Interview: Cancer Bats

Having made their Leeds Festival debut back in 2007, you could consider Canadian riff merchants Cancer Bats festival veterans. However after speaking to vocalist Liam Cormier, their enthusiasm for the Bank Holiday event hasn’t waned. With this being their fifth time at the festival, having worked their way up the bill over the years, the quartet have gone full circle with a prominent slot on The Pit stage.

Back in the UK for the first time since their successful run with While She Sleeps back in April, Cancer Bats still thrive off the simple idea of being in a band with mates and having fun and now five albums deep into their career, they just happen to do it across the world. Album number five, ‘Searching For Zero,’ was released this past March to much praise and saw the four-piece combine their mix of thrash, hardcore, stoner rock, punk and southern rock. The end result is an onslaught of heavy riffs and soaring vocals that are carried with a devilish lyrical substance.

Hours before their set at Leeds Festival, we spoke to Liam about a number of topics; past festival memories, returning to the UK, working with producer Ross Robinson on ‘Searching For Zero,’ their label imprint (Noise Church Records) and more.

AH: You’re back at Leeds for the fifth time. How does it feel to be back?

Liam: I love it! We love this festival. When we first started coming over there was Download Festival was the most metal thing ever then all of a sudden we’re being asked to play Leeds and Reading which has a punk stage. We were playing with Municipal Waste, The Dwarves and all these amazing punk bands. We were just like “this is the greatest thing ever!” Of course we’re going to keep trying to tour here and stay here. This is our jam! We love Leeds and Reading and specifically Leeds. Cancer Bats loves it up North. Yorkshire! Lets just say we love this United Kingdom. The only thing united is my love for it.

AH: What are your past memories of playing Leeds?

Liam: Like I said playing in 2007 and getting asked to come back right away. That was crazy. People have told us “you don’t play this festival more than once” and we keep getting asked to come back. We get to play the Lock Up stage and have such a blast then we eventually played main stage. It’s so crazy to come from in the afternoon and then to playing main stage. So much has happened around this festival.

AH: And you keep getting higher and higher up the bill.

Liam: Yeah! And we’re now playing later too. We were rolling in saying “this is crazy! We’re playing 8 ‘o’ clock.” That is so wild.

AH: Are there any bands you’re wanting to see while you’re here?

Liam: I’m kind of bummed we got stuck in traffic because I’m missing Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes but the nice part about Leeds is that if you miss any bands, you get to see them at Reading. So that kind of thing is cool. I wish logistically it would of worked out because A$ap Ferg and Flatbush Zombies are at Reading today (Friday) and there’s no way we’re going to get to see them. I don’t know when in my lifetime I’m going to see A$ap Ferg, so I’m bummed about that one.

AH: This is the first time back in the UK since you toured with While She Sleeps back in April. How was that tour?

Liam: It was an amazing European tour then it got cranked up to a thousand by the time we got to the UK. All the shows were crazy packed out. Everyone was vibing. It was the best.

AH: Also you released a new album, ‘Searching For Zero’ in March. That was produced by Ross Robinson. How was it working with him?

Liam: He’s the best dude ever! He’s so nice and friendly but at the same time able to tap into all that inner madness that gets released at a show. He knows how to trick you into doing it.

AH: He pushes you all the way.

Lima: Yeah exactly. You recognise when you get there but you have to be sweaty, at a packed out show, losing your mind. He knows how to get that out of a sterile environment. I love this record for that because it sounds more like us then I think we ever have.

AH: I remember reading a Slipknot book years ago and hearing stories about how intense Ross is in the studio.

Liam: Yeah his Slipknot stories are crazy too. And how can you not be inspired by someone telling you about hand mixing the Slipknot record. There were like three guys hand mixing the record live. It’s so sick.

AH: Going back to ‘Searching For Zero’, would you say it’s a combination of everything from beforehand?

Liam: Yeah I’d say so. I think it’s leading everything up to it. The writing was definitely inspired by that. We look at writing Cancer Bats records now as us being fans of our own band. We just hang out and get stoked. We think about all those kids that have Cancer Bats tattoos, and in the same way we’re fans of other bands. It’s like I love playing ripping thrash songs. I love when we play stoner rocks songs. So it’s like “lets write more songs like that.”

AH: It’s just getting all those elements and putting them in a big melting pot.

Liam: Yeah! Exactly and just having fun. We’re like “ok we’ll just write the most fun songs ever” and then keep on partying.

