Reviewing Paradise, the fourth and most recent album from Vancouver’s White Lung, was my first exposure to Mish Barber-Way. Certainly my interest was piqued by the squall of Kenneth William’s guitar, which propels the band’s music on, and Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s buffeting drums that anchor their sound, but it took Barber-Way’s lacerating vocals to seal the deal on my love of the album. I struggled with singling out Barber-Way for Women-Who-Rocktober, not because she isn’t worthy but because I didn’t wish to ignore Vassiliou, who also clearly rocks. But there isn’t a great deal of information floating around about Vassiliou, who appears to prefer working in the background out of the spotlight, and it didn’t seem quite above board to focus on White Lung for this post – sorry Kenny, but you come up an X-chromosome short.
Beside’s fronting White Lung, Barber-Way has a parallel career as a writer, contributing to publications such as The Guardian, LA Times, VICE, The National Post, and more. Barber-Way has been upfront about seeing writing as something she can continue to do for as long as she draws breath, acknowledging the ephemerality of fronting a rock outfit, and the insecurities an integral member in a band may have about their ongoing relationship with the group – Dave Grohl’s constantly feeling like he was auditioning for Nirvana is probably the most famous example of this in contemporary rock.
In pursuing her writing career, Barber-Way hasn’t abandoned her punk-rock persona, being a sex and relationship columnist for the Vancouver newspaper, Westender, and maintain the Muff Stuff column on Broadly. For blending a punk attitude with pragmatic, conventional, work/life choices Mish Barber-Way is a welcome addition to Women-Who-Rocktober – with a special shout-out Anne-Marie Vassiliou.