What Happened with Godspeed You! Black Emperor in 2003?


Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GY!BE) were once suspected and detained by the FBI for supposed terrorism

Since you are on this article, you might already know who Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GY!BE) are. If by any chance you don't, well it's an experimental music collective from Montreal, Quebec. 

For many post-rock fans, GY!BE is one of the bands that defined this genre of music. More than twenty years have passed since their inception, and yet only very little is known about them in a wider sense.

The band announced a hiatus in 2003 and reunited in 2010. The year they went on hiatus, something shocking and rather unexpected happened to them. During their tour in 2003, the band pulled out in a gas station in Ardmore, Oklahoma. 

They parked their two passenger vans and one-panel truck in which they were transporting touring equipment.

The gas station attendant of that day, a youth female, suspected the group of terrorists. She then passed a note to a customer and asked them to call the police. 

The police arrived at the scene and likewise held them at gunpoint until the FBI questioned them. The feds, however, although were suspicious, but didn't really find any such incriminating evidence. 

They found antigovernmental documents and photos of weird stuff, including pictures of oil rigs.

The feds then ran some background checks on the group, and finally let the ensemble go. One of the group's founding members, Efrim Manuck, then told the crowd about what happened to them. 

He told Ryan Schriber of Pitchfork, "I just feel very lucky that we weren't Pakistani or Korean. They detained 1,000 people in California, no one knows what happened to them. We're just lucky we're nice white kids from Canada. That's what I feel lucky about." [1]

Although later Manuck claimed that he never said those to Schriber, instead he yelled these at him since he didn't wish to talk to him.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor is like an art installation. It requires a lot of internal and external inspiration. So sure, politics fuel the artistic fire, but how could they not in the time we are living in? Obviously, other emotions and ideas play big roles in defining the music, but the topics that inspire the musicians the most are the ones most prominent in the final product. 

Freedom to express oneself is a major factor when trying to present and represent art being produced. The somber yet beautiful paranoia illuminated in GY!BE’s work helps to present a feeling induced by the major events in our world. 

Nothing is being resolved, it is all giving way to chaos and I feel Godspeed was there to accompany us through it all.

Shoaib Rahman

 Founder, Fadewblogs

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