenny riffing on a guitar part?

He'll always bring a riff, and I'll build a melody on top of that, and we'll jam it out together. Kenny's such a perfectionist - he'll have four riffs, and be like 'these could be four different songs, but they'd be four weak songs, but let's just put all these parts together and make one really good song.' It takes him forever, because he's so careful, but that's what makes him a really good songwriter. He's not into repetition, choruses especially. I'm always like 'you gotta give me two more seconds, dude, I want one more line,' and he's always like:-

Mish, through a series of snorts and grunts, eerily recalls the impression my ex-housemate Ian used to do of our landlord. He was also named Ken. I have no other way of describing this.

When we're in our practice space writing, he'll be playing and I'll be figuring out melodies by watching his hand, and it's so crazy, he plays with such ease but when you actually look at what he's doing you're like 'holy fuck! Holy shit! You're hands are...that's crazy!' It's like watching someone skateboard, it's so effortless but it's not, it's fucking tough.

You're going on tour with Antwon.

So excited!

I read your interview with him the other day. It seems like you got on really well, and you said that a lot of people would be taken aback by that. I was. What attracted you to his music?

We were both playing a showcase at SXSW, for the publicity firm we have in common. I heard about him there, he played before us, and I didn't see his whole set, but he was kind of on my radar. Afterwards, Antwon posted this thing where I had to write up one of my dreams and he had to interpret it, and we just ended up talking on Twitter.

I met him in San Francisco when I was playing bass for my friend's band in the summer, and started listening more and more to his music. I think that rap is probably the most progressive genre right now, because it looks at what's going on in pop culture, it's very self-reflective. There's the same aggression and energy, the same stimulation provided by a hardcore show, that happens at a rap show, and of course, there's totally different things going on. The booking agency we share were like 'we want to have Antwon open for you on this tour,' and we were like 'hell yeah, obviously'. We text and talk all the time - he was supposed to be here this weekend actually, but he didn't make it over the border, him and Le1f are playing up here. I'm really looking forward to the combination of the tour, it'll be a big party.

Have you got plans to come over here?

We're gonna be over next year. I really liked playing in the UK when we came in September, the London show was totally insane.

A lot of Antwon's lyrics are pretty, ah, male gaze I guess, could be said to be normalising women as sexual objects. How do you interpret that?

I think, especially in that kind of genre, there's this performance that has to be done, where men are hypersexual, kind of misogynistic - that's the language that circulates. But knowing him personally, I can see that it's part of this performance. There's certain things where I'm like 'alright, whatever...' I totally understand what you mean, it seems like there's a conflict.

But I don't know, I like The Dwarves and Brainbombs, and that shit is misogynistic and horrible, but it turns me on too, you know - and in my brain, that's fucked up. It conflicts with my system, but there's something about it that's kind of attractive. I was talking about this with my friend Jesse, about how there's this shitty masculine thing that I totally like. But Antwon's...I'm sure he says things that're probably very rude. But when you're up on stage, you're using this one portion of your personality that you've decided to put out there, and it becomes hyperextended, and you take on a character.

...I babble some shit about being relieved, glad to find that someone more clued in that I came up with the same answers, or lack of. I ask Mish what the last record that took her face off was. She begins to pick through the collection on her computer, says that she's been listening to a lot of 'weird girl rap' before settling on something.

"You know what's really beautiful," she says, "you know that band Majical Cloudz?"

I reply that I do.

"Devon and I started talking on Twitter, and I was like 'I've gotta listen to that record, I've heard so much about it,' and I'm really impressed by him, he's got a really incredible voice. Coming from my band, which is so busy and so chaotic and so congested, to listen to a record that's so barren, so vulnerable, I really admire that. I think he's a really intelligent songwriter, I've been listening to that record a lot. There's one song called 'Silver Rings' that's really pretty. It reminds me of lounge, or something, it's really interesting. I could never do that."


White Lung release their 7" single 'Blow It South' via SEXBEAT on November 11th. To pre-order it, head here.