CANCER BATS' Liam Cormier: "Everyone Showing Up For The Show Is There For That Release."
On 4/20, when so many of us were getting blazed into fucking oblivion, Toronto, Ontario Canada's Cancer Bats were sneakily dropping their latest collection of sludgy hardcore goodness in The Spark That Moves.
It had been over three years since the lads had flipped the switch with their fifth record Searching For Zero, so this out-of-the-blue self-funded gem of a record came as a welcome surprise, in a year where the Bats were celebrating the 10th anniversary of their seminal Hail Destroyer.
"Knowing we were doing this record ourselves, and having the freedom to do what we want, it was like why don’t we just put it out there?" frontman Liam Cormier tells Metal Injection. "People have been asking for it while we were doing all those Bat Sabbath shows. People were definitely hungry for new stuff. We already kind of knew we were going to self-release the record. Even before we had decided distribution or anything, we thought why don’t we put it on the internet for free and see how it goes? For us, learning how the music industry works now in 2018, streaming is such a huge part of your album. It’s cool to have paid subscriptions and it’s rad that so many people support them, but in a way it becomes so accessible for an album to be released. So for us it felt like the perfect time to do something like this."
The band released the album through their own label, fittingly titled Bat Skull Records, having worked alongside Canadian producer JP Peters, and turning to longtime collaborator Eric Ratz for mixing. But it is the video for the albums' kickoff track "Gatekeeper" that has fans buzzing.
The bombastic animated mind-fuck was directed by Stevie Gee and written by Gee and Essy May, the team behind Mastodon's "Steambreather".
"We were super stoked," Cormier said of the collaboration. "Stevie was somebody I had met going over to the UK and had reached out to just as a fan of his art. We became friends and would hang out and had talked about working on some merch. I had saw some antimation he had done for Adidas and all these ad campaigns. I knew he and his wife had worked on that Mastodon video. I reached out, not knowing how much antimation costs, and asked if it was something we could figure out. He was like yeah man, we’ll just make it happen. He was so psyched on the project and loved the song. It was really amazing being able to work with him. His work is so crazy. If I told myself five years ago this is where we’d be at, I wouldn’t have even believed it."
The Spark That Moves is ballsy, intense and frantic – the best of 13 years of Cancer Bats blended into a blisteringly endearing package. Cuts like the standout "Winterpeg", which features guest vocals from Propaghandi's Chris Hannah, and the anthem-like "Bed of Nails" reaffirm the Cancer Bats status as legitimate bad mother fuckers, who are far from nearing any point of self-parody or repetition.
"That’s what I love about the record, us looking at our career as a band and what we really love about being in Cancer Bats," Cormier says." We really tried to focus on that when we were writing these songs. Ultimately, as much as I want to grow the band and do all these things, we feel so lucky to have all these fans and to have this Cancer Bats crew worldwide who have been with us for the past 13 years. I still want to keep those people in mind when we’re writing these songs that we want to go and party for. It’s like yeah, let’s keep this vibe going, and if anything just try to get better at it."
The guys are hitting Europe this June, with a future North American tour a foregone conclusion. Make seeing them a 2018 priority.
"We want to always make sure that it’s fun, and we’re getting out of it what everyone showing up is getting out of it," Cormier says. "There’s nothing worse than seeing a band that is obviously burnt out on tour, and they’re just going through the set. And it’s like OK, I get it, maybe a couple of guys in the band are having fun, but you can tell they’re not in the moment. I never want us to get to that point, and I want us to be really conscious. Everyone showing up to the show is there for that release. It’s that part of your day you’re looking forward to where all the bullshit stops and you can just be in this moment of having the best time. If this thing becomes a job then that is going to ruin this for everyone, not just the four of us. I always want to make sure we’re stoked and vibing on what we’re doing."