By Will Oakeshott
If Toronto’s southern-sludge-metal-punks Cancer Bats abide by any rule in this world it would be this infamous idiom: “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”; and here is why.
Firstly, this scribe will start with their most recently released fifth album Searching For Zero, their most honest, versatile and cohesive yet. Its range includes tracks under the formula of fuzzy-stoner-rock to songs that practically redefine melodic hardcore and their producer Ross Robinson, practical royalty of the game, is one of their biggest fans because of it.
Secondly is what comes with releasing new records and that is the obligatory touring. Cancer Bats know this, embrace it and execute it to levels of insanity but with pure joy and fulfillment. If the readers need proof, the quartet toured Australia in 2010 with Bullet For My Valentine and Bring Me The Horizon; but the ‘Bats went one step further as vocalist and happy-go-lucky skater punk Liam Cormier explains:
“That was probably my favourite tour of Australia besides Soundwave, which is just bananas! You play a set, then with the rest of your day you can see Gallows, The Sword, Kyuss all play and to finish off the day just casually watch some Metallica, so crazy! But anyways, on the tour with Bring Me The Horizon and Bullet For My Valentine, we would do the opening slot and then watch the other bands a bit, then head off to some wicked small punk club and do a headline show.”
So whilst the headliner and main support acts were happy with their slightly longer sets and more extravagantly setup shows, Cancer Bats were doing basically double the workload (including their own loading at some venues) but with a smile on their face. Asking Liam if the four-piece felt the pain of their live show intensity served twice in a small space of time took its toll, the answer was fairly surprising.
“That’s the thing, like two sets in a short space like that is actually what we prefer, we love it! No pain, no gain, we were all good and just chilling. What was better is we did two sets in Sydney then we flew out to New Zealand and did a third set there on the same day, within 24 hours.”
“Totally dude! From that we decided to do a tour called ‘The Pentagram Tour’; our booking agent in England basically said to us after we told him about three shows in succession: ‘Well if you can pull that off, then you can totally play six shows in 12 hours in the UK’. We were like that is something that we SHOULD totally do.”
The aforementioned idiom truly comes into play as anyone can see. Thankfully Cancer Bats are bringing their live antics to Australia once again for their longest tour yet with Melbourne’s progressive hardcore darlings High Tension. But with five albums to pick from and some clear fan favourites, is it hard to find a balance in the set-list especially with the new full-length? “Playing these new songs to kids and seeing people are as stoked on the songs that we are has just been mind-blowing. I mean, sometimes you write a song and people appreciate it but you just know they are waiting for the real hard-hitting ones; lately we are getting people yelling at us to play new songs like Devil’s Blood, Cursed With A Conscience and All Hail. Which is awesome, because we want to play those not just Sabotage and Hail Destroyer even though I guarantee we will!”
The more important question to quiz Mr. Cormier on is whether the band’s alter ego Bat Sabbath (yes, it is a Black Sabbath tribute) will make an appearance. At the time of interview it had not been announced that this transfigured identity was actually to make an appearance in Brisbane, but for the sake of the rest of the nation, any chance for some Bat renditions of Sabbath?
“To be honest we had not really planned on doing any Bat Sabbath stuff, but I do realise that Australia is probably the last place in the world that we actually haven’t done a Bat Sabbath performance. We are totally down to do it. I would absolutely love it to do super long sets. It’s our shows so if we can we would totally play for an hour and a half. Maybe we should chuck in Into The Void or Children Of The Grave in the middle of the set or as an encore. If it will get everybody to have a BETTER time, I will do it for sure!”
Are there favourites Liam?
“Growing up I listened to a fair bit of Black Sabbath, so I have songs that have been with me for so many years it’s hard to put a title of favourite to a limited number of them. Iron Man is just the sickest song ever, it’s so heavy; but playing them I have a different perspective; for that I love Into The Void, Jay’s (Schwarzer) intro on his bass is so huge and heavy, similar to the Kyuss cover but heavier.”
Liam elaborates. “It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I’m not either on that note; when I see like Cancer Bats nailing these covers, I actually become a fan of the band. Then I will forget to sing or something and I’ll think I suck (laughs). That’s the best part though; honestly I sing half the set. The rest of the time I am head-banging and tripping out how rad it is. It’s cool though if we play War Paint I sing for like two minutes and the song goes for eight, it’s really chill,” he laughs.
As one would have probably noticed whilst browsing this interview is that Liam holds a very enthusiastic attitude for practically his entirety as a being. Part reason for this is because he was almost a pro-skater but opted to deafen ears of people worldwide whilst they rejoiced in the experience. So besides tearing up stages, does Mr. Cormier plan to tear up the streets or even a half-pipe as well?
“Actually it would be awesome if someone could bring me a board while we are in Australia and we’ll totally go for a skate, actually HEAVY mag if you make skate decks I will totally ride it. But anybody else reading if you could bring a bigger board, like an 825 I am DOWN!”
We should all be so Dead Set On Living.
Searching For Zero is out now via Metal Blade / Distort Entertainment / Cooking Vinyl.
Tour Dates and Supports
With Special Guests High Tension
WEDNESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER – ENIGMA BAR, ADELAIDE – 18+
Local Support Band: A Ghost Orchestra
THURSDAY 24 SEPTEMBER – BENDIGO HOTEL, MELBOURNE – 18+ **SOLD OUT!
Local Support Band: Jack The Stripper
FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER – BARWON CLUB, GEELONG – 18+
Local Support Band: Rust Proof
SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER – PITTED, BATEMANS BAY – 18+
Local Support Band: Terravorous
MONDAY 28 SEPTEMBER – THE BALD FACED STAG, SYDNEY – 18+
Local Support Band: Bare Bones
TUESDAY 29 SEPTEMBER – WOY WOY LEAGUES CLUB, CENTRAL COAST – 18+
Local Support Band: Pitchfork
WEDNESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER – SMALL ROOM, NEWCASTLE – 18+
Local Support Band: Downside
THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER – THE BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE – 18+
Local Support Band: Time Crisis
FRIDAY 2 OCTOBER – SHARK BAR, GOLD COAST – 18+
Local Support Band: She Cries Wolf