Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier Discusses Taking Time Off, ‘Searching for Zero’ Album + More
Canadian hardcore rockers Cancer Bats have just unleashed their fourth album, ‘Searching for Zero.’ Full Metal Jackie recently spoke with vocalist Liam Cormier on her weekend radio show. In the interview, the singer talks about taking time off and shares plenty about their new album. Check out the interview below:
You and your bandmates lost friends who passed away last year. Liam, what made Searching for Zero a catharsis for those loses?
That whole time for us was such a huge thing. I'm sure anyone who's gone through that will tell you. While we're on tour, all of these people that were so close to the band, we were finding out news from their families and loved ones while we're in the middle of a highway. Feeling that disconnect was kind of where some of the ideas for the record came back. When we were working on the actual music, it's like, 'Oh, here's the most impactful thing.' And it was, even when we were just leaving a friends memorial.
Our friend, Alan Riches [guitar tech], was on our records and has been in bands. We've been going to shows with him forever. As Jay and I were driving away from his memorial, I was like, 'Yeah… this is 100 percent what this song is about.' There's no other way to deal with that, to also just honor those people in our lives.
Liam, how did taking time off from the band rejuvenate your enthusiasm for making Cancer Bats music?
It was great -- just being able to explore some different things that we were all into. One of the big reasons why we took time off was because Scott, our guitar player, he had an opportunity to go learn how to build guitars in Spain, on an island off the coast of Spain. He's like, "Is it cool?" We're like, “Yeah dude! Go and do it! Let's all take some time off.”
I own a motorcycle that I never ride. Let's go and be real people. It was amazing to be able to do that and just even take some time to think about what we wanted to try on the next record without having to come up with that idea the next day. It was great.
Liam, what changes most about a band's camaraderie after it has been together for 11 years?
I think the biggest thing, being in a band for that long is where you kind of develop beyond just the basic friendship that you start a band with. It becomes more of, not to sound cliché, but that brotherhood that developed. You're in this intense relationship with three other dudes that you see them more than your wives, girlfriends or family. I feel like that's where you develop this deep brotherhood, like you're gonna laugh, cry and fight. Through all of that you're still going to be together and living through all of these things. Ultimately in the most positive way because at the end of it you can come back and be like, we're still friends! We still want to make music together [laughs]!
You worked with a different producer, Ross Robinson, on this album Searching for Zero. What other different things did you try when making this record?
One of the big things, even once we decided we were going to work with Ross or when Ross decided when he was going to work with us was learning his approach to making records. When recording an album you set out a click track. You record to this in a very almost computerized fashion where we looked into this before hand. Okay, I know for a fact that Ross Robinson hates the click, wants to record a live record. That's what we ultimately want to try to do. Let's start preparing for that now. Let's start jamming these songs live.
Let's start not worrying about a click or tempo, but making sure that we're just writing road ready songs. Almost looking at it in a backwards sort of way where you're like, well we don't play to a click live when you're in a bar in Saskatoon, so it wouldn't make sense for us to do this in the studio per se. It was really awesome, changing our whole mentality coming into this record and almost forgetting what we've come to learn as the norm for recording just in preparation to work with Ross.
How has Searching for Zero changed the way you approach singing?
This has been, for me, the first album I think that I've really stepped up to actually singing. I mean, I think for anyone who hasn't heard the tracks to not be terrified that it's still very rough, [laughs]. If anything, it's like learning to be more melodic and learning that I actually have a range and that I don't have to scream through everything.
But the biggest thing for that, was and us learning as many Black Sabbath songs as we had doing our Bat Sabbath alter ego side project, I actually had to learn how to sing a lot of those Ozzy parts. I couldn't just scream through it, or I didn't feel right screaming through "Snowblind" or some of these more melodic songs. In doing that, it kind of opened up my range and where my voice was at to maybe try some more melodic ideas that I had always thought about. I think what it came down to was it was just that I wasn't a strong enough singer to do any of those things. I was really excited to push those ideas.
What can we expect from Cancer Bats this year?
We're definitely excited to hit the road. We've taken almost a year and a half off from touring. All of us are really excited to play these songs live. Especially to do a lot more shows in The States, which we haven't done as much of. So, excited to do a headline tour in the U.S. almost as the first set of touring that we're doing along the East Coast. Then definitely coming out to the West Coast, hopefully in the fall.
Thanks to Liam Cormier for the interview. Cancer Bats’ new album 'Searching for Zero' is available for download at iTunes. Check out their tour dates here. Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.