Cancer Bats: Liam Cormier’s track-by-track guide to Psychic Jailbreak

Frontman Liam Cormier breaks down every song on Cancer Bats’ seventh album, Psychic Jailbreak.

Cancer Bats: Liam Cormier’s track-by-track guide to Psychic Jailbreak
Liam Cormier

From ideas as grand as time and space, to the joyful simplicity of drinking beer and skateboarding, the new Cancer Bats album Psychic Jailbreak is a hell of a ride. Here, frontman Liam Cormier breaks down the Canadian hardcore punk heroes’ new record – their first since the departure of guitarist Scott Middleton.


“This song started off with Jaye [R. Schwarzer, bass] and I talking about great bands we used to love when we were in high school in the ’90s. Rage Against The Machine, Snapcase, Earth Crisis, Helmet, Deftones all these bands that had these great groovy riffs and beats. So Jaye had these riffs that he called ‘High School Groove’, and from there I wanted to capture that same spirit of those bands being conscious and political. I was thinking about the state of the planet and I had been reading a lot about the idea of Interconnectedness and reading a lot about Land Defenders and a lot of the sentiments that they were saying, and I put those ideas into this song.”

2The Hoof

“Over the past two years I got heavily back into skateboarding. In Halifax and all around Nova Scotia there’s tons of amazing skate parks and a real great community of people involved in the sport: people who have been skating for years, new folks that are just getting into it. I found the whole thing so inspiring and made me think of when I first got into skateboarding in the ’90s and how it led to me meeting great people and learning about punk rock, metal, hip-hop and jazz from the soundtracks of skateboard videos. I realised that skateboarding had really saved my life in so many ways.”

3Lonely Bong

“This was one of the first songs that we wrote for the new album and really what raised the bar for all the songs to come. Jaye had these really fun riffs lined up, Mikey [Peters]’s drums were ripping, and then I decided to really have fun with the lyrics. At a time when we weren’t allowed to tour I was thinking about what is in all of us that has to get out and travel and want to play all of these shows. A rooster doesn’t know why it wants to crow same with why us road dogs want to run across the open roads…”

4Friday Night

“This song is called Friday Night because Jaye wrote it one Friday night – top-to-bottom, the whole song in one shot, including the solo. We were all blown away and I instantly was singing ideas for the chorus, and by Sunday I had written all the lyrics and Mikey had already figured out his drums. It’s maybe one of the fastest songs written in Cancer Bats history. Lyrically I was inspired with all of the protests that were happening around the world and seeing all of these people standing up for what they believed in. This rad punk song I felt really captured the spirit of what was happening.”

5Hammering On

“We love stoner metal and always want to write real heavy bangers on every album. A real stripped-down Sabbath style tune is actually a lot trickier than it seems, because it’s the whole ‘less is more’. Holding back and not playing during the verse so that the chorus can really soar is one of the biggest lessons we took from diving into the Sabbath catalogue with our cover band Bat Sabbath. What I really love about this song is having our good friend Brooklyn Doran sing as a duet on it. I really wanted to have another voice singing the whole song – not just having a different vocal in the chorus or the bridge, but to really be featured as part of the song and bring the whole thing to another level. This is one of my favourite songs on the album and sounds nothing like we’ve done to date with Cancer Bats.”


“This is a really fun song. Lyrically it’s about having a falling-out with someone, the classic ‘people growing apart’ idea, but I didn’t want to just be screwing and complaining about someone, I wanted to have more fun with the rhymed verses and more of a laid-back approach. Again, to make the screamed bits stand out more as to not be screaming the whole time. This was also a real early song that we wrote, where Jaye had the intro and his parts written on bass and then slowly was adding guitars on top of those grooves. Mikey came through with some really creative drum part. This like Lonely Bong were songs that really made us have to step up everything else we were working on.”

7Shadow Of Mercury

“As much as we love trying different music styles as a band, we still want to write hardcore songs that are just heavy start to finish. This song is like our Let It Pour or Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake, where we really lean into all the hardcore vibes that we love. Lyrically I wanted to take a bit of a different direction and this song is all about Tarot and Astrology; for those who know, it’s a look at how all of these signs inform our decisions and give us perspective on how to move forward, but also works if all you want to do is mosh!”

8Keep On Breathin

“This is a fun Cancer Bats party stoner song. Fun riffs and beats that makes you want to jump up and down and spill beer on your friends. I wanted to write this song lyrically like a follow-up to PMA Till I’m DOA: a fun, posi kind of vibe to get everyone stoked and to know they’re not alone in this world, that were all going through it and waking up every day swinging. The real interesting part of this song is the grunge outro we get into. Normally when we’re in the studio there isn’t a lot of room for experimenting and jamming out ideas. With this song we had some ideas that were unfinished and we just decided to see where we could take them. My vocals drift off pretty early and what you’re hearing is Jaye and Mikey just grooving out and going for it, in that way that two musicians who have been playing together for over a decade can just lock in and come up with something really cool.”

9Pressure Mind

“This song pops from the start with a chorus that really drives home what we’re talking about. What I love about this song is how Jaye follows up the punky chorus with this really spacious and melodic verse. This is something we’ve tried before as a band, but I feel like Jaye really nailed this idea. I wanted to follow that same vibe with a more melodic and sung verse. Being inspired by Jaye to really push myself as well. The bridge takes that whole idea one step further, where normally we would have a heavy, hectic bridge but instead we double-down and have a more melodic, almost sing-along kind of part, and then Jaye plays the best solo on the whole album and we slam back into the chorus. This song really sums up the new chapter of Cancer Bats in so many ways.”

10Rollin Threes

“So for those who don’t know, Threes is a dice game that we often would play on tour. You have five dice and you’re trying to get the lowest score. It’s really fun and often is being played in back stages of many shows we’ve all been at. A lot of this song is about moments in life where I’ve gambled on myself, or where this band itself has been a real gamble that’s paid off – especially where the three of us are right now.”

11Psychic Jailbreak

“Lots of times we write songs with the idea of how it will translate live. When I first heard these riffs of Jaye’s I knew that it needed a real headbanger of a beat: just something you could pump your fist to and make you want to throw your over-priced beer in the air. Mikey took this to the next level making this beat slam to the point that it’s beyond human control as to whether you head bang or not. The concept of a Psychic Jailbreak is a massive shift in the way people think. In this case it’s the idea of time and how it’s not moving in the straight line we would have ourselves think. Great minds like Einstein have written about how the idea of time can’t exist from what we know about the universe and the principles in which it operates. It’s time we shift our minds to see the full scope of time and space!”

Psychic Jailbreak is released on April 15 via Bat Skull Records in partnership with New Damage Records. Catch Cancer Bats at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival.

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