In an era of pseudo-genres like crabcore, witch house and soft grunge — soft grunge? — it’s refreshing to hear a band as straight-ahead, as indisputably punk as Vancouver’s White Lung, who headline Seattle’s Barboza club Friday.
For frontwoman Mish Way — freelance writer, full-time screamer — it’s all in a day’s work.
On their second LP, 2012’s “Sorry” (listen), Way and her bandmates — guitarist-songwriter Kenneth William, drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou, and bassist Grady Mackintosh — play like their lives depend on it, slashing through ten songs in 20 minutes.
Impassioned yet assertive, Way’s vocals hook the listener, the rhythm section keeps the pace, and William’s six-string heroics — expressive, melodic and hair-raisingly precise — seal the deal.
The foursome’s hard-nosed touring ethic mirrors its music’s intensity. In 2013 alone, they’ve played festivals like Tennessee’s Bonnaroo, Chicago’s Pitchfork, Seattle’s own Capitol Hill Block Party, and most dive bars and basements in between.
A journalist by trade, Way — when not writing news articles and op-ed pieces for Vice, BUST and Canada’s National Post, among others — documents her band’s travels, frequently profiling artists she meets along the way.
“Maybe I’m naïve because I spend so much time around musicians,” she says, “but there’s a lot out there that makes me excited. At any moment, I can count ten current bands I sincerely love… that I’ll listen to anything they do.”
Way acknowledges potential conflicts-of-interest in covering independent music from her insider’s standpoint, but adds that it’s often just a matter of finding the right angle, and outlet, for the story.
“Certain magazines are careful, like, ‘you can’t write about people you know.’ Others, though, have been really supportive about just letting me be Mish from White Lung.”
When Way sees a killer band that’s new to her, however, is her first instinct to set up an interview, or ask to play a show together? The question elicits an uncharacteristically long pause — the longest in our half-hour conversation — before a decisive answer.
“I’d rather write about them. I get fascinated with people beyond what they’re actually creating, because performance is such an interesting thing. I want to know the true person, as opposed to their public personality.”
Somehow, between work and extensive touring, Way and White Lung have found time to keep writing new material. Earlier in 2013, they issued a stopgap seven-inch single, “Two of You” (listen). This fall, they released another, “Blow it South” (listen). Then, come April 2014, they’ll unleash “Sorry’s” follow-up, “Deep Fantasy.”
“I never want to slow down,” says Way.
“Go in, make it powerful and short, and get out.”White Lung, Antwon, Silly Goose
7 p.m. Friday at Barboza, 925 E. Pike St., Seattle; $10 (206-709-9442 or thebarboza.com)