Amid a non-stop tour slated to end in mid-December to support Hail Destroyer, Cancer Bats' latest release, vocalist Liam Cormier spoke with Punknews interviewer Zack Zeigler about strange gifts from fans, where the hell the name Cancer Bats came from, his least favorite part about being a musician, his mission through music and more.
Whatâs the strangest gift youâve ever gotten from a Cancer Bats fan?
We got a blown glass bat that the guy made. He makes glass bongs for a living, and he made us a bat. Another time a girl made us a cake in the shape of a bat; that was pretty wicked.
Not that you havenât heard this question before, but seriously, where the hell did the name Cancer Bats come from?
I came up with that name before we started the band. I was kicking around potential bands names while I was at work. I used to work at a call center in MontrÃ©al where we sold credit repair kits. We called people with bad credit and sold them a 300 book to help them get a credit card. It was a total scam. But thatâs what I needed to do to make money to help the band tour.
So I was putting together the names of diseases and animals and I made everyone get off the phone and I gave them two names I thought of: Pneumonia Hawk and Cancer Bats. They said they liked Cancer Bats.
I like it because it doesnât sound like other bands names; you wonât confuse our name with something else. What is your least favorite part about being a musician?
My least favorite part is recording. I donât speak for the rest of the band, but I feel like most vocalists would say this. I think singing is all in the moment, like what youâre feeling that day.
Youâre tour supporting Hail Destroyer will end in mid-December. What are the ups and downs of a touring schedule like this?
This is the type of touring schedule weâve had since 2006. By December, weâll have finished playing 280 or 290 shows. Luckily, weâve done this in 2006 and 2007.
Downsides of touring?
Missing girlfriend and missing friends back home. Itâs that element that youâre missing whatâs going on back where youâre from because you only spend, maybe, two months a year in that spot. That takes a little getting used to, but it doesnât compare to the upside of being a band.
Upsides of touring?
The fact that we donât have to work outside of this, we can just tour and play in a band is a huge upside. The band is our only focus, and thatâs great.
Plus, I love traveling and getting to see new places [around the world]. The fact that we can tour Europe and the UK and have become familiar and now have friends overseas that we can hang out with is amazing. To think that this is what weâve done since becoming a band is amazingâ¦ itâs crazy.
In your world travels, what places stick out to you? What are some of your favorite spots to visit?
I can think of good spots everywhere. Sometimes itâs amazing cities like Portland, Seattleâ¦ we have friends in Austin, Southern California, Chicago -- theyâre all great spots. We played a kickass show in Billings, Montana. I didnât expect that to be rad, but we were like, "Whoa, this rules." It was just gnarly dudes and guys riding dirt bikes; those kids knew how to rip.
What was the bandâs goal from your first release, Birthing the Giant, to the latest release, Hail Destroyer?
We all wanted to up our game from the last record. That was literally first songs weâve written, and we were stoked on them, but after playing them for almost two years we wanted to do more as a band. We got better as musicians and we wanted to step up as songwriters and put more effort into the songs. All three of us had this ambition heading into Hail Destroyer.
Do you guys write songs collectively, or do you congregate when thereâs something to share?
We donât really write as a group; everyone works on stuff while weâre on tour. Iâll write when I get possessed with the urge, I guess, but when itâs time to write the record we lock ourselves in a practice space and practice everyday. Weâll practice seven days per week, ten hours per day, and weâd bounce everything off each other.
So itâs like an improv session almost?
Yeah. Itâs like, "Wow, that works." Or "Nah, that sucked."
What constitutes a good Cancer Bats show? People swinging from the rafters? Punks puking in the pit?
Well, it doesnât matter if 20 kids show up, as long as there is a good vibe and everyone is having a good time. Size doesnât matter; if people are there to get in there, sweat it up and party, itâs a good show. We try out best for sing-alongâs or circle pits, but at the very least there will be head banging; our shows guarantee huge rifts and sweaty head bangers.
So size doesnât matter? Finally someone has settled that issue. Moving on, do you guys have any preshow rituals? Shots? Gregorian Chants? Yodeling?
We stretch and warm-up, just stuff like that. Weâre all a little older, so we gotta stay limber.
What do you consider Cancer Batsâ mission through music?
Iâm not sure. I mean, we donât have a political agenda or anything, except letting people know to live life and have a good time. I guess since we all grew up in a punk rock and hardcore community, and weâve been shown that itâs easy [to tour as a band], itâs to let people know that they can make being a band - or something they love - your life. Just follow your passion. You donât have to conform to a certain lifestyle. If you want to be in a punk band for a living - or a lack of living - you can do that.
How do you interpret the term "making it big?" Is it gold-plated toilet bowls or diamond-studded shoelaces, or is it something simpler?
Weâre just living it up and having a good time, I think thatâs making it big to me. For us, we havenât had to work real jobs. We donât really make any money, but I looked at it and said: what do I really need money for? I donât have a bank account per se, but I have a band full of best friends and right now weâre driving to a show.
How are arguments in the band decided?
Weâre pretty democratic, but majority rules. Weâre like a punk rock democracy. Iâm not saying we donât argue about anything or that weâre perfect. Weâre all pretty easy going, or we just donât care. I guess our discussions may be about food options that are more vegetarian-friendly. Some of us vegetarians, some arenât.
Cancer Bats' Top 5 Bands Right Now:
|Band of Horse|
|The Hold Steady|
|Polar Bear Club|