Formed in Canada in 2006, White Lung comprises Mish Way (vocals) Kenneth Williams (guitar) and drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou. The trio plays fast and powerful hard-core rock with a touch of catchy pop hooks. Ten years into their career, White Lung is thriving, having just released their fourth and most powerful album to date ,”Paradise.”
With White Lung stopping by the Rock & Roll Hotel DC Tuesday, lead singer Miss Way spoke from the road somewhere in Texas — she thinks it’s Texas, anyway — about the importance of baby wipes and how being Canadian gives her band an advantage.
Question: How has the tour been?
Answer: The tour has been great. L.A. was great. San Diego was an amazing show. Phoenix was great, although I lost my voice. That’s OK, because I had two days to rest [before] Austin.
Q: Any plans to do anything cool in D.C. other than the show?
A: Probably not. Just play. That’s kind of how it goes. I’ve been around the world and seen nothing except the inside of clubs.
Sometimes we get time off, but for me I like to work when I’m on the road. Any days off or time off, I’m writing — writing in the van the whole time. I was doing that before you called.
Q: In the press photos you are a trio, but you also have a bass player for touring, yes?
A: We always have four members, but before we signed to Domino, we kicked out our bass player. Things were not happy. From that point on we have had touring bass players fill in.
We decided that White Lung, when it came to the writing of the album, it was just the three of us.
Q: Have you been tempted to pick up the bass?
A: When we are writing, I’ll play the bass. Working through songs. But when I’m onstage, I’m kind of the entertainment. And if I had a bass in my hands, how could I do my Valley Girl hand movements? Gotta keep it “hands-free” to entertain the crowd.
Q: What can people expect when they come to see White Lung live?
A: They can expect a hard show that will leave them sweaty and excited. And melodically surprised.
Q: How do you feel the band has evolved 10 years in?
A: The funny thing about the whole 10 years thing is that I don’t really consider the band having started until Kenny joined, which was in 2009. And of course I have seen the band evolve, seen it go from a bunch of friends that were just playing crappy songs and not really caring to something that has become a career now.
Musically, we know how to write together. I don’t even have to look at Kenny, and we just know what to do.
Q: What was the recording process like?
A: Kenny did a great thing for this record where every day he forced himself to record a guitar part on his computer. So he had a huge category of thing to choose from. When it came time to record, we had probably three or four skeletons of songs done. I had some ideas, but I did not finalize a single melody or lyrics until we went in the studio. I wrote everything there.
It was a pleasant record to make. I love being in the studio [with this band], whereas I usually hate it.
Q: Why are the songs are all in different keys?
A: Kenny had us do that on the last record too, but no one really seemed to notice. He’s a bit of a freak.
Every morning I would walk in and ask, “What key is it in?” Then I would go on the piano. Or I would hear the notes I had to work with. He’s a weird perfectionist. He never likes to repeat himself. I’m surprised I can even sing a chorus more than once. That makes him an interesting, great guitar player and a challenging songwriter.
Q: Are you the first songwriter ever to rhyme “septic” with “narcoleptic”?
A: I hope so. I think so, right? I should Google that. I tweeted something stupid that I managed to shove all these horrible words in the album. I basically said everything but AIDS on that record. [laughs]
I’m sorry, but I’m going to pee right now. I don’t care that you’re on the phone.
Q: Do you want to go pee and then call me back in a few minutes?
A: No. I don’t care. What’s a little urine between friends?
Q: I’ve never had anyone urinate during an interview before.
A: What do you expect from someone that rhymes septic with narcoleptic in a song? I’m disgusting.
Q: Besides a place to pee, what is the one thing you have to have with you on the road?
A: Makeup wipes, or else I would never ever wipe the makeup off my face. I’m big on the wipes. Baby wipes. Makeup wipes. All that kind of stuff. Because you never know.
Q: Does the Canadian government really give money to bands to tour?
A: You have to get to a certain level before you can apply for government grants. They just cut a lot of that funding actually. It’s kind of a necessity for Canadian bands playing in the States. We get 30 percent taken away from every paycheck that we get from a club. And we are supposed to get it back from the IRS, but the way they work, as you know, you don’t get that money for at least a year!
The grants balance things. The whole idea is you’re a Canadian band making Canadian content, and you are going out into the world spreading that Canadian content, so [the government is] going to help you out.
White Lung Plays Rock & Roll Hotel DC Tuesday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $13 to $15 by going to Ticketfly.com.