Interview: Cancer Bats - 3/03/2009
K: So, how's the tour going so far?
L: The tour has been going awesome! Obviously everyone is going to say that, but, I'll tell you why: the dudes on this tour are amazing and we've become really good friends with Thursday, which is awesome. We were told by all of our friends [Rise Against, Alexisonfire] "don'tknow the other bands, but you're totally gonna get along with Thursday!" Then Thursday was told that by our same friends, so we all rolled up and were like "hey heeeey!" Almost kind of like blind dating. And like, they're all super cute so, it works! No, but, we were just like "we're old and you're old so lets all just hang out!"
K: That's cool, so you think you'll stay friends after the tour?
L: I would cry if we didn't stay friends after this tour and we're only in, what, the first month? Kinda halfway, three weeks into it? Yeah, I feel like we're all becoming really good friends.
K: You guys had the day off yesterday/last night, did you have a sleep over?
L: We had a sleepover at a friends house in Holyoke [Massachusetts], where we've been kinda staying for the whole week so for us it was no biggie. I definitely drove from Portland, Maine to Holyoke, Massachusetts in that crazy snowstorm and I'd probably give that one
of the top 5 sketchiest drives I've ever been on.
K: I'm glad you made it!
L: I know, I'm glad I'm not dead! Totally stoked!
K: It took me like an hour to dig my car out of the snow!
L: Really? We did a pretty good job, we drove it out and then Mikey and I dusted it off and we went to Denny's. We were like "let's go eat breakfast!"
K: Excellent morning!
L: It was actually a really nice day off, we ended up being really productive and getting our photos taken by this friend of ours whose a really, really good photographer. So we went to the studio, got our photos taken, and then we went to the mall, it was awesome.
K: The mall!
L: Crush some mall time, paid some bills, sent my girlfriend a birthday present, it was all good! Went to Hot Topic, bought the new Fake Problems 7 inch, new Fake Problems record is awesome. Just came out on Side One Dummy, I just twittered about it today!
K: You Twitter?!
L: I'm getting into twittering! Being in a band, you kind of get some of that stuff forced on you. I don't have a personal Myspace or a personal Facebook or any shit like that because I don't care, like I have a girlfriend and I have a lot of friends so I'm just calm. But
yeah so I just got into twittering, that's what the kids are into so I was just like oh, I'll twitter now. People are like "you guys need to get a buzznet account" and we're like what the fuck is buzznet? So yeah, you find out about all this weird stuff and telecommunication.
But now I'm actually getting into twittering!
K: Are you an avid Twitterer?
L: Yeah! We were laughing about it [joking] that the only people who have twitters are people who don't have any friends cause normally I would turn to my friends and just be like [laughs out loud], you know? But in this case you're just like [pretends to type] "ohhh! burritos
are the best thing ever!" Twitter. More recently I've been getting into Twitter while all of my friends are asleep because they would just turn to me and be like "yeah, everyone knows you like burritos Liam! Who gives a shit?" Then I can be like "twitter cares!"
K: Twitter does care!
L: And it's kind of cute because now people will come up to me at merch and are like "I follow you on Twitter and you said that funny thing the other day!" I was talking about how I liked the fact that we were driving and it was like blue sunny skies, really nice out, and we
were listening to Fiest and I was like "my life rules!" Then this kid was like "what's Feist? I followed you on Twitter!" So yeah, Twitter is like, hardcore kids getting into Feist.
K: What do you do to pass the time on the road, aside from Twitter?
L: We hang out a lot, a lot of us will just listen to ipods [together, sharing the music] and we all hang for the most part. We're all friends so we're always goofing around and laughing. It helps too that we sometimes have different people on the tour to change the dynamic.
We have a sound guy which we normally don't tour with, we normally tour with five of us [four band members and a merch guy]. Then we bring in a new person, like now we have a sound guy and he's an awesome dude, so that kinda changed the dynamic too. Normally I find
like, you get into this routine like [the same thing] day after day after day of touring where you're just like I sit on this bench and you sit on that bench and these two sit up front and we'll kinda talk but nobody really hangs out. Then you have this new guy whose sitting
in your seat and you're like oh, that's cool, maybe I'll ride shotgun!
