The Weakerthans are an award-winning four-piece (and sometimes six-piece) Canadian indie rock band that blends punk rock with folk rock.
The band was formed in 1997 in Winnipeg, Manitoba by John K. Samson, after he left the punk band Propagandhi to start a publishing company. Samson joined forces with bassist John P. Sutton and drummer Jason Tait, and created The Weakerthans as a vehicle for a more melodic and introspective brand of songwriting than that of Propagandhi.
One origin story for the band's name, as quoted in the liner notes of Fallow, is a line from the 1992 film The Lover: "Go ahead, I'm weaker than you can possibly imagine." The band's name may also refer to a Ralph Chaplin quote from "Solidarity Forever": "What force on Earth can be weaker than the feeble strength of one?" The band alludes to this line in the song "Pamphleteer" from the album Left and Leaving.
The band's debut album, Fallow, was released in 1997 on G7 Welcoming Committee Records, and garnered positive reviews from Canadian music critics. Guitarist Stephen Carroll, formerly of Painted Thin, subsequently joined the band, and Left and Leaving was released in 2000.
In 2003, the band moved to Epitaph Records and released Reconstruction Site. The album was met with rave reviews from Canadian and international critics for its ambitious combination of punk, rock, folk, country and sonnets. It also became the band's best-selling record to date, as well as its airplay breakthrough on Canadian radio. It was the second Weakerthans album to be produced by Ian Blurton.
Sutton, who played on all three of the band's first albums, left in August 2004 and was replaced by Greg Smith. In 2005, Left and Leaving was named one of the ten best Canadian albums of all time in Chart magazine's reader poll. In the same poll, Samson wrote the capsule review for another top ten finisher, The Lowest of the Low's Shakespeare My Butt, which he cited as a major influence on his own music.
Reunion Tour was released on September 25, 2007 in North America by Epitaph and ANTI-. The band released a video for "Civil Twilight", which consisted of a single, unbroken camera shot of the band on a Winnipeg Transit city bus. Epitaph also re-released the Weakerthans' first two albums, Fallow and Left and Leaving, in Canada on November 6, 2007.
In February 2009, the band participated in Barenaked Ladies' annual Ships and Dip cruise. In a subsequent interview with Canwest News Service, Samson clarified that the band would be taking some downtime over the summer of 2009 before deciding when to start working on their next album. Shortly afterward, Samson announced a series of solo 7" releases about Manitoba roads, which he plans to release over the next 18 months. The first, City Route 85, will be released on October 30 through Epitaph and ANTI-.
In January 2010, the band announced that they will release a live album, Live at the Burton Cummings Theatre, on March 23. At the same time, they also announced that they were recording material with Jim Bryson for his forthcoming album.
- John K. Samson (lead vocals, guitar)
- Jason Tait (drums, percussion, vibraphone, keyboards)
- Stephen Carroll (guitar, pedal and lap steel, keyboards)
- Greg Smith (bass)
- John P. Sutton (bass)