Seeing a mostly male band with one female member isn’t uncommon (think No Doubt, Garbage), but it’s less likely to find a band of women adding a lone male representative. But that didn’t stop Canada’s ferocious female punk outfit White Lung from adding a male member in 2009. And since then the three chicks and dude have gone on to become one of the leading high-energy punk bands out of Canada. While White Lung doesn’t look at the band’s makeup as anything special, it does find guitarist Kenny William as a perfect fit. “It’s all we really know, so trying to pinpoint how the makeup of our band reflects in the music is impossible,” says bassist Grady Mackintosh. “Kenny is absolutely the only guy that could be in this band, though.”
Since forming in 2006, birthed as a gritty East Vancouver DIY band, White Lung has scorched its way to the top of Canada’s punk scene. Its heavily ’80s-influenced blend of hardcore punk with snarling vocals from frontwoman Mish Way, swift and stinging guitars and thrashing drums call to mind bands of the hardcore glory days like the Germs, Black Flag and Bad Brains. And in truest hardcore tradition, most White Lung songs clock in around two minutes on average. Long live the days of 20-minute LPs.
White Lung’s debut full-length, It’s The Evil, gained a lot of attention and critical acclaim in Canada, even extending into the U.S. In 2012 it released a notably more melodic LP, Sorry, furthering that praise and showing the band’s growth. “I wanted to write stronger melodies and challenge myself,” says Way. “It’s natural to want to do things better than the last time you did them, right? Everyone wants to grow. We just wanted to make a strong record with no throwaway tracks.” But just because it’s more melodic, William says, doesn’t mean Sorry lacks any of White Lung’s trademark aggression. “We have some of the most aggressive material we’ve ever recorded on there too, so for me it was about keeping things balanced.”
With White Lung’s positive attention of late, it seems like the band is helping to revive no-frills, traditional—in the best, no-nonsense way—punk. Way sees the positive reception as a good thing, but that is by no means White Lung’s main focus. “I appreciate that people are giving us some positive attention. I’m all for spreading myself around. I trust myself enough to do that,” Way says. “As a band, we are only responsible for making music that we think is good and meets our standards and makes us happy. That’s all that really matters. “
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