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Godspeed You! Black Emperor on Wikipedia
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed You Black Emperor! - London Nov 20003.jpgGodspeed You! Black Emperor performing live in London, England in November 2000
Background information
Also known asGodspeed You Black Emperor!, GY!BE, God's Pee
OriginMontreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Post-rock
  • experimental rock[1]
  • drone
  • dark ambient
Years active1994–2003, 2010–present
LabelsConstellation, Kranky
Associated actsA Silver Mt. Zion, Set Fire to Flames, Fly Pan Am, HṚṢṬA, Esmerine, Hiss Tracts
  • Efrim Menuck
  • Mauro Pezzente
  • Mike Moya
  • Sophie Trudeau
  • Thierry Amar
  • David Bryant
  • Karl Lemieux
  • Aidan Girt
  • Tim Herzog
Past members
  • John Littlefair
  • Thea Pratt
  • Bruce Cawdron
  • Norsola Johnson
  • Roger Tellier-Craig
  • Grayson Walker
  • James Chau
  • Peter Harry Hill
  • Fluffy Erskine

Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a Canadian experimental music collective which originated in Montreal, Quebec in 1994. The group releases recordings through Constellation, an independent record label also located in Montreal. After the release of their debut album in 1997, the group toured regularly from 1998 to 2002. In 2003, the band announced an indefinite hiatus in order for members to pursue other musical interests. In the intervening period, the group was occasionally rumored to have broken up,[2][3] but finally reconvened for a tour which began in late 2010. In October 2012, they released their fourth album, 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, followed in March 2015 by their fifth album, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress.

The band has gained a dedicated cult following and remain very influential in the post-rock genre.[4][5][6][7] In September, 2013, 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! won the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.


  • 1 History
  • 2 Live concerts
  • 3 Members
    • 3.1 Timeline
  • 4 Discography
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


Godspeed You! Black Emperor was formed in 1994 in Montreal, Quebec, by Efrim Menuck (guitar), Mike Moya (guitar), and Mauro Pezzente (bass), taking its name from God Speed You! Black Emperor, a 1976 Japanese black-and-white documentary by director Mitsuo Yanagimachi, which follows the exploits of a Japanese biker gang, the Black Emperors.[8] The band initially assembled after being offered a supporting act for another local band named Steak 72.[9] Thereafter, the trio performed live on a few separate occasions, before ultimately deciding to produce an album. The cassette, All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, was self-released in December 1994 and limited to thirty-three copies.[10]

After the limited release of the cassette, the band quickly expanded and continued to perform live periodically. According to Menuck, joining the group was quite simple: "It was like if anyone knew anybody who played an instrument and seemed like an okay person, they would sort of join up."[11] In short order, the group's numbers ebbed and flowed. Local musicians would often join the band for a handful of performances, then depart. The revolving door nature of the group's membership frequently caused it strain before the release of F♯ A♯ ∞.[11] After that release, the group stabilized around a nine-person lineup with Menuck, Moya and David Bryant on guitars, Pezzente and Thierry Amar on bass guitars, Aidan Girt and Bruce Cawdron on drums, and Sophie Trudeau and Norsola Johnson on violin and cello respectively. Moya would depart in 1998 to focus on HṚṢṬA, being replaced by Roger Tellier-Craig of Fly Pan Am.

Although various members of the band are often pinned down as anarchists, for a rather long time no one in the band explicitly subscribed to this label;[12] however, as of 2014, Menuck was calling himself an anarchist.[13] In any case, there is a strong political component to the band's music.[14] For example, the liner notes to Yanqui U.X.O. describe the song "09-15-00" as "Ariel Sharon surrounded by 1,000 Israeli soldiers marching on al-Haram Ash-Sharif & provoking another Intifada," and the back cover of that album depicts the relationships of several major record labels to the military-industrial complex. Several of its songs also incorporate voice samples which express political sentiments, most notably "The Dead Flag Blues" (on F♯A♯∞) and "BBF3" (on Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada).

Members of the group have formed a number of side projects, including Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Fly Pan Am, HṚṢṬA, Esmerine, and Set Fire to Flames.

The band released the CD versions of its first two albums on the Kranky record label, and released the LPs through Constellation Records. The LP and the CD of Yanqui U.X.O. were produced by Constellation after their contract with Kranky ran out.

In 2004, long-time guitarist Roger Tellier-Craig left the band on amicable terms to devote more time to Fly Pan Am.

The group was once misconstrued as being a band of terrorists.[15][16] After stopping at a local gas station for fuel in the town of Ardmore, Oklahoma, during their 2003 tour of the United States, the station attendant working that day believed the group of Canadians to be terrorists. She quickly passed a note to another customer asking them to call the police. When the local police appeared, the group was held until it could be questioned by the FBI. Although the police were suspicious of the band's anti-government documents and some photos it had (such as those of oil rigs), they found no incriminating evidence. After background checks were run, the ensemble was released from custody and continued on its way to its next show in Saint Louis, MO. Efrim Menuck later spoke to the crowd about what happened to them during their appearance in Missouri and speculated that their origin was a motive for being released quickly ("It's a good thing we're nice white kids from Canada").[17] The incident was mentioned in Michael Moore's book Dude, Where's My Country?

In 2010 the band reported it was reuniting for an All Tomorrow's Parties music event in the UK as well as further US dates . Mike Moya re-joined the band for the reunion, while original cellist Norsola Johnson declined to participate. The band played a full North American and European tour in 2011, and more dates in the UK including an appearance at the ATP 'I'll Be Your Mirror' music festival in London are confirmed for July.

