Cancer Bats Reveal Emotional Fireworks of 'Searching for Zero'
Published Feb 02, 2015It's been a decade now since Cancer Bats first debuted their particular alchemy of hardcore energy and metallic chops. But one needn't look any further than the first video off their upcoming album, Searching for Zero for proof that old(er) age hasn't mellowed them one bit.
Aside from being a thoroughly hooky punk-inflected workout of a leadoff track, "Satellites" features a pile of fireworks — around $700 worth, in fact — most of which are blasted directly at drummer Mike Peters. Sounds dangerous? Maybe a little bit. But it's really just the work of a band willing to go to any lengths to realize their ideas — especially if they can have a blast while doing it.
"It was an idea I had because that summer I'd been shooting off tons of fireworks at weddings and cottages," singer Liam Cormier tells Exclaim! "I'd buy like $200 worth and think: That was crazy. What would happen if I bought $1,000 worth of fireworks?"
Naturally, the band and crew took appropriate safety precautions during the four-hour shoot because it ended up that Peters wasn't the only one in the line of fire.
"At first, everyone was like, 'Oh, we've all had Roman candle fights.' But as we started firing them off everywhere, everyone got hit with fireworks. Nobody got hurt, but we'd finish a take and everyone would be dying laughing."
The result is what you might call classic Cancer Bats: super intense music played by a band whose fun-loving personalities add a surprisingly accessible element to the sound. (See also: the Toronto-centric clip for "Bricks and Mortar" or the meta cover-video for their version of the Beastie Boys classic "Sabotage.")
That vibe is also a testament to Cancer Bats' enduring positivity, even when confronted with what might be considered some of their darkest days. After all, Searching for Zero — due out March 10 on New Damage Records — was written during a period where the band were mourning the loss of a number of friends.
"Arsenic in the Year of the Snake" ends with Cormier screaming the line "Too many friends died this year," while the chorus of breakneck thrasher "All Hail" is a full-throated "All Hail Oderus" in tribute to the late Gwar bandleader Dave Brockie (a.k.a. Oderus Urungus).
"These things kept happening, so a lot of [the album] was how was I going to work through it all. And just the fact that we continued being a band helped us with that," says Cormier, explaining that the band took an entire year off to both "go get interests" outside of Cancer Bats and then work on new material before heading to Venice Beach to record with Ross Robinson.
Robinson, who's known for helping bands explore some deeply emotional states while making albums, was perhaps the perfect producer for Searching for Zero.
"Ross was like, 'You had all this shit happen, and you're still stoked. You're not doing it for the wrong reasons. You're doing it because you're a band,'" says Cormier, adding that Robinson was as enthusiastic as the band, blasting them with ideas during three weeks of 14-hour days.
"He really wants you to explain what all the songs are about so that everyone is feeling that emotional weight. It's cool because a lot of the songs on this record are pretty heavy, but he was like, 'This needs to be [positive]. I don't want to put this record out to bum people out, because you're not bummed out now. So this needs to be both, you're bummed for your friend, but you need to be celebrating that person's life while playing.'"
Cue the fireworks.