It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.
The meme goes, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." I couldn't agree more, so when you name a song "Hail Destroyer" I am ready to listen.
Cancer Bats has taken a lot of the best parts of punk, metal and hardcore and managed to mix them into something that actually works. Basically, they are difference between knowing how to bake and just throwing eggs, flour, and strawberry jam in a bowl then setting it on fire. But, you know, with angry music.
Take "Road Sick," off the Toronto group's latest album Dead Set for Living, for example. Vocalist Liam Cormier mixes his usual wolverine mating call of a voice with an amazingly eloquent who-gives-a-shit verse delivery over a Dead Kennedys groove, and it marks an impressive evolution towards a more inclusive and deeper sound. Of course, you can still enjoy their more typical rage on stuff like "Old Blood," but I personally prefer it when hot anger turns to calculated vengeance, myself. I'm loving the new stuff, is what I'm trying to say.
But that name...
Cancer bats? What in the Shadow of the Bat-Man does that mean? Bats don't cause cancer, they cause rabies. I saw it in a movie once. Also a lesser known disease called histoplasmosis which doesn't transform St. Bernards into unstoppable murder machines, but can still kill your ass regardless.
Or maybe it's a dietary thing. Fruit Bats eat fruit, Vampire Bats drink blood, and Allen's Big-eared Bats eat oversized ears of guys named Allen. No that's stupid, you can't eat cancer. Even if they did they'd be called Tumor Bats, and no one would go see that band because it sounds really, really sad.
The only thing to do was get slinky ol' Cormier on the Internet box and send him poorly worded demands laced with childish threats until he divulged the meaning of the name.
"I came up with the name just goofing off at work back in 2004," he replied. "I was putting together diseases and animals and Cancer Bats seemed like the best combo. When I came up with the name I always pictured giant white bats that would bite people and give them cancer. Like a total B-horror movie type plot. I thought it was fitting for the name of a hardcore band."
Well shoot my fez and call me Doctor, that is the first time in two years of this column that someone actually managed to both admit they were just throwing words together for a name without a deeper meaning, and still made it sound badass in the end.
That would in fact be an awesome horror movie that anyone would pay to see, When's the last time we had a good, bat-based horror outing? I don't think there's ever been a quality bat horror flick. Make it happen, Hollywood.
Clearly Cormier has a kind of pulp fiction genius that needs exploring and exploiting. Luckily, there is a perfect opportunity waiting for him. See, if there are Cancer Bats, then there must be a Cancer Batman. Christopher Nolan is done with the Dark Knight, and the future of the Caped Crusader is somewhat up in the air after the upcoming Justice League movie.
"Why not Cancer Batman," I pitched to Cormier because he has money and fame and I do not.
"Cancer Batman would have to be [a] villain and his plans would always be foiled by the handsome Kemo CowBoy," replied Cormier. "He would ride a giant horse made of radiation and have a gun that shot white blood cells. Cancer Batman would always be shaking his fist at him while running away in retreat."
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Seriously, Hollywood, give the skinny angry guy a shot. No matter what it would be better than Suckerpunch.
Cancer Bats (n): 1. A very good, shouty band 2. An upcoming horror film starring Samuel L. Jackson. 3. Cormier: "I never really thought about cancer vampires. I guess normal vampire death rules would apply. But more importantly think about how much it would suck to be immortal and then stuck with cancer...FOREVER!" Me: "That's depressing as fuck, Liam."
Cancer Bats plays Saturday, October 27 at House of Blues with GWAR, DevilDriver, and Legacy of Disorder.