Canvas (band)

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Origin San Francisco, California
Genres Alternative rock
Years active 1993–2006
Labels Desert Tide Records
Members Joseph King
Julian Mandrake
Scott Thomas
Brad Byram
Past members Ben Rada
Tabber Millard
Geoff Piper
Jean-Paul Labrosse
Bret Mobley

Canvas is an American alternative rock band from San Francisco, California (and later Austin, Texas) whose active period was from 1993 to 2005. For most of their history the lineup has been Joseph King (guitar, lead vocals), Julian Mandrake (lead guitar), Ben Rada (rhythm guitar), Brad Byram (bass, backing vocals), and Scott Thomas (drums). The band was extremely popular and influential on the Texas music scene, and the members of the band have all gone on to join or form other successful bands.


The roots of Canvas began in San Francisco in 1993 with singer-songwriter Joseph King and drummer Jean-Paul "JP" Labrosse, who were both members of Stanford Talisman.[1] They decided to form a band, which they called Driftwood, and recruited bassist Bret Mohley, who Joseph knew through the local music scene, and guitarist Ben Rada who Joseph had met by chance at a coffee shop. The band recorded their first demos under the name Labrosse King, but by 1996 they had renamed themselves Canvas. They released a self-titled EP in 1998. Mohley was eventually replaced by Geoff Piper.

In 1999, Canvas played the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas and became so enamored with the city that they decided to move there. They added established Austin musicians Julian Mandrake (formerly of Oynxx and Brother Love) on lead guitar and Scott Thomas (formerly of Dexter Freebish) on drums. Brad Byram (formerly of Ugly Tribe and Zen Merchants) soon replaced Geoff Piper on bass, rounding out the band with King on vocals and Rada on rhythm guitar. Immediately after recruiting the new members, the band began work on their first full-length album Invocation, which they recorded and produced in their garage. While in California, the band had a light rock sound which drew comparisons to Matchbox Twenty, Live and Counting Crows. When the band moved to Texas, they quickly made friends with bands such as Johnny Goudie, Spoonfed Tribe and Blue October and found a new harder-edged sound influenced by their musical peers.

Invocation's two singles, "In These Walls" and "Sirens," were added into regular rotation at Austin's KLBJ-FM and climbed to No. 1 most requested and top 5 phones within a week, and stayed at the top for two months. The station also included a live version of Canvas's song "Lessons From Underneath the Kachina Woman's Skirt" as the opening track of their 2002 Local Licks Live compilation.

The group built a large cult following due to their raucous concerts, which often included fire dancing, a practice they had to abandon in 2003 after clubs imposed tighter restrictions following The Station nightclub fire.

After the recording of their 2004 album Four Days Awake rhythm guitarist Ben Rada left the band, and Joseph King assumed rhythm guitar duties as well as lead vocals on the Four Days Awake tour. During the 2005 tour supporting their third album Painting the Roses drummer Tabber Millard filled in for Scott Thomas, and the album's producer, Johnny Goudie, took over keyboard duties, a role previously filled by Rada. Johnny Goudie also served as opening act on the tour, with Canvas as his backing band.

Canvas played an emotional three-hour farewell show at Antone's in Austin on October 1, 2005. During the show former Canvas rhythm guitarist Ben Rada joined the band for the song "In these Walls" and Johnny Goudie joined the band to sing "Intertwined," a song that he co-wrote with the band.[2]

The band had played well over five hundred concerts all across the United States prior going on hiatus. When asked if the band were breaking up, Byram said that the band were like an old married couple who have decided to take separate vacations.[3]


In early 2006 Joseph King and Scott Thomas along with former Billy Idol guitarist Mark Younger-Smith formed the band Murder My Sweet, which was well received at the South by Southwest Festival in Spring 2006. King has since left the project and moved to New York where he is pursuing a solo career and fronting the bands Deadbeat Darling and Mad Crush.

After his break from Canvas in the spring of 2004, Ben Rada split time between audio engineering gigs for Austin clubs and traveling the states with Austin local legend Bob Schneider. He now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Julian Mandrake has a new band, Mother's Anthem, and was also a touring guitarist for Blue October in 2006 and 2007 and took over as lead guitarist from 2010 to 2012.

Brad Byram is currently playing with Austin's The Wartime Social, Blondes Make Better Victims and Johnny Goudie and the Little Champions.

Scott Thomas drums for Johnny Goudie and the Little Champions and Murder My Sweet. After Canvas he moved to Dallas and became a lawyer, but still plays drums.

Tabber Millard drummed for SouthFM until their 2007 split, and has also been a member of VAST, Blondes Make Better Victims, Bekah Kelso, and Alpha Rev. He is currently a member of Anuhea's backing band.

Geoff Piper is a member of the band Pinpoint Mercy and also fronts the Geoff Piper Band.


Canvas reunited for one show on January 28, 2006 at Momo's Club in Austin, Texas. A second reunion show for June 2006 was planned, but was cancelled due to Julian Mandrake's obligations to Blue October's Foiled tour.

On September 29, 2007 The Wartime Social, Mother's Anthem, Johnny Goudie and the Little Champions and Deadbeat Darling all played a show at Momo's Club. At the conclusion of Deadbeat Darling's set, all the members of Canvas, including Ben Rada and Tabber Millard took the stage and played "In these Walls", "All About You" and "Four Days Awake." On April 12, 2013 Canvas reunited and played a full concert at the historic Scoot Inn in Austin, Texas. Later in 2013 the band reunited at the new Antone's location in Austin to play a Christmas concert on December 20 with Vallejo and Podunk. The band announced another reunion show to take place August 21, 2014. In August 2018 Canvas announced another reunion concert to take place October 27, 2018 with SouthFM and A+ Machines. In an interview on KLBJ-FM, Brad Bryam insisted the band never said they were breaking up, that they have merely been on hiatus. He joked that their periodic reunion shows have been referred to as their "annual last show ever."


Touring Members[edit]

  • Tabber Millard – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
  • Johnny Goudie - Keyboard, Percussion, Backing Vocals




  1. ^ Liao, Joann (November 4, 1997). "Avoiding the real world "Canvas" hopes to make music a career". The Stanford Daily. 
  2. ^ Felderhoff, Rachel and Cohen, David (October 4, 2005). "Canvas paints the last time?". University Star. 
  3. ^ Felderhoff, Rachel (October 4, 2005). "After three releases, Canvas takes a break". University Star. 

External links[edit]

Official sites