His day job is fronting the Canadian punk band Cancer Bats but his passion is not only in music. We spent some time with Liam Cormier before a trip to Norway to play a festival to find out what it’s like balancing life on tour and riding motorbikes…
So where did you actually start with bikes and how did you get into them?
I learned how to ride dirt bikes when I was really young, but never had my own. I got into motorcycles through my girlfriend because she grew up riding. I think I had a month off (from touring) and it was probably the first time I had time to ride a motorcycle.
And how long ago was that?
I ended up doing my learners permit for three years because I was on tour so often. I started riding around 2009, not super short and I like it because it’s discovering something new. I grew up snowboarding, skateboarding and riding BMX bikes. The feeling I get from snowboarding is the same when I’m riding motorcycles, but I can do it anywhere, even on tour.
So what was your first bike?
I got a Suzuki LS650, which is the single cylinder 650. We call them ‘mom choppers’. They’re super light and super awesome, they’re great bikes to learn on. I destroyed mine. I rode it so hard and did massive trips, which isn’t really what it’s meant for. From there I thought, I’m never home, I don’t know how to work on bikes and I need to get a bike that works. Luckily I was in a position where I could buy a brand new Triumph. So I got a 2011 Scrambler, which was crazy, especially to be coming from a punk background and living in our van. To actually afford a motorcycle it was such a huge deal and I still have that bike.
What else have you had alongside the Scrambler?
I’ve got a two-stroke Kawasaki KDX220 trail bike. I crash it all the time, I feel that’s kind of the fun in trail riding, and you should bail at least a couple of times in a day. So now we’ve had the summer off and I’ve been going out like once or twice a week dirt biking. I also have a Honda XR80. I was trying to learn how to do wheelies and bought it on the East coast of Canada. I bought it from an 11-year-old who told me he’s selling it so that he can buy something bigger. I was like, ‘Tight. I’m 35, I’m buying it so I can learn to do wheelies in the back alley’. I’ve since destroyed that bike, it’s definitely seized, which I’ve heard is something common with them.
So you’ve got yourself your project bike?
Yeah, the XR and a Suzuki GM125 that I’m learning to clean-up. It’s been sat in a garage for about 4 years and it’s like troubleshooting; Clean the carb, that didn’t work. Change the fuel filter, okay sick it’s got it going…I’ve never wrenched at all, now I’m finally having time to earn my wrenching stripes. I’m inspired to work on this 125 after coming to the UK and seeing what Mutt Motorcycles are doing with 125s and the VCC girls. Everyone has these cool rat 125s. That scene doesn’t exist in Toronto at all. The lowest cc bike you’ll see is maybe a CB200. So I wanna make this dirty rat-bike.
Do you find it easy to ride with touring?
I try to make it fit. It makes everything more fun. Not like touring ever gets boring, but there are times when I think, “okay this (motorcycling) is something that’s completely different”. To let rip on your day off is sick. I when I meet someone who also rides it’s like “we’ll hook this up and go riding together”.
How do you usually get hold of bikes to ride on the road?
I’m playing a festival in Norway with Cancer Bats before coming back to the UK and Harley have kindly loaned me a Roadster. Usually I just hire them though. I got this beat-up Honda Shadow in Tenerife, the only reason I didn’t rent a better bike was because I couldn’t get an international driving licence in time. I have one now for the record.
What’s your favourite bike then?
I don’t know, I feel like I’m still so new to it so I’m really open to trying a lot of different bikes. As much as I love big touring and want to go on bigger trips, I’m still hesitant to get into some of the big enduro-style bikes. I like the feeling of it being sketchy or kinda dangerous, but I like riding smaller bikes. Maybe I just don’t see the same connection when I look at something huge. Even my KDX seems to be tall. I rode a Kawasaki KLR650 in Mexico and it was like riding this huge beast of a bike and you’re like, “how is this meant to do anything? This is crazy”. Then you’re on the top of a mountain and you’re like, “oh, this is the best”.
Do you feel there is more of a connection between bikes and music again with the DIY bikes and the underground music scene?
I feel it all crosses over and is connected. In the same way that I feel that Punk rock and skateboarding are linked. I think a lot of people who used to skate are still looking for that kind of feeling but are older and maybe a little bit less in shape than they were when they were 20.
You’ve also started a motorcycle inspired clothing company recently, how did that come about?
I started Treadwell Clothing about a year ago as a fun side project from the band. My girlfriend owns a motorcycle shop in Toronto called Town Moto and originally I just had it in her shop. I started selling it on tour with Bats and it's slowly grown from there into its own thing. It's been super fun to do and I've met a lot of really great people from the motorcycle community around the world.