Tommy, I'd certainly like to understand your position. What are some good examples of music you like where "drums and bass are the canvas?"I think it's more about the notes you don't play are more important than those you do. I respect my friend's position. He was the leader of a decent band in Seattle years ago when we both lived and played together there, and his opinion simply has to do with the drums not speaking over the music.
In the music I play, the drums and bass are the easel and canvas that the melodists paint their picture on (my quote). If either is wobbly, the artist struggles. If both are steady, the audience sees the picture being painted and doesn't really notice the easel and canvas. Yes, the drummer can solo. Yes, the bassist can too. But if they are doing their job, they don't distract from the bigger "picture" being painted, until it's their turn to speak up, if at all. (Note: the bass player and I do short solos in the outro of one song during a 4 hour set--if we do any.)
We had a bass player in my band for a short time who said, after accepting a job in our group, that he was a "lead bassist." It became pretty darn clear that he was a short timer the first time he played a lead lick during our guitarist's outro solo on "Sultans of Swing." All of us turned to him and mouthed, "what the f#ck?"
In any case, as others have pointed out, when I have a drummer behind me who's an excellent musician, I'm not likely to tell him to play less or play quieter: he already knows when to do that. It's the guys who play crappy that you want to turn down (or off) - like Andy did with Barney.