Godspeed You! Black Emperor Finally Address Why They Didn’t Want The Polaris Award


Last September, dark, political, post-rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor won Canada’s prestigious Polaris Music Prize for 2012’s surprise album Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! To some people’s surprise, they weren’t in attendance to accept the award and then went on to issue a statement thanking the music-press for the prize but speaking out against corporate domination and the idolization of music awards. Feathers were ruffled — obviously.  Now, in a Kreative Kontrol podcast interview, Godspeed member Efrim Menuck spoke about the event and why things happened the way they did.

Menuck explains how the band didn’t expect to win and didn’t want to start tension by refusing the award:

As a band, we said everything we had to say, honestly. The only thing I’d add to it is, it was the strangest thing to go into the day of the award show hoping that we would not win. I don’t know. We knew what we were going to say if we won… With Godspeed, it’s always like, the amount of years between us shooting our mouths off and getting into arguments — the more years that pass between those arguments, the better for us. It always feels like a losing proposition. But at the same time, you have to do it; you have to speak your mind. Contrary to what people might think about us, we’re not argumentative by nature. That Polaris thing felt like being at someone’s parents’ house for dinner and the friends of someone’s parents says something inappropriate and then you’re like, ’Oh shit, now I have to say, hey, what do you mean?’ That’s what it felt like to us.

Apparently it took a lot for Godspeed to even consider the possibility of winning, considering there is weird tension between them and their homeland, Canada:

The deal was, to anyone who puts out a new record in a year, Polaris approaches the record label and says, ’Would you like to put these records up for nomination?’ Then the label can say yes or no. So Constellation said yes to this and didn’t ask Godspeed what they thought about it because they were like, ’Oh, this will be a nice thing.’… And so it was really late in the game when we realized, ’Oh shit, we could’ve just pulled out.’ But we were convinced that we were not going to make it onto the short list. When we did make it onto the short list, the band was convinced we weren’t going to win this thing. It was really towards the end when were like, ’Oh shit, we might and I guess we need to prepare ourselves for that possibility.’ It was a really strange process… You have to remember that Godspeed’s relationship with the Canadian music industry has been terrible from the beginning. It’s been antagonistic from the beginning so it wasn’t unreasonable for us to be like, ’We’re not going to get this thing. Why would they give us this thing?’ We said it in our press release: we feel like orphans in our own country. We feel fairly invisible here.

Currently, Godspeed are looking into how they will use the prize money for musical education in Quebec prisons as promised. Menuck did make sure to note that with all of the drama that occurred, they did say thank you:

We said what we had to say and tried to say it as graciously as we could, and I feel like some people got that and other people chose not to acknowledge that there was some attempt at graciousness there. It’s not like we wrote a letter like, ’Fuck you man! Stupid squares!’ We tried to acknowledge, y’know?

The full podcast is online for streaming here.

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  • XBlueCollarHardcoreX

    How do they think they make money? Pretentious crap. Go play to the wall of your basement.