Canvas Wall are a fresh take on a blend of genres, from blistering stadium rock to head bopping indie pop they manage to create a colourful interweaving and textured sound, layering spine tingling melodies over a banging vacuum packed rhythm section. Their songs sing of soul searching visions fuelled by a passion for life. Never before has there been a need for such a musical tapestry until Canvas Wall stepped forward and created one.
Canvas Wall is a four-headed band. The band was formed in 2008 by Simon Dounis, Craig Rogerson, Nathan Bryans and Alvin Ho. Simon tells us how the band got together: Craig and I used to be mates from Malta since we had formed our first band at the age of 13. We flew over to London about 5 years ago to pursue our careers in a vast and buzzing music scene. We started up Canvas Wall, placed ads online and start trying out bass players and guitarists. It took us a while to find the best people that would complement and complete our vision of what Canvas Wall should be and after a couple of months we met Nathan, and shortly after we got Alvin onboard. Craig continues to explain where the name Canvas Wall comes from. Simon and I spent the first year that we lived in London in a make shift room at the top of my uncle’s art studio. We used his left over canvas to make walls. A few brainstorms later and Canvas Wall stuck!
Every member had his own way of getting into music when they were kids.
Craig: One of my most vivid memories of school was when I was 13 and my mate Dean saw on the notice board that the school was to start offering drum lessons. We thought we’d give it a go and I was immediately hooked. Dean introduced me to Simon shortly after and that saw the three of us form our first band. We had so much fun! Let’s just say it’s pleasantly snowballed from there.
Alvin: The first music I remember really being into was Michael Jackson… I had Thriller, Bad and Dangerous playing constantly on my cassette walkman! Afterwards it evolved more towards classic rock. Slash was one of the main reasons I picked up a guitar at the age of 11. I played my first gig when I was 13 with some of the older kids in high school and everything just escalated from there on in.
Simon: I was involved in musical theatre from a young age. I started learning guitar at 11 and started my first band when I was 13. I also spent some time in covers bands.
Nathan: I started playing drums at school. I loved it, It was so cool! I had just started getting into heavy metal and decided to take music as a subject. My older brothers had a band called Raw Steel and needed a bass player so i decided to take lessons in Bass to learn. After a year my Bass teacher managed to teach me two things on the bass: The C-major Scale and how to hate my bass. It was only when I started playing with my brothers from the age of 14 that I really fell in love with Bass. I think my foundations in drumming gave me a good understanding of rhythm. Raw steel fizzled out towards my late teens and i became a musical mercenary jumping in and out of many bands and forming my own projects until finding this bunch of talented and likeminded souls and joined ranks with Canvas Wall.
The different influences from all band members come together to form the band’s sounds. Nathan talks about the sound of Canvas Wall. Canvas Wall’s sound is a reflection of the diverse influences of the band. Collectively and individually we are all inspired by many different genres of music, but we also share lots in common. I grew up on a strict diet of hard rock and metal from my early teens, listening to the likes of Metallica, Tool and Soundgarden, which set me off as a bass player appreciating the technical sides to music. I later started to discover more soulful genres often starting to find groove-laden music creeping its way into my CD collection, with the likes of Jameroquai inspiring my playing. All of the songs are collaborated from a glimmer of inspiration or a small idea that may have sprung from an individual, but collectively we build them into full songs that naturally see us combine all of our styles effortlessly, yet with a perfectionist eye (or ear) for detail. I think this is what gives Canvas Wall the tight melodic sound that people associate with us.
It’s sort of family-like, says Alvin when he talks about the band when they are not singing. Even if we’re not always in the same place at the same time, we are always talking. We socialise as much as our time allows but we are always in contact, whether it be at rehearsals, by group emails, or phone calls.
Fans are everything for artists and nowadays there are numerous ways to interact with them. Craig likes to get involved and chat with fans and says this: Fans really are everything! The times we are in with the amount of technology available allows us to be more closely connected to fans then ever. We use a variety of social platforms and we also tried crowd funding our debut album. It worked a treat and it was truly humbling to see so many people take an interest in supporting what we are doing. Nothing beats making new friends at gigs and I always enjoy chatting to people and making new connections at our shows. Canvas Wall is not only active in the United Kingdom. They have great following in Craig and Simon their home country, Malta and are being playing all over Europe. Simon tells us a little more: We also have quite a strong following in Malta, where we recently played at a beer festival to a couple of thousand people in the summer of 2012. We had various radio appearances and press while we there in light of our album launch. A couple of years back we also completed a sponsored mini-tour in Finland where we were driven round the country in a smelly bus doing gigs and had a great time. Our tracks have also been played on radio stations in France, Germany, Belgium and Austria, and we are planting the seeds to go and play some shows in Norway and Germany. So it’s definitely something we want to do and are working on.In the summer of 2012 they released their debut album “Thinking Out Loud”. Nathan shares the experiences from the production progress: Two words that spring to mind are ‘financial’ and ‘commitment’. Although we set out to record the album on a budget, we wanted the best possible results. It spanned over a two-year period as we all had to hold down our jobs to finance it while encountering an incredible amount of ups and downs. We managed to pull on a lot of favours, scratch a lot of backs, cross palms with a lot of gold but we have managed to create something that we are immensely proud of. Now we have the hard part… getting it out there and selling it. These are tough times for the music industry, but we have a huge amount of faith in what we do and hope it shines through. Alvin tells us how they come up with new songs: In most cases the music comes first before lyrics. We’ll get together and jam on riffs or ideas that anyone brings to the table, or sometimes we’ll find cool melodies and things impromptu in the moment. Then we’ll start to structure everything in to a song. Simon generally writes all of the lyrics and once that’s done, we’ll go back to the music and make any small changes that are necessary to compliment the vocals. Some artists change their sound over the year, Canvas Wall tries to keep evolving, but are holding on to their original sound, as Simon tells us: We have gotten tighter as a band and in our songwriting we always try to do something a bit different to the previous track so the sound is constantly evolving, yet we still hold on to our roots and influences which come through on every track. Simon, who writes the songs most of the time, gives us some idea what the lyrics mean: The lyrics of the songs are quite reflective of my mood at the time, a lot of them are about frustration and the pursuit of doing what you want to do and pushing yourself. Artists and bands are gigging almost all year long, trying to get their name out and build a fan base. Some of those experiences are unique. Craig recalls their “best on stage” experience: It’s a close call between a show we did a while back at the Islington O2Academy and our recent visit to Malta to perform at the Beer Festival. Big crowds singing along, cheering for more, connecting with so many people, that’s a feeling you can’t buy and those are the moments I love! Nathan explains the what the differences and similarities between recording and performing are: Recording is a process to encapsulate what we all love to do as musicians, which is to perform. Hearing your own songs played back in a recording is one of the most fulfilling things you can do as a musician, when performing or playing you get lost in the moment, yet when you start to record your music you can have a musical out of body experience, so to speak, you can sit back and hear it from the outside in.
Other than the album nothing has been released yet, states Alvin. But there is plenty in the Canvas Wall pipeline that we’re very excited about! There may be some new material being added to our live set lists very soon. The future looks bright for the boys of Canvas Wall. Simon informs us about it: We have just singed a sponsorship deal with an up and coming clothes brand and we are at a stage where we need a team of people around us to help us spread the word about Canvas Wall. That is something we are working on at the moment while continuing to play live shows in and out of London, writing new music and enjoying ourselves along the way. Craig gives away where the band would love to play one day too: Red Rocks in Colorado! It’s a beautiful venue, which I can’t wait to visit. I love travelling with music and look forward performing at more great places around the world.