Interview: Cancer Bats

On the most local of the Bring Me The Horizon club tour gigs, George catches up with delightfully cheery Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier as he aims for a wall in a car park to sit on for the interview (his words). They talk about the new record, bettering Hail Destroyer, and how almost everything is “super nice!”

George: How’s the tour been so far?
Liam: It’s been good, yeah, stoked! This is like, day five, day four, so I guess we’re halfway through. But I’m stoked, we were up in Glasgow last night which is always crazy, the kids there are fucking nuts and they go for it, so it’s cool to do a crazy show like that then come to Leeds, and Leeds is like our home away from home, we spend more time here than anyone else in England. So yeah, we definitely make Leeds our stomping grounds. The shows are really good here, we have a lot of friends here, so it’s kind of like a bit of a homecoming today. I’m stoked!

George: Have Bring Me The Horizon’s fans received you well, and have your own fans been coming out to these shows?

Liam: Yeah definitely, we’ve had more fans of our own at these shows than we expected, ‘cause the whole thing sold out so fast. I kinda thought it’d just be die-hard Horizon fans, which is cool ‘cause we wanted to play in front of new kids, that’s the reason why we’re here, but to know that many of our own fans were coming, or that there’s kids that are into both bands, which is cool because we think us, and Horizon are very separate, but just to know that there’s people that dig both of us, it’s kinda cool that way.

George: You guys have toured with Bring Me The Horizon on Taste of Chaos in the US before, and just completed a tour down under with them and Bullet For My Valentine – are you guys pretty close now?

Liam: Yeah, we did the US and Canada on Taste Of Chaos, and Japan and Australia with Bullet, we did that with Horizon last year as well. We’ve toured with Bullet a lot too, so it was cool to kinda hang out with both those bands again. Those Bullet shows were insane, they were really cool. 5 and a half thousand was the biggest, so pretty crazy…

[Liam at this point notices a bunch of girls walking past him in the distance...]

Liam: Woah, those girls are done up! Where are they going? It’s a Saturday afternoon and those girls are dressed up to the nines, where I would be wearing jogging pants. [laughs]


George: It’s a bit of a varied bill – what do you think of Tek-One?

Liam: I’m super into Tek-One, I mean we’re all into like, tons of different music and stuff like that. I like that about the Horizon guys too, they don’t just listen to metal, they listen to punk rock, dubstep, hip-hop and everything in between, we all listen to a lot of hardcore, punk rock, then we listen to hip-hop, dubstep, jungle, and indie rock, everything! For us it’s cool to have a mixed bill, I think it makes it a little bit easier on us as well, ‘cause I think we are a bit of a different band too, we don’t sound exactly like Horizon, so to have something that changes it up, so that all three bands are completely different. I dunno, I’d rather go to a show like that anyway. I think it’s more fun!

George: Have you heard Bring Me The Horizon’s new record?

Liam: Yeah!
George: What do you think of it?
Liam: I think it’s awesome! I was a big fan of Suicide Season, so I was stoked to hear this new one. It’s kinda like Suicide Season turned up, it’s kinda like that’s their new sound and they’ve kinda figured it out on this album.
George: It sounds a lot more progressive and ambient.
Liam: Yeah, there’s just a lot more stuff going on, and I think looking at it, if Suicide Season was the basic idea they were going for, and it’s like they’ve really come a long way with that, without changing it, it doesn’t sound like radio rock, which I think a lot of people were expecting, so it’s cool that it’s still brutally heavy, but it’s got a lot of cool strings and vocal melodies and stuff, whilst still being brutally heavy, which is the coolest part.

George: You released Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones this year, are you pleased with the initial reaction it’s received?

Liam: Mhmm! Yeah, it’s been going off, people all over the place have been getting into it, so I couldn’t be happier. I was stoked this time around too ‘cause I mean, we’ve always been able to get our records out in Canada and England, but now it’s like we have a good deal in Europe and in Japan, Australia, and the US, so it’s kinda cool that that’s happening moreso around the world.

George: Did you feel it was going to be a challenge to better your previous effort Hail Destroyer seeing as it had rave reviews?
Liam: Yeah, it was definitely a daunting thing to go in and write, so we basically just put it out of our minds, and went back to what we originally started the band to do, which was just write songs that we thought were sweet, and stuff that we were into. We didn’t think to make Hail Destroyer part II, or get on the radio, we were like fuck it, let’s just write as many songs as we can, and as long as we’re stoked, thats it. That’s like the only real goal of the band ever, so as long as we do that, it should be fine.

George: Do you feel you’ve managed to make a better record than Hail Destroyer or at least equal it?
Liam: Yeah, I think both albums stand on their own, we weren’t trying to like, say this is the new album, forget about the old record, we realise that we wrote a really cool album with Hail Destroyer, so this was like, “Here’s another really cool album”. We’re not ashamed of anything that we’ve ever done, so for us it’s like, “Here’s another thing that we’re stoked on!”, and the next record that we’re thinking of is the same way, “Here’s another Cancer Bats record, we hope you like it”.

George: What influenced the album?
Liam: I mean, the big thing was trying to record an album that was as heavy on record as we are live, that was kinda like our biggest goal. As we’ve been touring and stuff we’ve become a heavier band, more refined since Birthing The Giant, so for us, it’s like “we need to have a record that sounds as heavy as we now play all of these songs”, even if we were to re-record Birthing The Giant, it’d sound a lot heavier, just ‘cause we’ve found what we want to be as a band a lot more I think, so I think that was one of the biggest goals with the whole thing. We on purpose went back to the same studio, worked with the same people, ‘cause it was like using Hail Destroyer as our working model, and it was like “OK, how do we get this right?” not so much song wise, but just like tones, kinda fixing all the problems that we had.

