Broken Social Scene

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Broken Social Scene
Broken social scene manc.jpg
Broken Social Scene performing in England in 2006. Left to right: Brendan Canning, Ohad Benchetrit, Torquil Campbell, Kevin Drew, Andrew Whiteman, Julie Penner, Lisa Lobsinger
Background information
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Indie rock, experimental rock, soul music, noise pop
Years active 1999–present
Labels Arts & Crafts
Associated acts KC Accidental, Do Make Say Think, Metric, Stars, Valley of the Giants, Feist, Apostle of Hustle

Broken Social Scene is a Canadian indie rock band, a musical collective including as few as six and as many as nineteen members, formed in 1999 by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Most of its members currently play in various other groups and solo projects, mainly in the city of Toronto. The band refuses the label "supergroup", based on size or the ubiquity of their members, claiming that in the indie scene everyone is involved in more than one project.[citation needed]

The group's sound could be considered a combination of all of its members' respective musical projects, and is occasionally considered baroque pop. It is characterized by a very large number of sounds, 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.

In 2009, Stuart Berman's This Book Is Broken, which details the band from its inception to its critical acclaim, was published.[1] In 2010, Bruce McDonald made This Movie Is Broken, a movie about the band's Harbourfront show during the 2009 Toronto strike.


Feel Good Lost[edit]

The band's core members are 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. However, when they played shows to support the album, Drew and Canning found it difficult to put together an entertaining show based on their material thus far, which was almost entirely instrumental.

As a result, they brought in a number of friends from the Toronto indie scene—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 also came to include contributions from James Shaw, Justin Peroff, John Crossingham, and Stars member Amy Millan.

You Forgot It in People[edit]

All of the previously mentioned guest musicians joined with Drew, Canning, Peroff and Spearin to record the band's second album, You Forgot It in People. The album was originally 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 with any other band member who was available to attend any individual show.

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 Clément 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. 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" "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[edit]

Broken Social Scene released their third full-length album, Broken Social Scene on October 4, 2005, with new contributors including k-os, Jason Tait and Murray Lightburn. The inside booklet accompanying album also noted several new faces as part of Broken Social Scene including Stars members Torquil Campbell and David Newfeld, who produced this album as well as You Forgot It In People. A limited edition EP, E.P. To Be You and Me was also printed along with the album.

The group appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on January 31, 2006 performing "7/4 (Shoreline)". At the 2006 Juno Awards, they performed "Ibi Dreams of Pavement" at the show and their eponymous album won the Alternative Album of the Year award. In July 2006 the band announced a temporary hiatus following the conclusion of their November US tour while members work on their other projects.[2]

Broken Social Scene were last minute replacement performers at North America's first Virgin Festival, at Toronto Islands Park, the weekend of September 9–10, 2006. Contacted on September 7 after headliners Massive Attack cancelled due to problems involving obtaining U.S. visas, the entire band, just returned from a European tour in August, managed to assemble to close the festival Sunday night. Appearing on the main Virgin Mobile Stage, immediately following performances by international superstar bands The Strokes and The Raconteurs, Broken Social Scene took the stage at 10:00 p.m., and played a set of over an hour. 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 rare 15 member lineup of the band until 2009.

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".[3]

They have also 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.

Broken Social Scene Presents...[edit]

On June 8, 2007, music website reported that BSS founder Kevin Drew was recording a solo album, which was to feature many other members of Broken Social Scene and produced by Ohad Benchetrit and Charles Spearin. The album is entitled Broken Social Scene presents Kevin Drew, Spirit If..., and is intended to be the first in a series of "Broken Social Scene presents..." albums.[4] 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, nearly every Broken Social Scene member makes a cameo appearance. The sound itself is Broken Social Scene's familiar mix of rough and ragged, sad and celebratory. It is prone to psychedelic swells, acoustic jangles and features a cast of friends and associates (including Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis and Canadian rock icon Tom Cochrane) playing and singing and handclapping along.[5] The album was released on September 18, 2007 and a tour billed as Broken Social Scene Performs Kevin Drew's Spirit If... was engaged in late 2007.[6]

The second "Broken Social Scene presents..." record, by Brendan Canning,[7] is entitled Something for All of Us and was released on Arts & Crafts on July 22, 2008. In a recent interview, Canning said the group would be working on a full Broken Social Scene album before another in this series would be produced.[8]

Broken Social Scene also took part in the 2008 Siren Music Festival in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

The founders of Broken Social Scene, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning.

In March 2009 it was announced that Arts & Crafts, with association from Anansi Press, would release This Book Is Broken written by The Grid editor Stuart Berman, who confesses his close personal involvement with the band in the opening chapters. The book includes artwork, concert posters and photographs (professional and amateur) of the band. Most of the narration is provided by interview material of the band and related persons, arranged by subject and chronology. The book was released in May 2009, and has been described as a "visual/oral history" of not only the band, but of Toronto itself.[9]

On April 29, 2009, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning guest-hosted 102.1 The Edge's program The Indie Hour to promote a concert as part of the Olympic Island Festival that was later moved to Harbourfront Centre due to a strike by the city of Toronto's outside workers which resulted in the suspension of ferry service to the Toronto Islands.

