MUSIC FEATURE: Cancer Bats – Tonight There’s Gonna Be A Jailbreak

Photo Credit: Sid Tang

Despite what the band name might suggest, the scrappy Canadian underdogs known as Cancer Bats actually have more in common with a snake. Now, before this seems like a cheap shot on a much beloved hardcore veterans allow us to explain… Cancer Bats have shed their previous skin on every release, since their imperious debut Birthing the Giant more than sixteen years ago. With their seventh album Psychic Jailbreak written and recorded, we caught up with frontman Liam Cormier to discuss their bright future on the back of a couple of turbulent years.

Over the course of the band’s eighteen-year career so far, there have been very few comings and goings when it comes to members. The foursome has been plying their wares together all over the world since 2007, appearing to be one of the most tightly knit outfits in the scene. However, as time went by circumstances changed, which led to guitarist and founding member Scott Middleton stepping away from the band to spend more time at home with his family and turn his attention to his production work.

Despite the fact that long-standing bass player Jaye Schwarzer is a guitarist originally by trade, writing and recording all of the guitars for the band’s new album, it has since developed that he will not be taking over six-string duties going forward. Instead, the band have recruited punk-rock royalty in the form of Stephen Harrison (formerly of The Chariot and currently of Fever 333) as a full-time member. Cancer Bats have a known history of touring extensively with The Chariot and this made everything easier. “This made sense. We wanted someone who was part of our immediate Cancer Bats family,” Liam explains. “Steph has a totally chilled out vibe and is a known road-dog, so he fits in really well and he’s someone we all get on with like a brother.”

With that being said, it’s not unlike Cancer Bats to stretch themselves outside of their comfort zone in order to expand their musical horizons. A perfect example of this is the stripped-back reworking of the band’s classic Hail Destroyer with Lindsay Schoolcraft, who people may well know from her time with English extreme metallers Cradle of Filth, as well as her solo releases and guest appearances with metal acts like Motionless in White. When questioned on how this odd coupling came about, Liam elaborates that it isn’t actually as far out there as you may think. “Lindsay and I go back years and years. She is actually from a small town just outside of Toronto, so we used to hang out back in the day.” Another face that has become familiar to Cancer Bats fans over the past few months has been that of Nick Sherman. The guitarist was brought into the fold whilst the band were working on their restructured, stripped-back extended plays and then joined the band on their recent Canadian run. Liam has now confirmed, however, that he will not be staying on as a full-time touring member of Cancer Bats. “Sadly, Nick isn’t going to be full time. We invited him to play those shows as he had learned all of the songs in order to get the stripped-back versions down and we had a blast working with him, but he has kids and a job and it would have been too hard for him to balance it.”

The promotion of Psychic Jailbreak has been the polar opposite to that of their last full-length outing The Spark That Moves. Wherein there was no promotion whatsoever, with the band releasing the album as a surprise with no prior warning to fans or the press alike. “On the last album we managed to get an entire album recorded and released within the space of six weeks,” Liam explains. “I did a bunch of sneaky interviews before we released the last album, but it was nothing like this and I’m pumped that the vibe is high for this one.” Seven albums in and this four-piece from Canada are still managing to reach people all over the world, continuing to create music at the very top of them game.

The cold, hard truth is that Cancer Bats have yet to drop a poor album, something that they take great pride in and that Liam is all too aware of. Liam elaborates: “With Scott leaving, understandably there were a lot of question marks hanging over us. We needed to make sure that this one smoked.” And with this album they have no concerns. Psychic Jailbreak is the album that Cancer Bats needed to make in 2022.

Within the thirty seconds of Radiate the band show that they haven’t missed a beat. Cancer Bats are clearly feeling revitalised and ready to strut their stuff. The groove is undeniable, the vocals clear and direct and the confidence feeling as high as ever, with Liam spitting the lyrics with the same kind of clarity he always has, harking back to the Birthing The Giant and Hail Destroyer-era of their career. And with that, you get to the very essence of the Psychic Jailbreak; yes, things are different now, but the core of the group remains the same and their mission statement remains. Create infectious, southern-tinged hardcore music, add a dash of doom, a pinch of sludge and a LOT of hardcore DIY attitude and you have a solid Cancer Bats record.

Stay tuned for the album review.

Written by: Richard Webb 

Cancer Bats‘ new album Psychic Jailbreak is out now via Bat Skull Records/New Damage Records, available to stream or purchase HERE

See Cancer Bats live at the following dates this year:

April 2022

Sat 16th – REGINA, SK – The Exchange^
Sun 17th – SASKATOON, SK – Amigos^
Mon 18th – GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB – Better Than Fred’s^
Wed 20th – KELOWNA, BC – Curling Club Lounge
Thu 21st – VANCOUVER, BC – Rickshaw Theatre*
Fri 22nd – VANCOUVER, BC – Rickshaw Theatre* 
Sat 23rd – VICTORIA, BC – Capital Ballroom* 
Sun 24th – WHISTLER, BC – Garfinkel’s* 
Tue 26th – NELSON, BC – The Royal* SOLD OUT
Wed 27th – FERNIE, BC – Northern Bar & Stage* 
Thu 28th – RED DEER, AB – Bo’s Bar* 
Fri 29th – EDMONTON, AB – Starlite Room* SOLD OUT
Sat 30th – CALGARY, AB – Dickens* SOLD OUT

May 2022

Sun 1st – CALGARY, AB – Dickens*
Mon 16th – ST. CATHARINES, ON – The Warehouse Concert Hall %
Tue 17th – GUELPH, ON – Onyx %
Wed 18th – PETERBOROUGH, ON – Red Dog %
Thu 19th – SUDBURY, ON – Towne House Tavern %
Fri 20th – SUDBURY, ON – Towne House Tavern %
Sat 21st – TIMMINS, ON – Victory Tavern %
Sun 22nd – MONTREAL, QC – Pouzza Fest

^ w/ Comeback Kid and A Wilhelm Scream
* w/ Comeback Kid and Misery Signals
~ w/Vagina Witchcraft
% w/ The Anti-Queens

You can also see the band at Slam Dunk Festival in June 2022. 

Tags : Cancer Bats
Richard Webb
A Kentish lad at the wrong end of his twenties. I'm a journalist that loves anything grizzly and gruesome whether it's in music, film or art. My guitar and vinyl collections are amongst my prize possessions and my wardrobe is predominantly black.