In 2011 in an interview with Voir, band member Bruce Cawdron announced that the band was working on new material.[18]

On February 28, 2012, it was announced that the band would be performing at the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. On March 15, 2012, it was announced that the band would be performing at the 2012 All Tomorrow's Parties I'll Be Your Mirror festival in New York, NY.[19] Drummer Tim Herzog began touring with the band upon the departure of Bruce Cawdron.

In 2013 the band won the Polaris Music Prize, but it criticized the cost of the ceremony during the time of austerity, stating, "Maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords."[20]

On March 31, 2015, Godspeed You! Black Emperor released its fifth LP, entitled Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress.

Live concerts

Film loop projections are an important aspect of the group's live show, explained by Efrim Menuck as "the whole into context".[21]

Because the band is taper-friendly—that is, it allows audience members to record its live performances—fans often release new material before the band makes an official recording.[22]

The band toured Australia/New Zealand for the first time in February 2013, including a performance at the All Tomorrow's Parties 'I'll Be Your Mirror' festival in Melbourne on February 16.

The band toured China for the first time in April 2013, giving performances in Shanghai and Beijing, and revisited China in March 2016.

The band supported Nine Inch Nails on its Tension tour in October 2013, starting at the TD Garden in Boston on October 11.[23]

After a break for much of 2014 the band embarked on a busy schedule of concert and festival dates across North America, Europe and around the world during 2015 and 2016.[24] Two new songs were previewed in many of the shows picking up the fan titles "Buildings" and "Railroads" from the projections that accompanied them. The band also lent live performances of some of their older and current tracks to a revival of the 2005 work "monumental", by Canadian dance troupe, Holy Body Tattoo during 2016. [25]



Main article: Godspeed You! Black Emperor discography
Studio albums
  • F♯ A♯ ∞ (1997)
  • Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)
  • Yanqui U.X.O. (2002)
  • 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (2012)
  • Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (2015)


  1. ^ Godspeed You! Black Emperor at AllMusic
  2. ^ "Godspeed You! Black Emperor quit over Iraq". NME. 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  3. ^ Phillips, Amy (2008-02-11). "Godspeed Still on Hiatus, Not Completely Broken Up". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  4. ^ "Just Announced: Post-rock cult faves Godspeed You! Black Emperor headlining Union Transfer | The Key". Thekey.xpn.org. 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  5. ^ Andre Paine (2013-11-22). "Godspeed You! Black Emperor, O2 Academy Brixton - music review - Music - Going Out - London Evening Standard". Standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  6. ^ Gabrielle Dominique. "Listen To The New Godspeed You! Black Emperor LP". Cmj.com. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  7. ^ "Review: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!". Hangout.altsounds.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-18. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  8. ^ David Keenan (1998). "Interview in The Wire". 
  9. ^ Keenan, David (2000). "Godspeed You Black Emperor! interview with The Wire". brainwashed.com. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  10. ^ Constellation Records (2000). "Godspeed – All Lights Fucked Cassette". Godspeed Releases. Constellation Records. Archived from the original on 2000-03-04. Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  11. ^ a b St-Jacques, Marie-Douche (1998). "Godspeed You! Black Emperor interview with aMAZEzine!". aMAZEzine. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  12. ^ "Allusions of Grandeur: Thee Silver Mt. Zion". Expressnightout.com. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  13. ^ Rubsam, Rob. "The Rumpus Interview with Efrim Menuck". The Rumpus. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  14. ^ Richardson, Mark. ""Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!" Review". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  15. ^ Biehr, Steve, Marion Bornas, and Stefan Claudius. "Godspeed You! Black Emperor Collage". Archived from the original (jpg) on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2006-11-26. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Biehr, Steve. "Band Members Released After Terrorist Report". The Daily Ardmoreite. Archived from the original on 2005-02-08. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  17. ^ Godspeed You Black Emperor! (2003). "Godspeed You Black Emperor! at Mississippi Nights (2003-03-16)" (shn). Live Music Archive. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  18. ^ Laveaux, Oliver. "Godspeed prépare un nouveau disque". Voir Magazine. Voir. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  19. ^ "I'll Be Your Mirror USA 2012 curated by Greg Dulli & ATP - All Tomorrow's Parties". Atpfestival.com. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  20. ^ "Godspeed You! Black Emperor criticise Polaris prize". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  21. ^ Visser, Menno (2001). "Interview with Godspeed You Black Emperor!". OOR Magazine. OOR. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  22. ^ Godspeed You Black Emperor! (2003). "Godspeed You Black Emperor! at L'Olympic (2003-05-14)" (shnf). Live Music Archive. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  23. ^ Minsker, Evan (2013). "Nine Inch Nails Announce Massive Tour With Godspeed You! Black Emperor". Pitchfork. Pitchfork. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  24. ^ http://www.setlist.fm/setlists/godspeed-you-black-emperor-63d69a73.html
  25. ^ http://www.bam.org/dance/2016/monumental
  26. ^ Carpenter, Lorraine (2003). "Easy Being Green: Frog Eyes Whip Up a Colourful Cabaret". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 2009-08-16. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 

External links

  • iconMusic of Canada portal
  • Official website
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor on Constellation Records website

Upcoming Live Shows

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor has 7 upcoming shows:

PATINOIRE (Le Locle, Switzerland)Buy Tickets
PATINOIRE (Le Locle, Switzerland)Buy Tickets
013 (Tilburg, Netherlands)Buy Tickets
Le Trianon (Paris, France)Buy Tickets
The Coronet (London, United Kingdom)Buy Tickets
Fernhill Farm (Compton Martin, United Kingdom)Buy Tickets
Vicar Street (Dublin, Ireland)Buy Tickets

Further Reading

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