Cancer Bats hits hardcore maturity 

Toronto punk band release fifth album and perform at the GLC on June 25

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Batmen perform Toronto band the Cancer Bats, Liam Cormier, Scott Middleton, Mike Peters and Jaye R. Schwarzer, think getting older means making wiser music
  • Photo submitted
  • Batmen perform Toronto band the Cancer Bats, Liam Cormier, Scott Middleton, Mike Peters and Jaye R. Schwarzer, think getting older means making wiser music

Hardcore punk rockers the Cancer Bats performed their biggest show ever in March, at the release party for their latest album Searching for Zero at The Phoenix in Toronto.

"There were 800 or 900 people there. I feel really lucky that a lot of people share the same feelings as us. I've seen so many amazing shows at the Phoenix and it was a special night to be playing there," says lead singer Liam Cormier.

He knows from experience that the majority of bands are not overnight successes and it takes time to build up the following and the songs.

"When we started, our release show was in the basement of a record store in Ottawa in 2006. Around maybe 40 people could fit down there... We knew we were still going to have to work for it. That's the amazing thing that we've learned over the years, that interaction and taking care of your business that allows for that longevity."

Now 35, Cormier is more reflective about the band and their music. Experience has taught them to be more organized, take time in making music and don't say "yes" to every opportunity.

"As we have gotten older, I guess we've gotten more grouchy about it," he laughs.

"We've found ourselves and we've found those people who are in that same mindset and think what we do is awesome."

But he also knows their fans are getting older, too, and have different lives than they did in their early 20s, with families and jobs and other adult stuff.

The Cancer Bats include Cormier, guitarist Scott Middleton, drummer Mike Peters and bassist Jaye R. Schwarzer. Along with their music, the members are busy getting ready for an upcoming European tour this fall — and they were already there earlier this year. Cormier is making sure their merchandise is ordered and on its way and Peters is booking flights.

"We're always getting ready for more touring; at least for this chapter of the Cancer Bats it's booking flights from home and not doing it while we're already on tour," he says.

"We make sure we get to all these places we love, but now we make sure we have time at home and we're probably better at figuring these things out and giving ourselves a bit of down time. Old-school Cancer Bats would be on tour right now, from the start of the record coming out in March and trying to organizing everything from the back of a van."

The main difference is that they've learned to say "no." How does it change the way they operate?"It gives us space to think. I think it's because we do so many things ourselves and we run the band so DIY," says Cormier.

"You get a lot better at it when you've had a good night's sleep in your own bed."

But before Europe, the Cancer Bats perform at the Garibaldi Lift Company on Thursday, June 25. Tickets are $15 and doors open at 9 p.m.

It will be their first visit to Whistler since 2010.

"We're super excited that it worked out that we get to come back. I feel like nobody knows how to party like Whistler. It doesn't help everyone's livers but everything else is good," Cormier laughs.

"In 2010, we played with Against Me and 3 Inches of Blood. That show was insane and I was sure we'd been back since. But we didn't come out for the next record, so here we are now. It's crazy. That Whistler show was the first time we met 3 Inches of Blood, and then we did a whole Canadian tour with them, but we didn't come back."

Cormier says that Searching for Zero is a continuation of the Cancer Bats' ongoing development in hardcore. They took a year to plan the album and think about what they really wanted to do.

"It's a little bit further down that path with our music because we took a bit more time to work on this album and grow our ideas. If we'd written it in the traditional Cancer Bats way — write for two months, record in three weeks and then go back on tour— I don't know if it would have sounded as evolved from Dead Set on Living (their 2012 album) as it does," Cormier says.

"It sounds unique but to me it still sounds like classic Bats, by the nature of the four of us playing together."

Ultimately, not compromising on their music or style has remained important.

"For us, we'd look at bands like Converging Clutch who stuck to their guns and keep playing the music they love. Regardless of everything else that is happening in the world, I know that I love this music and I have since I was 16. I don't want to play in a band that sounds like anything else," Cormier says.

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