“…it’s a delicate balance you know? When you play enough songs that everyone is satiated then also I don’t want people to barf and die half way through, so you need to figure out where that barf point is you know?”
From Release: CANCER BATS have come to destroy. Fuelled by a burning desire to rage harder, play louder and have more fun than any other band, Cancer Bats mix hardcore, southern metal and punk rock into a lethal rock and roll explosion. They’ve been ripping shows, banging their heads and partying to the new tunes of Searching For Zero and are set to return to Australia in September and October for their first club show tour in almost a decade.
In beautiful Toronto we chatted to the absolute legend that is Liam of Cancer Bats about their upcoming return to Australia, as well as their recent album ‘Searching For Zero’, learnings of a band, favourite Black Sabbath tracks, and more…
We’re here because you’re headed back to see us next month, yay! Your first run of headlining club shows in forever, what can we expect at the shows?
Just sheer madness, we actually were having band practise today just beefing up our arsenal of songs that we can play, we were like talking about trying to play as long as we possibly can buy also so that we can keep the intensity… it’s a delicate balance you know? When you play enough songs that everyone is satiated then also I don’t want people to barf and die half way through, so you need to figure out where that barf point is you know?
Have you worked on that before or have a scale or idea of where you think that might be?
I don’t know because I feel like Australia knows how to rage harder than most places, and I’m not just trying to kiss up cause I have definitely been terrified at the rate that people drink and party at some Australian shows *laughs* so I feel like if we threw an hour and a half of Cancer Bats at people I feel like they would just eat it up like wild dogs.
So for someone who has never caught a Cancer Bats show before, can you sum it up in one word for me?
Chaoticness… Barfization… Ultra-barfization as one word, with a hyphen.
Now we sat down for a chat a couple of years back when you were here for Soundwave, what are some of your greatest memories of being in Australia?
Some of my greatest memories… hmmm…. I feel like the first time we came over in 2007, like on our first record and we had just kind of finished touring the world we’d gone out with Comeback Kid, we’d gone out with Alexisonfire, Rise Against and it was like the vibe was building you know what I mean? People were starting to get into our band and even if people were just recognizing who we were they were like ‘oh this is rad’. Then we flew as far as we possibly could to Australia and played headline shows and there was kids singing along to everything, like it’s as if it was a hometown show in Canada and kids were raging that hard and I was like this is insane… Like the Brisbane show I remember there were dudes that knew every word, there was like five or six guys who knew every word to ‘Birthing the Giant’ and it was so insane, we were all so blown away.
The new album has been out for a bit now, but I wanted to chat about it for a bit if that’s cool… it’s called ‘Searching For Zero’ can you tell us about the name, where it came from and what it represents to you?
Basically I mean for us we were coming off a really heavy time for the band so there was a lot of stuff that had kind of gone down, we had some deaths that were really close to all of us, and on top of being on tour like crazy, we had toured ‘DSOL’ super hard and it was kind of like coming to the end of that where we sort of needed to regroup and we took time off to write the record and also just to have some time off, so the whole idea was finding this new kind of starting point, being like ‘ok, we’re gonna write this record, we’re gonna keep being a band, we’re gonna keep doing this because we’re stoked, it’s because we love doing this, it’s because we wanna do it and this whole album was like us getting over all those things, getting over all those negative things that happened and finding this new starting point. I came across the idea when I was just looking up concepts and kind of things and it was the idea of a true zero in any scale, once you’ve established that you can never go back, there’s never a negative, everything moving forward is a positive and I was like ‘oh this exactly sums up where we are as a band right now and what we’re trying to do with this record’ just moving forward and only focusing on the positive things and having now dealt with all of these negatives and they’re finished and done with in our lives you know what I mean?
It’s a catchy album man, did you have an idea of how you wanted it to come together or did you let it fall into place?
Yeah that was the fun part about the record we were literally just jamming we would just try and write as many songs, and as many different songs as we could, so we were like ok let’s write ten punk songs, ten stoner rock songs, and ten metal hardcore songs and once we hit thirty we’ll stop… well as once we’ve hit as many as we can, so by that point we had written twenty five and were like ok, we have these songs all written so let’s narrow these down and kind of take parts from other songs and we’ll make the best fifteen that we can that we’ll then take to the studio. So it was so fun doing that because there wasn’t any real pressure because we had this infinite amount of time, we had a record label that was super cool and supportive and everyone just wanted to hear the best songs that we could put out, so we’ll just keep jamming, we’ll keep working on all this and we’ll just have fun, and yeah the result was then just this more expansive cancer Bats record than I think we ever could’ve if we were just trying to write twelve songs we just wanted to go and record and to be back on tour.
You also worked with Ross Robinson on the album, what did he bring to the band that you felt may have been missing before?
I just think like a different perspective on recording, I mean for us we worked with Erik Ratz and Kenny Luong on every other record and we had an amazing time, like we love those guys and everything we’ve done we’re super proud of, but I think we got to a point where we almost knew each other too well where you can’t really get away with anything and you all know how everyone works, so to work with someone like Ross who’s been going to push us as hard as he can and to throw around new ideas and try and shake up what the band had been about for the last ten years was super inspiring and really refreshing for all of us. We pre-produced the record the same way we always have just demoing and working on things then we brought this finished album essentially to Ross and then he just cranked it up to eleven in the Ross kind of way, so he just made everything more intense, like we’d show him a thrash song like ‘All Hail’ and he’s like ‘I love thrash songs when they’re the craziest songs ever like when they feel like they’re almost about to fall apart’ and we were like yeah that’s the vibe, so he pushed us to the point of that’s where we were performing and that’s how we had the song. Then vice versa we’d show him a song like ‘Satellites’ and he’s like ‘whoa this is like a punk song that’s super melodic so let’s be as melodic as possible and let’s make this song as big as we can’ so it was really cool to look at every song and to drill into every song like that with him.
