‘It’s called hardcore for a reason’

Cancer Bats drummer Mike Peters talks about his love for hardcore punk and its recent popularization

Drummer Mike Peters says when he and his band members were younger, they didn’t have agents and used to have to book their local community centre to play shows.
Drummer Mike Peters says when he and his band members were younger, they didn’t have agents and used to have to book their local community centre to play shows.
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Cancer Bats’ latest album Dead Set on Living brings back the familiar southern hardcore rock and roll punk sound that their fans have grown to love.
Cancer Bats’ latest album Dead Set on Living brings back the familiar southern hardcore rock and roll punk sound that their fans have grown to love.
Photo: 

After releasing four full lengths and achieving international success, hardcore band Cancer Bats are clearly Dead Set On Living.

Drummer Mike Peters said he and the rest of the Cancer Bats have visited Kingston at least 10 times. This time, the band is playing The Mansion, and they’re bringing along new tunes from their 2012 album, Dead Set On Living, which revitalizes their hardcore southern-style back to the local scene.

For their latest record, Cancer Bats played covers of their favourite bands as a way to change their sound.

On select shows across Ontario and Quebec, Cancer Bats renamed themselves Bat Sabbath, playing Black Sabbath songs with other tribute acts like London metal group Baptized in Blood, who played under the name Baptized in Bleach to tribute Nirvana.

Peters said this idea formed overseas when they played a surprise cover set at an English music festival in 2011. “We did this festival in England called Sonisphere, and we ended up being asked if we wanted to do a cover set to close up the night” Peters said. “We decided to do a Black Sabbath cover set.”

Peters said the band likes to surprise their audience, telling me one example of when the Cancer Bats performed for a pleasantly surprised audience that thought they were going to see the Foo Fighters.

“Nobody knew what they were going to see, and we played in one of the smaller festival tents which held 5000 people,” he said.

After a show in Spain that went sour, Peters said the band promoted a last minute free show in Barcelona, filling the venue two nights in a row.

“Three hundred people showed up and we could only like bring 150 people in, but it was a really cool thing,” Peters said. “It turned a really shitty day into a pretty good day.” Peters said events like those reflect what separates hardcore and punk from other genres.

To prove how these two genres distinguish themselves from others, he referenced his experiences in the local music scene growing up, where it was up to the band and their friends to find venues.

“With hardcore and punk, there weren’t promoters putting on their shows 15 years ago, he said. “It used to be the people in the bands that had to book the local community centre.”

Peters admits it’s still difficult to publicize his band, along with other hardcore bands due to their dark imagery and ferocious music.

Thankfully, Peters also says that hardcore is integrating into the mainstream, thanks to fans that have kept the genre thriving. “People who started out in punk 15 years ago are older and realize this is a real genre they can put in magazines.”

Cancer Bats play the Mansion on Tuesday at 10 p.m.

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