|Broken Social Scene|
|Origin||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Genres||Indie rock, experimental rock, soul music, noise pop, post-rock|
|Labels||Arts & Crafts|
|Metric, Feist, Stars, Apostle of Hustle, Do Make Say Think, KC Accidental, Valley of the Giants, Land of Talk, Kevin Drew, Emily Haines, Amy Millan, Brendan Canning, Jason Collett|
Broken Social Scene is a Canadian indie rock band, a musical collective including as few as six and as many as nineteen members, formed by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Most of its members play in various other groups and solo projects, mainly in the city of Toronto. These associated acts include Metric, Feist, Stars, Apostle of Hustle, Do Make Say Think, KC Accidental, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Amy Millan, and Jason Collett.
The group's sound combines elements of all of its members' respective musical projects, and is occasionally considered baroque pop. It includes grand orchestrations featuring guitars, horns, woodwinds, and violins, unusual song structures, and an experimental, and sometimes chaotic production style from David Newfeld, who produced the second and third albums.
Stuart Berman's This Book Is Broken (2009) covers the band from its inception to its critical acclaim. In 2010, Bruce McDonald made This Movie Is Broken, a movie about the band's Harbourfront show during the 2009 Toronto strike.
The band was formed in 1999 by core members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. This duo recorded and released the band's ambient debut album, Feel Good Lost, on Noise Factory Records in 2001, with contributions by Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin, Bill Priddle, Leslie Feist, Jessica Moss and Stars' Evan Cranley.
Drew and Canning's material at the time was almost entirely instrumental, so they brought together musicians from the Toronto indie scene, the album contributors as well as Andrew Whiteman, Jason Collett, and Metric's Emily Haines, to flesh out their live show with lyrics and vocals. Over time, the band came to include contributions from James Shaw, Justin Peroff, John Crossingham, and Stars member Amy Millan.
All of the musicians from the live show joined Drew, Canning, Peroff and Spearin to record the band's second album, You Forgot It in People. The album was produced by David Newfeld and released on Paper Bag Records in October 2002 and won the Alternative Album of the Year Juno Award in 2003. The album also included musical contributions by Priddle, Jessica Moss, Brodie West, Susannah Brady and Ohad Benchetrit, but these were credited as supporting musicians rather than band members. On the supporting tour, the core band consisted of Drew, Canning, Peroff, Whiteman and Jason Collett, along whichever band members were available on each show date.
In 2003, the B-sides and remix collection Bee Hives was released.
Broken Social Scene's song "Lover's Spit" from 2002's You Forgot It in People has been featured in director Cle;ment Virgo's movie Lie with Me (2005), Paul McGuigan's Wicker Park (2004), Bruce McDonald's The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess (2004), Showtime's Queer as Folk (2003) and the penultimate episode of the Canadian series Terminal City (2005). The version of "Lover's Spit" found on 2004's Bee Hives record was also featured in an episode of the third season of the FX series Nip/Tuck. Showtime's television program The L Word featured "Pacific Theme" and "Looks Just Like the Sun", both from You Forgot It in People, in the show's first season. "Lover's Spit" is referenced in the 2013 Lorde song, "Ribs". "Looks Just Like the Sun" was featured in the 2006 film Swedish Auto. "Stars and Sons" from You Forgot It in People also appeared in the movie The Invisible. Music from the band's albums was used to score the 2006 film Half Nelson.
Broken Social Scene released their third full-length album, Broken Social Scene, also produced by Newfeld, in October 2005, with new contributors including k-os, Jason Tait and Murray Lightburn. New band members were Newfeld and Torquil Campbell, who were members of the band Stars. A limited edition EP, EP to Be You and Me was also printed along with the album.
