Im Rahmen ihrer Europatour haben die Cancer Bats zusammen mit While She Sleeps, Hundredth und Oathbreaker auch im Gruenspan in Hamburg Halt gemacht. Vor rund einem Monat hat die Band ihr neues Album „Searching For Zero“ herausgebracht und präsentiert die neuen Songs erstmals auch den deutschen Fans. Vor der Hamburg-Show nahm sich Frontmann Liam Cormier die Zeit, über das neue Album, Selbstfindung und seine Rolle als Songwriter zu sprechen.
On your new album „Searching For Zero“ you can cleary hear that Black Sabbath influence you. What else does influence you when you are working on new stuff, especially when you wrote „Searching For Zero“?
That one is always tough. I don´t know if it is as much the bands we are listening to right at that minute. Black Sabbath influence us a lot as we learned so many Black Sabbath songs over two years and to know how they wrote songs and everything has a huge influence.
„We totally stole that idea!“
Did you write your new album while you were on the road with Bat Sabbath?
Oh we never wrote songs while we are on tour. Obviously everyone comes up with their own ideas. It´s kinda like that I think of a riff or of lyrics . These events just influence what will happen on a new record. I try to be more specific: I think we get more influenced by a record that is really inspiring. For us, we gravitate towards bands that have a long career and are still doing things that are different and refreshing and still approaching their band like when we hear that Every Time I Die or Comeback Kid or Mastadon is doing a new record. Especially with a band like Comeback Kid because they are very good friends of ours. We´ve been releasing albums around the same time so it´s hearing what they are doing on their new record. And we are kind of stealing these ideas – not musically but in how they are recorded. One of their techniques were recording a new song every day to keep it fresh. And we were like „Oh my god, that is so awesome, it´s a good idea!“ and we totally stole that idea (laughs)! We were like „Yeah, we should do that, it´s smart!“
It´s good that you guys are friends!
Ja, we steal their tricks! Or we listen to a record and just hear something new like what Brand New have done – it still sounds like their classic stuff but it´s fresh. So I feel that what other bands do influences us more.
„Be a band because you love it and not because it´s your job“
For „Searching For Zero“ you worked with producer Ross Robinson. How did that look like and is it true that he likes to throw things at bands?
Yeah, you know, he is just stoked. He likes kinda throwing people off and make them replicate more what a live show is like. When you are in a club and you are nailing it, nobody stands still. And he likes that same idea. Why would you stand still when you are playing a really exciting song or a really energetic part? You should be like moving around and having a blast. So when Ross is throwing a cup or CDs he is just trying to throw you off your game and have it be fun. But he is not throwing things at you because he is pissed or because he wants you to do better. If he throw something it will get better. More explosive and dynamic. When you are in it, it makes more sense because you are just having fun in the same way you would do it with your friends. He still hangs on to the fact that music should be fun and that you make music and be a band because you love it and not because it´s your job. Which was exactly what we were at when we were recording this record. So it was really nice to have someone who had the same ideas.
So Cancer Bats is your main job?
Yes! Well, you don´t start a band to be your main job. You are starting a band because you are interested in that kind of music. And then it becomes a job. So when you wanna go on tour it becomes your job. For us it lasts like a year and a half that we took to write this record because we were valuing if we were doing these things for the right reason. To make sure that we are not just putting out a record because that is what we are supposed to do. When we were doing this just like a job we could probably get better careers because we don´t make a ton of money doing this. So there is no reason why this should only be our job. It has to be because we love it. So that was a very important part of the record, too: We put out a record because we have something to say and because we are excited to make this music. And then we are excited to go on tour because we can´t wait for people to share this music with us and play shows and have fun.
I think it´s very special that Cancer Bats always have their own sound and that you have a huge recognition factor, not only with your music style but also with your voice. On „Searching For Zero“ you mixed the typical Cancer Bats style with new elements. What´s the biggest difference between „Searching For Zero“ and your last album „Dead Set On Living“ in your opinion?