AH: You can’t complain with that. The album has also got a lot of positive reviews that must be pretty exciting?

Liam: Yeah. To put out our fifth record and have people be just as stoked on it as we have. I know when you put out something a little bit different, you try some different ideas and have people to be just as stoked on those songs as much as the classic bangers is the best.

AH: It must be tricky because with some bands by the time they reach their fifth album, they’re stuck in a routine of churning out the same sort of stuff?
Liam: I think the biggest thing is not treating your band just as a job. For us, taking some time off and having some real life things happen is good. I was renovating my house. I was doing demolition and building up walls, doing these really hard things so when I get together with my friends we’re just having fun. This is the easiest thing I can do. So the fact I’m just playing music with my friends is a basement rehearsal space.

AH: That’s pretty cool. You’re five albums in and you’re still doing it as a hobby but you get to do it everywhere.

Liam: Yeah exactly.

AH: The album was released on your own label imprint (Noise Church Records) right?

Liam: Yeah it came out through BMG and because they’re like a publishing company they said “so we’ll it have so it’s basically your label. You guys are calling the shots and making everything happen.” They were sort of the big brother who makes it all happen.

AH: Does that give you more control over what direction you want to go in?

Liam: Everything! BMG have been the coolest label ever. We were going to make the record 30 minutes long and they said “Yeah sure. That’s sick like Slayer.” That’s awesome. Everyone has just been super cool. We showed them the artwork and they said “we love it” and here’s the video; “we love it”. Everything has been so cool. It’s really nice to be with a label that is supportive. We were like “we’re going to take a year off” and they said “yeah you should,” (laughs) This is the best.

AH: Are you planning on having any other bands join the label?

Liam: We look at how Gallows have been so prolific with Venn and doing so much cool stuff. But at the end of the day we’re all really busy, so I’m trying to spend more time with my girlfriend and my house now that’s finished, let alone trying to put out other records but we’ll see. Maybe in the future. Maybe Mikey (Peters – drums) will. He’s the one who handles a lot of Cancer Bats business. I think he’d be stoked on doing that.

AH: What else do you have planned after this? I know you’re off to Australia soon.

Liam: Yeah we go to Australia right after this run, which I’m way too excited about, then we’re going to be coming back (here) in January. We’re going to be doing a headline tour like a proper old school, dirty tour.

AH: Can you say who’s that with? Any support?

Liam: I don’t even know. We’ve not even figured it out. It’ll be somebody cool. We always tour with bands we want to watch.

AH: Any bands you’d like to tour with?

Liam: Ahhh I could tell you a list of bands I’d like to tour with all day long, but until it’s something you don’t want to jinx it.

AH: How long is that tour going to be?

Liam: It’s almost a full month of UK and Europe. So there is a solid bunch of UK shows because we want to go back and play a bunch of small, fun venues that we played back in the day. They’re still rad. I still want to play those places.

AH: Yeah I see bands on big stages here but I prefer them in an intimate setting.

Liam: Yeah I know exactly what you mean. That’s the thing coming off the While She Sleeps tour, we were like “this is rad but if we can do small shows again and rip more of the UK that would be what we want to do.” So everyone keep your peepers peeled.

AH: So besides that tour and the Australia run, is there anything else in the works?
Liam: No that’s it. I mean we will definitely start working on new Cancer Bats material and it’ll come down the pipe.

AH: Any final comments?

Liam: We love the UK! Thanks for having us as always. You guys are the best! We’ll be back soon.

’Searching For Zero’ by Cancer Bats is out now through Noise Church Records.

Cancer Bats links: Official Website|Facebook|Twitter

Cancer Bats will be touring the UK in Janaury on the following dates:

January
11th Chinnerys, Southend
12th Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
13th Concorde 2, Brighton
14th Waterfront, Norwich
15th Phoenix, Exeter
16th The Hub, Plymouth
17th Marble Factory, Bristol
18th Hobos, Bridgend
19th Sub 89, Reading
20th Sugarmill, Stoke
21st Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
22nd O2 Academy 2, Birmingham
23rd O2 Academy 3, Manchester
24th Key Club, Leeds
25th Garage, Glasgow
26th O2 Academy 2, Newcastle
27th O2 Academy 2, Liverpool
28th Tufnell Park Dome, London

View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Leeds Festival 2015 here.

Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)

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