Broken Social Scene performed "7/4 (Shoreline)" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on January 31, 2006, and that year they performed "Ibi Dreams of Pavement" at the 2006 Juno Awards, at which their self-titled album won the Alternative Album of the Year award. In August the band went on a European tour. Returning in September, they were last-minute replacement performers at North America's first Virgin Festival, at Toronto Islands Park after headliners Massive Attack cancelled due to problems involving obtaining US visas. The band quickly assembled to play a one-hour closing performance on the main stage, following The Strokes and The Raconteurs. Through the performance the band was joined by Feist, Amy Millan of Stars, k-os, and Emily Haines of Metric. This was the last show featuring the entire 15 member lineup of the band until 2009.
After a US tour in November, the band went on hiatus while members worked on their other projects. In late 2006, several members of the band appeared as special guests on The Stars and Suns Sessions, the second album from Mexican indie band Chikita Violenta. The album was produced by Dave Newfeld.
In May 2008, the band contributed a T-shirt design for the Yellow Bird Project to raise money and awareness for the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. The shirt was designed by their drummer, Justin Peroff, and bears the slogan "Hope for Truth".
Members of Broken Social Scene composed and recorded an original score for director Marc Evans's film Snow Cake, as well as scored his 2007 film adaptation of Maureen Medved's novel, The Tracey Fragments. In 2009, Bruce McDonald directed a short documentary episode of IFC's The Rawside Of... that focused on the making of Brendan Canning's solo album Something for All of Us.
In June 2007, BSS founder Kevin Drew began recording an album which featured many members of Broken Social Scene. The album was produced by Ohad Benchetrit and Charles Spearin and was titled Broken Social Scene presents ..Spirit If.... The album was recorded throughout 2004 and 2006 in Ohad Benchetrit's house while the band was not on tour. Although billed as a solo project, most Broken Social Scene members make cameo appearances. The sound itself is Broken Social Scene's familiar mix of rough and ragged, sad and celebratory, with psychedelic swells and acoustic jangles. Also featured are Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis and Canadian rock icon Tom Cochrane playing and singing and handclapping along. The album was released on September 18, 2007 and a tour billed as Broken Social Scene Performs Kevin Drew's Spirit If... took place in late 2007.
The second "Broken Social Scene presents..." record, by Brendan Canning, is entitled Something for All of Us and was released on Arts & Crafts in July, 2008. Broken Social Scene also took part in the 2008 Siren Music Festival in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
On April 29, 2009, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning guest-hosted 102.1 The Edge's program The Indie Hour to promote their concert at the Olympic Island Festival. The festival was later moved to Harbourfront Centre after a labour dispute resulted in the suspension of ferry service to the Toronto Islands.
In May 2009 Arts & Crafts, with association from Anansi Press, released This Book Is Broken written by The Grid editor Stuart Berman, who had a close personal involvement with the band. The book includes artwork, concert posters and photographs (professional and amateur) of the band. Berman includes extensive interviews with band members and related persons, arranged by subject and chronology.
In June 2009, the band played a short set to launch This Book Is Broken at the North by Northeast festival. They played a mix of new songs from their then-upcoming album and old favourites, and were joined by Feist, who also joined them on their second visit to Mexico City in October.
During the band's free performance at the Harbourfront Centre on July 11, 2009, they were joined by nearly all past contributors, including Feist, Emily Haines and James Shaw, Amy Millan and Evan Cranley, John Crossingham, Jason Collett and Julie Penner. This revue-like show celebrated other projects by members as well as including material from the then-upcoming album. Emcee Bruce McDonald announced the filming of a documentary directed by him and written by Don McKellar, Titled This Movie Is Broken, it includes concert footage and a fictional romance. Although McDonald announced at the concert that film submitted by fans would be used in the movie, the final cut of the movie included only one submission, a front-row recording of "Major Label Debut".
Broken Social Scene released their fourth full-length album on May 4, 2010. Entitled Forgiveness Rock Record, it was recorded at Soma in Chicago, with John McEntire producing, and in Toronto at the studio of Sebastian Grainger and James Shaw. For the first time, Amy Millan, Emily Haines, and Leslie Feist recorded a track together (albeit at different times). This album was short-listed for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize.
