For a band that has played alongside the likes of post-hardcore outfits like Billy Talent, Alexisonfire and Rise Against, you can just never be sure how the potentially menacing looking crew of Toronto band Cancer Bats spends their free time: Researching the occult? Making deals with the devil for success? Planning future tattoos? Hanging out at Disneyland? If you guessed the last option, you would in fact be correct. But let’s give that some context before you go thinking the boys in the band are mellowing out.
When reached by telephone to speak with The Times & Transcript about his band’s upcoming show in Moncton and their latest record Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones, Cancer Bats vocalist Liam Cormier and his band mates were getting set to start an American tour which just happened to be performing at a venue on Disneyland property.
So why shouldn’t the band wander around the world-famous playground to pass the time until their show? According to Cormier, it isn’t the first time the group has played a venue on Disney property. And although Disney has the power to veto any band playing its venues which it deems “unacceptable,” the Cancer Bats are still in their good books, for better or worse.
“It’s a bit of a burn that we haven’t been banned yet,” Cormier laughs. “Disney actually researches bands playing their venues rather extensively. One of the bands that we are touring through the US with (The Acacia Strain) weren’t allowed to play this show as they tend to have a lot of fights break out at their shows. We are definitely grateful to still be on their good side but could see a ‘Banned from Disney’ tour coming together pretty quickly if that day ever comes,” he laughs again.
Since unleashing their debut record in 2006, the Cancer Bats have become one of Canada’s most viable music exports. Though their fame might not be comparable to that of Nickelback, they are far from strangers on the international music scene. They have earned a rabid international fan base thanks to their punishing, energetic live show and has seen them perform at major music festivals such as South By Southwest in Texas, Edgefest here in Canada as well as high profile UK festivals such as the Leeds and Reading Festivals.
For the making of Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones, the group returned to work with the production team of Kenny Luong and Eric Ratz, with whom they worked on 2008’s Hail Destroyer. With the band coming into their own as songwriters with this newest batch of songs, it was equally important the band felt comfortable with the team responsible for the production aspects of the record, hence the group’s return to Luong and Ratz.
“Being in the same studio as where we recorded Hail Destroyer with the same recording equipment and the same environment really allowed us to hit the ground running with this new record. Plus, we had clicked with Kenny and Eric so well in the past, we really wanted to keep that relationship going as well. Making this record was probably the most fun we have ever had in the studio,” Cormier says.
Like virtually all bands these days, Cancer Bats are well acquainted with life on the road and it’s hard to believe you’ll find a more grateful group of guys than these four individuals. The band’s success seems to be growing exponentially these days with Cormier noting that Canada, Europe and Australia have all been very supportive in getting behind the band.
“Canada has always been good to us but as of late, things have been really amazing for us in the UK,” he says. “In our experience, it seems as though Europe and Australia are more accepting of foreign bands than the US seems to be … The US has so many good bands to draw on from within their own borders, fans don’t really have to look elsewhere for good music. Don’t get me wrong, we have a great fan base in the States but I think there tends to be a mentality among bands and the industry alike that the US is the be-all and end-all to bands and that isn’t necessarily the case anymore.”
Citing the massive success that friends Billy Talent and Alexisonfire have found in Europe, Cormier is optimistic for his own band’s prospects to finding success without needing to solely rely upon American fans to propel them to another step up the ladder.
“Europeans tend to be very accepting in terms of what they are willing to embrace musically. The music they gravitate towards has less to do with pop culture as it does with individual tastes,” Cormier notes. “Plus, people in Europe are very loyal to their music; if you’re a metal-head at age 15, you’re a metal-head forever,” he says. “And they are very proud of that fact. They don’t feel the need to get their haircut and a ‘real job’ by the time they turn 35. They stick with it forever.”
Despite travels and touring that has seen the band work their way throughout the world, Cormier is anxious at the thought of the Cancer Bats imminent return to Moncton and the East Coast.
“Playing Europe and the US is cool and all but we haven’t played the Maritimes since 2008 and we really can’t wait to get back. We have always had great shows on the East Coast. Plus with us hanging out with the Iron Giant guys, all of the Atlantic dates are practically guaranteed to be a messy affair and a lot of fun.”