AS I search around music in eager hope a great…
and enduring band will come along: Canvas Wall certainly offer plenty of wonderful music and promise. The group split their membership between Malta and the U.K. and have been together since 2008. Racking up a series of impressive singles; the boys have just released their stunning E.P., Mannekind. It is their strongest and most colourful release: one that should see them inch closer to the hallowed turf of the mainstream. I speak to Canvas Wall about the E.P. and their past; how they have progressed and what albums have meant most to each of them. Make sure you make the Canvas Wall boys part of your 2017 playlist.
Hi guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Simon: Hi Sam, we’re well, thanks. This week has been good. It’s the last week of what has been a bit of a break for us – after a busy ending to 2016. It’s also been an international week as Matteo (bass) heads back from Australia and Craig (drums) catches a few rays in the Dominican (Republic). Dean (guitar) and I have been fighting frostbite in London so we’re all looking forward to getting back to our music and warming things up for the year ahead.
For those new to your music, can you introduce yourself, please?
Dean: We’re an eclectic mix of many influences that create an energetic Indie-Pop-Rock sound. It’s vibrant, upbeat, positive and fun – we always have a great time playing live and love that part of what we do. We find our audiences quite varied so I think many different people take something away from our music.
The band formed back in 2008. How did you guys come together and were you all friends from way back?
Craig: Canvas Wall took a while to come to fruition with a fair amount of lineup changes in the beginning. The band you see now is, in fact, three childhood friends and Matteo – our new friend who feels like we’ve known him just as long! Dean, Simon and I were playing music together when we were fourteen growing up in Malta. We all went our separate ways when we were about eighteen, and later on, life brought us back together in London. We met Matteo last year mid-recording our latest release Mannekind – and he’s fit right in; bringing a solid sound on bass.
Your first single, Sooner or Later, gained widespread radio play. Was it quite surprising doing that well from your debut song?
Simon: Getting to that point was quite an uphill battle.
We were trying to put together our first album and hit some major hurdles – with the kind of people in the industry that nobody wants to encounter.
By the time Sooner or Later came out we were just happy we had something to show – the way it was received was all a bonus and it made the hardships worthwhile.
By 2011, you released Close to the Edge and its fantastic music video. What was that experience like and do you enjoy music videos in general?
Simon: It was great! When we first got to London, one of our relatives took us in under his wing and he helped us get on our feet. Carmel works in prop, set and model-making for the advertising industry so he called on a few friends who helped us shoot the Close to the Edge video. They were all really nice and we were really happy with the end product.
The band has been played on Maltese radio. What is the band connection to the country and have you ever played out there?
Craig: Malta is home for the majority of us. Dean, Simon and I are all half-Maltese and we all grew up there together. We have big families there and fly over often for a dose of home. Matteo shares the Mediterranean connection as he is from Rome. We’ve played in Malta quite a few times – in October last year we launched our new E.P. Mannekind at Funky Monkey with Jack’s Fusion, in fact. We’ve put on our own shows there before and have performed at the likes of The Beer Festival. We missed out on Bubble Festival this year because of timing but we’ll be back this year for Rock the South, which we’re excited for.
Based in London, it must be an exciting and inspiring city for a group to create. How influential is London to your work and how have the crowds reacted to your music?
Matteo: A lot of the songs are based on life experiences so London life does influence. The crowds are good: we always get them going and end up making new friends and fans along the way.
Mannekind is your new E.P. Songs like Storm and Chronic Agitator suggests anger and discontent. What were the events/themes that inspired the E.P.’s creation?
Simon: Storm is really about getting through the tough times which everyone experiences once in a while in a relationship and to not take them too seriously: “Don’t be scared of the storm, it’s just the weather”. Chronic Agitator is about a ‘haters’ online who likes to spend their time agitating other people: we’ve all seen it and sometimes it’s pretty funny to read.
The general theme of Mannekind is life colouring each of us differently. It’s all about how we start out the same (the white mannequin) but our experiences shape us; colour us into the unique individuals we all are.
Mannekind is all of us, mankind – with a tip of the hat at mannequin, as used in the artwork to show this.
Come and Get It is the E.P.’s current single and one of the biggest, most arena-ready songs the band have created. The video looked like it was especially fun to film. What was the shoot like and what has the general reception been like for the song?
Craig: Thanks! It was fun. It was a lot of waiting around under dust sheets – and we had a colourful mess to clear up at the end of the day because of all of the paint pigment we used. Come and Get It has gone down a treat. It’s a real catchy sing-along tune so we’ve had some great feedback.
Are you looking forward to future gigs? What dates have you got in the diary for 2017?
Dean: We’ll be performing at the closing party of the Independent Music Day weekend on the 25th Feb at the Crowndale Club. It’s gonna be a great weekend and we invite those reading to join us. Tickets and info here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tenth-electric-canvas-wall-the-primes-calamity-script-the-curious-incident-tickets-31029757841 .
We’re also planning a trip back to Italy at some point and we’ll pop back home to Malta for a show as well.
As we all look ahead: are there plans for new material or releases later in the year?
Simon: We will be releasing some more tracks from the new E.P.
Every band has that one member who is very cheeky or lazy, for instance. Are there any pranksters in the group or one that turns up late for rehearsals, perhaps?
Craig: No one turns up late but we’re all pranksters. We’ve known each other for a long time and constantly joke around. Dean probably takes the cake for being the craziest, I think!
What has been your favourite memory, each, from your time in Canvas Wall?
Matteo: Within my first week of playing bass for Canvas Wall I was shooting the music video for Come and Get It: straight into the deep end… fun!
Dean: Playing inside a soundproof Music Cube as part of Sennheiser’s Music Cube for Westfield (London)!
Craig: Touring Finland!
Travelling through music is awesome and Finland was full of great people and beautiful scenery. We came home – after making some great friends!
Simon: Having hundreds of people sing along to our song at the (Farsons) Beer Fest. in Malta!
If you guys each has to pick an album that means the most to you which would it be and why?
Craig: Incubus – Morning View. It’s a real time and a place for me and it has been a personal favourite since released – the sort of album you can put on and listen to the whole thing from start to finish (and they’re all great tracks).
Dean: Foo Fighters – There Is Nothing Left to Lose. (It is) the first album I ever bought and got me through my teenage troubles.
Matteo: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium – a ‘must-have’ for every music lover and bass players. Great melodies, great lyrics and great basslines.
Simon: Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf. High energy and (it) always gets me pumped
Are there any new artists, either locally or mainstream, you suggest we check out?
Craig: Spring King. Just saw them at Brixton – lots of energy, great set!
What advice would you provide any young songwriter coming through right now?
Dean: Keep writing, get involved – and keep writing!
Finally, and for being good sports, you can name any song (not yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.
Cage the Elephant – Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
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