Cancer Bats descend on Heavy MTL

Each year, lesser known yet often heavier bands take the smaller stages at Heavy MTL — and lucky for you, one of them happens to be Toronto’s Cancer Bats. Just off a tour across the U.S., singer Liam Cormier checks in with Cult MTL on the eve of the heaviest weekend of the year.

Cancer Bats

This weekend’s bound to be a soggy mess, whether it’s the rain or the heaviosity that drenches you first. The fifth edition of Heavy MTL has some heavy hitters — Suicidal Tendencies, Deftones, Marilyn Manson, System of a Down, Dillinger Escape Plan, Slipknot, Voivod — sure to give those who fondly remember the ’90s a wet dream.

Each year, though, lesser known yet often heavier bands play the smaller stages — and lucky for you, one of them happens to be Toronto’s Cancer Bats. Just off a tour across the U.S., singer Liam Cormier checks in with Cult MTL on the eve of the heaviest weekend of the year.

Tracey Lindeman: You’re doing Heavy MTL and Heavy TO this weekend. How do you feel about that?
Liam Cormier: We’re all way too stoked to be playing this weekend! There’s so many rad bands that we want to catch — it’s going to be the best!

TL: You’ve said Red Deer, AB is one seriously fun place to do shows, presumably because all those factors — small venue, good spirits, friends and general craziness — align to make for a good night. But this weekend you’ll be playing to thousands of possibly belligerent metalheads. How do you recreate that Red Deer feeling on a big stage?
LC: It’s tough sometimes playing big festival stages and trying to still make it personal and fun. There’s such a huge distance between you and the crowd, but then you need to rise above all that and forget about it and just try and stoke out the crowd the same way you would a club. Make eye contact with people and try to make it feel personal, despite that space. Doing all that, and calling out the hugest circle pits possible.

TL: You’ve said that your third album came out darker than you’d really wanted, but that Dead Set on Living was written in an effort to be more positive. Did you have to force it, and were you successful in getting back that PMA?
LC: I don’t know if I forced the positivity as much as I was just conscious of it and making sure there wasn’t too many harsh songs on the new album — haha! What helped was that I had a lot of real personal events to draw on and to be really positive about, especially in the wake of some seriously negative events I also wrote about. I would say this record is the most balanced as far as posiand neg vibes go.

TL: In the Doug’s Metal Zone videos, you play a parody of a hard-partying metalhead (Slayer bong and all), who also stars in the “Road Sick” video. Is being fucked up still the face of heavy music? (And if so, what’s it like being on the road 300+ days a year when you don’t partake?)
LC: I think people like to party regardless of the music they listen to — punk, rock, hip hop, indie rock or folk — [and] when it comes down to it, they can all rage pretty hard. For myself, I’ve been straight edge for so long that it’s not even something I think of anymore.

TL: Dead Set on Living is being distributed in the U.S. by Metal Blade, and you’ve sold-out shows in Europe. Has your audience changed or widened as a result of being associated with Metal Blade?
LC: I wouldn’t say Metal Blade’s influence was felt as much overseas, but we are on some really great labels in Europe and I think they’ve really helped [in a huge way] on this new album. We’ve had more exposure over there than we ever have before and we’re definitely noticing the difference at shows. Lots of people coming out knowing the words to the new jams, it’s been awesome!

TL: In England, you did six sold-out dates behind Dead Set on Living, intentionally forming the shape of a pentagram. What geometric shape are you currently touring in?
LC: I don’t know if it’s a specific shape, our route has been a giant letter L across America to Portland, down to California and through Texas, back north through Denver and finishing in Boise. Weird shape but fun tour — we were just out with Demon Hunter and it was a blast! ■

You can stream the new Cancer Bats album, Dead Set on Living, here:

Cancer Bats play Heavy MTL at Parc Jean-Drapeau (Apocalypse stage) on Sunday, Aug. 12, 6:30–7:15 p.m.

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