2008.09.30 – CANVAS SOLARIS (interview)

Canvas Solaris is an instrumental prog metal band from USA. Their musiac is very hard to classification, but really interesting. Check out our short interview and enjoy it.

Canvas Solaris is not a well known band in Poland. We know that The Atomized Dream is the fourth album in your discography. How has your music evolved over the last couple of years? How does this change look from your perspective?

I think the band has evolved in a number of ways, but most notably through the addition of our three new members, all of whom bring to the table a host of different and complimentary sensibilities. Our music has become more experimental and more varied, but that really started with our second album. I think you can expect the band to continue to evolve and change its sound, adding new elements and, possibly, subtracting old ones. From my perspective, we’re making some of our best and most original music.

Ben Simpkins was replaced with three people. Chris Rushing, Gael Pirlot and Donnie Smith joined the lineup. The most interestig thing about this change is, first of all the fact that there is a full time keyboard player on board and, secondly the number of people involved.

Chris and Donnie joined immediately after Ben’s departure. They are both old friends and were, really, the only imaginable replacements. Gael came several months later through Chris. Having a full-time keyboardist has really allowed our music to venture down new avenues of sound and texture. We’ve always employed synthesizers, but it’s a wonderful luxury to have an actual keyboardist in the band. I think our new music will attempt to push that aspect

Third and forth album was recorded for Sensory label. Why this change? What was the reason behind the decision to change the label?

Well, we were interested from the outset in working with Ken Golden and Sensory. Two of our favorite bands, Spiral Architect and Gordian Knot, are affiliated with the label, which only made it more attractive. Ken has a very special vision, and he was really in line with our mode of thinking. But let me be perfectly clear about something else: Tribunal was a fantastic label, and we are forever indebted to the label for their openness and generosity. Matt Rudzinski is an amazing guy, and he and I are still close friends. Ultimately, we just wanted a change in landscape, if you will, and Sensory offered us a different sort of avenue.

Your music is definitely very complex and multilayered. Is it difficult to play it live?

It’s not particularly hard to play, though it does require some degree of rehearsal. That we only rehearse about every 6 weeks says something about the amount of work needed to play these pieces competently. Really, it’s a matter of concentration; live, our music doesn’t allow for the mind to wander! I’ve certainly been guilty of spacing-out and missing one or two notes! But, overall, there are no real difficulties posed by our music.

In metal archives there’s a mention of a lead singer in Canvas Solaris. Have you ever recorded any tracks with him? Don’t you think of a full time a lead singer?

Well, we had a singer pre-Spatial/Design, when we were playing death metal. We parted ways with our singer in early 2002, right as we were beginning to write songs like ‘Exstatik Parataxis’ and ‘Camera Obscura.’ There are 9 demo tracks from 2000 and 2001 that have vocals. However, since we first became an instrumental band, we’ve never thought twice about our decision. I would never, ever want to have a singer now. Being instrumental allows us so much freedom, a freedom that we always found muted by a vocalist. Vocals inevitably become the focal point, and we don’t need to have our sound defined by one thing. Our music, at this point, is fairly democratic in the sense that everyone is contributing pretty equally. I’m so thrilled with the new music that we’re writing at the moment. This band is really beginning to come into its own, I think.

It’s been a a while since The Atomized Dream has hit the market. How do people perceive this album?

It’s been received very well lately. When it first came out, I didn’t see any reviews and did only a few interviews. But lately, thanks to magazines like yours, things have really picked up. I expected people to be taken aback—perhaps in a bad way—by the very different approach taken on this album, but our listeners’ ears have proven quite flexible. In fact, much to my puzzlement, some reviews have complained about a lack of difference! How absurd! Ultimately what matters is what we, the band, think of the music. But it’s always encouraging when others enjoy and appreciate your efforts.

Why did you decide to play instrumental music?

As I mentioned earlier, by the end of 2001, we were seeking a freer, more open kind of sound. We found that we were censoring ourselves just to write for a particular style of vocal. Eventually, we realized that we couldn’t continue down that path; we simply would have burned out on playing music. So, we decided to part ways with our vocalist and begin work on new music. That resulted in the music on ‘Spatial/Design’ and a few of the songs on ‘Sublimation.’

What are the bands that have and had the greatest impact on your music?

Well, we all individually listen to a lot of different music. But in terms of what has impacted us collectively: Death, Kraftwerk, King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Carcass, Skinny Puppy, Goblin, Enslaved, Miles Davis, Dead Can Dance, early Dark Tranquillity, etc.

Covers of your previous albums were more abstract. The artwork included on is full of details and it seems that it fits your music better. How important is cover artwork for you?

For me, cover art is absolutely crucial. I have always associated the way a cover looks with the way the corresponding music sounds. So, naturally, I want there to be a similar connection between our music and our art. I’d like to think that our albums are comprehensive packages, where song titles, artwork, and music are wrapped up in a powerful synergy, and where one element makes the others even stronger.

As for the cover of your latest album, what’s your interpretation of it?

I don’t really have an interpretation of it, per se. I respond to it very strongly, however. To me it evoked the sort of wintry and surreal landcape that is summoned by, say, Bjork’s Vespertine album. To me, the music on Atomized is so different for us, so it seemed reasonable that we should approach the cover art differently, too. I think it’s a gorgeous piece of work, and likewise I think that it makes the music even more powerful. I hope to work with the artist, Mars-1, again in the near future. He does amazing work.

Do you play in any other bands apart from Canvas Solaris?

I do not. Honestly, I don’t like to divy up my ideas between projects. I would rather focus all of my energy on Canvas Solaris, and since our music allows for so many differnt sounds, it really makes sense to play in this band solely. I recently recorded drum tracks for Chris’ other band, The Burden of Existence, however, because I was working more in a session capacity.

What do your concerts look like? Do you use any animations, images or any other stage tricks?

The only stage prop that we use is a wooden model ground sloth that holds cue cards (and thus ‘speaks’ for us!). We don’t talk onstage, largely because we like things to be totally instrumental. We’re not a particularly exciting band, visually, so this adds a little something to the stage. Really, though, it’s just 5 guys playing songs from the albums. Hopefully, it entertains people enough!

Will the promotion of the album include any concert tours and is there any chance that Canvas Solaris will play in Europe?

At this point, I can’t see the possibility of any European shows. We can hardly manage to play together in the states! The band is spread out across 3 different cities, which makes the logistics of rehearsal and gigging rather difficult. Beyond that, three of us are married and we all have full-time jobs, so life obligations and viccissitudes also get in the way of live work. We have played several shows lately, though, including two shows with Behold…the Arctopus and Dysrhythmia. We also recently played ProgDay, which is America’s longest-running progressive music festival. We would absolutely love to play Europe, but the chances right now are slim.

Please write a few words to Polish fans.

Thank you so much for your support and for listening to our music. It means a tremendous deal to us that you would take the time to get into the music of Canvas Solaris. Thank you, to, for taking the time to craft such wonderful questions! All the best!

Piotr Michalski/Piotr Spyra

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres email nie zostanie opublikowany. Pola, których wypełnienie jest wymagane, są oznaczone symbolem *