By James Olson
VANCOUVER — For more than a decade, Toronto’s Cancer Bats have been flapping around the globe spreading contagious energy and infectiously heavy grooves upon an unsuspecting populace. Catching Cancer Bats’ frontman Liam Cormier literally on the road to their next gig, the vocalist for the hardcore/metal fusion quartet shed light on their latest record, their ongoing longevity, and their most memorable tour thus far.
As with 2012’s Dead Set on Living, Cancer Bats’ latest album Searching for Zero is upbeat and melodic, particularly on the Southern metal tinged “True Zero” and the swinging, anthemic “Satellites.” Cormier says that this is due in part to a personal tragedy that beset the band throughout the tour for Dead Set, which in part influenced their approach to crafting their latest record. “I think ultimately the record is positive. I just think there was a lot of really heavy things that had happened leading up to that album and in a lot of ways we used a lot of that record to work through it for ourselves and to make it a positive thing in the end.” The band was able to use what Cormier calls “the power of music” to help the band through some tough times.
Cancer Bats have always straddled the edge between metal and hardcore, incorporating elements from both genres in a fashion that has allowed them to craft a sound that is very much their own. Cormier attributes the band’s roots in the Southern Ontario hardcore community to their freedom to mix in sonic elements not commonly associated with the hardcore genre. “We were pretty welcomed starting out. The fact that we had all grown up within [the hardcore scene], starting off and making a lot of friends and by the time you’re on your third or fourth band, in a lot of ways you’re playing for a lot of your friends and people you had grown up with,” Cormier explains. “When we first started, everyone was really excited that we were doing a new band and that a bunch of us were trying a bunch of different styles.” Cormier does admit however that throughout the band’s career, they have had to win over certain audiences who might be initially puzzled by their crossover approach. They’ve shared bills with acts as disparate as Anti-Flag, Alexisonfire, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and legendary shock rockers GWAR. Thankfully, Cancer Bats kinetic live show has won over many a convert.
More than any other tour, it was their ten-week stint with the aforementioned GWAR that Cormier recalls the most fondly. As long time fans themselves, meeting and getting to know the men behind the monster suits was a memorable experience. “The whole band really welcomed us in and seeing how they run their band still, even though they’re a huge band that have been doing their thing forever they’re still super DIY and have a super punk ethic in terms of everything that they do,” Cormier recalls. “That was really cool to get to tour with those guys and just become friends with them and to be people that we’re still friends with now is awesome.”
Cancer Bats have been flying high for over ten years now, Cormier connects their longevity to the reputation they’ve been able to establish as an entertaining live act. The fact that the band has developed such a following across Canada, especially knowing that there is a built in audience for them in places as unassuming as Red Deer, Alberta only furthers their excitement and willingness to keep the Bats soaring.
“We’re so stoked to come back to Vancouver playing a headline show and thinking about all the rad shows that we’ve played before” Cormier says. “All these spots [across Canada] have kind of been our stomping grounds now over the years and you know are going to be a party. Now we can just keep it going. We have tons of friends, we know lots of people, it’s gonna be awesome.”
Cancer Bats perform, along with Lord Dying, at Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver) Dec. 2, Starlite Room (Edmonton) Dec. 4, The Gateway (Calgary) Dec. 5, The Exchange (Regina) Dec. 8, and the Good Will Social Club (Winnipeg) Dec. 11.AB, Alberta, BC, British Columbia, Cancer Bats, Exchange, Fortune Sound Club, Gateway, Good Will Social Club, Manitoba, MB, Starlite Room