AxeWound Vocalist Liam Cormier Discusses Debut Album ‘Vultures’ + More
It's always interesting to see how things will work when members from various bands decide to take on a project together, and one of the better collaborations this year is the new metal outfit, AxeWound.
The band features Cancer Bats singer Liam Cormier, Bullet for My Valentine's Matt Tuck (on guitar), Pitchshifter drummer Jason Bowld, Glamour of the Kill guitarist Mike Kingswood, and Rise to Remain bassist Joe Copcutt, and they just released their debut disc, 'Vultures.'
Loudwire caught up with Cormier, who told us about the band's speedy recording period, how quickly the group has bonded, and his thoughts on bringing their music to North American audiences this fall.
This record was recorded in a little under two weeks and you were the last addition to the lineup. What was it like being thrown into the fire with this record?
I was at home just having some downtime from finishing the Cancer Bats record and I got a phone call from Matt Tuck basically telling me that he had written a record, a metal record, and he was asking if I wanted to sing on it. I was like, "Yeah man, that'd be rad. I've got some time off and I think we could do something." He was like, "OK then, I'll send you something, the eight songs that I have mixed down and we've got another three that are finished. Let me know what you think." I had no idea that he'd even have that many songs finished or what was even up with the project and I got all these crazy metal tracks and I was like, "Whoa, this is awesome!"
I called him back and I was like, "Hey man, I'm totally in. When are you thinking?," and he [asked], "How soon can you get on a plane and fly to Wales? I need to do this before I write the Bullet [for My Valentine] record." I was like, "Ooh, I guess I can jump on a plane next week," and he [said], "OK, perfect." So before I had a chance to even think it out, I was getting on a plane flying to England. I was basically trying to write out as much as I could while waiting to meet this new band. We went to Wales and recorded the vocals in five days and that was it. We were like a real band.
That's great, and listening to this you hear the immediacy. You did it so quick, there's not much time to think about it. You just knock it out and move on.
That was the real fun side of it. It was just all of our gut instincts, and we didn't have time to overanalyze things, so when we were laying down vocals or in the same spirit when they were doing the tracking of the album - the drums and guitar - it was just like whatever was your gut feeling, what felt right, that's what went. It was cool having that spirit throughout the whole thing. It was like, "Hey man, that sounds great. Let's move on." I'm like, "Oh, do you want an extra track?" "Nope, we don't have time and that sounds perfect."
It was really positive for me being in the studio under those circumstances, cause it was Ginge who was recording and Matt who was producing just being really pumped on everything we were doing. I'd show them lyrics and me and Matt would work on it, change a few words up or take some things out and for the most part it was just hammering it out. It was fun.
Matt had talked about in a previous interview how interesting it was for him not having to be the lead singer and letting someone else go crazy onstage. Given his experience fronting a successful band and your experience with Cancer Bats, how has it worked co-existing onstage together?
Well that's what he told me when he came into - "I just want to play guitar and drink beer and have fun. I don't want to have to worry about my voice or anything." Originally it was supposed to be Matt singing on two tracks -- 'Cold' and 'Collide' -- he had some ideas. But as we went on, just because he had some ideas, we were getting pumped and had some ideas, and I think it's funny that I still roped him into being a singer [laughs].
It was like, "You've got a great voice. It'd be stupid of us not to take advantage of that." And he's got a really crazy screaming voice which I think is awesome. I think it doesn't get presented as much as it could and Bullet, and the same with me and Cancer Bats, there's some things I can't do cause it wouldn't fit the band. So this whole project was just trying different stuff. Like 'Blood, Money & Lies,' where Matt's vocals are just brutal. It was awesome. I didn't know he could scream like that. So it's cool for both of us trying out different styles.
With balancing Cancer Bats and AxeWound this past summer, does that just make you more energized when you return to one project after doing the other?
It was fun this summer doing double sets, going from Cancer Bats to AxeWound or vice versa. It made me appreciate how different both projects were. I think when I'm screaming in the studio, it's obviously Liam from Cancer Bats screaming on a metal record, but then playing those two different shows, it's like, "No, I'm Liam from AxeWound, fronting this band." I do see how different both projects are, especially when I'm doing them back to back. [laughs]
Gotta say 'Cold,' such a great song to lead off with. Can you talk about how 'Cold' came together?
'Cold' was rad for me because that was the one song that Matt - it was the first song that Matt wrote for AxeWound. It was him thinking he had some stuff that was completely different from anything he was doing with Bullet. So for me, in the studio, that was actually the best because we were cramming, writing lyrics and working inside the can, and when it came to 'Cold,' Matt was like, "Oh I have the lyrics. We can just sing that." It was like, "Whew! OK! Cool." So we just banged that one out super quick.
I think it's rad because that song is such a 50/50 of Matt and I, between the verses and chorus, and to me that is the epitome of what the band is, having those different dynamics and how it comes together. I really like that song. It's super fun.
'Collide' seems like the curveball on the album. It's definitely heavy, but it's got that soft piano opening and the strings, and after the brutality of the rest of the record, it kind of changes things up.
We even position it in the set the same style, about halfway through as the sort of weird breather. But the song itself is super heavy when it all kicks in and it's super fun to play live as well. But for those guys, they were telling me that when they were writing everything, they kind of got to a point where they didn't want to rewrite the same style. We actually had that conversation of what other types of metal do we all really like. And having that theatrical style of things and Matt has a friend who plays all the piano on it, so we had this idea that we could make this heavy song, but have it be … Well, I like how all the songs don't sound the same, and with this you've got something completely different. It's a total curve ball. But once we put the vocals down, it didn't seem out of place.
