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Torontonians bring the luck of the Irish

Cancer Bats tour latest album, Birthing the Giant, to explore sing-alongs for their new record in the works this summer

By Nicole Fitzgerald

What: Punk Night

Who: Cancer Bats

When: May 27

Where: Garfinkel’s

Cancer Bats spent the last year touring, clocking 250 shows in support of their latest album Birthing the Giant.

Frontman Liam Cormier talks on a cell phone from the touring van on route to the next gig in Southern California. Portland follows on the hit list then Seattle, Vancouver and Whistler. The band, hailing from Toronto, unpacks their aggressive sound on Whistler as part of Punk Night May 27 at Garfinkel’s.

Cormier has been in media interviews all day, but his answers remain spirited despite many questions resurfacing again and again like a scratched record — maybe even one of their own well-played self-released EPs which was later reissued on vinyl in 2005 by Tragiccomedy Records.

“How about a good travel story,” I ask, thinking a band that travels a mix of hardcore, southern metal and punk rock around the globe a zillion times over has to have some crazy fan stories.

“I hate to disappoint you,” Cormier says. “I can’t think of anything.”

He confers with the other band members and memories of jumping islands, England to Ireland, induces a chuckle.

“We kind of had a funny ghetto situation happen in Ireland,” he begins.

You would think with show totals outnumbering the days in a year, this foursome would be on top of their organizing game. Quite the opposite, but where there is a will there is a way, or at least some other band hitting the road.

“We do everything from the seat of our pants,” he explains. “It was our first time going to Ireland and we don’t have a ton of money.”

If they had included the Emerald Isle stopover on the band’s last European tour schedule the year before, the boys would have known the little ferry trip required big bucks. And suddenly a $100 Vancouver-Victoria return ferry trip sounds cheap; the Ireland-England ferry was $780 Euros one way.

While desperate measures, like busking on the side of the street, were becoming more attractive, Cancer Bats was fortunate to recognize another band’s tour bus that just happened to be rolling on to the ferry.

“We put guitars in their trailer and we walked onto the ferry and walked to the venue,” he said. “We rolled into Ireland that way.”

The band walked with the luck of the Irish even before setting foot on the island.

“We are definitely having a blast,” he said. “We all love doing this: the act of touring… I’m in a band with all of my best friends; it totally rules.”

Cancer Bats began in friendship. Cormier joined forces with friend and guitarist Scott Middleton to create a project that combined all their favourite parts of bands such as Refused, Black Flag, Led Zeppelin and Down. Bassist Andrew McCracken and drummer Mike Peters joined the crew to create the lethal hardcore mayhem the Cancer Bats are famous for.

Already the four-piece is readying for their new album, which they will record this summer. The touring has given them the chance to try some new sounds out and see what works on the crowds.

“I have a better idea of what do with this record,” Cormier said. “We’ve been able to road test all of these songs touring. We know what works. The next record we are going to play into it harder. You want to play songs that are fun to play live. When the kids are singing along, you know you’ve got it right. You should have amazing parts for kids to sing-along to on every album. We’ll make it easy for every language to learn them. Even if German is their first language, everyone knows ‘heys’ and ‘ohs’.”

Sing-along to a full Punk Night with Bleeding Through, The End and Risky Business joining the lineup.