You don’t forget Cancer Bats gigs in a hurry. Even when your bruises eventually fade from being gleefully bashed about in the venue-wide sea of swinging limbs and bouncing bodies their shows never fail to spark, the image of frontman Liam Cormier grinning manically as he charges recklessly around the stage stays seared into your brain cells. Well, what brain cells you might have left after an hour in the company of their lean, mean, sledgehammer heavy live show.
It’s no accident that the Toronto thrashers are regarded as some of the fiercest live acts going – since forming eleven years ago, there have been few harder-touring bands out there. When NME last caught up with them, jumping in the van with them for their UK tour around thunderous 2012 album ‘Dead Set On Living’, the four-piece were on the back of a 12-month stint on the road that had seen them travel 153,463 miles, playing in 28 different countries across 221 shows to an estimated 130,500 people – a distance roughly two thirds of the way to the moon.
“We’ve been doing this for a while now. Kinda run out of excuses not to be at least sorta good,” laughs Cormier backstage at Leeds Festival. They’re in town to bring the sludge-punk ruckus of their latest album, ‘Searching For Zero’, to Braham Park, and despite having spent the last year on a similarly gruelling schedule of show after show, town after town, are looking remarkably fresh. Cormier bounces around and limbers up backstage, freaking out that his set clashes with Kendrick Lamar’s on the Main Stage. Guitarist Scott Middleton meanwhile talks excitedly to other bands and backstage dwellers about his beloved Arsenal – tomorrow, he’s squeezing into his plans a quick detour to Newcastle to watch them play before they take to Reading. When they finally bound out around 8pm on the Lock Up Stage, there’s no signs of tiredness – only fire, intensity and riffs. Lots and lots of riffs.
We cornered Liam to hear about what the physical toll of life in Cancer Bats, the carnage they witness on a nightly basis and why it means so much to them that their shows are inclusive spaces…