The Weakerthans

The Weakerthans are an award-winning and Juno-nominated Canadian indie rock band from Winnipeg. The band, led by John K. Samson, has released four studio albums and is currently inactive.

The Weakerthans
The Weakerthans performing in Winnipeg, 2007
The Weakerthans performing in Winnipeg, 2007
Background information
OriginWinnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
GenresIndie rock, folk rock, alternative, post-punk, emo
Years active1997–2014 (on hiatus)
LabelsEpitaph, ANTI-, G7 Welcoming Committee, Sub City, B.A. Records
MembersJohn K. Samson
Jason Tait
Stephen Carroll
Greg Smith
Past membersJohn P. Sutton
WebsiteThe Weakerthans at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2020)


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 bassist John P. Sutton and drummer Jason Tait of Red Fisher, another band from Winnipeg's punk scene,[1] and created The Weakerthans as a vehicle for a more melodic and introspective brand of songwriting than their previous projects.

The origin of the band's name was explained, in 2004 by Samson, as having come from "a few places." The first was a line from the 1992 film The Lover: "Go ahead, I'm weaker than you can possibly imagine." A second (he gave only two) was a line from Ralph Chaplin's union anthem "Solidarity Forever": "What force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?" The band includes this line in the song "Pamphleteer" from the album Left and Leaving.[2]

The band's debut album, Fallow, was released in 1997 on G7 Welcoming Committee Records, and garnered positive reviews from Canadian music critics.[3] Guitarist Stephen Carroll, formerly of Painted Thin, subsequently joined the band, and Left and Leaving was released in 2000.

The Weakerthans, with support from Jim Bryson, at a 2007 concert in Toronto

In 2003, the band moved to Epitaph Records and released Reconstruction Site. The album was met with positive reviews[4] 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, and in September appeared on the !earshot National Top 50 Chart as a result of significant airplay on Canadian radio.[5] It was the second Weakerthans album to be produced by Ian Blurton.

Sutton, who played on the band's first three 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.[6] 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.[7]

Epitaph also re-released the Weakerthans' first two albums, Fallow and Left and Leaving, in Canada on November 6, 2007.[8]

In February 2009, the band participated in Barenaked Ladies' annual Ships and Dip cruise.[9] 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.[9] Shortly afterward, Samson announced a series of solo 7" releases about Manitoba roads, which he planned to release over the next 18 months. The first, City Route 85, was released on October 30, 2009 through Epitaph and ANTI-.[10] After a second EP, Provincial Road 222, in 2010, the project instead evolved into Samson's first official solo album, Provincial.

In January 2010, the band announced that they would release a live album, Live at the Burton Cummings Theatre, on March 23.[11] At the same time, they also announced that they were recording material with Jim Bryson for his album The Falcon Lake Incident, which was released on October 19, 2010.[12] In the same year, they were the subject of Caelum Vatnsdal's documentary film We're the Weakerthans, We're from Winnipeg.[13]

In July 2015, media began to report that Tait had announced the band's breakup on Twitter.[14] The band's social media accounts have been updated in accordance to the claims, defining themselves as "cryogenically frozen". Both Tait and Smith collaborated on Samson's 2016 solo album Winter Wheat, which Samson described as feeling in some respects like a new Weakerthans album.[15]

Chart performanceEdit

Reunion Tour debuted at No. 22 on the Nielsen SoundScan chart for Canada in its first week of release, and at No. 4 on the alternative/modern rock chart. The album reached No. 181 on the United States Billboard 200.

The Weakerthans became the first band in the history of CBC Radio 3's R3-30 charts to reach No. 1 with two different songs. The band's cover of Rheostatics' "Bad Time to Be Poor" reached No. 1 the week of June 21, 2007, and "Civil Twilight", the lead single from Reunion Tour, hit the top spot the week of November 15, 2007. As of 2009, "Civil Twilight" remains tied with Arcade Fire's "Black Mirror" as the longest-running No. 1 in that chart's history. "Civil Twilight" was also the No. 1 song in The R3-30's year-end Top 100 chart for 2007.


Samson performing in Winnipeg, December 2007

Current membersEdit

Former membersEdit

  • John P. Sutton (bass)

Live show helpEdit

  • Jim Bryson (general support). Joined as of September 10, 2007.[16]
  • Christine Fellows (keyboards/background vocals)
  • Brian Poirier (acoustic guitar and backing vocals)
  • Tyler Greenleaf (trumpet and trombone)
  • Rusty Matyas (general support) – performed with the band for the 2009 Rolling Tundra Revue[17]

MacKinnon and Poirier also have their own band, FemBots, and were previously associated with the bands Dig Circus and Hummer. Both Bryson and Fellows are solo artists in addition to touring with The Weakerthans; Fellows and Samson are married. Matyas is a member of the bands The Waking Eyes and Imaginary Cities.


