Hailing from a thriving scene that’s birthed the likes of Alexisonfire, Comeback Kid and Billy Talent; Cancer Bats look set to follow suit into punk’s major leagues.
Blending rugged hardcore with stoner rock’s slow and twisted grooves, the Ontario quartet are a truly unique proposition capable of throwing down with any band on the live circuit.
Prior to their whirlwind appearance at Oxford’s Zodiac, front man Liam Cornier spoke to Ryan Bird about life in one of punk rock’s hottest new propositions.
How’s the tour going thus far?
Fucking sweet! It started a couple of weeks back in Germany and went through Austria, the Czech Republic and all those sort of places, and now here we are in the UK. We’re friends with bands like Alexisonfire who have toured with Rise Against and The Bronx before, and they told us we would hit it off really well with both those bands, which so far is definitely the case.
You’ve been the opening act on every date right through Europe. Do you find that frustrating or can it actually be a blessing?
I dunno, I guess it can be both. Obviously it can be a little frustrating going on first because you’re often going onstage like 10 minutes after the doors have opened. We’ve had a few people on this tour coming up to us afterwards and telling us that our last 2 songs rocked! On the other hand, playing last can be a bummer for me personally because I’m so eager to play. I’m sat watching these other bands tear it up all night whilst thinking ‘I wanna play now!’.
What’s been the major difference between UK crowds and those in Europe?
Oh, I really have no idea. That’s a tough one to call. I guess that maybe UK crowds are a bit more rowdy, but it’s not really too different from what I’ve seen. Europe as a whole compared to the American crowds is very different, though. A lot of Americans only seem to care about bands from their own country rather than enjoying music for what it’s worth.
Are you homesick?
No way! We don’t really have much of a life at home. We don’t even have homes to be honest with you. We very much live on the road, which can be tiring for sure, but it’s a whole lot better than sitting on your ass in a house that’s crammed full of other people.
There seems to be a few Canadian bands getting recognition lately, particularly bands like Alexisonfire and Comeback Kid. Is it good for you as both their friends and fellow countrymen to see them doing so well?
Absolutely! We’ve been friends with those guys since forever, so it’s great to see them doing well for themselves. They’ve worked really hard for it. They tour and tour and tour and go to the same places over and over again, which is what you have to be prepared to do if you want to be successful.
The amount of Canadian bands doing so well lately would suggest that there’s quite a healthy scene…
I guess so, but it’s kind of weird. It’s healthy in as much as all the bands are super cool with each other and are always willing to help other bands out, but if you go outside the major towns and cities there’s not really a lot going on. You won’t find many venues for bands to play in and so forth, which can make it tough.
Do you think that Canadian bands would get a little more recognition if the country didn’t share a border with America?
Definitely! Not being from America means that breaking the market over there is almost impossible from the off, but it’s so easy to be totally left in the shadows because we’re so close by. Americans tend to have this attitude that they’re the best at everything, so why should they bother paying attention to anything else. It’s hard.
Your debut album ‘Birthing The Giant‘ was released last year through Hassle/Distort. How did the deal come about?
Basically, Hassle have a distribution deal with our Canadian label Distort for outside territories, so once you sign with Distort, Hassle automatically have the option to put it out elsewhere. They heard what we’d done with the record and seemed really into it, so they took us on and put it out.
Have you been happy with the support you’ve received from your labels?
Yeah, so far the feedback and support we’re getting from both Hassle and Distort is awesome. Everyone seems to be giving us as much time and effort as we could ask for. Everybody seems really on point and into what we do, which is a huge help from a business perspective.
The record seems to be a very varied affair. Was that natural or did you set out with a certain sound in mind?
I suppose that we had a certain sound that we wanted to create, but it was purely because we all have such varied tastes that we’re naturally swayed towards the genres we love best. Our guitar player is a massive Stoner-Rock and Heavy Metal fan, whereas I’m more Punk and Hardcore orientated, so we toss ideas back and forth until it works.
You recorded with Gavin Brown (Billy Talent, Danko Jones). How was your experience with him?
It was really cool! Gavin is a musician first and foremost, which gives him a really broad understanding of both sides of the coin. As a producer he knows what he’s aiming for, but as a musician he knows what can and can’t be achieved and what works and doesn’t work, so he’s able to give you a really wide knowledge of what you’re doing.
Did any of his methods confuse you?
I guess the way he records the drums is a little out of the ordinary. He had our drummer record the drums and the cymbals separately, so he’d have to play an entire song with no cymbals and then play it again with just the cymbals. It was a little strange at first because it’s something we’ve never done before, but if you listen to the record it really worked. It stops them from interfering with each other and gives you a much crisper sound, but at the time we did think he may be a little crazy!
You’ll be back in the UK for Download, but what’s on the cards after that?
Pretty much right after Download we’ll be supporting Gallows on their UK tour, which should be an absolute blast. Then I think we’re going to start writing a new record. Just tossing ideas around and laying some rough demos down. We probably won’t be recording until 2008. It looks like we may also be back in the UK towards the end of the year with our friends in Comeback Kid. We’ve always wanted to tour with them, and every time we’ve come close to setting it up something has gone wrong or been changed at the 11th hour, but it’s finally happening. Come and say ‘hey’ if you see us hanging around at the shows!