George: What’s your favourite song from the new record?

Liam: I dunno, there’s a lot of them, I’m really proud of this record! We’ve been playing We Are The Undead a lot on this tour. I’m really stoked on that song, it means a lot to me, and it’s more of a punker song which I was really stoked to have on this album – Hail Destroyer was more of a hardcore record, so I wanted to bring back some of that punk we had from Birthing The Giant, so I got really psyched on playing We Are The Undead. At the same time, Sleep This Away is a kind of a different song for us, and I love playing that one live.
George: Have you played Black Metal Bicycle yet?
Liam: No! It’s weird, that one we haven’t played, we’ll be playing it on our headline tour for sure. We won’t be able to play it tonight ‘cause we only have half an hour, so we’re just gonna play bangers.

George: Being Canadian, give us some recommendations of Canadian bands we should be checking out?

Liam: New bands that are coming out right now, there’s a band called Congress, that’s really good from the West Coast, and also from Vancouver there’s a band called Baptist, it’s super sludgy DB hardcore from both of them, Congress has guys from Three Inches of Blood and Pride Tiger, it’s super good. We played with them in Vancouver and it was so fucking awesome! Baptist is from an old band called Jaws, and it’s the drummer from A Textbook Tragedy. It’s the best of both worlds. There’s a band called Bison BC that are coming over with Coliseum, they’re an awesome stoner band you should check out too.

George: You’re in the UK basically all the time. What makes you want to be here so often?

Liam: I really like it here, we definitely like, have a lot of friends, touring here for us has been really good. We’ve been lucky to be taken up in the UK scene, I think, from when we started off coming over here with Gallows in 2007, and even when we were opening for Rise Against, people were stoked on what we were doing, and it seemed like that kind of vibe was more what was going on with England at the time. Canada and England have a lot of similarities in the scene, moreso than maybe what was happening with the US, so we were like “We’re gonna tour over here more than in the US” it’s more like, deathcore being the cool thing in the US, so we were gonna go where people really like punk rock and hardcore, we’ll just tour there. [laughs] So it’s worked out pretty cool!
George: What UK bands are you guys fans of?
Liam: There’s loads! I mean there’s obviously the bands that we’ve toured with, we’re stoked that we’ve been able to tour with as many bands, The Plight, The Ghost Of A Thousand, Hexes, Sharks, End To Empires are awesome, we used to tour with D-Rail, they’re not around any more, or Johnny Truant, they’ve broken up, but yeah, Architects are fucking awesome, we have so many.
George: You guys have played with some quite diverse UK bands as well, like the Funeral For a Friend tour in 2008, for example.
Liam: Yeah! There was Attack! Attack!, and In Case Of Fire, those bands are wicked too, the Attack! Attack! Guys are super nice!
George: Do you prefer UK crowds to Canadian ones?
Liam: I don’t think I could really say, I mean the one thing we’ve found from touring as much as we do, is like, kids are kids, shows are good in Canada for us and shows are really good here, it’s equal. Whether we play our hometown in Toronto or our hometown in Leeds, it’s awesome! We’re stoked but it’s kinda funny how similar they are.

George: Ever thought of relocating here, like Pendulum for example?

Liam: It makes sense if you’re in Australia, for us it’s not that big of a deal to come over, to do that. Pendulum was two guys, who relocated here, but we’ve got girlfriends and wives back home, so it’s not as big of a deal as like, in Australia you’re a little bit more isolated, so you need to come over, but for us it’s like a third of the cost to come over and tour, it’s not that big of a deal. When we go back home, your money is worth more too, so it definitely makes living in Canada easier!

George: You’re off to Europe with The Dillinger Escape Plan after this…

Liam: I’m stoked!
George: …then back here with Trash Talk and Vera Cruz, excited for them? What can we expect?

Liam: It’s going to be fucking awesome! The Dillinger stuff I’m super excited about, just ‘cause that’s a band we’ve always respected and looked up to, so that’s awesome for us, and then the headline shows are just gonna be wicked, especially doing this we’re only doing half an hour, whereas we’ll come back and do an hour of our own songs, with Trash Talk, and Vera Cruz from France who are fucking awesome too, I’m really stoked to be coming with a really strong package like that.

George: What’s in store for Cancer Bats in the near future?

Liam: I guess there’s going to be more touring! I dunno how soon we’ll be back to England, We’ve been here a lot this year doing festivals, and stuff, but it’s funny, we haven’t been here THAT much, it just kinda seems like it. We only did the Garage show when the record came out, we didn’t do a tour, then we played Download, then we were gone, then we played Reading and Leeds, and then we were gone, so it’s like, ehhh, festivals. We’re gonna do this headline tour, then maybe do a support tour next year, then hopefully a new record, sooner rather than later!

George: Change the record, who should we be listening to?

Liam: Black Breath, they’re coming over from Seattle. Another band that’s coming over soon is Touché Amoré from California, those guys are fucking wicked, they’re coming over the same time as Black Breath are, another good band is from Norway called Kvelertak, they’re wicked too, they would be my three to check out!

George: Anything to add?
Liam: Can’t wait to come back and headline! I’m fucking really excited to do this headline tour, I think that’ll be it… Hopefully, everyone comes… Come to Newcastle! [laughs]

Many thanks to Liam, Cancer Bats are on tour now with Bring Me The Horizon, and throughout October/November with Trash Talk and Vera Cruz. The new album Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones is out now! For more details, check out www.myspace.com/cancerbats

- George Cannings.
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