UK hardcore heroes Canvas have returned! Fifteen years after their split and many tours with some huge bands including Refused, Iron Monkey and Converge, the boys are back and are looking for trouble. Before their practice for their reunion show at Ritual festival in Leeds, I spoke to frontman John Sutcliffe about the reformation, Ritual Festival, their previous tours and records as well as what the future holds for the band.
Jack: Hey, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you?
John Sutcliffe (Vocals): I’m okay thanks. I’m at Canvas practice, waiting for them other jokers to get here…
Jack: So you’ve reformed. Was Ritual Festival the main reason for reforming?
John: Yeah I would say so. It just goes to show if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It also helps if people say “yes”! Which they did. So here we are. Ready to mosh.
Jack: What are you most looking forward to about Ritual?
John: [Laughs] Good question. It’s actually going to be lovely to play these songs again, and it’s really nice having different people involved in the process. I can’t wait to watch some old friends lose there shit over these jams. I also like All Pigs Must Die and Conjurer lots.
Jack: Ritual is a mixed bill. How do you feel about playing with bands of other genres?
John: I love music. It’s not mixed enough. How many hip hop or jazz or r&b or electronic groups are playing? What is the ratio of girls in the bands to boys? How ethnically diverse will it be? Will everyone be wearing black T-shirts? I could go full spectrum on this… But yeah metal and hardcore makes up about 0.01% of what music I’m into. Is Bjork headlining?
Jack: When you reformed a lot of people were really excited, while this announcement has also led to new people discovering your music. How does this make you feel?
John: Totally groovy. I’m interested in what the younguns must make of it as it has a 90s recording sound to it when you listen back. The songs sound sweet now we have practised the fuck out of them. Hold on to your pants.
Jack: Your first gig was in December 1996. How do you look back at that gig?
John: Woweeeeee research as fuck. Was it with Strife at the 1 in 12!? I remember being in awe of that band and wanted us to do the line-up justice. I think Unborn played too… And they were my local heroes. Who wouldn’t be impressed by a vegan Slayer band? I think I may have pooped a bit.
Jack: Do you have fond memories of supporting Iron Monkey?
John: Iron Monkey took us to a whole new adventure land of “how heavy do you wanna go?” Well, Mr Morrow, how much heavy have you got? That band was a massive influence, even in terms of our guitar rigs and where we recorded. I wanted to be in that band x 1000000.
Jack: You’ve supported some amazing bands including Refused, Converge, Earth Crisis, Arkangel and Battery. What was the best tour or show you performed?
John: I think when we toured with Thirty Seconds and Autumn Year to be honest. We were at our peak, and with the British bands it was all fun and party. The American and Swedes took themselves far too seriously, had rock star egos, and most of the time chose to ignore us. I remember after playing a string of dates with Earth Crisis, one of the Guitarists saw us in a cafe near the venue and asked if we were coming to the show! (Because we must have looked like fans) Karl told him “yeah we are in the band that have been supporting you for the last five days!” Derp.
Jack: How has hardcore music changed since Canvas first started?
John: A lot. It had a swoopy fringe for a long time. It got really diluted. But there has always been a consistent amount of decent bands doing good things (if you look in the right places).
Jack: What bands influenced Canvas?
John: Squarepusher, Iron Monkey, Black Flag, Brutal Truth, Pink Floyd, The Smiths, Kiss it Goodbye, Deadguy.
Jack: What’s your favourite album/EP that you’ve released?
John: Lost in Rock. Its like an old warm cardigan.
Jack: Your self-titled album turned 19 this year. Do you have fond memories of recording it?
John: [Laughs]. Carl Stipetic at In a City (Bradford) recorded it. Let’s just say, he was completely insane. It was too long ago to remember the details…
Jack: Is there anything you’d change about it?
John: I dunno. A lot of dudes have this one pegged as their favourite so I wouldn’t want to polish their turds [Laughs] Nah, it’s cool, let’s keep it as it is.
Jack: The song ‘Womb Plague’ seems to be a fan favourite. Why do you think Womb Plague has struck a chord with fans?
John: Because it’s about being pro choice and they respect women? Let’s hope so. And for the other people who like it… They can drag their knuckles around to it in a math-core kinda way. It was our first “out-there” tune I guess…
Jack: In an interview with Terrorizer, you said there are plans for a Lost in Rock reissue. Has there been any update about this?
John: No one can find the original masters at the minute so probably not. Yikes. I reckon sheep will knock up some bootlegs and sell them outside Ritual.
Jack: What does the future hold for Canvas?
John: We are looking to take Vennart to court for using our triangle logo but we may hold it off until he gets a UK number 1 hit record and then rinse him for all the money one can get. We also might play another gig.
Jack: Are you in any other bands outside of Canvas? If so what are they and what is coming up for that band?
John: Paul does a bunch. Gets Worse, Narayana, Anus death monkey wolf (might be). I do some too, Natterers, Kings, Amplifighters, Humanfly, and probably other projects that are unnamed… So much stuff coming up that it would take some time to go through so I’d suggest just following the bands’ Twitter/ Facebook pages for updates and links to the songs.
Jack: Finally, what is your favourite album?
John: Bitches brew.