Liam Cormier (vocals), Scott Middelton (guitar), Mike Peters (drums) and Jaye R. Schwarzer (bass) are the Cancer Bats – Torontonian hardcore music-makers up for Best Rock Album of the Year at this year’s Juno Awards for their third studio release, Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones. With 2006’s Birthing the Giant and 2008’s Hail Destroyer as blueprints, the Cancer Bats are definitely at their heaviest on this latest LP. According to Liam Cormier, on the road in Michigan, the band is feeling appreciative of the hardworking team behind them that have helped pave the way toward this latest accolade.
Congratulations on your nomination. Have you had a chance to celebrate?
Thanks! We’re pretty excited and it’s very flattering, though it’s not really something where we’ll stop everything and throw a big party, you know? It feels good, for sure, but we’re really busy touring right now and are just going to keep on going.
It sounds like you’re on the road a lot.
We’re kind of on tour constantly. We’re in Flint, Michigan now. Last night we played Grand Rapids and it was awesome. I feel like we’re on a morale tour or something… visiting the working class. They’re so awesome. They love their metal here.
This is your second Juno nomination. What does this mean to the band?
We’re on the road and we play in front of tons of people and that’s our validation and our motivation, but it’s hard to explain that your band is doing well to your grandparents, for example. We can tell them we’re going to play Edgefest but they have no idea what Edgefest is. But if you say you’re nominated for a Juno, it gives them a context and they’re like, ‘Oh…okay!’ They understand what that means. It validates it for them.
There’s a considerable spread of sounds up for best rock album this year. Do you feel this nomination is also a nod toward your hardcore genre?
I do. It’s pretty great that they’re opening it up to take a look at bands like us. Canada’s always had a vibrant metal scene but it hasn’t always had this level of recognition. Bands like Alexisonfire and Billy Talent, there’s no way you can ignore them because they’re dominating the scene. They have to be acknowledged for what they’re doing.
It’s been said this album is closest to your live sound…
Yeah, we rehearsed the tracks enough that we could record them in one go, essentially. It was the whole band playing and me singing…it wasn’t like, the drummer off playing to some very mechanical click track. We wanted this to be all of us playing together.
What do you channel in order to instill so much ferocity into your music?
I think a lot of times it’s the song itself that dictates the mood and where we’re going. With this record, sonically it’s a lot heavier, but also lyrically it’s heavier. Having Jay step up the bass end of things means a dirtier sound and a darker tone. A lot of our lyrics deal with positive things, like rising above it all and overcoming a situation – but to do that, you start from a dark place.
What made you decide to include a cover of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage on this album?
That was just a fun thing we decided to tack on to the record. The recording of the album was going so well we ended up having extra time, so we thought we’d do Sabotage and release it as a 7-inch or something. But while we were doing it, we were doing video updates on the Internet for the interactive people and the response we got to it was just so phenomenal… we knew for sure it had to go on the album.
If you win your Juno, who’ll be on your list of thank you’s?
Distort Records gives us the confidence to put out whatever we want. The guy that runs things, Greg Below, is the guy that’s pushed our band since the start. We played him Hail Destroyer and he was like, ‘This is awesome and I don’t care if other people like it. I like it.’ He’s not interested in a pop hit or selling a million copies, he just genuinely cares about good music. His staff is great, too. And Jen Cymek at Listen Harder…she’s kind of come up like we have. This nomination is a testament to how hard everybody is working.
The 2011 Juno Awards will take place at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, on Sunday March 27 and will be broadcast by CTV. For more information on the Cancer Bats visit www.cancerbats.com or www.myspace.com/cancerbats.