Brendan Canty

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Brendan Canty
Canty performing with Fugazi in 1996
Canty performing with Fugazi in 1996
Background information
Born (1966-03-09) March 9, 1966 (age 58)
Teaneck, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
  • Musician
  • composer
  • producer
  • film maker

Brendan John Canty (born March 9, 1966)[2] is an American musician, composer, producer and filmmaker, best known as the drummer for the band Fugazi.

In 2007, Stylus Magazine ranked Canty at No. 29 on the list of "50 Greatest Rock Drummers".[3]


Early years, Rites of Spring[edit]

Brendan Canty was born in Teaneck, New Jersey, and grew up in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where his family moved when he was 10 months old.[1][4] He began playing drums at the age of 15, debuting in Dischord Records band Deadline, one of the signature bands of the early D.C. hardcore scene in the summer of 1981. They recorded a demo at Inner Ear Studios that Fall, and from those sessions three tracks were used on the Dischord "Flex Your Head" compilation. After playing a number of shows through the following year, Deadline recorded one more session at Inner Ear in August 1982, just prior to disbanding. Canty continued his musical career in 1985 with Dischord band Rites of Spring, after which he played in One Last Wish and Happy Go Licky.[citation needed]


Canty was a near-original member of Fugazi as their drummer, replacing original drummer Colin Sears. Canty joined the band in 1987. He recorded and toured with the group until their "indefinite hiatus" in 2003.

Many of Fugazi's songs since Repeater are based on guitar riffs introduced at rehearsals by Canty. An adept multi-instrumentalist, Canty also writes songs on piano (he plays a skeletal version of "Bed for the Scraping" on the Instrument DVD), as well as bass lines for some songs.[5] He is also noted for using a large farmers bell as part of his drum kit.

Soundtrack work, film scoring, directing and side projects[edit]

In 1989, Canty formed the band Girls Against Boys alongside Eli Janney. It was initially a side project for Canty, although he ultimately only appeared on one release by the band (1990's Nineties vs. Eighties) as he turned his focus to Fugazi in 1990.

Canty frequently composes soundtrack music, primarily for documentaries, often with National Geographic and Discovery Channel. He also contributes to or helps produce other Washington D.C.-area recordings. During Fugazi's post-2002 hiatus, Canty took part in a side project, Garland of Hours, with vocalist/cellist/keyboardist Amy Domingues and drummer/percussionist Jerry Busher, both of whom have contributed to Fugazi recordings and performances. Their first self-titled album was released on the Arrest Records label founded by Busher and Canty's younger brother James, formerly of Nation of Ulysses. He presently has a band with Joe Lally of Fugazi called The Messthetics, and tours with Wayne Kramer in his revival of the MC5 called MC50.

Canty's score for the Sundance Channel documentary series The Hill premiered on August 23, 2006. Canty was the sole composer on Hard Time, for National Geographic for all four seasons from 2009 to 2012. Also, the composer on two of ESPN's 30 for 30's: Angry Sky, and Birth of Big Air. He scored the film Frank Serpico. He continues to score film and television and commercials.

In 2004, Canty and director Christoph Green co-founded the film Production company Trixie to release an ongoing series of music-related films entitled Burn to Shine. The series involves independent alternative music bands from a particular region showing up to perform one song live, without overdubs or corrections, in a house that is about to be demolished. The first volume was filmed in Canty's home region of Washington, D.C., and features performances from Bob Mould, Weird War, Q and Not U, Ted Leo, French Toast, Medications, fellow Fugazi member Ian MacKaye's side project The Evens, and Garland of Hours. A second volume, filmed in the Chicago area, was released in 2005, and a third filmed in Portland, Oregon came out August 20, 2006.[6][7]

In late 2004 and early 2005, Canty contributed drum tracks to Bob Mould's 2005 solo album, Body of Song. Canty was also the drummer for many dates on the winter 2005/2006 tour in support of the album. Canty returned as the drummer for Bob Mould's District Line, released February 2008. Using the same crew and filming style as on the Burn to Shine series, Canty and Green made a concert film of a Bob Mould show, entitled "Circle of Friends."[when?] Canty produced the film and played drums during the show, which took place at Washington D.C.'s 9:30 Club.[citation needed] In 2006, Canty and Green also madeSunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest, a 2006 Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) tour film, and the Wilco tour film Ashes of American Flags, which was released in 2009 and toured festivals extensively, eventually being broadcast on the Sundance Channel in the US, and being released on DVD and iTunes.

He produced Ted Leo and the Pharmacists's Living With the Living and The Tyranny of Distance albums. He also produced Benjy Ferree, The Thermals's The Body, The Blood, The Machine, and French Toast records, as well as mixing the self-titled debut album for The Aquarium.[when?] In 2011, he directed long-time friend Eddie Vedder's new solo performance DVD release, Water on the Road, and took the drums for Vedder's cover of "All Along the Watchtower".[8]


In 2007, Stylus Magazine ranked Canty at No. 29 on their list of the "50 Greatest Rock Drummers" based on his drumming work with Fugazi.[3] Canty has been cited as an influenced by such drummers as Sara Lund of Unwound and multi-instrumentalist Joe Wong.[9][10]

Personal life[edit]

His siblings include James Canty and writer Kevin Canty.[11] He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and four children.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Brendan Canty and Christoph Green (The Liberation) – American Film Showcase". American Film Showcase. USC School of Cinematic Arts. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 9, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b Stylus Staff. "50 Greatest Rock Drummers". Stylus Magazine's 50 Greatest Rock Drummers. Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  4. ^ Tropea, Joe, and Robert A. Emmons Jr. (directors) (2021). Fugazi's Barber (Short film). Haricot Vert Films. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  5. ^ "in your ear". in your ear. Archived from the original on February 20, 2006. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  6. ^ "Brendan Canty Reveals Plans for New Wilco Film, Talks Future of Burn to Shine". Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  7. ^ "Burn to Shine 6 ignites the past". Archived from the original on August 8, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  8. ^ Boston Music Spotlight » Eddie Vedder plots solo release, tour Archived April 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Lau, Andrew K (September 16, 2017). "Meet a Drummer: A Q&A with Sara Lund on Drum Nerds, Equipment Hassles, and the Gender Issue". Archived from the original on December 7, 2023. Retrieved April 2, 2024.
  10. ^ a b "THE TRAP SET". Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  11. ^ Sadler, Brook (November 18, 1994). "Canty Could". Washington City Paper. Retrieved May 10, 2019.

External links[edit]