Interview: White Lung
White Lung is a band that continuously simmers, having spent the past ten years carving out a name as one of Canada’s most exciting punk rock bands. Following up their highly acclaimed 2014 record Deep Fantasy, the trio now return with Paradise – a collection of ten songs that embody a rawer, reinvented sound and reflect the band’s inevitable growth. In light of their new release, Mish Barber-Way and Kenny William talked to us about production techniques, artists to keep an eye on this year and the quirky thoughts behind Hungry’s video clip.
Debbie Carr: Congratulations on the release of your new record, Paradise. Firstly, from the bands standpoint, how would you be sum up the new record and how would you say it differs from previous releases?
Mish Barber-Way: Thank you. Paradise is a growth record. We put that much more in and got fearless about trying to do things outside our comfort.
Kenny William: Our other records are live performances frozen in time. This one is like a collage
DC: You’ve said you wanted Paradise to reflect a 2016 sound. What techniques did you use to do this?
KW: We didn’t use any vintage gear at all, all new guitars pedals amps etc. We used pro tools to pitch shift, and rearrange some of the guitars until they didn’t sound like guitars anymore. We took samples of myself playing that I recorded on my Iphone and ran them through digital effects to create lo-fi ambience behind really clear tracks.
DC: Your last album Deep Fantasy was so highly praised by industry professionals and fans alike. How does it feel to, in a way, let go of that album to embrace the next one?
MB-W: Excellent. We played Deep Fantasy to death.
KW: The new songs sound great live and its going to be really fun to tour with them. We’re playing pretty much the entire new record in our set.
DC: What song on Paradise are you most proud of and why?
MB-W: Sister is a strange hybrid of what we do best while also expanding. I’m very proud of Below, as well as the song Paradise. It’s the title track for a reason and a love song for my husband.
DC: What is Canada’s punk and hardcore scene like? How did you get your footing here and exposure that would eventually lead to you touring internationally and showcasing at major industry events like SXSW?
KW: There are always great bands in Vancouver and not alot of snobby attitudes so shows usually are pretty musically diverse. It’s really far from most other major cities though so we had to go on really long tours to be able to play anywhere. We played all over the US and Canada for years, it probably wasn’t very healthy to go on tour for 70 days straight but it made us a better band.
DC: Growing up, who were the artists that inspired you the most and who were the ones that you consider prime examples of what not to do in music?
MB-W: I grew up listening to blues, soul and Van Morrison. Dinah Washington is one of my idols and remains that way. Not enough people understand how important she was not only to blues, but to the idea of being a self-made, self-reliant, self-aware celebrity and singer. She’s up there with Joan Rivers, Courtney Love, Stevie Nicks, Jennifer Herrema… the iconic, imemitable greats.
KW: When I was in high school I was into older bands like The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, Depeche Mode, New Order and newer stuff like Glass Candy and Crystal Castles. I used to go to local shows whenever I could sneak into the venues. At the time there were so many great creative people in Vancouver making music and ever though most of those bands just faded away they had a lasting effect on me.
DC: Change in sound, direction and often line-up is, at least what I think, a fairly inevitable part of being in a band; although Hungry, the first single off your upcoming album, saw the occasional fan upset that you’ve slightly strayed from the past White Lung sound. Do these kind of comments affect you or the way you go about writing a new album?
MB-W: Someone is always going to be upset by a change. Do you remember how Barbie reinevnted this year and expanded to include five new, varying body shapes? I thought it was brillaint, but I said, “Watch. This won’t be enough. Someone will find a way to complain.” Too many people have voices now and most of them need to just shut up.
KW: No one is pointing a gun at anyones head forcing anyone to listen to our new record. If people hate what we’ve done the old ones will still exist.
DC: Hungry’s official music video was released a little over a month ago now, how has the reception been so far?
KW: I think people like it, but I think the song will make more sense in context with the rest of the record.
DC: The video features a few unique inclusions such as actress Amber Tamblyn putting egg yolks on her eyelashes, constant distressing reflections in bodies of water, and a heavy cameo of condensed milk. Can you explain the concept of the video and how these intriguing little moments were thought of?
MB-W: When the director, Justin Gradin, and I developed the concept, we imagined this delusional girl who wants so bad to be famous, yet she is just a model on a can of condensed milk. She moves through life as though everyone is looking at her in admiration and awe, but they are snickering at her pathetic attempts at self-importance and glamor. I read that Audrey Hepburn used to yolk her lashes and bath in olive oil. I wanted the character to be obsessed with these rumored beauty tips from iconic starlettes. Amber did an amazing job and I love her for jumping in that freezing cold pool.
DC: Why did you choose this song in particular to be the first taste of Paradise?
KW: Because it shows a different side of the band that people haven’t really seen before.
DC: Who are a few artists/bands you think are ones to watch this year?
MB-W: High-Functioning Flesh
KW: Gal Gracen, Eagulls, NAVVI
DC: What’s the biggest thing you hope to achieve over the next 12 months?
KW: I hope the record does well enough for us to get invited back to Japan I had the best time there.
White Lung’s fourth studio album Paradise was released on May 6, and is available now on iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp.