Cancer Bats interview (06/2011)
|Conducted by:||Doc Godin (in person)|
Cancer Bats - a name which, up until recently, has been more associated with modern hardcore-influenced pop-punk bands has begun stamping out territory in the metal world. The sludge influence on their latest album Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones was quite apparent, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find not only a fellow sludge enthusiast, but also a fellow die-hard Wolverine Blues fan in Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier.
Liam: So how did the interview with Shane [Clark - 3 Inches Of Blood] go? I bet he was just talking shit about Cancer Bats for so long. "Worst tour of my life! I'm never touring with a hardcore band ever again..."
Doc: He was just hoping for the rapture so he didn't have to deal with you anymore.
Liam: Yeah, he was just praying for it in Sudbury. We kind of had our own rapture that day. There was a huge accident on highway 69 going up to Sudbury. About 85 kilometers south of Sudbury, they said there was huge fatalities. They closed the entire highway - both sides. So we had to do a 4 hour detour to get to Sudbury when we were less than an hour away. It was just brutal. They told us the highway was going to be closed for about 5 - 6 hours, so we just had to do it.
Doc: So for this whole tour it's all Canadian acts - do you think this weakens our strengthens the turn out for shows?
Liam: I think it strengthens, especially because both of our bands have been touring Canada heavily. We both have a good Canadian fan base built up from putting in that time. I think a lot of people get stoked on the fact that it's all Canadian - to almost celebrate that fact. Not that anyone would be bummed if we had an American band, I just think it's a cool rallying point.
Doc: I wasn't sure because a lot of these bands stop through so regularly there's a lot of people with the mentality that they'll catch them next time around...
Liam: I think there is a little bit of that. Especially in our case because we just came through with the Devildriver tour. We ran into a lot of people in Edmonton who said "we can't come tonight, but I know I'll see you guys again..." So our plan is to not come back for a while, make those people think "Shit, maybe I missed out."
Doc: Well I know when a lot of European bands stop through you have to go, you're not sure when they're going to be back.
Liam: In a lot of cases with a lot of these bands it may be the only time they're ever going to stop through a place like Calgary. Luckily for us we have really rad fans who are stoked on going to shows. So we want to keep coming back.
Doc: From what I hear western North America isn't all that great for touring, what I've picked up from a few bands anyways.
Liam: Western Canada is awesome! Alberta - Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, or places further up north like Grand Prairie. There's a lot of cool places to play - the shows are amazing. For us it's always been an awesome place.
When you go down south, into the States, they have such a different scene like the Dakota's and such. Until you get into Washington State it really doesn't kick up, until you get to Seattle.
Doc: So I've become familiarized with basically every band on the bill - Barn Burner is moving up in the world, you guys and 3 inches Of Blood are the main attractions. But what about the openers - Waster. I've yet to hear or see anything about them. What can you tell us?
Liam: They're a brand new band. They just changed their name, they used to be called Fame. Now they have a bunch of new members, new record and kind of a newer sound. They sound a bit like a hardcore version of Pantera. That kind of dirty hardcore style. They're awesome! We heard their record through friends in Winnipeg and we were super stoked on them, so we asked them to come do the tour.
Doc: You and 3 Inches Of Blood are almost neck-and-neck as far as popularity goes, just in two different worlds - who's headlining this tour?
Liam: We've been swapping out. On the east coast we traded off every night, then when we did Ontario we headlined, we headlined up until Winnipeg, they're closing out this leg (Western Canada), headlining the west coast. Which is kind of the same for us - this is their strong point.
Doc: Last time you stopped through was with Devildriver, which is a step closer to the hardcore sound than anyone else on this bill - do you guys notice much of a division between crowds at all?
Liam: Doing that Devildriver tour for us was really cool because it had that older kind of metal crowd that we're definitely seeing coming back. Maybe their first time seeing us was with them, then seeing us come back with another metal band like 3 Inches Of Blood so they came back to check us out. It's cool to know that doing a tour like that sort of expanded our fan base.
Doc: I have to admit I'm a bit late checking you guys out, mostly because I'm used to seeing you on Warped Tour type bills, I've noticed you've been put on more metal bills lately - are you welcomed by one crowd more than the other?
Liam: I think we're one of those bands that's able to play with lots of different people. We can go on a tour with Alexisonfire or Billy Talent, then at the same time do a Devildriver tour. When we do a Devildriver tour or a tour like this there's tonnes of people that think we sound like Alexisonfire, or Rise Against or Bring Me The Horizon. Then when they see us it's like "Oh! You're just a bunch of dudes playing heavy music!" It kind of makes more sense. I know there is that kind of preconceived notion about our band already.
Doc: Amongst the metal crowd there is sort of that stigma...
Liam: Oh I know, I'm fully aware of it. That's why for us we were like "let's do a tonne of metal shows - let's prove ourselves."
