RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW MANCHESTER BAND CASTLES IN CANOPY
Hiya folks, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today. Grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Tom: My uncle gave me his old classical guitar when I was 7. I started classical guitar lessons and learned music theory and all that good stuff quite early on. Then I remember hearing Sam’s Town by The Killers for the first time and at that moment I realised it was indie rock & roll for me.
Alice: My stepdad was a punk in the 70s and 80s but had a broad music taste and (to this day) expanding record collection so a lot of my introduction to music was because of him. I remember him listening to this 7” signed single he had of Muscle Museum by Muse when I was about 7 or 8 and I’d never heard music like it. From there he kept introducing me to more and more bands and I was obsessed with music ever since! Mum, if you’re reading this, it was your Jagged Little Pill cassette on repeat in the car….
Ash: There was not a first song for me as such. I grew up with the Eagles being played daily on the school run.
My youngest memory of music is that iconic sound from such an incredible band. The richness and quality of the songs, the poetic lyrics. My little imagination would be on fire as these amazing songs played in the car. Definitely, my writing and inspiration is birthed from this amazing band. I always want to strive for that same authenticity with my writing. So hopefully something I write one day can trigger some little persons imagination in the most meaningful way.
Simon: I couldn’t pinpoint one specific song but the works of the Beatles, Jamiroquai and having a mother who was a singer propelled me towards musical enlightenment.
Introduce us to all the members and your musical history.
I’m Ash lead singer/ songwriter. Been writing songs since I was a kid and I think I just always understood the structures and compositions of songs and was always fascinated by the language of music. Just made sense to me. No matter what art I’ve dabbled with over the years I’ve never stopped writing songs. Now I’m blessed to have created this band from nothing and have these 3 incredible musicians who can bring these songs to life and some. It’s a beautiful process.
I’m Alice the drummer! I’ve been in the band for less than a year and it’s been a great fit. From the first audition, we just clicked when we started jamming and as a result it feels we’ve been able to launch straight into gigs and releasing “Peculiar” quite quickly. I’ve also been the drummer for Salford based post punk band Red Light Effect, which introduced me to the Manchester music scene. I’ve been playing drums since I was 11 and have always played in bands performing at local youth clubs after school and on weekends. Since my first drum lesson in school I’ve never not loved playing and making music.
I’m Tom. I began learning classical guitar at 7, then I got my first electric at 10 I think. My parents are big into indie rock so I was hearing that music around a lot growing up. I’ve been in bands on and off since I was 12, and I also played jazz guitar in the big band at school. Then I’ve written a lot of electronica with influences from ambient and downtempo music, Boards of Canada, BT et al. I’ve released some tunes with Resist in Retrospect and now Castles in Canopy.
I’m Simon. For 25 years I have been tickling the ivories with my stick fingers, from boyhood to manhood.
You can probably tell our Simon is a man of few words but incredible talent.
What was life like for you before music?
Before music we were lost, with no sense of self, wandering aimlessly through time.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
I think we’ve all got that one song or album that means something special to us and it could be that first song or a song that took your music tastes on a totally different path later on in life. For Tom, it’s got to be Sam’s Town, the title track of that glorious album. Alice, Muscle Museum as mentioned (or maybe my teen emo rebirth via I’m Not Okay by My Chem… the choice is yours).
Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?
We’re just getting started really, so I guess we are sitting in the waiting room? Or in the bar? We’ve got high hopes for the project though and are just excited to see where it takes us! It feels like we’re at a point now where the band is formed how it should be and it’s exciting to be at the start of this new chapter.
What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?
Let’s get deep! The best piece of advice I (Alice) received from promotors and working with other bands is to treat gigging like a profession no matter how big or how local you are. Turn up on time, turn up prepared and with the right kit, introduce yourself, be professional, be respectful and kind. If you’re on a roster with 4 other bands, take the time to listen to them rather than disappearing after your own set.
However, A guitarist once told Tom to feed the cable through the strap then plug it into the guitar, so that if you step on the cable while playing, it won’t yank it out of the jack socket. Now THIS tip has saved me at quite a few gigs.
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career, what would it be?
If we could get Jacob Collier to do a jazz reharm of Peculiar I think that would be pretty sick. Failing that, we’ll settle for getting some fresh ears to enjoy our sound.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not, why not?
We’ve heard one about how human activity has drastically changed weather patterns and destroyed ecosystems, I think there might be something to that. Aside from that, one of Alice’s favourite songs is the Blink-182 track ‘Aliens Exist’ – make of that what you will.
What was the worst experience on stage?
This award has to go to Simon – having a nosebleed everywhere onto very sticky keys. But he powered through because that’s showbiz, baby!
What makes you stand out as a band?
Basically, we have this legend some call Simon who can play bass, and keys and sing all at once. That’s something you don’t see every day! The keys bring a really unique sound to the band that I think is difficult to genreize (if that’s a word?). Individually, everyone is so talented, and we combine this and communicate ideas in the most unselfish way. There’s no ego in the Canopy. We’re just happy to do what we do and leave rehearsals buzzing!
I hear you have new music. What can you tell us about it?
This is a hopeful track about making the most of every opportunity and living in the moment. Peculiar reminds me to leave the past behind and keep moving forward. Musically it’s high energy and a favourite of ours to play live. It really is a stand out song on the set, so a no brainer that this should be our next single.
What was the recording process like?
It all came together in one day at Airtight Studios. We started by recording a full-band scratch-track then we each played our individual parts through over the scratch-track until we got the perfect take. I remember our producer Danny said “let’s make this one very good, very nice” and that really set the day off with a positive energy. Danny was on fire with the editing and refining our sounds; I think we found some particularly nice keyboard sounds on this one. Alex Copp then worked his magic with the mix and master. We had been playing this song for a while so it was a lot of fun to hear it finally come to life on the record!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tune?
There are a couple of guitar riffs in this song that require some rapid position shifts which are a little tricky to play cleanly. Other than that, it was our first song recorded together with the new line up and it’s been a super easy, fun and respectful process. More than anything, we’re just excited to release it!
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
It’s always difficult to avoid picking apart the minute details of everything we create, there’s always things we could have done differently but the overall feeling is very positive with this one.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
For something totally different, Tom would like to recommend this album: Peter Talisman – Lord of the Harvest, it’s a concept album about harvesting a field of wheat, written by Sam Organ from the sick math-jazz-rock band Physics House Band and one of my favourite wonky producers Slugabed. The sound is an unreal blend of acoustic guitar, distorted drum machines, and otherworldly synths. Definitely check it out!