K: Revolver.com just released your cover of The Faints 'Agenda Suicide'; is this one of three new covers that'll be on the re-release of Hail Destroyer?
K: What are the other two?
L: Tegan and Sara's 'So Jealous' and we do 'I Want A Lot Now' by the Murder City Devils. The Faint one is probably my favorite because I like that we took someone else's song and just made it a Cancer Bats song to a certain degree though we did that with the Tegan and Sara
K: It definitely sounds like you made it your own.
L: Yeah! That's what I really liked about it, people who like the Faint are like oh, this is awesome! But there are tons of people who don't know that it's a cover when we play it, it works that way. Whereas, when we play the Murder City Devils song it's just Cancer Bats playing a Murder City Devils song, which I still like, and I really like how it sounds because I love that band and even if two kids find out about it and get into the Murder City Devils then we won!
K: So! You just did a guest spot on the newest Silverstien and Gallows records, what was that like?
L: Yeah I just did the Silverstien record, which was really really cool actually. I was really stoked on it musically and I was really psyched that they asked me because they're friends of ours but we're not in the immediate same circles so we always just hungout at shows. When they asked me I was really psyched and it was really cool, I learned a lot from doing it because I'm used to going and like, you go in and someone says "we want you to sing on this" so you read the lyrics, get the mic, and they're like ok, go, and you do it and they're like ok do it again, you listen to it and you're like yeah, sounds good. The guy that was producing this record, and I've done this before, he was like "you need to sing it exactly the same way as
Shane." Not voice wise, but phrasing, so the way he said all the words I needed to say them in the exact same way and I didn't really get it until we listened to it back. It took forever to finally get it because, you pace words different even though you're both on beat, it's like the way you're saying stuff or putting it together where I breathe vs. where he breathes. So it was really cool that way, kind of dissecting how I sing and how someone else does, so we got it to where everything fit perfectly and we go and listen to it and it sounds so crazy. All of
the low in his voice was magnified by all the low parts of my voice but all the high parts of my voice sit over his so you can hear both parts exactly but because of the way that they're so in sync it sounds really clear, you can make out both people. I had never thought about
it, it makes perfect sense, I've made a bunch of records and have been on other peoples records and have never done that before, so I want to try something like that on our record. New Silverstein, I'm really impressed with it too, it sounds awesome. It's really heavy, a lot
more screaming than their last albums so I was like fucks yeah, that rules. It rules when you see a band that's at a certain level and they're just like no fuck it, I want to do this, you know? They don't play it safe.
K: I like that too, and it usually turns out for the best..
L: It pays off! I feel like that's what we did with Hail Destroyer, tons of people told were like "you can't release a record this heavy, the kids that were into your band before will not be into this band." We had people telling us that and we got really really nervous. But
the record came out and people were like oh, it's heavy, awesome, I like heavy bands! We were like pheeew! So yeah, that's how it is, stick to your guns!
K: Its been pretty successful.
L: I think it's going good, I like where we're at with this band right now, I feel like everything is really positive but it's not like, the band blew up, you know what I mean? I feel like we're working just as hard as we have been and we're getting into this mode where it's just
like, all of this work that we've been doing makes sense to the next step and then we work and it makes sense to the next step so I never feel like anything is unjustified but at the same time I don't feel out of place with where we are. I got here because...we're playing these sized rooms because we've toured this much on our own. Not to say that anyone else's situation is different, it's just for me personally I don't sit around and wonder if we're sellouts, no, I feel
awesome with what's happening.
K: Do you have any other guest appearances planned?
