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Godspeed You! Black Emperor


God Speed You! Black Emperor (GYBE or GY!BE) has never enjoyed much mainstream success, so for most people, any awareness of the group has come from movie and book references.

First, the group took its name from a '76 Japanese documentary that followed a biker gang named the Black Emperors. Then there was the Michael Moore's, Dude, Where's My Country? The book mentioned an incident where God Speed You! Black Emperor was suspected of being terrorists in Ardmore, OK. They were detained. After a background check the group was allowed to proceed to their next tour stop. "It's a good thing we're nice white kids from Canada," said the band's Efrim Menuck, of the incident.

Then there was the famous screed in the flick Pineapple Express. Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) says to his girlfriend Angie (Amber Heard) "You are gonna go to college next year. You'll get into Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the fucking Shins, and you'll blow a bunch of dudes and become a lesbian." Screenwriter Evan Goldberg claimed the reference was inspired by comic actor Jay Baruchel, who loved God Speed You! Black Emperor, and like the group, hailed from Montreal.

GYBE formed in '95 and had a 'revolving door' line-up until the release of their debut "F♯ A♯ ∞" in '97. The group issued "Slow Riot For New ZerÝ Kanada" two years later. That was followed by '00's "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven" (a.k.a. "Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas To Heaven") and '02's "Yanqui U.X.O."





The group was known for having anarchist members - hence the search and detainment in Ardmore. In keeping with that philosophy, GYBE had no problem with fans taping and releasing concert performances.

Film loop projections were an integral part of the group's live act - "[putting] the whole into context" as Menuck once explained.

Working the film connection, GYBE contributed "East Hastings" to the UK movie 28 Days Later. But the song was heavily edited and was excluded from the CD soundtrack. Songs from "Yanqui U.X.O." were used in the documentary film Bombhunters, because the group was aligned with the social nature of the film which documents villagers' efforts throughout rural Cambodia as they seek out unexploded ordinance (UXO) and attempt to render it safe for sale to the scrap metal industry in order to survive. The film has been credited by the US Department of State with influencing national legislation in Cambodia that has lead to a 50% drop in UXO tampering casualties.

Also, the horror-movie documentary The American Nightmare used "Moya" and "Providence," as incidental music and over the closing credits.

In '03, the band announced an indefinite hiatus in order for band members to pursue other musical interests. Following the '04 departure (on amicable terms) of longtime guitarist Roger Tellier-Craig, GYBE was rumored to have broken up. But they toured in '10 and released "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!" in '12.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Discography

Albums:

1997 F♯ A♯ ∞
1999 Slow Riot For New ZerÝ Kanada
2000 Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (aka "Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas To Heaven")
2002 Yanqui U.X.O.
2012 Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!


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