Cancer Bats originated in May 2004 with singer Liam Cormier and guitarist Scott Middleton, former member of Toronto heavy metal band At the Mercy of Inspiration. The two wanted to form a project that combined their favorite parts of bands like Refused, Black Flag, Led Zeppelin and Down, among others. The lineup was rounded out with the addition of Andrew McCracken on bass and Joel Bath on drums. The four-piece wasted no time writing and recording songs for a self-released demo that saw light in January 2005. The story is that the band considered the names Cancer Bats and Pneumonia Hawk after deciding that a combination of illness and animal name would give the best band name, Soon after, Mike Peters replaced Bath on the drums and the band began playing throughout Southern Ontario, playing live shows with bands like Billy Talent, Every Time I Die, NORA, Alexisonfire, Haste the Day, It Dies Today, Bane, Comeback Kid, Buried Inside, Attack in Black, Misery Signals, This Is Hell, Rise Against, The Bronx and Gallows.
On June 2, 2006, the band took part in a short interview and then played a free CD release show at The Edge 102.1 (CFNY-FM) and then on the 6th Birthing the Giant was released into major record stores. The album includes guest vocals by George Pettit of Alexisonfire. On June 7, 2006 they hosted All Things Rock, a show on MTV Canada, and had their own video played at the end of the show.
Bass player Andrew McCracken left to concentrate on his design company Doublenaut. His spot was filled in by Jason Bailey (Former member of bands Figure Four and Shattered Realm) for most of 2007 after which he was replaced by Jaye R. Schwarzer, who is formerly of Left Behind, Hope To Die, Minesweeper, Kover, and currently a Reefer Cathedral member alongside Cancer Bats guitarist Scott Middleton.
The band released their second studio album called Hail Destroyer on April 22, 2008. The album features guest vocals by Wade MacNeil of Alexisonfire and Black Lungs, Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and Benjamin Kowalewicz of Billy Talent. The release was held at the Mod Club in downtown Toronto with Liam Cormier singing for the band, along with drumming with Black Lungs.
On May 17, 2008, Cancer Bats were put on the cover of Kerrang!, which gave their album Hail Destroyer a KKKKK review (highest possible) as well as a 5k Live review on their headlining UK tour. Cancer Bats were also nominated for 2008 Album of the Year for the 2008 Kerrang! awards.
Cancer Bats have performed at the Download Festival in 2007, Groezrock 2007 and at both Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2007 and 2008. In the summer of 2008, the band did an extensive summer and autumn tour with Bullet for My Valentine, Black Tide and Bleeding Through, as part of the No Fear music tour across North America. Also in 2008 they were a support act for Welsh band Funeral for a Friend during their tour of Britain and northern Europe.
March 2009, they went on tour at the annual Taste of Chaos festival along with Thursday, Four Year Strong, Pierce the Veil and Bring Me the Horizon. They kept a daily blog on their website calling Calgary, AB their best show in six months.
Prior to the March 2009 tour Cancer Bats were also featured in Bring Me the Horizon's 2008 video "Chelsea Smile" where they appear in the "Kitchen Scene" of the video playing cards.
Cancer Bats returned to the UK in 2009, even after Swedish melodic metal band In Flames canceled their April 2009 concerts, on which Cancer Bats were slated to be main support.
In August 2009 the Cancer Bats played a slot at the premier showing of the Sonisphere festival and at the inaugural Hevy Music Festival on 1 August 2009.
Liam Cormier lent his vocals to sing on fellow Canadian band Silverstein's fourth studio album A Shipwreck in the Sand on a track called "Vices". The band is also featured on Gallows' latest album Grey Britain.
In 2009 the Cancer Bats took part in a documentary series called City Sonic. The series which featured 20 Toronto artists had the band reflecting on their time at the Adrift Clubhouse.
In October and November 2009, the band supported Billy Talent on their UK and European tour. During the tour they performed several new songs from the upcoming album such as Darkness and Scared to Death
The band recently finished recording their third studio album, due for release April 12, 2010. The new album is titled Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones. and the band have talked Rock Sound through it track by track.
They recently shot a music video for their cover of the Beastie Boys song Sabotage that was recorded during the sessions for the upcoming album.
The band is now heading for an American tour supporting Anti-Flag in January/February 2010. After that they are joining fellow Canadians Billy Talent, Alexisonfire and the American band Against Me! on a tour across Canada during March. In September they will Open for Bring Me the Horizon on their UK tour along with Tek One.