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White Lung’s Mish Barber-Way: punk pro, edgy journalist

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From left, Kenneth William, Mish Barber-Way and Anne-Marie Vassiliou are White Lung. (Courtesy Rick Rodney)

After 10 years fronting the protean punk combo White Lung, and with a pile-driving new fourth album “Paradise,” blond bombshell Mish Barber-Way should be a certified rock star.

But her parallel career in journalism keeps getting in the way.

“I never really imagined that I would make money from music. That was just something I did for fun while I was trying really hard to establish myself as a writer. And writing was something I could do while I was touring, so I didn’t have to come home and do some crappy waitress job,” says the singer, who appears with the band at the Independent on Monday.

But the Vancouver-bred singer’s brash way with words, as volatile as her stage presence, started catching on in her native Canada.

A no-holds-barred blog she started while studying communications in college led to an eye-opening internship with Vancouver Magazine, then assignments for an online women’s collective called Hearty, and finally a regular contributing gig at Vice Canada, where she’s covered everything from female serial killers such as Karla Homolka and Charlene Williams Gallego to Rain City Jacks, a male masturbation club in Seattle.

For Barber-Way, no subject is too risqué.

“Now my main thing is working for Hustler Magazine, and they pay quite well,” she says. “I was so used to not being able to say certain things that it’s exciting to be writing for a publication where I don’t have to watch my tongue.”

She has a new, in-depth piece on The Litas, an all-girl motorcycle club from Los Angeles, and next will cover one of her favorite controversial authors for Hustler, but she won’t jinx it by revealing who.

She once called an online troll on the carpet for suggesting that the Corrosion of Conformity T-shirt she wore onstage was faux-punk, Urban Outfitters posturing: “This is sexist bulls—,” she responded. “Not one person would be questioning me if I were a man wearing this.”

While she hasn’t taken on any scary assignments, she says, “I’ve had ones where I’ve been having a great time with all the interviews, and then I get home and realize that I have hours of tape to go through.”

While snarling White Lung “Paradise” songs (“Hungry,” “Demented,” “Kiss Me When I Bleed”) with feral abandon, she admits, “It is hard to straddle both careers. But she adds, “I’m the kind of person where, if I’m not being challenged, I get bored, then I get lazy. If I’m not using my brain, I feel useless.”

White Lung
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 15
Tickets: $13 to $15
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.com

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