Broken Social Scene was established in 1999 in Toronto by its two founding members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. However, one must really look to the former endeavours of these two to get a clearer picture of its genesis. Drew and Charles Spearin (Do Make Say Think) were involved with a project called KC Accidental that caught Canning’s ear. This group was also comprised of Emily Haines and James Shaw(Metric) and Evan Cranley (Stars) among others. On the other side, Canning and Leslie Feist we’re playing in a group called By Divine Right which Drew was aware of. It was the joined forces of those two groups that were the building blocks of what would become Broken Social Scene.
What started as a mostly ambient recording project with the ideas of Canning and Drew going onto an eight-track 1/4 tape machine, these pieces would eventually become BSS’s debut album “Feel Good Lost”. It was this album, mixed by Charles Spearin and Ohad Benchetrit (Do Make Say Think) that was the blueprint for what would become a much larger force to contend with.
Following the “Feel Good Lost” recording sessions, Drew and Canning would book shows at various clubs in Toronto: Ted’s Wrecking Yard, Sneaky Dee’s, Lee’s Palace, etc.The thing that made these shows special would be a different lineup for every show. Often boasting as many as 13 members on stage. Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, John Crossingham, Jason Collett would become core members. Every show would consist of new material which ultimately was the pre-production for the band’s break-out album “You Forgot It In People”.
Justin Peroff suggested the band work with local producer Dave Newfeld who had a modest and windowless studio called Stars and Sons. The combination proved to be a winning one and the band started work on “You Forgot It In People” early 2002 and would release these recordings in December of 2002 via local indie label Paper Bag records. The album was met with tremendous critical reception. Fast forward to SXSW 2003 and the band would have ‘one of those shows’ that left people’s jaws dropped. A show that would help launch the band into the next phase of their career.
Broken Social Scene would later leave Paper Bag and move to Arts&Crafts, a label Drew co-owns to present day. Inspired by labels like Thrill Jockey and Constellation Records, it made the most sense for the band to be with a label that also carried ownership and would be home base for future solo endeavours that would follow in years to come.
The band spent a great deal of time on the road from 2003-2006, touring North America, Europe and Asia in support of “You Forgot It In People” and the self-titled “Broken Social Scene” album that saw release in 2005. An album once again produced by Dave Newfeld and worked on by the band whenever they weren’t on the road.
Eventually solo albums would come from Canning and Drew, Spearin would continue with Do Make Say Think, Andrew Whiteman had his project, Apostle of Hustle, John Crossingham had Raising the Fawn, Jason Collett has his solo albums. You get the idea. There was a lot of music coming from this crew. That’s not even mentioning Feist, Metric and Stars who all had successful careers of their own by this point.
It was a very all-for-one attitude with the crew and many of the early Broken Social Scene tours would be with Stars, Metric, Feist, Apostle of Hustle, Jason Collett and Do Make Say Think.
Following the release of 2010’s “Forgiveness Rock Record”, the band toured the world until the last show in Rio de Janeiro, November of 2011. Following this final performance, the band decided to go on indefinite hiatus. The years of constant touring, like so many other bands, started to wear on the cast and a much needed break was in order. The friendships remained in tact but everyone needed to spread their wings in slightly different directions.
Under direction of new management, BSS ensemble embarked on its next phase which saw the release of its first full-length in seven years, 2017’s “Hug of Thunder”. An album recorded mostly in part by Nyles Spencer and produced by Joe Chiccarelli.
Following the returned success of Hug of thunder, the band would release the EP’s Let’s Try the After Vol.1&2 in 2018 and continue the touring cycle.
The beat goes on for BSS. There is more music to be heard. More music to play. More shows to witness. For many, the band has reached legendary status. Please judge for yourself.