“Hellllll yeah”,“Let’s do this!” are just some of the many distinctive song lyrics that could be used to introduce this interview with the legendary front man, Liam Cormier, for the hardcore / punk juggernaut that is ‘Cancer Bats’.
The 4-piece band “Hail”…ing from Canada, are set to hit Australian shores in just over a month’s time in support of English punk rock band, ‘Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes’ headed by former Gallows front man, Frank Carter.
‘Cancer Bats’ have been around for over a decade now, debuting their first epic full-length album, “Birthing The Giant” in 2006. The record launched Cancer Bats into the hardcore scene, with some notable special guests, fellow Canadian punk / hardcore pioneers, Alexisonfire, appearing on the record and in film clips.
This was followed up with the band’s mighty second release “Hail Destroyer”, which is now 10 years old. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, the guys have announced a special anniversary run of shows in Canada before they head down to Australia to give us a collation of the best of their back catalogue.
With Cancer Bats’ infectious energy, chaotic party inducing vibes, these shows are sure to set some wild and memorable scenes, guaranteeing to leave some adrenaline fueled, slightly bruised and battered bodies and satisfied minds full of nostalgia, in their wake.
We chat to Liam, one of the most down to earth front men in hardcore, who seems to have nailed a balanced juxtaposition of ferocity and urgency in his vocal performances and stage presence, while maintaining a positive and energetic outlook on life.
We delve into the band’s beginnings, Cancer Bats’ alter ego cover band- ‘Bat Sabbath’, meeting Ozzy Osbourne, riding through Death Valley on dirt bikes and we take a look to the future, which so far includes being in the Hatebreed mosh pit at 76 years old, with grey hair and a Zimmer frame.
SCENEzine: Hi Liam, it’s Sarah from SCENEzine Australia, how you doing?
LIAM CORMIER: I’m doin’ good, how are you?
SCENEzine: I’m good thank you. Thanks for taking the time to chat to us today.
LIAM CORMIER: No cheers, thanks for doing the interview.
SCENEZINE: So it’s a busy time of year with the holidays and Christmas just around the corner, how do you usually spend your Christmas day?
LIAM CORMIER: Usually my Christmas is spent with family, we have a big family and my girlfriend and I drive up to Lauderdale in Ottawa. We have like a huge family hang, which is wicked. We get caught up over what everyone’s been doing for the year, give out some presents and yeah hang out.
SCENEZINE: That sounds good. Do you have any pets that you get to dress up in funny Christmas costumes?
LIAM CORMIER: No (laughs) we don’t have pets, although I do appreciate when other people dress up their dogs in cute holiday gear (laughs)
SCENEZINE: (laughs) yeah it’s great. So lately Cancer Bats have been busy organizing the ‘10 Years Of Hail Destroyer’ shows in Canada (celebrating the release of the second album) with your live shows always so full of infectious chaotic energy and now adding fuel to the fire with the extra nostalgia that these anniversary Hail shows are sure to induce, are you expecting some pretty wild scenes?
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah, I think people are gonna go nuts. Especially like you said, the nostalgia factor. I feel like people will get as drunk as they were in 2008 so for some of them, they’ll be partying like they were 16 years old (laughs) which I think is pretty fun to see. Having been to even the Alexis shows last night in Toronto, like watching all these adults reliving their 20’s and just like screaming all the songs off of like ‘Crisis’ and stuff like that. I was getting really stoked, like “Oh this is going to be epic!”
SCENEZINE: Hell yeah! Speaking of anniversary shows, I saw you were at the 10 year “Satisfaction (Is The Death of Desire)” Hatebreed show in your yellow outfit. (laughs)
LIAM CORMIER: Oh yeah, I was pitting so hard (laughs)
SCENEZINE: (laughs) yeah, did you leave with any battle wounds?
