“Toronto’s masters of surprise, Cancer Bats, are finally back with a brand new album, The Spark That Moves. It feels like an age since their last record, Searching For Zero dropped, back in 2015 so their return is more than welcomed among the hardcore scene. We sat down with frontman Liam Cormier to discuss all things, “The Spark That Moves” as well as surprise releases and his love for the DIY scene.
““We don’t want to follow any criteria or rules”
Obviously, the big talking point at the moment is the surprise release of The Spark That Moves. It felt as though the last album Searching For Zero, didn’t quite get the recognition or rave reviews of the other material in the bands monolithic back catalogue. Whether it was down to the experimentation seen on the album, or the questionable production job from the genius, Ross Robinson, the album never really feel like it took off as well as the other material the band have released. “We don’t want to follow any criteria or rules” explains Cormier. “For us when we see a pre-order go up, we just want to hear that record right now.” For a band as big as Cancer Bats, it feels refreshing to see such a DIY attitude. They’ve recently played a string of four sold out, headlining shows at Camden Underworld, playing seminal record Hail Destroyer, in full. It would have been easy for them to book a much larger venue, yet it feels as though they’re keeping all things The Spark That Moves grassroots.
““It’s mostly about life experiences. Over the last three years, a lot has happened. We’ve travelled, got married, bought houses, grown up.”
Something that Cormier quickly points out is the fact that Cancer Bats don’t feel as though they are tied down. “We don’t have a label anymore. There’s nobody giving us a timeframe, so the whole process was really relaxed.” Listening to the record, this is something that definitely carries through into the art. The band feel as though they’ve been given a new lease of life after the last album was wrongly left on many record store’s shelves.
Cormier enthusiastically discussed Chris Hannah of Propagandhi’s contributions on the new track Winterpeg. “We got to jam a lot of the songs in the old Propagandhi room. The record itself if very Winnipeg centric, so seeing getting to see an old Propagandhi setlist on the wall is really inspiring.” Cormier goes on to say, “To have Chris Hannah sing on the record bought all the Winnipeg vibes, it was amazing.” Again, this further adds credence to the true DIY feel of the record. Having an artist as well noted and respected in this scene as Chris Hannah on the album really makes Cancer Bats feel as though they are back in the Hail Destroyer days.
““To have Chris Hannah sing on the record bought all the Winnipeg vibes, it was amazing.”
Obviously being in a band doesn’t dictate the guy’s entire lives. Cormier explains that a lot of the influences on The Spark That Moves don’t simply lie within the hardcore scene. “Ive done a lot of travelling, I wrote a lot of lyrics while I was on motorcycle trips. The lyrics to Gatekeeper were written while I was in Berlin at a motorcycle show.” It seems as though this creative experience has been far more open for Cancer Bats. With the band living in different parts of the country, different members took on different roles, “We Run Free came from me having a riff in my mind, then translating it to Jay to play it on guitar, all of a sudden a new song is born.”
“We were really conscious as to how this record was going to fit into our discography.” Ponders Cormier. “We had to ask ourselves why people want to hear the same fifteen songs every night. We even joked about never writing another thrash song.” This is what makes the new Cancer Bats record feel so special. It doesn’t feel as though its been tied down to one thing, almost a greatest hits selection from throughout the band’s career.
When asked about the themes of the record, Cormier explains, “It’s mostly about life experiences. Over the last three years, a lot has happened. We’ve travelled, got married, bought houses, grown up. A lot of this record is looking at that, a song like Brightest Days or Rattlesnake is really introspective.” Through these songs, you can see how far Cancer Bats have come over the past twelve years since their inception, they’ve all been on such a journey from couch surfing up to this point.
Finishing the interview, Cormier reflects on ten years of Hail Destroyer. “The biggest thing for me is the relationships we’ve been able to build with fans and the music industry. Thats testament to the fact that we’re just able to drop a record out of nowhere and people care. I feel really just get really excited and I feel really thankful thinking about it.”
Cancer Bats’ brand new album, The Spark That Moves, is out now on all streaming services