Fifth Column (band)

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For other uses, see Fifth Column (disambiguation).
Fifth Column
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Punk rock, post-punk, riot grrrl
Years active 1981–2002
Labels K
Associated acts Phono-Comb, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Opera Arcana
Members G.B. Jones
Caroline Azar
Beverly Breckenridge
Past members Charlotte Briedé, Anita Smith, Janet Martin, Kathleen Robertson, Michelle Breslin

Fifth Column, a Canadian all-women experimental post-punk band from Toronto, came about during the early 1980s.


They took the name Fifth Column after a military manoeuvre by fascist Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War, in which nazi-aligned nationalist insurrectionists within besieged Republican Madrid, called 'the fifth column', would aid the four columns (north, south, east and west) outside the perimeters.[citation needed]

One of the first releases was A 45" EP entitled BOY/GIRL-MONSIEUR BEAUCHAMP produced in 1982 by Voicepondence Records. More independently, GB and Caroline along with Candy Parker released their own underground packaged xerox art/ social commentary zine named HideZine (5 issues) which, after its first issue, came out with audio cassettes that were compilations of music by Fifth Column, along with their local post-punk and experimental contemporaries, like Anti-Scrunti Faction, The Dave Howard Singers, Mydolls, The Party's Over, Really Red, Rongwrong, and Michael Phillip Wojewoda.

The name of their first full-length recording To Sir With Hate was a play on the theme song from the British school film, To Sir With Love, performed by Lulu. Produced by Michael Phillip Wojewoda, it is now considered a classic of Canadian music; at the 2016 Polaris Music Prize it was named a shortlisted nominee in the 1976-1985 category for the Polaris Heritage Prize.

A song from this LP, "The Fairview Mall Story" was based on true events concerning media publication of the names of men arrested after being entrapped by police and was instrumental in paving the way for the emergence of the queercore scene. Their video for the song, directed by indie feature film director Steven Rumbelow, involved 50's images of men cruising in their new cars, shopping malls, and car crashes, was intercut with the band and go-go dancer Bruce La Bruce. A video for the song "Where Are they Now?" was also made, directed by Marc de Guerre.

Their live shows often included films played overtop of the band and a 'go-go' boy dancing. They were frequently accompanied by guest musicians who played instruments as varied as saxophone, trumpet, flute, or violin.

Independent-minded, they released their recordings, including their second full-length recording All-Time Queen Of The World, themselves. A video for the song "Like This " from the album was directed by Bruce LaBruce with Fifth Column. The band also appeared on a number of compilations.

In 1992 they released a single, "All Women Are Bitches", on the independent record label K Records. Despite being controversial and receiving little airplay, the recording was reviewed by Everett True and voted "Single Of The Week" in the UK music publication Melody Maker. This song was included as well on their last full-length recording, 36C, also on K Records. The band's last release was in 2002, on the Kill Rock Stars compilation, Fields And Streams.

The band performs live in the film named for them, Fifth Column at the Funnel, directed by Toronto experimental filmmaker John Porter. All of the members of the most recent line-up, and some previous members, appear in the G.B. Jones' movie The Yo-Yo Gang for which the band recorded the theme song.

In 2004 the song "All Women Are Bitches" was covered and re-imagined by the band Lesbians On Ecstasy on their self-titled debut album, Lesbians On Ecstasy, as "Bitchsy"; in 2005, it was remixed and sampled along with "Bitchsy" by Kids on TV for the compilation album Giggles In The Dark.

Band members have performed with other groups as well. Caroline Azar has recorded with Kickstand from New York, and Jolly Tambourine Man, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Greek Buck and Hidden Cameras from Toronto. Since the breakup of the band: Azar produces her librettos/compositions for her dramatic musicals MAN-O-REXIC and D.I.N.K and other musical commissions. Beverly Breckenridge toured with The Spinnanes and was also a member of Phono-Comb. G.B. Jones has recorded with the Italian dark ambient group Mariae Nascenti, and prior to her involvement with Fifth Column, was part of the electropunk band Bunny and the Lakers. Jones now performs with Opera Arcana. Jones recently teamed up with Azar to create Installations/performance soundscapes like, The Bruised Garden soon enough they re-cycled the installation into a theatre set having created 'THE BRUISED SPIRITS OF SOUTHERN ONTARIO' an adult gothic folk musical experience based on the music of Opera Arcana, featuring Jones and Willard Scott Kerr. Azar wrote the story (inspired by Jones' and Kerr's trance-based meditations). Azar also directed and produced the experimental multi media event for Opera Arcana at the famed and soon to be defunct queer-art temple known as Videofag in Kensington Market (run by Jordan Tannahill and William Ellis).

In 2012, a documentary film by Kevin Hegge, called She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column was released featuring interviews with band members Caroline Azar, G.B. Jones, and Beverly Breckenridge, with commentary on the influence of Fifth Column by Kathleen Hanna, Vaginal Davis, and Bruce LaBruce.[1]




  • Fifth Column "Monsieur Beauchamps"/"Boy, Girl."/"Legionnaires" (1983) VOICEPONDENCE RECORDS





Most recent line-up[edit]

Previous members[edit]

  • Kathleen Pirrie Adams (bass; 1983–1984)
  • Janet Martin (guitar; 1983–1985)
  • Anita Smith (bass; 1984–1986)
  • Charlotte Briede (guitar; 1985–1990)
  • David Keyes (of The Polkaholics) (drums; 1989)
  • Joel Wasson (drums; 1990–1992)
  • Chaz Salmon (guitar; 1991–1992)
  • Michelle Breslin (of Karaoke and Sadoceanspacebear) (guitar; 1992–1996)
  • Don Pyle (of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and Phono-Comb) (drums; 1992–1993)
  • Donna Dresch (of Team Dresch) (guitar; 1993)[2]
  • Torry Colichio (drums; 1993–1994)
  • Luc Menard (drums; 1995–1996)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wheeler, Brad (2012-04-27), "Kevin Hegge premieres punk-feminist doc at Hot Docs", Globe and Mail, retrieved 2012-05-03 
  2. ^ a b McDonnell, Evelyn. Girls + Guitars. Out Magazine. Vol. 8, No. 10. Published by Here Publishing. April 2000.

External links[edit]