Canailles Keep Doing Backflips

No matter how many members they currently have, Montreal's Canailles have always had a frantic energy to their music. The band's ability to mix folk, punk and Cajun influences into one of the best live shows in Canada has made them a hit nationally and around the world. Their latest album Backflips finally captured the true spirit of these amazing live shows for a record that truly pops. We caught up with Canaille's Erik Evans ahead of their show at the National Arts Center's Fourth Stage on February 1 to talk about their rotating cast and why their infectious energy can be dangerous. 

Ottawa Life: How has your band's size changed through the years and how do you feel each iteration has affected the music on record? 

Erik Evans: At first we were five when we started our band in a park. Then one of our friends started playing drums in the band, and by the time we released our first EP, our banjo player left for eight months to go to China. When he came back we had replaced him but didn't want to kick anyone out so we ended up with eight people. It's always been natural, and we had eight people for the last five or so years, and now we're nine and sometimes twelve, so it really depends on the show.

Does this spread of people make it easy to generate a good energy with your crowd at shows?

Since we're eight or nine on stage, if the crowd is too relaxed, we'll show them that we're having a lot of fun. We can have a party with nine people on the stage, so people will want to join that party and it affects the way they act.

Has this energy every gotten out of hand?

We've had some funny and not so funny experiences. We were playing once at this bar on the South Shore and people got so crazy that people started to grab a rack of lights above the dance floor, and it broke and almost fell on top of everyone, it was pretty dangerous. At another show in a park, it was raining, then someone tripped and broke their tooth.

Speaking of live, with all your frantic live shows, how did you want to capture this on your records and was Backflips  a step forward in this?

Well for the recording of Backflips we did it all live in one room, and that's what I wanted. I felt like the other albums never had the live energy. For Backflips the drums were in front of us, people were singing and we were recording it as if we were doing a show. There weren't too many overdubs, so it changed it enough to give the energy we bring in a show.

Was your producer Tonio Morin Vargas also an important part of this equation?

He was the one who wanted to do everything live and he was very involved in the process. He wasn't stubborn but he really wanted the album to be done that way, he did a great job. 

You've mentioned your previous record Ronds-points was too rushed, so how did you want to fix that?

We took a lot more time this time, because Ronds-points was a bit rushed. We had composed it, rehearsed it and recorded it in such a small amount of time. We decided to take a whole year with it, and we could've recorded it a year earlier. Some songs that were ready a year before had completely changed from composing to when they were finally recorded. It was a good idea to take our time with this one and we feel like we've put everything we have in it.

Backflips is almost a year old, so what are you up to next?

Well we just took a break for the last month, because we needed a winter break. We recorded the album from winter 2017 and then we did a CD launch and tour, so it's been never-ending. So we've just taken our break and we'll start back over the next few weeks. We don't have any plans yet for the future because we'll be touring this album for the next year.