LIAM CORMIER: No, I kept it pretty posi’, I was more push pitting I’ll admit. I wasn’t actually like throwing down. It was funny because I saw Andrew Neufeld from Comeback Kid last night at Alexis and I guess he was right next to me (at the Hatebreed show) and he was like “Oh man I should’ve been wearing a bright yellow shirt too because then you could’ve seen me (laughs)
I was like “Oh shit I didn’t even realize we were right next to each other”
But he was wearing all black like everyone else.
SCENEZINE: (laughs) Yeah you’ll have to coordinate next time and go in matching outfits.
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah we should’ve both been wearing yellow shirts.
SCENEZINE: Can you describe that feeling of adrenaline that you get from being in the throws of the mosh pit as a fan, opposed to being on stage performing?
LIAM CORMIER: I guess so (it’s similar) because I was really pumped watching that show (laughs) so maybe. We were up on the balcony and then two songs in I was like “man efff this!” took off my jacket and just ran into the pit and spent the whole time down there. So I don’t know, I guess that’s probably comparable (laughs) to a band that I’ve loved for that long.
I feel like sometimes when you play a show and it’s completely insane, there’s literally, I don’t think anything on the planet…because like I’m screaming at Jamey (Jasta) you know while he sings ‘Satisfaction’ but when you’re the singer and everyone’s screaming at you, I think there’s nothing that feels like that. You know, 800 or 200 or however many people, when people are singing along, for me it’s this super electric feeling and it can only transform into that much more energy that explodes out of my body (laughs) like oh kids are going off!? I am going way crazier as a result of this!
SCENEZINE: Yeah for sure, you feed off their energy.
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah just going nuts.
SCENEZINE: So speaking of milestones, congratulations on the decade plus long journey of killer riffs, records and shows! Looking back on it all, you must have some pretty crazy memories over the last 10 plus years as a band?
Any major stand outs or highlights, either from tour antics or live shows?
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah, it’s definitely been crazy! Like I said even just watching that show last night, like watching Alexis or going to see Hatebreed a week ago, all of those kind of ideas of what we were doing ten years ago or what was happening before hand that’s led to being here and those memories from that sort of stuff.
Not just because we’re talking about Australia, but I know one of the biggest things for us was even just being invited to come to Australia on our first record and showing up to some place, that for me, I never even thought I would go to in my lifetime because I didn’t have any money and it’s so far.
Then someone amazing like Dave Batty decided that it was a good idea to bring us there (and hopefully it was a good idea for him) but the fact that we were playing on our first record to all these kids and they were singing along and partying and kind of like our same vibe of people but were again, on the other side of the world. That to me was such a mind blow and if anything, that was like fuel to just crush that much harder with ‘Hail Destroyer’.
That whole year was building up to us putting out that record and then just being like “Oh my god, we’re gonna play so many more shows!” We were trying to play 300 shows a year at that point and by the time we had put out ‘Hail Destroyer’ I was like, we’re definitely gonna play 300 shows this year, that’s all I wanted to do.
So I just think about everything that was happening at that time and it was pretty much this time in 2007, it was the beginning of December 2007, it was us and Deez Nuts, we played about 3 shows and it was so crazy.
SCENEZINE: Yeah I guess having that kind of response to the first album really gave you that extra bit of kick, like you said to build and keep up that momentum in performances and then follow up with ‘Hail Destroyer’.
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah! Kind of like to make us hit the ground running.
SCENEZINE: Yeah exactly. Talking about your debut album, ‘Birthing the Giant’, it definitely lived up to it’s name, exploding out of the gates as you were saying and it’s definitely one of mine and I’m sure many others, favourite albums.
It also shows some love for your fellow Canadian hardcore legends that we mentioned before, in Alexisonfire, on tracks like ‘French Immersion’ and ‘Pneumonia Hawk’ (guest vocals by George Petitt) Can you tell me a little bit about with your relationship with the Alexisonfire guys?
