Menuck performing with Godspeed You! Black Emperor in London, England in November 2000
1970 (age 47-48)|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Instruments||Guitar, piano, vocals|
Godspeed You! Black Emperor|
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band
Efrim Manuel Menuck (born 1970) is a Canadian musician involved with a number of Montreal-based bands, most importantly Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. Menuck is also a frequent record producer and engineer, working with musicians from Montreal and abroad.
Menuck was born in Montreal but grew up primarily in Toronto. He moved back to Montreal when he was in his early 20s. His father was a doctor and his mother was a nurse. He attended Hebrew day school from first to ninth grade. After dropping out of high school in 11th grade, Menuck was homeless and jobless and had a nervous breakdown at age 20. Menuck has mentioned that as a teenager he once lived in a flooded basement with two other lost kids and a litter of feral kittens, and that all were unfed. In 1994, Mauro Pezzente, Mike Moya, and Menuck founded Godspeed You! Black Emperor, an influential instrumental rock ensemble. Their first album, All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, is the earliest recorded document of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Self-released in December 1994, the cassette was dubbed only 33 times. It was not until the release of their official debut album, F♯ A♯ ∞, that they began receiving recognition for their work.
Menuck is also responsible for the creation of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, along with fellow Godspeed You! Black Emperor alumni Sophie Trudeau and Thierry Amar. Originally conceived as an aid to Menuck in learning how to score music, the group has since blossomed into a regular collaboration.
When He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms... debuted, it was notable in that it included vocals by Menuck and his band mates; this was in contrast with the taciturn Godspeed You! Black Emperor. However, Constellation states on the biography for Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band that Menuck did in fact sing vocals before the creation of the group on a "rare 1996 GYBE cassette release".
While the music of Godspeed You! Black Emperor was marked by its sampling and symphonic development, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band more regularly incorporated lyrics as well. Menuck confessed to being at odds with the role of the singer in bands, noting that lyricists are often featured as the main attraction at the expense of their bands. He also felt uncomfortable with his own singing, but has since overcome that feeling. Menuck often shares vocal duty with all the other members of A Silver Mt. Zion.
The lyrical style of Menuck is best described as poetic. The topics of his lyrics range from the fear and loneliness experienced while driving alone on an American highway at night to urban decay, and even a tribute to a deceased pet dog. Indeed, "This Is Our Punk-Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing, the third album by Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, was essentially created as a requiem for open and abandoned spaces in Montreal, as well as for similar loss and decay around the world, due to either urban development or military action. Menuck is also known for integrating politics into song titles, lyrics, and album cover art for A Silver Mt. Zion. As such, references to anarchism and anti-war viewpoints are often expressed. (In an April 2014 interview with The Rumpus, Menuck identified as an anarchist.)
While Menuck sometimes utilizes religious imagery in the lyrics and albums of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, and described the recording sessions of He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms... a "Jewish experience", he does not consider himself an adherent of the Jewish faith, quoted in one source as saying "I don't go to synagogue, I don't believe that there's a God in heaven, I don't believe in any of that stuff". With the title of Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward, the band references the Book of Job Ch. 5:7. Menuck has been an outspoken critic of the Israeli government; the liner notes for Yanqui U.X.O. criticize Ariel Sharon's 2000 visit to the Temple Mount.
Along with Howard Bilerman, Radwan Moumneh and Thierry Amar, Menuck owns and operates the Hotel2Tango, a loft space that acts as a practice area, recording studio, and one of the very few non-commercial venues in Montreal capable of accommodating live concerts. The studio was originally confined to the recordings of friends and the bands of the people who own it, but has of late opened its doors to a multitude of other bands.
In 2006, Menuck, with Sophie Trudeau and Thierry Amar, assisted in the recording of Carla Bozulich's first release for Constellation Records, Evangelista.
On August 5, 2009, Silver Mt. Zion violinist Jessica Moss gave birth to her and Menuck's baby. The couple took him on tour with Vic Chesnutt. Menuck's first official solo project was released via Constellation Records on May 24, 2011. The album is entitled Plays "High Gospel".
The following is a list of musical equipment used by Efrim Menuck.
- Gibson Les Paul - Gold Top
- Fender Jaguar – Sunburst, modified with a humbucker in the neck position and a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece
- Travis Bean
- Mosrite 'The Ventures' Mach 1 (A Silver Mt Zion)
- Gibson ES-225 (A Silver Mt Zion)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
- All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling demo (1994)
- F♯ A♯ ∞ (1997, Constellation)
- aMAZEzine! 7" (1998, aMAZEzine!)
- Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada EP (1999, Constellation)
- Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000, Constellation)
- Yanqui U.X.O. (2002, Constellation)
- 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (2012, Constellation)
- Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (2015, Constellation)
- "Luciferian Towers" (2017, Constellation)
Silver Mt. Zion
- He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms... (2000, Constellation)
- Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward (2001, Constellation)
- "This Is Our Punk-Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing, (2003, Constellation)
- The "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" E.P. (EP, 2004, Constellation)
- Horses in the Sky (2005, Constellation)
- 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons (2008, Constellation)
- Kollaps Tradixionales (2010, Constellation)
- Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything (2014, Constellation)
Efrim Manuel Menuck (solo album)
- Plays "High Gospel" (2011, Constellation) – (2011, Constellation)
- Pissing Stars (2018, Constellation) - (2018, Constellation)
Menuck also contributes small samples and guitar work to various artists for whom he produces; these are not listed here.
- Constellation Records (2011). "Efrim Manuel Menuck biography". Bands index. Constellation Records. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Constellation Records (2006). "Godspeed You! Black Emperor biography". Bands index. Constellation Records. Archived from the original on December 16, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- Constellation Records (2000). "Godspeed – All Lights Fucked Cassette". Godspeed Releases. Constellation Records. Archived from the original on December 17, 2000. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
- A Silver Mt. Zion (2001). "A Silver Mt. Zion at VPRO Studio (January 26, 2001)". Live Music Archive. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- Constellation Records. "A Silver Mt. Zion biography". Bands index. Constellation Records. Archived from the original on December 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- A Silver Mt. Zion and David Garland (2005). "Spinning on Air: The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band (November 6, 2005)". Spinning on Air. WYNC Radio. Archived from the original on February 12, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
- Constellation: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band With Choir: "This Is Our Punk-Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing
- The Rumpus Interview with Efrim Menuck
- "Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Yanqui U.X.O." (php). Reviews. Sputnik Music. 2005. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 31, 2009. Retrieved December 11, 2009.
- All Angels Gone: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Gear Archived February 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- A Silver Mt. Zion official website
- Constellation Records official website
- DON’T LOVE MUSIC EVER IT’LL ONLY BREAK YR. HEART o.k.?;(for mr. bobby darin) – An essay by Efrim Menuck
- Godspeed You Black Emperor! and the Politics of Chaos – An essay by Brad Weslake from the zine Neo-Industrial Opera