Before You Knew Them

What members of Broken Social Scene, Born Ruffians, DFA1979, July Talk, Constantines, and more were doing previously

With wide appetites for musical styles, genres, and everything else in between, musicians sometimes have a hard time sticking to just one band. Two, three – gasp, sometimes four! – bands may share a single musician at any given time. It’s no secret that the music scene, in this respect, can be pretty incestuous.

It’s time to dig up those old ties and latent influences and find out where some of our favourite bands have come from, or who they’ve been playing with while making some of the best music in Toronto. Here are seven bands you know and seven more that you should who share some of the same members.

Broken Social Scene
With core members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, Broken Social Scene has led a sprawling performance life since its inception in 1999, featuring contributions by artists from Evan Cranley to Emily Haines. But before this instrumental-based band broke into Toronto’s consciousness, Brendan Canning was playing in hHead, a 90s indie power pop band that put itself on the MTV map.


Born Ruffians
With their roots solidly placed in indie pop rock, Born Ruffians have made a name for themselves since 2004. Only a year later, Born Ruffians guitarist Luke Lalonde started playing with Henri Fabergé and the Adorables, a wild, fun indie band that has its own musically diverse history, including members like Maylee Todd, Dana Snell and other members of the Bicycles, and Paul Banwatt of the Rural Alberta Advantage.


Death From Above 1979
Before Death From Above 1979 became a household name, the duo’s bassist Jesse Keeler had a short-lived electro-punk project called Black Cat #13. A combination of punk rock and foreboding electro-synth, Black Cat #13 put out a handful of singles and EPs before disbanding in 2000.


Prolific musicians who enjoyed experimenting with different kinds of music, the members of MSTRKRFT weren’t always the electronic house duo you know them to be now. While their roots in Death from Above 1979’s prolonged, eight year absence are pretty well-known, one member also experimented with an almost decidedly non-punk genre. With the band Girlsareshort, MSTRKRFT member Al-P put out two albums of synthy-twee, blissfully weird pop music that sound like a gang of Ritalin-addled grade schoolers were let loose in a recording studio.


Diamond Rings
While John O’Regan is best known as his stage name Diamond Rings, he once played in a band called the D’Urbervilles (later known as Matters), who made guitar-laden indie rock their bread and butter. To the Diamond Rings fans out there: traces of John O’Regan’s style and influence appear like fingerprints all over the D’Urbervilles’s sound. You might like it.


Before Alec O’Hanley of Alvvays joined his pop-loving, surf-rock guitar rhythms with their jangly, beach-soaked sound, he played in the band Two Hours Traffic, whose name thankfully doesn’t describe what listening to their music feels like.


July Talk
It’s probably no surprise that, prior to joining the loud, wicked, and sultry sounds of July Talk, drummer Danny Miles played in a psych-punk band called The Job. With loud and bass-heavy tunes, their repetitive vocals and sing-a-long worthy lyrics will beat their way into your subconscious, threatening to never leave.


Before the epic Springsteen-meets-Fugazi awesomeness of the beloved Constantines, singer-guitarist Bry Webb and drummer Doug MacGregor had a band in the early 90s called Shoulder. The group’s energetic post-hardcore calisthenics are impressive, and Webb’s distinctive raspy vocals are instantly recognizable.