Interview: Liam Cormier of AxeWound and Cancer Bats
Wed, 02 Jan 2013 09:24:23
Bullet for My Valentine Photos
Liam Cormier continues rising through the ranks as one of heavy music's most visceral young voices.
With Cancer Bats, he ravaged the senses with 2012's standout Dead Set on Living. It's a murderous metallic exorcism of the highest order, no doubt. Meanwhile, he also joined forces with Bullet for My Valentine's Matt Tuck, Rise to Remain's Joe Copcutt, and Pitchshifter's Jason Bowld for the 21st century metal powerhouse Axewound. Their debut Vultures took flight on fumes of classic thrash spun with vibrantly violent vocals capable of inciting World War III. It's a monster of a record and was one of last year's best.
In this exclusive interview, Liam Cormier talks to ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino about Vultures, Dead Set on Living, and so much more.
What's your take on Vultures as a whole?
It was pretty spontaneous in terms of how we went about writing everything. For Matt and me, it was like kicking off all of the boxes we wanted to in terms of themes for what a metal record should be to us. It was like, "Okay, we've got to have a song about Satan and total rippers about being pissed off". I wanted to have some political stuff in there too. It ran the gamut for both of us.
How did the writing differ from Cancer Bats?
The big difference with Cancer Bats is the four of us all write together. In this case, it was crazy to have all of the music finished. I didn't have any input on the songs structure-wise, which is cool for me. All I had to do was write lyrics, and I could focus on that. A lot of the songs dictated the mood for what I was going to write about. With Cancer Bats, I almost have too much time to think about it. I couldn't overthink any of this. It was like, "You want to be in this band? Write some lyrics and we'll record!"
What's the story behind "Church of Nothing"?
It's got some anti-religious themes that I don't really touch on in Cancer Bats. It's something I definitely think about and have an opinion on. Again, we were having fun with it too. Matt throws in some lines like, "We're all dead in the eyes of the Lord". It's our takes on Christianity and organized religion in general. It doesn't really apply to us. At the same time, it's a classic metal topic.
What's your favorite song on the record?
There are a lot that are pretty fun! I really love "Blood Money and Lies". That song has a lot of cool parts, especially the really melodic chorus is different for me. I liked how Matt would push me out of my comfort zone, make me try some new ideas, and push my voice in different ways. I like that song because it has the hardcore bridge that's more like my style, but it's got the really melodic chorus. I also pushed Matt to do some of the screaming parts and show how gnarly of a voice he has developed from Bullet For My Valentine. I think that's really cool.
Where were you coming from lyrically?
That was more the political side of things. I've always loved how political bands like Sepultura or Napalm Death were. As a punk rock kid, I found that really appealing. I wanted to write something like that style.
Which song is about Satan?
[Laughs] There are a couple! "Exorchrist" is one for sure. That was an idea I had by just trying to think of something hella evil. The opposite of an exorcism—getting a demon out—would be getting all of the good out and letting the demon in. The song's about how that's something you want. You're excited about it. It's a spin on things.
Is telling stories an important part of the process?
I really want to try and express a clear idea. The singers I got really into were storytellers. That's a big side of punk and rock 'n' roll. I always liked that storytelling aspect. Any song that resonates is one where you can get that sense. If you listen to a Bruce Springsteen song, you can totally tell where he's talking about in New Jersey and what's going on. I always think that kind of storytelling is really cool.
If you were to compare Vultures to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
The genre I can think of would be comedic action horror. It'd be something brutal and gory. It'd be like a horror version of Mad Max and The Terminator. "Post-Apocalyptic Party" is like a movie in and of itself. It's totally Mad Max! For "Collide", you'd have to have some kind of poltergeist involved.
What artists shaped you?
One of the big bands for all of us in Cancer Bats is Black Sabbath. We've gone back and listened to a ton of Sabbath. It's been huge for us in the last year. We got into covering them, and we've gotten into uncovering why Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin are still the heaviest kind of band. I find that really interesting. Even like old Metallica…why is "For Whom the Bell Tolls" such a rad song still?
What's next for Cancer Bats?
We've been touring like crazy with Cancer Bats. We haven't thought about what's next much. The big thing with this album was how much we realized we wanted to be Cancer Bats and didn't want to change up from anything else. We tried to make the best Cancer Bats record. All of us were really pumped with how it turned out. From here on out, I guess it'll be the same idea. It ain't broke so we'll try to keep it going [Laughs].
Where did the title Dead Set on Living come from?
That came from a friend of ours. While we were writing the record, he ended up going into the hospital. It was a huge thing for all of us because he's one of our best friends. While we were working on the album, we were visiting him every single day. When he got out, that was something he said to all of us. He was like, "That's it. I'm getting my life together, focusing on what's important. I'm dead set on living". That became huge, and it ended up resonating with all of us. I ended up writing that song about my friend and all of the conversations we had in and out of the hospital. The song really set the tone for the record. We shaped "RATS", "The Void", and "Old Blood" around that event.
How did the lyrics differ?
Where I didn't spend a lot of time on AxeWound, I spent a ton of time writing the lyrics for Dead Set on Living and really trying to have everything figured out in advance, working it, reworking it, and making sure all the lyrics fit. The biggest thing was having all of the lyrics finished vocally where I was at a point where I was able to sing the album as if we'd been touring. I wanted to get my voice to that point and have it be that strong. Through all of that repetition, I got to sit down and really think about every word and how they were working together. I liked that I got to do that.
Have you heard AxeWound?