LIAM CORMIER: I met those dudes in the early days of hardcore so when they were first starting and had a demo cd. I remember them giving them out at a show that we were all playing. So I met those guys probably around 2000 / 2001, so when Alexis first started and I was singing in a screamo band. That’s around the time that I met Scott, he was playing in a metal band of his own that was when I met Jay, Jay was playing in a hardcore band. So we kinda all knew each other. So by the time we started Cancer Bats, I had been friends with those guys for probably like 4 or 5 years.
They were so supportive of the band. For them it was like “Oh sick, there’s a new teen hardcore band” They said “We’ll get you signed on our label, we’ll take you on tour with us, we’ll show you guys how to tour” For us it was huge having George (Petitt) come and sing on the record but also like Dallas (Green) and Wade (MacNeil) both sing backups, they sang all the gang vocals with us on ‘Birthing’ (The Giant) and then having Wade come and sing on ‘Deathsmarch’, (Hail Destroyer) It was definitely always a rad thing having those dudes around and playing them songs off of ‘Hail Destroyer’ to hear their feedback in very early days was a supercool and really inspiring thing.
SCENEZINE: Yeah definitely. It’s cool, it’s sort of like representing that kind of hardcore kinship, where everyone’s supportive and it’s just like that community vibe, it’s still around today, but it seemed super strong back then.
LIAM CORMIER: No for sure. Well I think it’s like Canada and Australia are very similar in that way, like that there’s so few bands that are going, that you’re supportive of everything that’s happening within your scene because you just want you know the scene to grow bigger. More bands means more kids are gonna come out to shows and like we all want that you know? So there’s no competitiveness or jealousy because there’s not even enough room for it (laughs)
SCENEZINE: Yeah exactly. So I heard Cancer Bats were originally going to be called ‘Pneumonia Hawk’ is that true? If so, why did you land on ‘Cancer Bats’?
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah those were the two names that I was kind of throwing around because I definitely wanted, like a disease and an animal is what I was going for, but also I just thought oh you could do cool merch, like if you had bat wings or hawk wings or something, but then I realized that no one could spell or pronounce Pneumonia (laughs) so I think I’m gonna go with Cancer Bats, because that makes more sense, kind of easier.
SCENEZINE: (laughs) Yeah right, that’s cool. Along the lines of different band names, I have some quick fire ‘Bat Sabbath’ questions for you.
Firstly, what is your favourite ‘Black Sabbath’ song to play live?
LIAM CORMIER: I don’t know, I’d probably pick ‘Symptom of the Universe’ I think that’s probably one of my favourite ones that I feel like we really rip super hard.
SCENEZINE: Yeah cool. How many times have you seen Black Sabbath live?
LIAM CORMIER: Actual Black Sabbath? Zero.
SCENEZINE: Oh really?
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah, I’ve seen Ozzy and I’ve seen Heaven and Hell.
SCENEZINE: Yeah right, I got to see them once when they came to Australia about a year and a half ago and potentially Ozzy at Download Fest next year if I make it over to the U.K.
LIAM CORMIER: Oh yeah true, make the trip, do it!
SCENEZINE: Yeah well hopefully, that’s the plan; it’d mainly be to see Alexis actually (laughs) speaking of…
LIAM CORMIER: Ohhh?
SCENEZINE: Yeah fingers crossed! So does Ozzy Osbourne know about Bat Sabbath and what are his thoughts?
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah we got to give them a lifetime achievement award at a metal award ceremony in the UK because we do the Bat Sabbath thing. So that was how they were like “Oh you guys do a cover band?” and we said “Yeah and we’re also a real band” and they were like “Oh that’s cool” So we got to meet Tony and Geezer and we had a photo with everyone. Ozzy was there but we didn’t really get to hang out with him but those other dudes, Tony and Geezer, who for me, I was like way too excited to hang out with those dudes so it was really rad just the little chance we got to hang with them. It was super cool.
SCENEZINE: Yeah wow, that’s awesome you got the chance to do that. On top of Bat Sabbath and Cancer Bats, you were also doing a band called Axe Wound, are you still doing that?
