Godspeed You! Black Emperor quit over Iraq

Existential freakout claims post-rock pioneers

Godspeed You Black Emperor have announced their split.

The Montreal post-rock innovators have called it a day, but not for the reasons of ‘musical differences’ cited by many retiring bands.

Instead, founder Efrin Menuck declared that the band had become untenable due to “an existential freakout” relating to the Iraq war.


Menuck told Drownedinsound: “The last American tour that Godspeed did was in the run up to the current war in Iraq. For what Godspeed did, it was very difficult for us to work out a way to communicate directly with the audience about what was going on.”

He continued: “We could talk to people after the shows, or we could make announcements from the stage, but so much what Godspeed was, was one-way communication, and I had an existential freakout about that, that those tactics aren’t valid anymore.

“People didn’t need a rock band pointing in the direction of (how the world was at that point). Maybe what they needed is some clumsy words, a presentation that was a little more human.”

But Menuck hinted that personal issues between the members also played a part in the decision to split: “On a personal level I now find (Godspeed) to be inappropriate. There’s a complicated back story. I reached a point whereby I was no longer willing to contribute to the steering of the ship; it was like, ‘Okay now, someone else point the direction, I love you all, but I need to ride shotgun for a while’. I think that bands do have a short shelf life.”

Godspeed You Black Emperor formed in 1994 and released six albums and EPs, culminating in 2004’s ‘Tiny Little Hammers’. Since when they have been on ‘indefinite hiatus’.

The band made the cover of NME in 1998.