Forgiveness Rock Record[edit]

On June 17, 2009, the band appeared during North by Northeast as "special guests" at the Arts & Crafts launch of This Book is Broken. During their short set, they played a mix of new songs from the upcoming album and old favourites. Despite press reports earlier in the year that she would not likely play with them again,[citation needed] they were joined in this performance by Feist. Also on October 23, Feist joined them on their second visit to Mexico City.

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 new material from the upcoming album. They were introduced at this show by Bruce McDonald, who announced the filming of a movie directed by him and written by Don McKellar called This Movie Is Broken. This documentary includes concert footage as well as a fictional romance written by McKellar. 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.[10] 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. Amy Millan, Emily Haines, and Leslie Feist recorded a track together, marking the first time in the band's history that the three have been recorded on the same song (albeit recorded at different times).[11]

This album was short-listed for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize.[12]

On August 9, 2010 Broken Social Scene unveiled plans for 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 exclusively for 24 hours via a different online partner. The first version, "All to All (Sebastien Sexy Legs Grainger Remix)", by former Death from Above 1979 drummer/vocalist and current Bad Tits frontman Sebastien Grainger, was released August 9 via Pitchfork.[13]

Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights[edit]

During the recording of Forgiveness Rock Record, the group created what is known as Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights while in Chicago. During downtime band members would head into Soma's second smaller studio to test out new ideas and overdubs while John McEntire worked in the main room. All of the songs on Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights were recorded in Soma's B-Room. Here they created soundscapes, one of which ended up being the closing song on Forgiveness Rock Record, "Me & My Hand", and the rest became the beginnings of the album.[14]

Charles Spearin who made a note from the band said that "...what these songs have in common is that they were all written in a spirit of playfulness and fearlessness where we could throw our discrimination to the wind and let the judges and critics take the night off."[15]


It was announced on August 15, 2011 that the band would go on an indefinite hiatus following an October 1, 2011 show featuring Isaac Brock and a fall tour in support of TV on the Radio. On November 8, 2011, a post on the band's official Twitter account in advance of a concert in Rio de Janeiro stated that it would be the band's final live performance.[16] However, on January 14, 2013 the band was announced as a headliner of the Field Trip Arts & Crafts Music Festival, celebrating tenth anniversary of their label Arts & Crafts.[17]

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").

Broken Social Scene Story Project[edit]

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.[18][19]

The thirteen finalists were:[20]

  • Sheila Toller (Toronto), "Capture the Flag"
  • Morgan Murray (St. John’s), "KC Accidental"
  • Tom Halford (St. John’s), "Stars and Sons"
  • Hollie Adams (Calgary), "Almost Crimes (Radio Kills Remix)"
  • Jesse McLean (Toronto), "Looks Just Like the Sun"
  • Shari Kasman (Toronto), "Pacific Theme"
  • Caitlin Galway (Toronto), "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl"
  • Jane Ozkowski (Toronto), "Cause=Time"
  • Eliza Robertson (Victoria), "Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries"
  • Marisa Gelfusa (Toronto), "Shampoo Suicide"
  • Meghan Doraty (Calgary), "Lover’s Spit"
  • Zoe Whittall (Toronto), "I’m Still Your Fag"
  • Marcia Walker (Toronto), "Pitter Patter Goes My Heart"

Live shows and new album[edit]

The band began to play occasional festivals in 2015 and 2016. On July 13, 2016, the band used twitter to confirm that they are at work on a new album.[21]

Touring lineup history[edit]

Broken Social Scene performing at the Intonation Music Festival, July 16, 2005.

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 (most notably at hometown shows in Toronto) any one of the women will usually resume their role on their trademark songs, and appear unannounced prior to the show.

  • 2001: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Brodie West.
  • 2002: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Jason Collett, Evan Cranley, Leslie Feist, Emily Haines.
  • 2003: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Jason Collett, Evan Cranley, Leslie Feist, Angus Pauls.
  • 2004: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Jason Collett, Evan Cranley, Amy Millan, James Shaw.
  • 2005: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Ohad Benchetrit, Julie Penner, Leslie Feist, Dave Hodge, Lisa Lobsinger, John Crossingham.
  • 2006: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Ohad Benchetrit, Julie Penner, Amy Millan, Dave Hodge, Lisa Lobsinger.
  • 2007: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Kenny, Bill Priddle (eventually Priddle was replaced by James Shaw, and then Mitch Bowden), Sam Goldberg.
  • 2008: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Jason Collett, Evan Cranley, Amy Millan, Dave Hodge, Sam Goldberg, Liz Powell (fall tour only), Leon Kingstone.
  • 2009: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Jason Collett, Evan Cranley, Leslie Feist, Dave Hodge, Lisa Lobsinger, Sam Goldberg.
  • 2010: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, David French, John McEntire, Dave Hodge, Lisa Lobsinger, Sam Goldberg.
  • 2015: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Evan Cranley, Amy Millan

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[22][23] Certifications
2001 Feel Good Lost
  • Released: March 6, 2001
  • Label: Noise Factory
  • Reissued: February 23, 2004
  • Label: Arts & Crafts
2002 You Forgot It in People
2005 Broken Social Scene 144 27 80 105 6
2010 Forgiveness Rock Record 1 58 67 34 5
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.