Doc: Yeah, that's one of the reasons I first checked you guys out - I kept seeing your names pop up on metal bills. Your albums as well seem to be getting progressively closer to metal and further away from punk over time. Was that natural progression or was that a conscious decision?
Liam: We've always been a heavier band than we've been represented by on our albums. Especially our first record - Birthing The Giant, when that came out we were playing those songs live and everyone was saying we were so much heavier than on CD or our myspace. People were really stoked on it. When we did Hail Destroyer it was really us trying to figure out how to get that, or even get that more so like with Bears..., to really capture that live sort of dirtiness.
Doc: The new one sounds a lot closer to sludge metal than hardcore a lot of the times, was that your intention going into the studio?
Liam: For sure! We've definitely beefed up a lot of our tones. We are all huge fans of sludge & stoner metal, so we kind of wanted to get that vibe. I think another thing too is Jay, being on bass really pushing the low-end, and actually having that represented on the record.
Doc: What type of bands were you listening to when you started forming this sludgier sound?
Liam: Obviously we were really into stuff like Neurosis and Sleep. The last Weedeater record, well even the newest one, but especially the one before that we were super into. Then finding out about bands like Bongzilla, as well as getting into way more crusty sludge. I also like a lot of stoner stuff like Dead Meadow, that sort of end of things. We were just vibing on these records thinking we could really apply a lot of this real fuzzed-out tone to what we're doing, and still have it cut through. The dudes we recorded with still knew how to make things clear, not get too muddy.
Doc: That's probably the main reason I got really into Bears..., I'm really into a lot of the stuff like High On Fire, Down etc, personally.
Liam: Oh yeah! Eyehategod! all that kind of stuff is what we were stoked on.
Doc: This is first album of yours where there's been no guest appearances from anyone from bands like Alexisonfire, Billy Talent, Rise Against. Were they left out because of the direction you guys were going in or some coincidence?
Liam: No. It was kind of a conscious thing because Jay joining the band he was the guy who was going to be singing those back-ups. I kind of wanted to focus on the fact that Jay is that other voice. Kind of as an introduction for him as well. Putting the spotlight more on him and less on the fact that we had a bunch of bro's. I think maybe for the next record, now that people know who Jay is, we'll go back to asking our friends to hang out.
Doc: One of the stand-out tracks on this album was "Raised Right" - it's totally different than anything you've ever done. I noticed it's a lot easier to write aggressive music with negative lyrics. "Raised Right" is actually quite a positive song - how easy did it come out?
Liam: Like you said, it's really easy to be super bummed out on things, and it's definitely more difficult to write a love song or a song about how much you love your parents. Something like that was us trying to change it up, trying something different. When those guys wrote that song, music wise it was a very different Cancer Bats song, so I wanted to approach it in a very different way anyways. For us we all have great parents, our families are an important thing for us. What I like is that people have been able to read into that; Dez from Devildriver - that's one of his favourite songs. He was like "I love it, 'cos I never knew my dad. I was raised by my mom, and she was so great, but I realize that there's things in me that are because of my dad, I'm never gonna get that outta me." So it was cool to see even though he had a very different upbringing than I did, still he got something out of that song, which I thought was really rad.
Doc: It's the mark of a good song when anyone can connect to it.
Liam: Yeah! Like put themselves through that. I was really psyched hearing that feedback. Doing that Devildriver tour was cool for having a lot of people vibe on songs that we didn't think people would. Stuff like "Raised Right", and "Black Metal Bicycle" - that was like the jam on that tour. Everyone was asking us to play it all the time. I didn't realize that would be the song that all these guys would be so psyched on.
Doc: Black Metal Bicycle? Was that a jab at black metal?
Liam: No! No! No! That whole song is all about people having preconceived notions about basically the way that we look. So to assume that I'm on drugs, or you don't have a job. You go to a bank and people are giving you this look like you're some sort of deathbro - like, where did you get your money from? You know what I mean? I think that's something that everyone has had to deal with. Just being within this subculture, or being counter-culture in general. So that song was about my reaction to that. It was kind of like a joke title at first, I thought it was still pretty fitting because I thought of like this goth riding his bicycle, while everyone is scowling. Like, fuck you! You don't know any of these people. When people end up meeting other people in the metal or hardcore community, they realize that they can be some of the nicest, most respectful people. That's what we get when we go to these clubs - "You'd think that metalheads would be the worst! The music is so heavy! But everyone is really nice, really friendly." So that whole song was kind of a "fuck you", especially for younger kids. I know what it's like to be super bummed out on that, when you go to a store and everyone thinks you're going to steal. It's like "Nah dude, I've been there too, everyone gets that!"
Doc: What about "Trust No One", is that some sort of X-Files reference?
Liam: Ha! Nah, I wish! That would be cool! That song is literally about me being pissed off about being robbed...so many times. Being in a band - your chances of being robbed, and the fact that you live in a car, is pretty likely. Everyone's had their car broken into, and had their shit stolen.