In August 2010, Broken Social Scene initiated their "All to All" remix series, which included seven different versions of the track from Forgiveness Rock Record. Every Monday a new remix was released and available for 24 hours via a different online partner. The first version, "All to All (Sebastien Sexy Legs Grainger Remix)", by Sebastien Grainger, was released August 9 via Pitchfork.
During the recording of Forgiveness Rock Record, the group also worked on tracks for Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights while in Chicago. While John McEntire worked in the main room, during downtime band members would head into Soma's second smaller studio (B-Room) to test out and record new ideas and overdubs. One of their collaborations, "Me & My Hand", ended up being the closing song on Forgiveness Rock Record; the rest became the beginnings of the later album.
In October the band put on a show featuring Isaac Brock and a went on a fall tour in support of TV on the Radio. After their concert in November in Rio de Janeiro, the band took a long break from performing until 2013, when they headlined the Field Trip Arts & Crafts Music Festival, celebrating tenth anniversary of their label Arts & Crafts.
The band appeared on a number of compilation albums released in 2013, including Arts & Crafts: 2003-2013 ("7/4 (Shoreline)", "Lover's Spit" and "Deathcock"), Arts & Crafts: X ("Day of the Kid") and Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Works of Kate McGarrigle ("Mother Mother").
In 2013, publisher House of Anansi teamed with several members of Broken Social Scene to sponsor the Broken Social Scene short story contest. Authors were challenged to create works inspired by the individual tracks of Broken Social Scene's breakthrough album, You Forgot It in People. From the over four hundred submissions, thirteen finalists were chosen, one for each track of the album. Their stories were published in the anthology The Broken Social Scene Story Project: Short Works Inspired by You Forgot It in People.
The thirteen finalists were:
The band began to play occasional festivals in 2015 and 2016, including a performance at the Electric Arena in September 2016. They released "Halfway Home", the first single from their new album, on March 30, 2017.
On March 30, 2017 they appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert as musical guests and performed "Halfway Home". Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric, and Amy Millan and Evan Cranley of Stars joined the band for the performance.
On May 15, 2017, the band shared the title track with vocals from Leslie Feist. On May 31, 2017, the band released "Skyline", the album's third preview single. On June 26, 2017, the band released the album's fourth and final preview track "Stay Happy", which features new member Ariel Engle on lead vocals.
Broken Social Scene began a tour of Europe and North America in May 2017, which will conclude in fall 2017.
From 2002 to 2004 female vocalists Emily Haines, Leslie Feist, and Amy Millan rotated between availability from their own bands, until a full-time replacement was found in 2005 with Lisa Lobsinger. From time to time (mostly at hometown shows in Toronto) one of the women may without prior announcement resume their role on their trademark songs.
Collett took time off to promote his solo release Idols of Exile, and to attend to his family, prior to the 2005 fall tour.
During the 2007 tour, Bill Priddle broke his collar bone, just before the 16th October gig at the Birmingham Academy II. They were joined on tour by James Shaw from Metric, who had "flown in that morning" from Toronto. Mitch Bowden, Priddle's bandmate in Don Vail and The Priddle Concern, joined the 2007 tour to replace Priddle.
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|2001||Feel Good Lost
|2002||You Forgot It in People
|2005||Broken Social Scene
|2010||Forgiveness Rock Record
|2017||Hug of Thunder
|"--" denotes a release that did not chart.|
|2003||"Stars and Sons / KC Accidental"||--||--||--||--||--||You Forgot It in People|
|"Cause = Time"||--||--||--||102||--|
|2005||"Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)"||--||--||--||--||--||Broken Social Scene|
|"Fire Eye'd Boy"||--||--||--||192||--|
|2010||"Forced to Love/All to All"||33||--||--||--||10||Forgiveness Rock Record|
|2017||"Halfway Home"||38||47||--||--||--||Hug Of Thunder|
|"Hug Of Thunder"||--||--||--||--||--|
|"--" denotes a release that did not chart.|
The Polaris Music Prize is awarded annually to the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit. Broken Social Scene's self-titled album was nominated in 2006, and Forgiveness Rock Record was nominated in 2010.