Godspeed You! Black Emperor (formerly known as Godspeed You Black Emperor!) is a Canadian rock group based in Montreal, Quebec. The band is most commonly classified as post rock, but they exist outside any established scene and take influences from a range of styles including progressive rock, punk, classical music and the avant garde. Their records each consist of a few fairly long tracks (mostly between 10-20 minutes), divided into "movements" which are sometimes specified in the record sleeve.
The band formed around 1994 with three members, but its lineup has changed frequently. The band has had as many as fifteen members at one time, but has tended to settle down to a group of nine. The instruments played vary with the lineup, but the music tends to be based around electric and bass guitars, strings and a percussion section. Other instruments such as the xylophone and the French horn make more occasional appearances. The music on some of their records is accompanied by vocal samples recorded by the band across North America, including an apocalyptic street preacher from Providence, Rhode Island, an announcement at a supermarket, and a group of children talking and singing in French.
The band members have in the past been reluctant to go in for the traditional self-publicising interviews, and have openly expressed their distaste for the mainstream, corporation-owned music industry. This has given them a reputation as shadowy, even anti-social figures, and not a great deal is known about them personally. They did, however, become considerably more widely known after appearing on the cover of English music magazine the NME in 1999.
The member who interacts with the press the most is Efrim Menuck, and for this reason he is sometimes presented as a front-man. However, he has strongly repudiated this label.
Members of the group have formed a number of side projects, the best known of which are A Silver Mt. Zion, Fly Pan Am and Set Fire to Flames. The band recently contributed the song East Hastings to the soundtrack of the UK film 28 Days Later, although it is only featured in the film and not on the soundtrack available for purchase.