L: No...there's been kind of talk with the dudes from Alexis[onfire] are like oh we have this project that we want you to sing and I really want to bad. The reason why it makes it a big deal to me, and I haven't really said this to anyone, BUT when we got George to sing on
our first record he came in and they [Alexisonfire] were recording their third album at that point and had been touring forever, and this was our first record and we had not been touring, so my voice was not strong at all. George comes in and just crushes what I had done, like
just went in the booth and just crushed it to the point where the dudes in my band were like "we should just use George's vocals cause they sound awesome!" I was so bummed, I was like oh my god yeah you're voice is awesome dude. So, now that fact that those guys are psyched
on my voice is awesome, I feel like I've come such a long way to where I wish I could rerecord Birthing the Giant. So now to have that, a bunch of years later, to have those dudes say we really like your voice and we want you to sing along with George, it's awesome. Instead of George [laughs] like dominating my vocals, haha it was embarrassing, like he came in and was SO loud! I was trying to do these parts and sound really heavy and he was like "oh do you want me to do a vocal take? how 'bout I do ONE?" On the other hand I was losing my voice everyday! So yeah, I don't even care, I don't care if I like, have to go out of my way and pay money to find a studio to do it, it's just like, gotta do that!
K: How would you decide Cancer Bats sound?
L: I would say just like, punk, hardcore and metal all mixed together. Southern Hardcore is usually my easy go-to, because we do mix up a lot of stuff but it depends on who you're describing it to.
K: Do you think that the band having such diverse musical influences (such as Pantera and Led Zepplin) have helped shape your sound?
L: Yeah! I think us being all over the place and having people like Scott, our guitar player being more of a metal guy and listening to bands that I don't necessarily even like and then me being more into hardcore and punk and maybe even more metalcore than the rest of the dudes in the band, Mike being into Propaghandi more than anything else. All that, when we bring it together, it's like someone hears something different when we're writing and be like oh we should take this song and kinda push it this way. Or I'll be like "we should have a breaaak down!" So, I like the fact that it's not four guys, or three guys for the most part, who listen to the same thing. I think where we're at now, realizing that that's what's worked for our band, so we're just trying to push that even more to just be like, well, I really love Broken Social Scene so I'd like to take some of their ideas and put that in or I really like when this happens in like an M.I.A. track so I'm going to try to bring that in.
K: That's what sets you apart though.
L: I think thats where like, a lot of people like yourselves, who maybe don't listen to just hardcore, are like oh, I hear this other stuff that you you guys do and I think it's awesome. So, I always like that kinda aspect as well.
K: Has the success of Hail Destroyer changed things for you or the band in general?
L: Yeah, we're getting a lot more opportunities that we didn't have before so the fact that we're doing Taste of Chaos, we're doing bigger tours in the UK, bigger tours in Canada, we're going to be doing a bigger Australian tour. All of that stuff just makes us able to do this more, but it also makes it a little bit easier, like the fact that now we're not particularly struggling, like we have at least some money to make this a little bit more comfortable. I would say maybe even less that we're comfortable, because it's not like we have apartments, but it's more like, we don't have to worry about bills and food and stuff like that. It's just like ok we can just tour, we can be in this band, and now we can take some time off and write without having to tour the whole time. So it's like ok, we'll take three months off and we'll write a new record, that's what we're going to do this summer. Now that we've been able to make some money to do that we don't have to worry, for me personally, because I handle all of the business end of things so it's a lot of that kind of stress that's gone, which is good.
K: Because you're basically a "touring band", do you miss the road when you're not on it?
L: A ton! Because your whole life is like, that routine that you're used to and when we're not on tour our friends have a routine so beyond that first week of hanging out with everybody and doing all the stuff that you've missed everyone else gets back into the routine in their lives and we're kind of left hanging, we have band practice and that's it. That's why when we're home, if we are home and we have time off we just try to write as much as possible and still keep working as hard as we do. But not only do we miss touring [when we're not on the road] but I find that we just always end up hanging out with each other and keeping that going. We took a month off to start writing new stuff in January and by the end of that we were all just like "can't wait to be back on tour!" We had a 50 hour drive to start this tour in LA and we were like "pft! piece of cake! welcome back to the van! woo! let's sleep in the van, let's drive all night!" everyone was so
K: Do you guys take turns with different benches in the van or is it kind of a territorial "this is my bench!" kind of thing?
L: Everybody has kind of a rough area, like my bench is covered in stickers on the top and I kinda share with our merch guy [Juice]. At night it's normally like, that's who'll be sleeping in it and that's who'll be up front. Then Jay and Mikey share the middle bench and then there's kinda like Scotts area in the back, called scobe-city.
