Cancer Bats Can’t Hardly Wait
"If you’re really passionate about something, it’s going to break for you,” says Cancer Bats’ energetic front-man Liam Cormier. On the phone in an unidentified Toronto alley while sipping his daily caffeine fix, Cormier’s excitement about Cancer Bats’ forthcoming full-length is palpable. Titled Birthing the Giant, the album has seen its fair share of setbacks and schedule changes, resulting in considerable hype for its pending release.
"It’s been in process for a long time, and that’s where the title of the record comes from,” Cormier explains. "It’s been incubating for the last nine months.” A balls-out sonic juggernaut that combines Southern rock riffs with a classically hardcore vocal approach, Birthing is one hell of a record; had it shown up back when it was first expected, however, it’s unlikely that the result would be so powerful.
"I think it would have been awful,” Cormier says. "There was a point last summer where [guitarist] Scott [Middleton] and I were thinking we needed to get a new drummer. He and I used to write all the songs together, with me on drums and him on guitar. And I was like, ‘We can do this. We can totally do this. I’ll play drums on the record, you’ll play guitar. Whatever. We’ll just bang it out.’ In hindsight, that would have been the worst goddamn record ever.”
Quite simply, Cancer Bats were never intended to be a serious band. Originally a side-project for Middleton, who played full-time in At the Mercy of Inspiration, the line-up they began with started to show its weaknesses when ATMOI disbanded and Cancer Bats became a full-time outfit. "We just focused on it more and really started progressing with what we were doing, and the guy that we had playing drums kind of wasn’t progressing as fast or as much as we wanted him to,” Cormier explains.
"I was writing all the drums parts and then having to show him.”
Luckily, the solution to their drummer woes literally showed up in the form of Mike Peters, formerly of Winnipeg’s Figure Four. "He came back from tour and just emailed asking if we were looking for a drummer,” Cormier says. "I was totally just like, ‘Yes. When are you moving to Toronto?’ And he was like, ‘I’ll be there in three weeks.’ He totally quit school, moved to Toronto, and it was awesome.”
With a new line-up now cemented, the band were once again ready to enter the studio. Through working with Distort, the local Ontario label made famous by the success of Alexisonfire, the band managed to hook up with producer Gavin Brown (Three Days Grace, the Tea Party), whose busy schedule pushed back the record even more.
"He is a mainstream rock producer, but he comes from punk rock and hardcore. So we’d play a song for him, and he’d be like, ‘This makes sense ’cause Minor Threat did it,’” says Cormier. "At the same time, he brings other things like, ‘Hey, Neil Young does stuff like this,’ and we’re like, ‘Ah, word!’ Instead of just having a bunch of interesting parts, he helped us do our best to make cohesive songs. We didn’t want to be writing songs to just have songs, and then realise, ‘Oh, this totally sucks. We should probably go back to that part that totally rules.’”
Ultimately, Birthing the Giant benefits from Brown’s production, simultaneously highlighting the grimy and accessible nature of their sound.
"I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out, even though it is so late,” Cormier says. "This record was supposed to come out twice.
We should probably give [birth to] something that’s worth the nine-month waiting period.”
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