Written by Ana Krunic
VANCOUVER – There are plenty of bands that start off their careers playing covers and very few, if any, that go the opposite route, especially after already finding success with their original music. Toronto’s hardcore punk golden boys Cancer Bats kind of landed in the situation by accident, to be fair.
“So, it wasn’t even our idea, actually. It started back in 2011, we were booked to play a festival in the UK called Sonisphere,” explains lead vocalist Liam Cormier. “Slipknot were headlining as the last band of the festival. The organizers said to us: ‘What if you guys figured out a cover set that you guys could play at the very end of the night for anyone who wants to keep partying after Slipknot closes out the festival?’ Obviously we agreed.”
Organizers began advertising a mysterious Black Sabbath cover band called Bat Sabbath to festival goers, holding back from revealing the group’s true identity.
“So there ended up being these wild rumours going around the festival of who Bat Sabbath were, saying they thought it was the Foo Fighters or something. And all I could think then was that, man are people gonna be bummed,” laughs Cormier. “But the cool part is that it worked and it ended up being packed. We thought we were only doing it as a one-off show, but in a perfect storm of technology, everyone recorded the set on their phones and uploaded it to YouTube. So we finish the tour and fly off, and literally by the time we get home 8 hours later we already had offers to play in other cities as Bat Sabbath – all because of these YouTube videos.”
The YouTube videos are still up, and you can see why they were contacted about bringing more Bat Sabbath to the world. Their sound adapts to Sabbath so well, not to mention Cormier’s incredibly enthusiastic performance in what looks to be a cape and an oversized inverted cross around his neck.
“I’ve really gotten into playing up the showman aspect of it. I’m wearing a cape, and motorcycle boots, and my shirt’s tucked in but it’s completely unbuttoned. I mean… I have a really good time playing with the Cancer Bats, but I’m really into how far I go with this character that is the maniac that’s fronting Bat Sabbath. It may be even more entertaining for me than anybody else, to be honest.”
Cormier’s love of Black Sabbath is pretty apparent in his performances but also in conversation. “The weirdest things that’s come out of this is that I’ve met people that actually don’t like Black Sabbath. They’re out there. And respect to them, people can like whatever they want. But it’s so crazy to me that those kids will turn up at a Bat Sabbath show and actually tell me that they’re only here for Cancer Bats. And it’s awesome, don’t get me wrong. But it’s also like, I really don’t know if we can be friends. You don’t like Sabbath? What else do you not like, pizza? Where are we gonna go from here?”
Bat Sabbath is playing at the Cobalt on January 5th with Waingro and Woe Monger and January 6th with Dead Quiet and We Hunt Buffalo.