They are two of the leading forces in Canada's heavy metal/hardcore punk space. Both celebrating their seventh studio album in 2022. Both tearing up stages across the globe. The time for a co-headlining trek of the Great White North was now for Cancer Bats and Comeback Kid.
Metal Injection sat down with Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier and his Comeback Kid counterpart Andrew Neufeld during the third leg of their Canadian co-headlining tour for a career spanning interview on life on the road, early beginnings, travel must-haves, which band parties harder, and one crazy story on how the guys lost Lemmy Kilmister's laundry!
For the both of you at this stage of the game, do you like to go and party after the shows and look forward to the 'after party'? Do you like to take in the city or is it more like fuck, the grind of the road is such that you're ready for bed as soon as the gig is over?
Liam: "Our aftershow party is getting food. Like I want to hang out with friends and like get pizza or eat a poutine or whatever and catch up with everybody from the city. So I don't really go to a bar per say."
Andrew: "I mean, yeah, we'll go to bars. Comeback Kid might go to bars. But it all depends. After a show sometimes it just takes so long that by the time you're ready to go you might want to drive to the next city. Sometimes you go out, but it all depends."
Has touring felt different in the wake of COVID? Obviously, things are opening up now worldwide, but I'm sure there had to be some growing pains.
Liam: "I mean, the one thing that's really different is that because everyone was off at the same time, right now everyone is trying to tour. So there's like a million shows going on is the only thing that's crazy. So you're seeing people who are getting caught up and being able to finally tour, but to talk to kids, they're like going to five shows a week because they had tickets from two years ago and then there's new albums being put out and shows happening. So that feels a little crazy. There's normally like a bit of some bands are off, some bands are on. And now it's just like every single band is going on tour."
Andrew: "I find the biggest change that I've kind of noticed with our band, and I see it with other bands, is maybe before we would do longer tours and maybe have longer stints off. But now it's a lot of like really short little bursts here and there. And I don't know if we booked that also because a lot of the stuff we're booking now was booked maybe almost a year ago, eight months or whatever, when stuff was still weird. And we've been stuck places because of COVID when you had to test in certain places. So we just kind of got nervous on booking anything too long. I mean, now stuff's kind of getting there, but it's a lot of like every weekend or a week on and then a week off. So not really ever getting too much time to find your groove on the tour or groove back at home."
Liam: "Like this tour that we're doing, like normally we would have just done coast to coast. Cancer Bats/Comeback Kid just like doing Vancouver all the way to St. John's and we'd have done it in a month or whatever."
Andrew: "But now we're doing it in three legs, which I prefer."
Liam: "For us, like as we're all getting older, I feel like everybody has kind of other things going on too. So for us to only go out for like two weeks and then come back and be able to take care of our other businesses that we do or like for the guys with kids to be home with their families. Like, I feel that's like a good kind of change too versus when we used to just go out for eight weeks in a row."
At this stage, with 15-20 years or more in the business, are there any do's and don'ts you have for the road or like an essential you have to bring with you? I'd imagine you discover things you can't do without, or things you probably wouldn't do again. Any major do's and don'ts for the road for touring?
Liam: "I started bringing a skateboard with me again. I've been skateboarding a lot while out on tour, which I probably hadn't done in the last five or six years. And I find that's a really great way to also get out of the venue and be kind of like exploring what the cities have to offer. So definitely finding my skateboard again has been like a really fun added bonus to tour."
Andrew: "For me, I'm not totally sure right now, but I'm just looking at all my stuff unpacking from this last run I just did. And I just think like packing smarter. We're going in so many airports all the time. And just trying to make that streamline as easy as possible is the first thing that comes to mind here."
Liam: "I feel like learning all those little tricks to make like airport life and travel a little bit easier. When we used to not have any money and we had to like pack all our merch into our carry on bags and just be walking around like a bunch of idiots. I have that a bit better figured out. The airport isn't stressful. You just go and hang out, do some work and get on a plane. I feel like that side of things has become more chill."
In the pandemic era, had there been any, for either of you, any travel nightmares? We hear so often about canceled flights, crazy fucking long lines in customs. Have you been lucky so far, or have there been any nightmare scenarios with travel?
Liam: "Yeah, for me personally, I haven't felt a change. I think maybe just like the times of day that we fly or like when we've been going we've just been lucky to not have to worry about anything. But for me it's kind of been like, same as."
