WHITE LUNG and POP. 1820 at the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), Sunday (June 29), doors 8 pm. $10. TF.
When something isn't feeling right, do you stick it out unhappily or leap toward uncertain change that may or may not pan out? White Lung did the latter, and it's paying off.
The Vancouver band's third album, Deep Fantasy, is a lethal 22 minutes of intense punk rock riding high on fierce, melodic vocals, speed-demon rhythms and searing lyrics about rape culture, body dysmorphia and addiction. Early reviews have been across-the-board positive.
The changes in play are both non-musical - a move from Deranged Records to big-time Domino - and musical. The firing of bassist Grady Mackintosh resulted in Kenny William pulling double duty as guitarist and bassist.
"You're missing an instrument, so it affected the way Kenny was making his guitar chords," explains singer Mish Way from a Calgary hotel room where Honey Boo Boo is on the TV. "Instead of just playing lead, he'd contort his hand to play the bass note at the same time. So he invented all these strange chord progressions that resulted in the songs sounding a bit thicker."
Way, White Lung's fearless leader and co-founder with drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou, also made changes both non-musical - a move from Vancouver to Los Angeles last year, which meant writing only half the album with the band - and musical. Her voice changed during the two years of touring second album Sorry, forcing her to sing in a more natural, lower and relatively (relatively) gentler register this time around to save her pipes onstage.
"I had to find a way to relate all those emotions and the intensity of the way I projected on every other record without being in that high register," says Way. "I just couldn't hit it. I could do it in the studio, but I don't want to do that night after night, stretched to my limit."
So is it safe to say the band is coming through darkness and into the light?
"I can't tell yet, but personally I feel really good compared to how I felt last year and the year before. I decided to do a lot of things differently, and it's worked out. I'm really happy right now. And the changes the band made were also beneficial. At a certain point you're like, ‘Let's just do this, and if it works it works and if it doesn't it doesn't.' It's like anything in life. You have to risk it."