Watching Fucked Up cover classic GTA punk for the 35th anniversary of The Last Pogo got us hankering for the glory days of Canadian hardcore, so we reached out to the lead singer of one of the best punk bands the country has to offer, Mish Way of White Lung, and asked her for her five favourite Canadian punk bands of all time. She did us one better and told us who you should be going out to see right now, too. Read her excellent picks and explanations below, and enjoy.
When I first discovered the Dishrags I thought no front woman could have been as cool as Jade Blade. I still think this is true. She’s just stoic and she has this whole air about her that’s effortlessly powerful. The Dishrags were the first all-female hardcore band from Vancouver (even though they really originated on the island). They were big in the late ’70s scene and spread pretty far. Sam Sutherland does a great section on them in his book Perfect Youth: The Birth of Canadian Hardcore. The Dishrags reissued their anthology in 1997 in a retrospective titled Love/Hate. I suggest you pick it up or at least listen to “I Don’t Love You” or “Love Is Shit”. (Vapid covered “I Don’t Love You” but they never released it, which is a total shame because their cover was so good. I would post it here but they might kill me.)
The Ugly have a really intense story which mostly has to do with their frontman Mike Nightmare and the acting career he tried to pursue, resulting in psych wards and shock therapy, which fucked him up. I don’t know much about The Ugly except for their few releases, which I really like. You can read more about them in Liz Worth’s book Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk In Toronto And Beyond. The Ugly just feel really romantic to me. Hopeful and romantic punk.
The Forgotten Rebels
I first got introduced to The Forgotten Rebels through my friend Tony who plays bass in Needles x Pins. He is obsessed with them (so much so that he named his photo blog after one of their songs.) The Forgotten Rebels aren’t hardcore in the traditional sense, but This Ain’t Hollywood is such a legendary album. Apparently, they still play shows. I like to pretend that The Forgotten Rebels wrote “The Girl Can’t Come” for me, but they clearly didn’t.
Although three of the four members of Jerk Ward are now deceased, the one living member Stephen McBean has managed to do a lot. Currently living in Los Angeles, McBean fronts Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops and plays guitar in Obliterations. Jerk Ward was the band he had when he was a ratty little teenager who just wanted to play hardcore and go wild and laugh. Not much has changed. I’m a big fan of Steve, all around. Plus, “I Love The Girls” is kind of the perfect teenage boy anthem.
Legendary, “ahead of their time” hardcore from Victoria, B.C. The Neos were the fastest band in the early 80’s. Who names their 7 inch Hassibah Gets The Martian Brain Squeeze besides kids who clearly don’t give a shit?
I first met School Jerks when we all played together under a bridge in Toronto in 2009 [ed: according to this video, it's 2010]. This band was so good. God damn it. I will never forget that show. Their singer Luke got all wasted and somehow he lost his shoelaces and was rolling around in the sand. People were lighting off fireworks. I was paranoid I would lose my hair. Then, after the show, we all dragged our amps out of the forest and went to Luke’s friend’s house, this cool skinhead guy, and he made us curly fries and served them in a bowl.
Pregnancy Scares are from Ottawa. My band has played and toured with these guys a few times. They are wild. Straight-up. Last time we all played together in Ottawa, their guitar player Davey fell into the amps and got stuck. Meanwhile, Craig (singer) lost half his pants. It was kind of legendary. I happened to be recording the whole thing when it happened. You can watch it here.
Systematik owe me, like, a hundred favours, and now they owe me one more. Love this band even though they are all the biggest piles. I think all their songs are about the Dixie Chicks?
I’m biased towards Heavy Chains because my drummer is their drummer, plus two of my closest friends, Andrea Lukic and Brody McKnight (of Nü Sensae), play in this band. All that aside, even if I didn’t know them, I would love this band. It’s catchy and creepy: two of my favorite things. When Heavy Chains used to play shows in their infancy they didn’t have song names, so we would just yell out what we thought the songs were called based on the riffs. So, it would be like, “Play ‘The Hit’!” I think they actually call that one song “The Hit” now.