Andrew: "I've been kind of decent because I'm the singer, but my guys with instruments like Jeremy, our guitar player for example, I would say in the last four months Air Canada has lost his guitars maybe five times. And it's a constant, like we'll be in like, I don't know, Dusseldorf, Germany or something. And then we got to get to France and then and oh, we don't want to send it there because we'll be in England by that time already and then it's just a clusterfuck as far as that goes, trying to breathe. There's a lot of losing of luggage and I haven't gotten it, but other members of my band.
"I'm lucky because I'm going to Toronto, but other members are going a lot further now with Winnipeg and Vancouver. So there's a lot of missed flights and some staying overnight in places where you don't want to stay overnight. But all y'all get a little more some more segments. You can get that Air Canada status quicker, so that's pretty good."
Do you guys recall when it would have been you would have first crossed paths in the Canadian music scene or first being introduced to each other's bands?
Andrew: "I remember meeting Liam. I don't know if the band was known, but me and Mike [Peters], the drummer of Cancer Bats, played in a band before like 20 years ago called Figure Four. And then we were just always like really best friends."
Liam: "I was doing merch for another band that was on tour with Motörhead and you were the runner for the show."
Andrew: "I was the runner for the show, and actually I lost Lemmy's laundry that tour, that show. I brought his laundry into the laundromat and I thought they closed that one time. Maybe they closed early or whatever. It's neither here nor there. But his laundry was not able to be gotten before the show, and I had to send it to Thunder Bay. But yeah. What was that band that was playing Liam?"
Liam: "I was working for Damn 13, which was like a Toronto rock band, like punk band. Scott [Middleton] and I had made the Cancer Bats demo, so I had like the demo CD with us. But Mikey wasn't playing drums yet. I had met Mike and stuff, but it was basically like after that tour that we got signed to Distort. But I probably gave you the Cancer Bats demo than when we first met. But I remember being in university and ordering the Comeback Kid demo tape. Me and my buddy just were like super into hardcore and we heard that there was this new hardcore band from Winnipeg that was ex-members of Figure Four."
Had you guys ever done a large scale tour together before this run?
Liam: "We've done tons of touring like all over Europe, UK, the U.S.. But it's funny, this was like our first Canadian tour ever together."
Andrew: "And we kind of always have said in the last few years, I don't know when the last time we were in the Maritimes was, but we said 'I don't know if we can do Maritimes without Cancer Bats. I think we need them, because we know that they crush out there' and we're just like we want them! I've been talking about coming out east with Cancer Bats for so long. So finally they took the bait and we need them to get to Newfoundland, you know what I mean? We've been trying to get there for so long."
Liam: "I mean, the tour's been amazing, like the West Coast and the Ontario dates we did and then the going out West, like all those shows were sold out. People were super stoked, but it was also, for a lot of people, their first heavy shows or the first hardcore show that was hitting the West Coast. So we also were having people like really letting loose and kind of like their first post-COVID show. So I think it'll be the same for the East Coast. I feel like there hasn't been a lot of heavy tours, although I missed it, but Sacrifice played last night in Halifax, which is pretty awesome."
One last question, and kind of putting you both on the spot. If you were to pick out one song or album from your opposing band, Andrew for Cancer Bats, Liam for Comeback Kid, a song or a record of those bands to either recommend or you tell friends, what immediately comes to the top of your head?
Liam: "I think for Comeback Kid, there's like tons of obvious ones when you're recommending. I'm sure it's the same with Cancer Bats. Like oh check out Wake The Dead, check out Hail Destroyer. But the new Comeback Kid record, Heavy Steps is so good. So I love that you guys put out this banging record, and then we're getting to hear all these new tunes that you guys are just crushing still is rad. Instead of like just being like, 'Oh yeah, there's that one record that you played,' you know what I mean? I think in the era that we're in right now where everyone's like really nostalgic for old albums, it's cool to be touring with a band that's putting out new, relevant, heavy music. So I get stoked on that. That would be my recommendation."
Andrew: "With the Bats' new record, I listened to it and I was super, super into it. I got it early and I was into it, but then they were putting it out as we were kind of touring, some of the singles. So for me, I'm also kind of like partial to some of the newer stuff and that's what's turning my crank the most these days, because after I've been able to see them play these songs live, they just kind of get over and over in my head. I feel like some of the songs are the kind of songs that you almost want to see live to really fully know."