Each week, Essentials allows Canadian musicians to share the things that have helped get through through the pandemic, and why they still can’t live without them.
In 2004, Liam Cormier co-founded Cancer Bats, and as frontman, has led the Toronto band to international renown within the punk and metal worlds, racking up five Juno nominations along the way.
The new Cancer Bats release, You'll Never Break Us: Separations Session Vol. 2, follows up last year’s Vol. 1 in presenting new acoustic renditions of five of the band’s classic tracks.
They include a moody, groove-heavy arrangement of 2008’s Hail Destroyer, now titled Hail The Acoustic Destroyer, featuring a hauntingly beautiful guest vocal performance from Lindsay Schoolcraft, formerly of Cradle Of Filth. There’s also a country-tinged version of Bricks And Mortar with bassist Jaye Schwarzer picking up the banjo, as well as a gloomy southern rock-style version of Pneumonia Hawk featuring cult hero Toronto singer/songwriter Eamon McGrath on mandolin.
The EP is a further example of Cancer Bats not being afraid to experiment with their sound in order to keep things interesting. It’s something they’ve periodically done, most famously as their Black Sabbath alter ego Bat Sabbath, and on their well-received 2010 cover of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage.
As an added bonus, the band is donating all Bandcamp sales of Separation Session Vol. 2, along with a portion of shirt sales, to Water First NGO, an organization that helps to train interns in water purification in order to help their Indigenous communities have access to clean drinking water.
You'll Never Break Us: Separations Session Vol. 2 came out Sept. 14 via Bat Skull Records/New Damage Records.
Essential Song: Amyl and the Sniffers, Hertz (from Comfort To Me, 2021)
Amyl and the Sniffers are an amazing punk band from Melbourne, Australia, fronted by the electrifying force known as Amy Taylor. Musically, the band is ferocious ‘80s style punk hardcore, but lyrically they add their own twist with fun and empowering lyrics. Hertz is their newest single, a love song all about wanting to drive around in the country holding hands. I’ve had their discography on repeat since I first heard them back in 2018, and they’re even more dazzling live. They’re easily my favourite band on the planet, currently.
Essential Book: Yvon Chouinard, Let My People Go Surfing (Penguin Random House)
I don’t read a ton, and I’m usually looking for some good non-fiction when I do. When I’m not circle pitting with Cancer Bats I also run a clothing brand called Treadwell Clothing, and was recommended Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, the famed owner of outdoor brand Patagonia. The book is an autobiography where Yvon talks about his life, but very quickly gets into the business ethics and ethos of running his brand, and really what has led to his ultimate success. This book has become a huge influence on me and how I’ve tried to run my own clothing business. I really feel like it applies to any business in terms of wanting to actually add something into the world that you feel is needed and not just because we are following in the footsteps of capitalism. Highly recommend this to everyone.
Essential Podcast: Rich Roll (richroll.com)
Like Let My People Go Surfing, Rich Roll’s podcast really blew my mind wide open. He’s based in California and talks about health and wellness, sobriety and other topics with lots of interesting people from many walks of life. In an episode from August, Rich’s guest was Courtney Dauwalter, an ultra-marathon runner, and their conversation—specifically about her personal approach to metal stamina, training, and life in general—was incredible and truly life changing for me.
Essential Movie: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
This is one of those tricky questions because there’s just so much across all genres to choose from and really I’m here for all of it. So to try to narrow it down to a film that would really sum up what inspires me and that I go back to and watch countless times, I’d have to choose Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. The storytelling is amazing, the characters are all so interesting, the cast is mind-blowing, and to top it all off the soundtrack is great. When I think of really trying to make something special, this is what I reference in my mind.