Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier needs no introduction. With a career spanning just over a decade, the musician (together with his Cancer bats brothers) has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in heavy music. Killyourstereo.com sat down with the always affable and friendly singer to talk about the band’s upcoming Australian tour, and find out which Aussie band he has been loving lately.
What’s been going on man?
We just played the Gwar-BQ on Saturday. I don’t know if you guys have heard of that, but it’s this amazing festival that the guys from GWAR put on and we were lucky enough to get invited this year. The Decendants played, Clutch played, Down was there. Obviously GWAR played because it’s their festival, Goatwhore, Childbite…there was just so many good bands playing it. It was an amazing little weekend!
Was there a mellow mood given everything GWAR has been through?
Yeah, man. Last year was the memorial for Dave, so I rode my motorcycle down to Richmond just for the memorial, and that was still a wild party but everyone was putting it out there for Dave, and remembering and talking about him. This year, because last year was the full memorial, people were still talking about it and bringing it up, but it was also about the festival because it was just amazing, and everyone was having a good time.
I remember reading that you guys said the passing away of a few people had a direct effect on ‘Searching For Zero’. What impact did that have on the song writing?
It was something that I knew I was going to write about, but also in a way I kind of needed these songs to work through it. Sometimes when you’re able to really drill into a song and contemplate on it and work through it, it’s almost as if you are resolving it for yourself, you know? So working with Ross Robinson, he had exactly the same, if not more so, of a hold on the spin on it. He was like, “The fact that you even care about these people is amazing, especially if you wanna write a song about them.” That’s just part of the process. But at the end of the day, even us writing a song as heavy as ‘Arsenic and the Year of the Snake’, that’s still a celebration of those people despite that. So it was really cool for me trying to figure out all these things and going “ok…this year was harsh…why?” And using these songs to work through that, to come out on top and for all of us to come out stronger as a result.
Did it affect the relationships in the band?
I think the biggest thing was that it brought us all together. I was talking early days about what the songs were about, we were at our friend’s memorial and then the next day I would be like, “This song is gonna be about Allan.” Or like when we found out that Dave died, I came back to practice and we were re-working Arsenic, and trying to make it half as long. I was just like, “I’m gonna write this song about Dave. Give me two days and I will have new lyrics for it.” It was about something completely different originally, and I was like, “No, this is a song that has to be about him.” Just the most insane thrash song on the record. There was lots of that and it was cool because it was all of us being like, “Cool, yeah totally.” And I think in a lot of ways we were still going through it as we were writing, and it meant that when we showed up to band practise it was tonnes of fun. It took it back to the days when like, you finish work and you go and meet up with your buddies and you have practice. Sometimes when your job is practice, you can kind of lose that a little bit. So, when we had these other things going on in our lives, we would show up to band practice and it was great hanging out with my three buds. You would catch up on what everyone had been doing, and then play some riffs that everyone would be stoked on. It kind of took the whole process almost back to why we started the band.
In your year off, what did you guys get up to? Did you hang out, or give each other some space?
Well, we all live close together. Jay and I live two blocks away. Mikey eventually moved back to Winnipeg –he used to be 24 hours away, but we are in the same city now. Him and I hang out all the time. My girlfriend rand I recently bought a house, and I spent the year doing renovations and demoing and doing all that stuff. So Mikey helped me and Jay. Mikey would come tonnes of days and hang out. He and I just spent the last 12 hours today putting a roof on my new house.
Is it weird going from touring to everyday life?
I get super stoked on it because I love the fact that being in a band has brought me here. I love being able to take some time off, and even the fact that I can afford building supplies! Mikey has the time off because he is in my band, and we can hang out because we don’t have to go to work. I mean, we aren’t millionaires otherwise I would hire someone else to do it, but the fact that we are both up there ripping 30 layers of sheets off my old house, together, it’s like, ‘yeah man, we can do anything!’
