Latest release: Dead Set on Living (Shock)
Band site: www.cancerbats.com
Canadian hardcore punk/metal crew Cancer Bats have established considerable momentum of late and hope to further boost their popularity Down Under when they perform as part of the Soundwave Festival. Loud spoke to vocalist Liam Cormier while he was on tour in Belgium about their return to these shores, staying positive, paying tribute to Beastie Boys and more.
Q: It seems like the band are on the verge of some pretty major success at the moment. Is that feeling palpable within the band?
A: For us it definitely feels like the response to the new record has been really cool. All the touring and everything that we’ve done, I think a lot of people have heard the name and are now like picking up this new record or downloading it, or whatever. But also coming out to our shows and knowing the words and lots of people who have just found out about us, it seems like that kind of vibe. So it’s been really positive, I’m stoked.
Q: You’ve described this record as being more upbeat. Is that simply a reflection of your mindset during the past year?
A: I definitely wanted to make sure it was a balanced album. There’s some harsh bangers on it, but I definitely wanted to make sure that it showed the positive side of our band. Especially my own, and everybody else; we’re all, we’re not like bummed out dudes (laughs), who are super negative and angry. I never want to over-represent that, even though we’re playing in like a heavy band. I want to make sure that people do know that we’re really positive in how we live and our outlook on things. So it was definitely like in hindsight to try and make sure we write as balanced, as positive of a record as it was alongside the heavier, more negative tracks.
Q: Do you feel a lot of acts within heavy music are far too po-faced about every aspect of what they do? Are too many bands afraid to smile and admit they’re enjoying themselves?
A: It’s also like the subject matter is a lot of the time inspired by the style of music and it’s definitely like when you’re writing a lot of really heavy, dark and brutal songs, it’s harder to turn that into like a love song. You know what I mean? It’s hard to really push that in a different direction without having that consciously in mind. I definitely don’t hold that against anyone, it’s just for us, we definitely have to be like, ‘okay, we wrote a really brutal song, let’s write a party tune’ (laughs). Let’s write something that’s a little bit more fun. So for me, we’d finish writing a track and come in the next day and be like, ‘okay, let’s write something with a bit more of a positive side too’. And that was where songs like “Drunken Physics”, “Old Blood” and stuff like that (come from), that would have a bit more of a positive feel. But again, our most metal song on it like “New World Alliance” can still have that be, not like a traditional metal or hardcore kinda theme, to again try and make that almost a positive, strong song as well.
Q: Do you think that positivity is primarily derived from your hardcore roots?
A: I definitely think so. I’m usually really a bright side, positive dude, so I definitely appreciate that aspect of the hardcore scene and I think that’s what really drew me in. From when I first find out about bands like H20 and then getting into that, stuff where you realise there’s a lot more of a positive spin. Listening to bands like Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today, those definitely (also) have a cool aspect of a heavier, aggressive music.
Q: Dez Fafara (DevilDriver/Coal Chamber) also makes an appearance on the new album. How did that end up getting laid down on tape?
A: We met Dez from touring with DevilDriver and he was just a genuine fan of the band and he asked us to come out, which for us was amazing. To know somebody as legendary as Dez, who has been involved in metal for as long as he has, to meet someone that’s still excited about new bands and is still active within the scene, it’s cool to meet somebody like that and we found it really inspiring. So when I was writing that song (“Bastards”) it definitely applied to someone like Dez, as much as it did to me or someone like Kate Cooper from An Horse. It was like all of us kind of unified in the sense of being dedicated to music and dedicated to this life.
Q: Is that something you strive for – to reach that age and still be so dedicated to your craft?
A: Yeah, definitely, I find that super inspiring. Whether it’s like Dez holding it down with DevilDriver, or I look at even some people who are just a bit older than me like Chris Colohan starting a new band like Burning Love. I still find that really inspiring to keep wanting to create music and to not have an age limit to what you should or shouldn’t do.
Q: On the topic of bands that inspire Cancer Bats, your cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” has proven popular. Do you have any other covers in the pipeline?
A: We definitely did a lot of Black Sabbath in the last year and we’re did some touring as our Black Sabbath cover band. I feel like from doing that, we’re almost kinda covered out (laughs). Especially with a new record and wanting to play those jams as much as we can. I feel like just having maybe “Sabotage” and playing “Into the Void” every once in a while or “Supernaut” is kinda like, as much cover material as we’re up for these days.
Q: Fair enough. Have you been playing the Beastie Boys cover much since the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch earlier this year?
A: Oh yeah, 100 per cent. We’ve been opening our set with it since the day we found out. We were headlining in Paris and we played “Sabotage” as the first track of our set and we were still doing that up until festivals last weekend. I feel like we may change it up a little bit, especially like tomorrow, we’re gonna be back in Belgium again and I don’t want to play the exact same set as people who maybe saw us at Graspop. So we might change it up, but it’s definitely still really important to still keep playing that song for me, especially just given the fact that, with Adam’s passing and everything.
Q: On the flipside, are there any newer bands that inspire you?
A: Definitely, I love the fact that a lot more stoner and bands like that are getting a lot of attention and getting a good reception. Like a band like Red Fang or the new Baroness and how hard that’s blowing up, or friends of ours from Norway, Kvelertak. That kind of style of hardcore is getting a lot more attention; like the sort of more stoner kind of end of things, like I guess Entombed-influenced rock ‘n’ roll/hardcore. It definitely gets me stoked that there’s a lot of bands pushing those ideas.
Q: Changing topics, on the touring front, the band had to postpone your recent Australian tour but you’ll be back here for Soundwave next year. What are your expectations this time around?
A: We’re super excited to come and play Soundwave. All of our friends in bands have played it before and just told us how amazing the response is and how so many people just know it’s gonna be a great festival, so they come out in good numbers to party. I’m definitely excited, I think it’s gonna be awesome.
Q: What was the reason for postponing the last visit?
A: It was just in terms of scheduling. It can be a pretty heavy touring schedule that we have, it was to try and make sure we could work out fitting everything in. I guess it’s just like, when it comes down to having to do almost like a world tour in a week, it was like, not actually possible. The main thing was still being able to fit in the US as well, which we’d kind of ignored coming up to it. So it just boiled down to our insane schedule. But we’re really lucky that everybody at Soundwave was able to help us out with it and make sure we were still able to come sooner than later.
Q: Do you like to keep as busy as possible?
A: I definitely like keeping it busy. For us, we want to play to as many kids as we can and go to all of those places where people want us to come. So it’s definitely like trying to fit in as much as we can, but yeah, try and stay balanced as well. To know that we can’t stay on tour for five months straight, that we do have girlfriends back home that need to see us at least a little bit and for our own sanity, we need to like sleep in our own beds for at least a couple days, just to stay charged to keep doing this.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: Just super pumped to be back in Australia and to party with everybody. We love playing there and can’t wait for Soundwave.
Cancer Bats perform at Soundwave 2013 on the following dates:
Saturday 23rd February – Brisbane
Sunday 24th February – Sydney
Friday 1st March – Melbourne
Saturday 2nd March – Adelaide
Monday 4th March – Perth
You can also catch them with Bullet For My Valentine and Miss May I on the following dates:
Friday, February 22- The Hi-Fi, Brisbane- Over 18s only
Wednesday, February 27- The Hi-Fi, Sydney- Licensed All Ages-