13 Engines

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13 Engines
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresAlternative rock
Years active1985–1997[1]
Past membersJohn Critchley
Grant Ethier
Jim Hughes
Mike Robbins

13 Engines was a Canadian alternative rock band active in the 1980s and 1990s.


Formed in 1985 as The Ikons, the band consisted of four York University students: vocalist John Critchley,[2] guitarist Mike Robbins, bassist Jim Hughes and drummer Grant Ethier.[3] They released a self-titled independent cassette in 1986 before changing their name to 13 Engines. This name was a reference to the automobile industry in Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan, which were the first two markets to embrace the band.[4]

13 Engines released two independent albums: Before Our Time in 1987 and Byram Lake Blues in 1989, before signing to SBK Records in the United States and EMI in Canada.[4]

Their major label debut, 1991's A Blur to Me Now, gave the band airplay for the singles King of Saturday Night and Big Surprise. However, SBK dropped them soon afterward.[4]

1993's Perpetual Motion Machine, produced by Critchley,[5] was the band's breakthrough in Canada, spawning the hit singles More, Bred in the Bone and Smoke & Ashes, and led to a spot on The Tragically Hip's Another Roadside Attraction tour.[4]

They followed up with Conquistador in 1995, which gave them another hit, Beneath My Hand.[4] While the album is generally hailed as 13 Engines' finest work, it did not do well commercially[6] and two members left the band. Critchley contemplated carrying on under the 13 Engines name, but elected to retire the band.


Following the break-up of 13 Engines, Critchley continued as a solo artist and, in 2000, recorded an album with ex-13 Engines guitarist Scott Stevenson, Crooked Mile. Both Critchley and Ethier went on to careers as producers.


  • Before Our Time (1987)
  • Byram Lake Blues (1989)
  • A Blur to Me Now (1991)
  • Perpetual Motion Machine (1993)
  • Conquistador (1995)


  1. ^ cfrb.com[dead link]
  2. ^ [https://earofnewt.com/tag/john-critchley/}
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e "13 Engines". Canadian Pop Encyclopedia. Canoe Inc. Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2007-12-22.
  5. ^ "ArtistDirect" review of Perpetual Motion Machine
  6. ^ "ArtistDirect" review of Conquistador