Before you guys did Dead Set On Living, you said that a lot of non-heavy music influenced that record- namely Fleet Foxes with Helplessness Blues. Did you have any non-heavy influences on this record?
I feel like the big thing that always surprises people is that we even listen to different kinds of music. The fact that I listen to hip hop is weird to some people. Even like when Mikey and I were working on the house, we got super into the new Beck record- just in terms of being different and nailing it. When you listen to that album you can still tell that it’s Beck, you can still tell that it is him making it. I know the new Cancer Bats isn’t as much of a departure, but it’s crazy hearing someone doing something so different from what they are known for. Still, front to back, that new Beck record is amazing. It was more that vibe of, ‘Oh this dude went out on a limb and nailed it.’ I think that if it’s done well, you can do whatever you want and people will understand that. When we talked about it, we got a tonne of confidence in terms of new songs like ‘Satellites’ and all that. We just went, “As long as we put our hearts into this, and we are stoked on it, I think people are going to be pumped.” We wanted to push ourselves and be different with this record. Listening to some of those albums, like from people we have grown up with who are still trying to push themselves and do a new thing, that was really inspiring.
Do you listen to much heavy music?
Yeah, I still love when new records come out. You can’t not listen to the new High on Fire – it’s fucking awesome! I still wanna jam tonnes of heavy stuff, but, as an example, when we were driving home from Gwar-BQ, we had a 10 hour drive. I can’t listen to 10 hours of metal while driving. Even Jay put on the new High on Fire and we were jamming it, but I was like, ‘Dude I need to listen to some hip-hop. I need something else!” Even just to listen to something like the new Superheaven, it’s still super heavy. We jammed that new Violent Soho record that just came out. It’s unreal how good that record is. I love that band and we were really lucky because they were on tour with The Bronx, and we got asked to play a suprise set in Toronto, so we got to see and meet all the Violent Soho guys. This was back in 2010 when they had just put out their first record, with like ‘Jesus Stole My Girlfriend’ and all that. That record blew my mind; I was just like, “Who are these kids?” We are on the same label as them in Canada, and I was, “Oh shit! A new Violent Soho record.” Because over here it’s hard to hear about some of that stuff, unless you’re dialled in. It’s like, we are on the same label as High Tension, but you don’t hear about it. When you’re on tour and not paying attention, you miss that kind of stuff. So yeah, we were jamming the new Soho record, and we love that tune – the ‘Hell Fuck Yeah!’
Covered In Chrome
Oh my God, what a song! We want to tour with those dudes so bad!
So you guys are going to be here next month, which will be great. I noticed there are lots of regional shows.
Yeah man, since we first started coming over we always had this connection with Australia, because to us, it was so similar to the scene in Canada. You know, people would play just the five major cities, and they kind of just skip over all the stuff in between, because it’s tougher there and the shows are hard to get to. So when we met the Parkway Drive guys, we realised “You can play like 40 shows in Australia? How do we do that?” That’s the kind of tour that I want to do! Literally, it’s never worked out until now, and this is us finally able to make that happen and to have a real Australian tour were we are driving and not flying. Because I wanna eat pies and hang out! I don’t wanna sit in an airport and go, “Oh I can go to Hungry Jacks and buy a pair of Billabong shorts, whatever.” I want to see Australia man!
Does that attitude represent how you approach touring?
Totally! That’s why, as a band, we love touring still. We have been in Europe and toured in a bus and been like, “Man this is fucking lame!” All you do is drive all night, and then you wake up at the venue and that’s all you see. I was like, “No, we wanna stop wherever we want and drive places and check things out.” If there is something on during the day, then we will leave earlier. Someone might tell us to check out a record store, or like a coffee shop or whatever. That’s what this is all about. So I’m way too excited that this is all finally coming around!
Catch Cancer Bats on their Destroy Australia tour, with guests High Tension, this September/October. Tickets via – http://tickets.destroyalllines.com/