LIAM CORMIER: I mean, technically? (laughs) we’ve never said we wouldn’t, the only thing with Axe Wound is that we’re all always so busy! So I feel like if all of us slow down at the same time (laughs) maybe we will?
SCENEZINE: (laughs) yeah it’d be hard to coordinate, because you’ve got Cancer Bats, Bat Sabbath and your clothing label, Treadwell Clothing, how’s that going?
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah, it’s going great! I’m only getting busier with it and it’s only getting kind of more steam so it’s tough. That my thing too is that now any time that get off I’m kind of like riding motorcycles and trying to rip dirt bikes and trying to push that side of things too so….but it’s really fun, it’s going really well.
SCENEZINE: Yeah that’s rad. I did see some of your Instagram photos of you dirt bike riding across the Mojave Desert and Death Valley recently, it looked insane! What was that like?
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah I just got back from that trip. It was the craziest thing ever! Luckily I didn’t crash so I was like keeping up with the rippers (laughs) but sadly didn’t even get as many photos as I wish I could have because it was the craziest landscape and some of the craziest riding I’ve ever done but you know, when you’re in it, you’re just focusing on riding and doing all these technical spots and you’re like “Man I wish I could’ve got a photo of what we just rode through!”
SCENEZINE: Yeah that sounds incredible! You need to get yourself a GoPro camera, strap it to your helmet or something…
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah I feel like I need to get better at that sort of stuff. My social media, I’m learning (laughs)
SCENEZINE: (laughs) Oh you’re doing pretty well. I want to get my motorbike license too, I’ve been sussing that out but gotta get a bike first so that I’m ready to ride once I’ve got it.
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah you should, it’s the best!
SCENEZINE: Yeah it looks like so much fun. Speaking of being in the moment, like you were just saying, you didn’t really take many photos on your trip, but I think that’s cool, to not record everything and sort of try and keep some for natural memories.
That’s kind of the vibe I got from the last Cancer Bats release, ‘Searching For Zero’ seems like there’s themes of mindfulness, living in the moment, trying not to get too caught up in the chaotic rat race, just taking stock of everything and in a way, redefining yourself.I felt like those thoughts are relatable, honest and raw, especially in the songs ‘Satellites’ and ‘True Zero’ Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired these thoughts and feelings at that time and how do you feel now?
LIAM CORMIER: Mmmm. I think a lot of that record came from a lot of heavy touring and us coming off of DSOL (Dead Set on Living) that was some of the most touring that we’ve done and reflecting on that. We were kind of at a point where, in some ways, we weren’t taking full advantage of the amazing opportunities that we had just because we were almost by default, in survival mode, you know? Of just like “..just try and get through this, just try and get through these tours” and then you’re forgetting the fact that you’re in these crazy places and it’s only because there’s so many other things going on.
At the same time, we’re having an amazing tour and then someone close to the band, passes away. It kind of like brings everything into a different perspective and you’re just kind of like “What do we do?” So a lot of that record was me trying to deal with all of these things that had happened, that you kind of never really think of you know, in relation to just like oh yeah you go on tour and you hang out with your friends. Then these things happen or then these things don’t happen, when you think about it, you’re not planning for anything bad ever and then when everything bad happens, it puts everything into a different perspective.
So I feel like since then, I’m kind of working through all that with ‘Searching For Zero’ even though the height of dealing with it was working with someone like Ross Robinson, who’s you know, the most honest person (laughs) you can kind of deal with, such a ‘no bullshit’ amazing dude.
So I felt like that whole process was really healthy for all of us to be able to re-examine what was important and what we wanted to do. Then now, continuing to be a band and being stoked on those things and realizing how important it is to be appreciative of everything around us and how amazing it is that we get to go to these places and play these shows and interact with all these amazing people. So I think it’s good, like all the bad things are done… (laughs)
SCENEZINE: Yeah but it’s such a good positive to take from it all….
