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Home » Rock n Rolla

Cancer Bats find balance between the punk and rock

Submitted by on April 16, 2012 – 7:10 pmNo Comment

For their fourth full-length release, the Cancer Bats took to the studio with a joie de vivre seldom found on the hardcore scene, much less in songs written and recorded by the Toronto-based punk rock four pack. As the band’s frontman Liam Cormier explains in this exclusive interview, Dead Set On Living is meant to stand as proof that hardcore doesn’t necessarily have to be ugly, dirty and angry. But to exclude those elements entirely, of course, would be blasphemous.

You mentioned recently not wanting to move too far from your traditional sound while adding an “upbeat” element to Dead Set On Living. Was it a challenge striking that balance?

No, I think it was just to keep that [challenge] in perspective, to remember where we’ve come from. When you put on Birthing The Giant (2006) next to Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones (’10),  the two records sound pretty different. So to be able to mix the best elements of both, while having that hardcore feel of Hail Destroyer (’08), was our main goal with the whole thing.

With the new album you said you didn’t want to make a hardcore record, lyrically. What did you mean by that?

A lot of hardcore and metal is often very negative, talking about the problems in the world or what’s pissing you of… but I was kind of trying to change that up.

When the band first started recording the album you said, “I’m over being super dark and now I’m ready to party.” Has the new demeanor brought some sunlight into your sound?

That was the credo I strung to when we started to write. And as the writing process went on, we realized we couldn’t just write a complete party record. There does have to be that dark side. That’s where that balance came in, through real life. Shit happens, and then it’s that positivity that brings you out of it.

There are some anarchic numbers on the record – “R.A.T.S.,” “Breathe Armageddon” and “New World Alliance.” Is “NWA” the band’s answer to the New World Order?

I wouldn’t say it’s the Cancer Bats’ , but more in terms of the punk rock, hardcore, metal, community, and all of us having our own like-minded ideas. Wherever you go across the globe, you run into these people who have a shared mindset. That was my idea with it.

I read that learning Black Sabbath songs for the Bat Sabbath tour helped influence your new material. How so?

When you listen to a Black Sabbath tune, there’s so much going on that you don’t necessarily notice it at first listen. When you dissect it more, you realize there’s lots of jazz going on and different elements, where everyone’s playing different things at the same time but it doesn’t sound like a mess.  We learned that trick from them – how to clear up what we were doing.

“On this album, nothing sits on top of anything because it’s all got its own distinct voice.” Can you elaborate?

We’re really conscious of not crowding parts and making sure we’re writing around each other, and not having anything that would cancel each other out. My vocals definitely allow the drums, guitar and bass to breathe in the same flow.

Is road sickness typically a result of the intensity of your live sets, post-gig antics, or both?

The on-stage antics are the cure for being road sick. That’s what makes you forget about all the problems.

You guys set out to bridge the “live show with what we put on record.” Feel you’ve accomplished that goal?

Yeah, I think this album definitely sounds closest to what we sound like live. The fact that we recorded three-quarters of it live off the floor, just raging together, keeps a lot of that feel. We didn’t want to over-edit the whole thing. We were looking more for the vibe and for us to just nail the tracks, instead of relying on a computer to help us out.

Interview by Remi L. Roy

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