Studio albums

Side projectsEdit

  • Samson frequently collaborates with his wife, Christine Fellows.
  • Tait has recorded and performed with Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think.
  • Tait, Samson, and Fellows collaborated with poet and filmmaker Clive Holden on his multimedia project Trains of Winnipeg.
  • Carroll appeared on The Details' Draw a Distance. Draw a Border. and The Original Mark EP. He co-produced a couple of songs on The Original Mark EP as well as their upcoming full-length (2011).
  • In 2006, all of the Weakerthans except Samson performed on Bad Religion singer Greg Graffin's second solo album, Cold as the Clay. They also toured with Graffin on a tour supporting the album.
  • In 2000, the Winnipeg Free Press released a spoken word album by Catherine Hunter that included a bonus track featuring the Weakerthans doing backing instrumentation while Hunter read her poem "Rush Hour".


In Montreal, October 2004


  • Outstanding Independent Album – Reconstruction Site – Western Canadian Music Awards (2004)[18]
  • Outstanding Songwriter – John K. Samson – Western Canadian Music Awards (2004)[18]
  • Artist of the Year – The Weakerthans – Verge Awards (2008).[19]
  • SOCAN Songwriting Prize – "Night Windows" (2008)[20]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "A Comprehensive Look At Winnipeg’s PC Punk Scene". Noisey, Sheldon Birnie Sep 22 2014,
  2. ^ John K. Samson (November 2, 2004). "Weakerthans' John Samson Interviewed by Crush Music Mag" (Interview). Interviewed by Rob Todd of Crush Music Mag. Archived from the original on November 24, 2004. Retrieved November 15, 2018. Alt URL
  3. ^ Haggart, B. (October 11, 1998). The Weakerthans: punk rock that’s home-grown and grown-up. Catholic New Times, 22(15), 16.
  4. ^ "Album Review: The Weakerthans, Reconstruction Site". Toronto Sun. August 22, 2003. Archived from the original on July 14, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2007.
  5. ^ "The National Top 50 For the Week Ending: Tuesday, September 16, 2003". !earshot.
  6. ^ "The Top 50 Canadian Albums and Songs of All Time". Chart, Issue 164. March 2005.
  7. ^ Spinella, Mike (October 17, 2007). "Video Premiere: The Weakerthans, "Civil Twilight"". Spinner. Retrieved October 25, 2007.
  8. ^ Van Evra, Jennifer (October 24, 2007). "Epitaph To Re-Release Weakerthans Classics". CBC Radio 3. Archived from the original on January 1, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2007.
  9. ^ a b "The Weakerthans make plans for no plans" Archived July 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Canwest News Service, April 20, 2009.
  10. ^ "The Weakerthans' John K. Samson Reveals New Seven-Inches Series in Honour of Manitoba Roads". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  11. ^ "The Weakerthans Set Release Date for New Live Album" Archived January 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Exclaim!, January 7, 2010.
  12. ^ "Jim Bryson Recruits the Weakerthans for The Falcon Lake Incident" Archived August 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Exclaim!, September 23, 2010.
  13. ^ Vish Khanna, "We're the Weakerthans We're from Winnipeg". Exclaim!, October 4, 2011.
  14. ^ "Weakerthans 'done,' according to band member". Winnipeg Free Press, July 15, 2015.
  15. ^ "John K. Samson Returns with 'Winter Wheat' Solo LP, Shares New Single". Exclaim!, August 15, 2016.
  16. ^ Lawrence, Grant (September 10, 2007). "Bryson Rapidly Weakening". CBC Radio 3. Retrieved September 25, 2007.
  17. ^ "Tour Wrap up von the Waking Eyes bei Myspace". Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2009.
  18. ^ a b c "Weakerthans stick to their punk rock roots". The Brock Press. March 30, 2005. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  19. ^ Wheeler, Brad (September 25, 2008). "Weakerthans, Hey Rosetta! win Verge Music Awards". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 25, 2008.
  20. ^ "Past Nominees and Winners - SOCAN Songwriting Prize". Retrieved March 15, 2020.

External linksEdit