LIAM CORMIER: …Yeah! Because in the end, even being able to continue and make that record was the positive side of things. Although I think a lot of people looked at that record and were like “Man this is really dark and heavy” (laughs) “Oh yeah, but now we’re partying”
SCENEZINE: (laughs) yeah “that helped us vent and get it off our chests”
LIAM CORMIER: (laughs) Yeah I was like “No don’t worry about it, but I guess that’s true”
SCENEZINE: So you’re set to tour Australia in just under two months time (Feb) with Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes! Have you played with them before?
LIAM CORMIER: We’ve played festivals with them before but this will be our first tour so I’m super pumped to get to hang out and rip a bunch of shows in a row. I wish it was longer, it’s only 5 shows which is too bad, but it is what it is, we’ll just have to rage that much harder (laughs)
SCENEZINE: Definitely! (laughs) Will we get any cheeky Cancer Bats side shows?
LIAM CORMIER: Ohhh I don’t know….umm yeah. (laughs)
SCENEZINE: (laughs) hopefully. What’s your favourite thing to do / eat in Australia?
LIAM CORMIER: I definitely love hanging out in all of the cities you know. For me, all of those towns have awesome shops, cafes and places to check out. So I’m really stoked to just come back and get to all the places that we have been to before but have also missed out on, like we didn’t even get to go to Perth last time we were in the Country, so I’m really excited to cruise around there. The coffee that you guys have there is amazing, you have a great coffee culture. I love eating pies so I’m super stoked for that. I love that you guys eat pumpkin with everything (laughs) so I’m really excited to eat a ton of pumpkin while I’m there.
SCENEZINE: (laughs) yeah rad. We do have good coffee that’s for sure. So last but not least, and this might be a bit of a personal request coming from me, but would you ever think about doing a ‘Birthing The Giant’ in full show with special guests- Alexisonfire?
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah I guess it kinda just didn’t work out at the time when we were touring to do like a ‘10 year Birthing’ and I guess we always just kinda thought we would wait to do Hail because Hail was the bigger record. So yeah there was never any plans. I mean I’d love to. I love that people even still request songs off of that record and people go crazy when we play like ‘Shillelagh’ and ‘French Immersion’ the fact that we still play you know, a tonne of songs off our first record is awesome so I don’t know, but there’s no plans really, I’m sorry…(laughs)
SCENEZINE: (laughs) that’s ok, maybe we can put it into the works…
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah…one day, one day it’ll happen.
SCENEZINE: Maybe like a 15-year or something…
LIAM CORMIER: …or like a 50-year, at our like 50-year anniversary of that record we’ll just play all the albums.
SCENEZINE: (laughs) in wheel chairs and grey hair.
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah and then we will die… (laughs)
SCENEZINE: (laughs) that’d be a good way to go though..
LIAM CORMIER: I guess I’d only be 76…so who knows.
SCENEZINE: Hey yeah that’s not that bad, Rolling Stones are still going and they’re all in their 70’s…
LIAM CORMIER: I’ll probably still be ripping so hard when I’m 76.
SCENEZINE: Well let’s hope so.
LIAM CORMIER: I’ll still be pitting to Hatebreed when I’m 76…
SCENEZINE: (laughs) yeah with your little walking frame.
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah (laughs)
SCENEZINE: That’s something I gotta see actually, you gotta bring the long hair back though…grey long hair.
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah, I don’t know, I’m digging short hair though, it’s so much easier in a motorcycle helmet.
SCENEZINE: Yeah definitely, I braid mine for my horse riding helmet. You gotta learn to braid! (laughs)
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah I don’t know…even the little ponytail thing, ehhhh
LIAM CORMIER: Ehhh (laughs)
SCENEZINE: (laughs) Well I should probably should let you go, but thanks so much for chatting to us today and we absolutely can’t wait to see you guys here in Australia very soon!
LIAM CORMIER: Yeah thanks for doing the interview and I’ll see you in February.
SCENEZINE: Alright sounds good, see you later.