I think it´s kind of pushing those ideas. To us „Dead Set On Living“ focuses on everything we love about Cancer Bats and our whole thing with this album was doing a Cancer Bats album for Cancer Bats fans. And we were like „Let everything about the Bats be pure on this record.“ And I love it! It feels like we nailed it! We didn´t wanna just make a part two of this record, so we were like „okay, if this is the foundation of what our band is for us, then we should be able to grow from there“. We were trying to push those ideas further.
„To make a long story short: The thing that I realized was that on „Bears [Mayors, Scraps & Bones]“ I failed as a songwriter.“
In the end of „Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake“ you sing „Too many friends died this year“. As on „Dead Set On Living“, too, you sing about hard times but it seems like that you never lose sight of all the positive things. Especially when it comes to death and – like on „Dead Set on Living“ – illness. In the last interview with us you said that when you wrote „Dead Set On Living“ a friend of you became very ill…
Yes, a lot of the record was about this. I think I lost a bit of this balance when we were writing „Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones“ [published in 2010]. I think on this record I didn´t intend it to be as dark as it actually was. A lot of kids – and that´s one of the things I feel really lucky about, is that we have such a cool relationship to people who are into our band. Like we hang out at merch, talk to everybody and are friends with all these kids on our shows. But the result was that people were like „Yo, where is the „PMA ´Til I´m DOA“ [song from their record „Hail Destroyer“, published in 2008], where is the stoked side of dealing with this things?“. And that made me realize that on that record and also in how we approached this new album was that for us to hang out so that nobody goes like „oh, Liam is super bummed out!“. It´s like shitty stuff happens and we are still stoked. And I think that´s the ultimate thing. Shitty things are going to happen to all of us, but on the other side there are positive things and we get through this by being a band or whatever. To make a long story short: The thing that I realized was that on „Bears [Mayors, Scraps & Bones]“ I failed as a songwriter. You know what I mean? When I need to explain to a kid at merch, that „Sleep This Away“ isn´t about suicide I am like „Oh shit, I did a bad job!“ Because I were like „no, this song is about being tired! It´s not about I want to kill myself!“. That really stepped up my game. Like on „Dead Set On Living“ being positive even though it deals with negative things. The nice part was that still learning from that and then going through all this shit and dealing with it on this record but still be like „okay, I am still feeling that the album itself is so positive“ because non of these things stop us. Part of this was also working with Ross. He was like „Even though you are writing a song about your friend dying, it´s a celebration! He died, that sucks, but this is us celebrating his life. This is us playing one of the most fun songs ever to celebrate how much of an influence he had on us.“ That was very important for us. For me Ross Robinson is the master when it comes to emotions. And he was showing me that we are really good at it but here is how to do it better. And I was like „oh wow, yeah! That´s what I need!“. I wanted to be positive, I wanted to be stoked.
He is an amazing person! I think if everyone in this world could meet Ross Robinson it would be a better place for us to live. I brought my girlfriend to come to Venice Beach months after we were done to go on vacation and we stayed at that house and she was just like „Everything that you told me about this guy I never would have even understood unless I actually met him.“ It´s like the rumours and myths you are hearing about him: Non of it can compare to when you actually meet him.
„I am really happy about this whole tour. It´s fun!“
So, last question. What are you looking forward to the most on your upcoming tour with While She Sleeps, Hundredth and Oathbreaker?
Well, tonight in Hamburg.
This tour is wicked! We´ve been touring in Europe for eight years now or almost nine years… We know all these cities we are going to and have amazing friends that are coming to all the shows. We have played great shows like „Molotow“ in Hamburg, like the first one in 2006. In 2010 it was fucking crazy! We have played here [Gruenspan] before. Last time we played with Every Time I Die, that show was one of my favourites of the whole tour. We have this history with all this cities, so to know that you are going back to every cool place for a month is like the best! Last night in Amsterdam was fucking crazy and then you show up here and everything is super cool and everyone is super nice and you are just like „Yeah, tonight is gonna be super awesome, I am so stoked!“. I am really happy about this whole tour. It´s fun!