Canadian hardcore punk band Cancer Bats turned quite a lot of heads with their latest album, so reason enough to have an interview with these gents. Louisa Smith had a friendly chat with singer Liam Cormier about their latest musical ventures, the therapeutic benefits of writing lyrics and the sources of inspiration.
You had a new album out this year, how would you say it compares to earlier work and how would you describe it to anyone who hasn’t heard it before?
When we were writing this album we had a lot of discussions about what we loved about playing in Cancer Bats and what songs made shows fun or why we still play certain songs and aren’t bored with them yet. From those talks we found we were playing all of our favorite parts and ideas from the band and then trying to push those ideas to the fullest. To me I think of this album as all of our favorite parts of our band mashed into one giant party.
Some of the lyrics that stood out to me were in your song “R.A.T.S.” when you say “There’s a special place in hell for people like you. There’s a place in hell for all the shit that you’ve done. There’s a place in hell for every filthy rat.” When you write your lyrics do you write about things that have happened to you, people who you’ve met etc. or are they spontaneously put together?
I try to write all songs from personal experience, so there’s definitely people I have in mind when I’m singing that song. At the same time I wrote that song for anyone that’s been fucked with in any way and needs that release as well. Everyone has had to deal with someone shitty in their lives before.
I find a lot of your lyrics I can relate to, and you can get a lot of anger out when you listen to it, is that your intention when you write them and is it a way for yourself to get your feelings out?
100% for me there’s nothing more therapeutic than screaming my guts out about it night after night. I would say that it’s not only anger that I’m trying to get out. I try to balance the positive and negative with all of our songs. A song like “Scared To Death” is all about me being in love, same with a song like “Old Blood” is all about being stoked every day and doing what you want. I try to change it up as much as I can.
The last time I saw you, you were playing at Sonisphere where you also did a ‘Bat Sabbath’ set, is Black Sabbath a band that have been a major influence to you and who else would you say has been a major influence to your music?
We all grew up on Black Sabbath and I think none of us would be into heavy down tuned music with out them. We love to cover bands that we were influenced by in the same way that we’ve found out about bands when we were young when they would do covers. We’ve done Murder City Devils, The Faint, Entombed, Tegan And Sara, The Misfits, Beastie Boys and now we can do an hour of Black Sabbath. To me it’s almost like paying it forward, even if just one kid gets turned onto music they didn’t know about then it all works out.
If you were born earlier so you grew up in the 80s, which 80s band would you most likely want to join?
I was born in 1980 so I guess I did grow up in the 80’s, if I could I would have been the youngest member of Public Enemy that would have been dope!
You’ve had a lot of great reviews across the board for your new album, has all this praise raised expectations for the band? Do you feel any pressure about writing another album and worry it won’t match up to the last one?
The response to the new album has been great and we’ve had tons of people coming to the shows who know the words already and are asking us to play their favorite songs which is awesome. The next record is so far off that we aren’t even close to thinking about that. We have 2 years of tour for this album, so were all just focused on that for now.
Saying that, would you be able to write the greatest song in the world and have it buried so no one else could hear it, and die a happy man knowing only you have written the greatest song in the world?
I don’t think there could be just one “greatest” song, and if you had a total jam why wouldn’t you want to let it out so everyone could party? That would just be selfish. Who wants to party by themselves….not me.
You’re playing a few UK festivals this year, Slam Dunk, Reading and Download, are festivals the best crowds to play to? Are you planning on playing any more this year?
Fests are rad. It’s just such a different show than a club so it makes it fun to change it up and have to get the crowd going in such a different set up. Its sucks when the barricades are super far away and you kind of miss out on the interaction, but we’ll make the best of it.
So you’ve played around the world, where is your favourite place to play? A lot of bands I’ve asked have said Japan; you guys have played Japan, what makes the rock scene over there so special?
Japan is pretty cool. I feel really lucky that our fans are pretty awesome wherever we go and are down to go crazy along with us and rip it up. We just played Prague last night and it was fucking nuts so it’s really tough to say. Every time I think we’ve played the craziest show we roll up somewhere next and it blows our minds.
You’ve had a busy 2012 so far, you’ve even played six shows in one day! Tell us what’s next for Cancer Bats?
We’ve got tours lined up until the middle of next year so tons of touring is on our horizon.
Thank you for taking the time out to answer our questions, we have one more for you which may require some thought. If you were floating in space after your ship blew up, and you only had enough oxygen to sing one song, which song would you sing and why?
If I was in space, I would be singing “Into The Void” by Black Sabbath the whole time I was up there. Easily the best space rock jam of all time. I would probably sing the bridge since I was dying because it’s quicker.