I think on the album what's cool is we can do something different, but it still stands up next to like 'Destroy' or 'Victim of the System.' It's just as rad of a song because it has the theatrical and more dynamics to it.
Obviously, we know you and Matt as the singers for your other respective groups, but man, Jason Bowld from Pitchshifter on drums kicks ass on this record. He's like the secret weapon.
Yeah, he's an animal. It's amazing playing with him live. He just locks in the click and just all of the songs he hammers home. It's like you said - he is our secret weapon. Having this dude that's like a machine gun behind you just let's us go out and do our thing. You just always know that there's this super solid dude backing you up. It's the best.
What's crazy though for Matt is that with Jason, there's some songs that, like 'Victim of the System,' Jason just laid down those drums and Matt wrote the guitars around it. So he wrote that song around the drum tracks. For a lot of guitar players and anyone in a band, it's such a different way of thinking of things - doing drums first and then everything else according to that. But I think that Matt finds it really exciting. Just having this completely different way of doing things is refreshing.
You're also getting some love for 'Exorchrist,' and what a freaky video you've got for it. What can you tell us about the song and the clip?
[Laughs] That's one of my favorite songs. I just really liked it. When we were talking about what could be the next single, that one was up there for me. I love the chorus for the song. The lyrics and the idea was something that I had written. Actually, when we were throwing around ideas for a band name, I was thinking we could call the band Exochrist, like the opposite of an exorcism - getting all the good out and letting the evil in. I thought that was pretty metal. So I kind of kept that idea around and wrote a whole song about it.
The cool part for me was that I had the structure of that chorus set out a lot different, just more traditionally hardcore singing on the beat. But with Matt producing, he was like, "Let's bring out that last line and make more of a statement," and all of a sudden that opened up that song to me in more of a Judas Priest-huge rock chorus context. That sold me on that song so hard. It was so cool and was a badass way of ending the chorus, just bringing on the 'Exorchrist' with the ripping guitar.
And when the idea for the video came, it was like no videos get played on TV for metal bands anymore. Just very few daytime TV slots at all, so we thought why not make the gnarliest metal video we can. We just wanted some of those fun metal things, so we had some gore and naked demons. It was kind of cool and that's where the idea went.
I showed up to the set, and there were these girls just covered in gore, and I thought, "Oh, yeah, I guess it's pretty full on." [laughs] But I like how the video turned out in the end. It's definitely pretty cool and something completely different than anything I've done with Cancer Bats or any other band I've ever been in.
You're right that Exorchrist would be an awesome band name, but it worked out perfectly with AxeWound, which is also pretty cool, and you still got a solid song out of the other moniker.
AxeWound was always the band name, and then we kind of had a bit of a talk about whether it should be the band name. We threw around some of the songs and song titles that provided potential band names, like 'Church of Nothing,' 'Exorchrist' - I still like the idea of them, so it was just like, "Oh, well I'll just write a song called 'Church of Nothing.' I'll write a song called 'Exorchrist.' Perfect."
'Church of Nothing,' yes we're expecting metal, but that song swings.
I really like how gallop-y and almost how power metal it gets in the bridge, but it's also one of the fastest songs too. It's so thrashy. I like it cause it confuses kids too. Like when we're playing it on the tour live, you'd see kids when we start up the verse start the circle pit, but before they've even made a full circle, it crashes back into the gallop-y chorus. It's like, "Oh, I need to pump my fists." You see these kids wanting to get involved, but then having to figure out what to do. [laughs]
Speaking of the circle pit, 'Burn Alive' has to work for that, as well.
Yeah, 'Burn Alive,' that's our circle pit jam. I'll call it out pretty huge before that one and it's rad because it's an easy one right off the bat. 'Destroy' is actually going over really well where kids are singing along with the huge chorus and the big fist pumps in that bridge. 'Post Apocalyptic Party,' 'Exorchrist,' and 'Cold' have all been killing it too, just cause kids have known those songs that longest. But it's great to see the whole record getting well received live. You can tell kids have put in the time and are learning the words and getting really into the whole thing.
Most of your dates so far have been overseas. How pumped are you to bring it back to North America later this year?
I'm pumped to see what the reaction will be like over here. I know I have a ton of friends in Toronto and Montreal where we're playing that are really excited to see it. But I think in general, just Cancer Bats and Bullet fans and Pitchshifter fans, everybody is kind of finding out about this project is really getting excited. I think these shows are gonna be good.
If this does go on beyond this first album, how excited are you to be there from the inception the next time around?
All of us have been getting along super well and this tour has gone off, so for all of us, we want to keep working on the project. For us, especially Matt and I, it's just a matter of finding time. But we've all talked about getting together at some point - maybe at the end of the Bullet tour cycle for this next record and maybe writing the next AxeWound record together - the five of us. Just thinking of how quick we were able to put things together with the quick sessions and it would be interesting to see what we could do - the five of us - maybe if we're locked in a room for a month, which is the next step for the band. But at the same time, I don't want to lose that urgency that we have with everything. Everyone's on the same page that way, so I don't think we'll give ourselves too much time. But sometimes when you have a good deadline and your back is against the wall, that's when you come up with your best stuff, so I think to not lose site of that with this band would be awesome.
It seems like the song 'Post Apocalyptic Party' would make for a good video...
If we could do a video for that song, Matt and I had this idea of us riding dirt bikes. We both ride motorcycles, so we thought it would be cool to do a Mad Max style video where we're riding around on dirt bikes in a wasteland, kind of ripping around. Maybe if we become the biggest band in the world, we can make our high budget AxeWound video.
Watch AxeWound's 'Exorchrist' Video