Constantines | The Canadian Encyclopedia



The Constantines initially began as a punk rock band but have since combined elements of classic rock and blues to generate their trademark sound.


 Constantines. Indie rock band formed in Guelph, Ont, in 1999 and based in Toronto. Members include Steve Lambke (vocals/guitar), Bryan Webb (vocals/guitar), Will Kidman (keyboard), Dallas Wehrle (bass), and Doug MacGregor (drums). Keyboardist Evan Gordon joined the original quartet in 2002 and was replaced by Kidman later that year.

The Constantines initially began as a punk rock band but have since combined elements of classic rock and blues to generate their trademark sound. Their musical style has been described as "post-punk," and has often been compared to that of their principal influence, US band Fugazi, as well as to The Clash and Bruce Springsteen (the band's lyrical content also reflects working-class values). The Constantines' high-energy rock songs, featuring straightforward arrangements coupled with raspy, insistent vocals and raw guitar riffs, have cemented their position as favourites in the Toronto indie music scene.

Early Career

In the late 1990s Lambke and Wehrle were members of the Cambridge, Ont, band Captain Co-Pilot, while Webb and MacGregor played in the London, Ont, act Shoulder. After the collapse of both groups, the four came together under their current moniker and became fixtures in the Guelph music scene. During this time Webb and Lambke regularly held shows in the basement of their home, where the Constantines would perform alongside guest bands. Fellow Guelph act Royal City played at one such show and subsequently helped the Constantines secure a record deal with the newly-formed local indie label Three Gut Records.

Recordings and Awards

After a brief stint in London, Ont, the band relocated to Toronto, where they released their self-titled debut in 2001. The album was critically acclaimed and received a Juno Award nomination for alternative album of the year in 2002. The album's success also garnered the Constantines an international two-record deal with prominent American indie label Sub Pop in 2002. Shine A Light (2003, Three Gut Records TGR009/Sub Pop SPCD 569) followed shortly after and was nominated for alternative album of the year at the 2004 Junos. The Constantines' third full-length album, Tournament of Hearts (2005, Sub Pop SPCD 669), was Three Gut Records' last official release, and in 2007 the band signed an international record and management deal with Toronto's Arts & Crafts. Kensington Heights (2008, A&C032), the Constantines' first release on Arts & Crafts, was named the top rock album of 2008 by the Associated Press and received a 2009 Juno nomination for artwork design of the year.

Collaborations and Side Projects

The Constantines have toured with The Weakerthans, Sloan, and the Foo Fighters. In 2006 the group released an album of Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot covers with Canadian indie rock band The Unintended. In 2008 the Constantines joined forces with Feist to record the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton classic "Islands in the Stream." Lambke, Webb, Kidman, and Wehrle have played in a Crazy Horse cover band called Horsey Craze. Lambke has released solo albums as Baby Eagle, while Kidman has done the same under the stage name Woolly Leaves.

Selected Discography

Constantines. 2001. Three Gut Records (reissued 2004, Sub Pop SP 652)

The Modern Sinner Nervous Man EP. 2002. Suicide Squeeze Records S-020

Too Slow For Love EP. 2009. Arts & Crafts AXC029

Further Reading

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