Doc: Cursed - the Vancouver hardcore band had to disband because they had all their passports and shit stolen in Europe.
Liam: Yeah. Shit like that happens all the time. We had the same thing happen when we were in Europe. We had all of our laptops stolen while we were sleeping in this band house. You have to deal with this shit all the time, so that was my song of just being like "Fuck this!" More being specifically about that moment. I obviously trust people, but it's that initial moment where you realize you've been robbed and you're so fucking pissed off.
Doc: That point where it's not even about your stuff, it's the fact that you've been had?
Liam: That was like my whole thing. It was almost apologetic in a way. It's like, I'm not normally this pissed off, but right now I want every junkie to die.
Doc: Another big thing is the video of your cover of the Beastie Boys song "Sabotage". It's getting massive hits on youtube, are you guys worried about becoming that gimmick band being known as "that band that once covered the Beastie Boys"?
Liam: For us we were kind of cautious about it at first, but because we had 6 other music videos that we did beforehand, even before we did "Sabotage", "Hail Destroyer" already had about a million hits. The second video you would see, well actually the first video that you'll see when you go to this is you'll see "Hail Destroyer" and you'll see "Pneumonia Hawk" which came out in 2007 & 2008, so no ones going to think that we're just this new band trying to jump on this bandwagon. For us it was just something fun to do, doing covers is rad, and that was closer to our punk rock side of things.
Doc: What are the chances you'll be playing either "Snake Mountain" or "Raised Right" tonight?
Liam: We haven't been playing either of those. Because we were here 3 months ago, we played "Black Metal Bicycle", and "Raised Right". We didn't play "Snake Mountain", but this time around we definitely are playing some different songs. It's always tough when you write more material because you want it to balance out. There's the kids that keep coming to shows who have been around since our first album, and they want to hear shit from the first album. So it's all about trying to keep it balanced. I'm glad you like those though.
Doc: Since you've gone from almost straight-up hardcore to sludge, do you have any ideas for the next album?
Liam: I don't know what we want for the next record. We're going to start writing it this summer. Like you said, going from punk to sludge, I think we've got such a wide spectrum to work with it will probably be more of the same within that spectrum. Now that we have these 3 albums to take a look at what we've done, what we did right, and what we could do better. Be more introspective...We're not going to write a radio rock record. For us we know what kind of band we want to be. So this time it's like, let's try and be the best band we can. Let's try and be the best Cancer Bats, instead of trying to be something else that people want us to be. Now that we're established let's really try and fucking kill it.
Doc: I also read somewhere that Greg, the owner of Distort! Records wanted you to cover an Entombed song, have you given that more serious thought?
Liam: We did cover an Entombed song, we did it as like a tour EP. I can't even remember the name of the song right now. But yeah, we did end up doing an Entombed song, it sort of backfired. We should have done something off of like Wolverine Blues.
Doc: I was just going to say, "Full Of Hell" actually sort of sounds like it could be a Cancer Bats song...
Liam: That's like in a way we were learning this one song...it's...uhm...Fuck! We recorded it in 2008 so I'm having trouble remembering it. We never ended up playing it because it was an Entombed song that no one knew. Literally, die-hard Entombed fans were having trouble recognizing it. It was one that Scott really liked, so we all picked a cover song, I picked a Faint song, Mikey picked a Murder City Devils song, and Scott picked this Entombed song. It was his pick. We learned it and it was fun, but it just sounded like another Cancer Bats song at the end of the day. We actually play "Full Of Hell" backstage as one of our songs we play on our playlist before we hit the stage.
Doc: It's definitely got a lot of groove to it.
Liam: I love it! Wolverine Blues is like one of my favourite records of all time.
Doc: I bought it about a year ago and I've played it to death.
Liam: Dude, it's so good! The drums on that album are just incredible.
Doc: Sounds kind of DIY yet full sounding at the same time. They really proved with that that heaviness is in the riffs - not the production.
Liam: Well the production on that album is incredible. We really broke it down, and to have drums like that - that aren't through a computer, that just sound super warm and super heavy, they really knew what they were doing.
Doc: So in more current news, 3 Inches Of Blood is recording some sort of tour documentary on this tour - are you guys going to be making any appearances on that at all?
Liam: I think we're all over it. Essentially we've been on tour with them for a month, so I'm pretty sure we're going to have some heavy cameos.
Doc: How pissed will you be if you're not on it at all?
Liam: I don't know. I don't think I would be that bummed. Maybe if they would at least show that we're on the tour. I wouldn't really care though, it's not a Cancer Bats documentary, we really ought to get our shit together and make one of those ourselves.
Doc: So that wraps things up, any last words?
Liam: Uhhh...Stoked for our next record? It's going to be fucking incredible.
||Posted on 08.06.2011 by Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.|
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