I have to ask about the greatest named song of the year so far ‘No More Bull Shit’ is there a story behind this one you can share?
That was again kind of if True Zero was like the starting point in the whole journey I feel like ‘No More Bull Shit’ is like that finishing statement, so by the time we were recording we were just like we’re not dealing with anything anymore, everything is just because we want to do it, we know how at this point, we’re tired of just like second guessing ourselves and thing about anything other than just kicking ass and it was just like ‘yeah, no more bullshit, in this for the long haul, just doing it.’
You’ve now been a part of Cancer Bats for ten years, what do you still enjoy about making music with this band?
I think the fact that we still just have fun doing it and we look at the tour and we look at the places we’re going as not so much this is our jobs technically, but we still look at it like that show’s gonna be awesome or I can’t wait to get to…’ like we’re going to plat Reading and Leeds fest, some of the first shows that we play this month and then that leads into a huge tour through France, Spain and Portugal and we play a festival in Toronto and immediately we fly to Australia and we’re all just like talking about this in practise today, we’re all so stoked, like I can’t wait to ‘what songs are we gonna figure out to play? What set list are we gonna have? Let’s try and throw different stuff into the set to like get people pumped and that just gets us pumped about the whole thing, so it’s just really cool of that way of like everyone’s spirits are still up and everyone’s still into it…
Not trying to float your boat, but you are one of the most genuine rock stars I’ve spoken to about this and it just shines through that you absolutely love what you do and treat it more like a love than a job…
Awww thanks man, well I’m the last person to call myself a rock star *laughs* maybe I kind of defeat that, we always just think of ourselves as just dudes, cause in the same way like everyone who is partying at that show could start a band tomorrow and it could be the biggest thing and they’ll become the rockstars, that happens, you see it all the time, so who the fuck am I? *laughs* why should I be an asshole? *laughs*
Other side of that, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from being in this band that you didn’t expect would be a part of making music and being in a band?
I guess the funny part is you never think of the business aspect of being in a band, like you start a band because you love playing music and you wanna be on tour and then that business side of things comes around. I actually really like the business end of the logistics and taking care of merch and doing all that stuff, we’re all still really connected to all of that and that’s really important to us. I always want to make sure that we have super cool merch and that we’re not bringing just the same designs year after year to shows, like I always want to make sure that stuff is just as important as the music. Same as the show, we always try and like be working on those things as well as making sure that just because we’re not the hugest band we ca still do this as a living, we can still do this as a job by touring smart and be being kind of in control of our business, so that kind of stuff I find really interesting.
We know of the love for the band, but can you pick a favourite Black Sabbath song?
I don’t know if I could pick just one to sum it all up, I feel like that would be selling myself and Black Sabbath short *laughs* currently though I really love and it’s one of my favourite songs to play which wasn’t necessarily my favourite song growing up, you know when you’re a kid and your favourite song growing up is ‘Iron Man’ and it’s like that song still rips, but now I feel like we’ve been covering so many of them it’s like I’m way more into like ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ is so fun to play especially for me because I only have to remember two lines and it makes it really easy and I think it rips so much of the music I like didn’t pay attention to when I was a kid and now I vibe on it so hard and it’s like I love that about kind of getting back into a band and rediscovering a band like that.
How many times have you seen Red Fang since touring with them at Soundwave?
I watched every single set of Red Fang at Soundwave, it was the best too because they played first, so I would go, check in merch and then I would walk to catering, I would get a coffee and I would walk to Red Fang and this was all before doors so it was really easy to get around and then I would drink my morning coffee while I watched Red Fang and I was like, this is the fucking best thing ever.
Lastly, let’s predict the future so finish this sentence for me, in 2016, Cancer Bats will…
Return to Australia to dominate once more *laughs*
CANCER BATS DESTROY AUSTRALIA!!
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS HIGH TENSION
WEDNESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER – ENIGMA BAR, ADELAIDE – 18+
THURSDAY 24 SEPTEMBER – BENDIGO HOTEL, MELBOURNE – 18+
FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER – BARWON CLUB, GEELONG – 18+
SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER – PITTED, BATEMANS BAY – 18+
MONDAY 28 SEPTEMBER – THE BALD FACED STAG, SYDNEY – 18+
TUESDAY 29 SEPTEMBER – WOY WOY LEAGUES CLUB, CENTRAL COAST – 18+
WEDNESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER – SMALL ROOM, NEWCASTLE – 18+
THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER – THE BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE – 18+
FRIDAY 2 OCTOBER – SHARK BAR, GOLD COAST – 18+
Tickets from www.tickets.destroyalllines.com
From: Toronto, Canada
Band members: Scott Middleton (Guitar), Liam Cormier (Vocals), Mike Peters (Drums), Jaye R. Schwarzer (Bass)
Current release: Searching For Zero – (Out Now – Double Cross) – Read our review HERE