B-side albums[edit]

Broken Social Scene Presents...[edit]



Year Song Chart peak Album

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
2006 "7/4 (Shoreline)" 58 94
"Fire Eye'd Boy" 192
2010 "Forced to Love/All to All" 10 Forgiveness Rock Record
2011 "World Sick"
"Texico Bitches"
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.

Film scores[edit]



  • "Stars & Sons" (August 2003, directed by Christopher Mills)
  • "Cause = Time" (December 2003, directed by George Vale and Kevin Drew)
  • "Almost Crimes" (2004, directed by George Vale and Kevin Drew)
  • "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)" (November 2005, directed by Experimental Parachute Movement)
  • "7/4 (Shoreline)" (2006, directed by Micah Meisner)
  • "Fire Eye'd Boy" (2006, directed by Experimental Parachute Movement)
  • "Major Label Debut (Fast)" (2006, directed by Sarah Haywood)
  • "Lover's Spit" (May 2006)
  • "I'm Still Your Fag" (May 2006, directed by Chris Grismer)
  • "Forced to Love" (July 2010, directed by Adam Makarenko and Alan Poon)
  • "All to All" (August 2010)
  • "Texico Bitches" (December 2010, directed by Thibaut Duverneix)
  • "Sweetest Kill" (June 2011, directed by Claire Edmonson)



Juno Awards[edit]

The Juno Awards are presented by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Broken Social Scene has won two awards from five nominations.[28][29][30]

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2003 You Forgot It in People Alternative Album of the Year Won
2004 "Stars and Sons" Video of the Year Nominated
2006 Broken Social Scene Alternative Album of the Year Won
CD/DVD Artwork Design of the Year Nominated
2011 "Forced to Love" Video of the Year Nominated

Polaris Music Prizes[edit]

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,[31] and Forgiveness Rock Record was nominated in 2010.[12]

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2006 Broken Social Scene Polaris Music Prize Nominated
2010 Forgiveness Rock Record Polaris Music Prize Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Berman, Stuart (18 May 2009). "This Book Is Broken". Pitchfork. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Broken Social Scene to Go on Hiatus". 2006-07-10. Archived from the original on 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  3. ^ "BSS, the National, Bon Iver Share Charity T-Shirts | News". Pitchfork. 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived June 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Broken Solo Scene". Retrieved September 23, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Arts and Crafts website". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  7. ^ "Brendan Canning Interview, 24 July 08". 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  8. ^ "Interview with: Brendan Canning, Broken Social Scene". popwreckoning. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  9. ^ Khanna, Vish. "Broken Sociology Scene". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  10. ^ "Your Guide to Upcoming Canadian Album Releases for 2010". CBC News. 
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ a b Thompson, Ciaran (September 20, 2010). "Karkwa win 2010 Polaris Music Prize". Aux. Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  13. ^ Carlick, Stephen (2010-08-09). "Broken Social Scene Unveil "All to All" Remix Series". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  14. ^ "Arts&Crafts: Broken Social Scene - Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights". 2010-05-04. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  15. ^ "Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record Pre-Order". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  16. ^ "Broken Social Scene plays final show in Rio de Janeiro". 2011-11-09. Retrieved 2011-11-09. [permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Arts & Crafts - A&C Field Trip Festival Featuring Feist And Broken Social Scene • GA Tickets On Sale Now • Early Bird & VIP Sold Out". Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  18. ^ House of Anansi | The Broken Social Scene Story Project
  19. ^ Wilson, Carl, ed. (2013). The Broken Social Scene Story Project: Short Works Inspired by You Forgot It in People. House of Anansi. ISBN 9781770894051. 
  20. ^ "Canada Writes - Broken Social Scene Story Contest Finalists". 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Broken Social Scene Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Broken Social Scene - Music Charts". Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene". Music Canada. 
  25. ^ Peaks in Scotland:
  26. ^ "Broken Social Scene Official Charts". Retrieved 2 June 2016. 
  27. ^ "US Single Sales". 
  28. ^ "Juno Awards 2003". Ottawa Start. Archived from the original on 2009-12-13. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  29. ^ "The Show". CTV. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  30. ^ "1.7 Million Celebrate Canadian Music as Audience Surges 30 Per Cent for The 2006 JUNO Awards on CTV". CTV. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  31. ^ "Broken Social Scene Head Polaris Award Nominees". GIGWISE. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 

External links[edit]