K: In your opinion, has Canada started feeling the effects of America's economic crisis?
L: I feel like everyone [in the world] is, I think it's something that's just happening to everyone. A lot of Canadian business has to do with American business so the dollar going bums so many people out so there's a lot of job insecurity. But, I think the thing is, especially right now, a lot of people are realizing that it's not as bad as they thought it was going to be. So now everyone is kind of easing out of it and realizing "okay, I do have a job, we're in March right now, I think I'm going to be fine." Everybody's kinda realizing that it wasn't as bad as they thought, or maybe it was as bad as they thought, but they're realizing that it's a lot more manageable. A lot of people are realizing that there was so much over spending that was happening and there was so much stuff that just could be managed better. So in a lot of cases it's like, business as usual but for people who were running a shady business or doing things really poorly now it's
like "oh, I gotta stop all this pointless waste and fire all these alcoholics!" You know what I mean? Like, turn back on all this stupidity, and that's everybody all across the board so I think it's like, it's bad in certain ways but it's also good in another. I mean, you see it everywhere, even in record labels, they're just cleaning house with their rosters.
K: More Canadian bands such as Alexisonfire and Comeback Kid have started gaining the recognition they deserve. Why do you think it's so hard for international bands to break into the American music scene?
L: I think because America already has enough bands that the kids don't really need to look elsewhere to find really good bands cause there are a ton of amazing bands that are from the US. So that's why you kind of have to like, force kids to get into it because, like, even our sound, there's tons of bands that sound like us that are playing, especially at our level, that are just coming up. So for a lot of kids it's like "oh, I don't really give a shit about this, my friends play in a band like this." I think that's the biggest thing, whereas if we go to England, Europe or anywhere else, there's not as many people so there's not as much stuff going on and I think they're used to looking at America and finding out about bands and looking at Canada and looking elsewhere.
K: What do you think about the metal/hardcore scene in the UK and how different is it touring there than the states?
L: I think it's awesome, we've been really embraced within that scene in England, a lot, by both metal kids and hardcore kids, which is awesome and I love touring over there. Especially because its so small so the longest drive you'll ever do is from London to Glasgow, which
is unheard of to even tour that, and that's 8 hours. So everything else is like 2-3 hours, although now, because we're known as this road dog band who will do whatever our tours now are getting booked really fucked. It's like, play in Brighton and then you play Ireland the next day and then you do three shows in Ireland and then you play Gloucester and we're just like "whooooa! those are like, 10 hours apart, we may not be able to." Then they're just like "what?! you guys said you could do anything!"
K: Who's been your all-time favorite band to tour with?
L: We have so many best friends as far as touring goes I can't really say just one. We literally become good friends with every band we tour with for the most part so I would say everybody that we've toured with! There's been maybe three bands that we haven't gotten along with or we didn't leave the tour being like "fucks yeah, we love you dudes!"
K: Who would you like to tour with that you haven't before?
L: I'd really like to tour with Mastodon, putting that out there now. I think that would be an actual tour we could do that people would actually be psyched over, especially in the US, I think people would be stoked. We've met them and they're good dudes so...let's do it Mastodon!
K: Do you have any pre-show preparations?
L: I stretch and warm up!
K: Have you started writing for the next album?
L: Yeah we're actually four songs in already, my only thing that I need to nail down is, Hail Destroyer kind had a theme about tour so I'm finding it hard to figure out what the new record is going to be all about before I can start really jumping in with lyrics for it because I don't want to write Hail Destroyer 2, but my life is still all about tour, so I'm trying to dig deeper and move beyond that.
K: Are there any plans for a new EP, etc?
L: Nah, we're gonna put out a new record sooner than later, that's the main plan. To have that out in early 2010, like January or February 2010 is our goal. Then tour a lot more on that and have two really strong records that are working because it's like, playing catch up with the whole industry side of things, we just got management and there's all this attention thats coming up so it's like we should just keep this momentum going for right now.
K: Finally, what are your plans for 2009?
L: Touring, taking the summer off to write the new record and then touring for the rest of the year. Tour the rest of our lives!