Feel Good Lost Era:
The band's core members are Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. This duo recorded and released the band's ambient debut album, Feel Good Lost, on Noise Factory Records in 2001, with contributions by Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin and Bill Priddle. However, when they played shows to support the album, Drew and Canning found it difficult to put together an entertaining show based on their material thusfar, which was an almost entirely instrumental.
As a result, they brought in a number of friends from the Toronto indie scene—Andrew Whiteman, Jason Collett, Leslie Feist, and Metric's Emily Haines—to flesh out their live show with lyrics and vocals. Over time, the band also came to include contributions from James Shaw, Justin Peroff, John Crossingham, Stars' Torquil Campbell, Evan Cranley, and Amy Millan.
You Forgot It in People Era:
All of the later guest musicians joined with Drew, Canning, Peroff and Spearin to record the band's second album, You Forgot It in People. The album won the Alternative Album of the Year Juno Award in 2003. The album also included musical contributions by Priddle, Jessica Moss, Brodie West, Susannah Brady and Ohad Benchetrit, but these were credited as supporting musicians rather than band members. On the supporting tour, the core band consisted of Drew, Canning, Peroff, Whiteman and Jason Collett, along with any other band member who was available to attend any individual show.
In 2003, the B-sides and remix collection Bee Hives was released.
Broken Social Scene's song Lover's Spit from 2002's You Forgot It in People has been featured in director Clément Virgo's movie Lie with Me (2005), Paul McGuigan's Wicker Park (2004), Bruce McDonald's The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess (2004), Showtime's Queer as Folk (2003) and the penultimate episode of the Canadian series "Terminal City." The version of "Lover's Spit" found on 2004's Bee Hives record was also featured in an episode of the third season of the FX series Nip/Tuck. Showtime's television program The L Word featured "Pacific Theme" "Looks Just Like the Sun" both from You Forgot It in People in the show's first season. "Stars and Sons" from You Forgot It in People also appeared in the movie "The Invisible". Music from the band's albums were used to score the 2006 film Half Nelson.
Broken Social Scene Era:
Broken Social Scene released their third full-length, Broken Social Scene on October 4, 2005, with new contributors including k-os, Jason Tait and Murray Lightburn. The inside booklet accompanying album also noted several new faces as part of Broken Social Scene. A limited edition EP, E.P. To Be You And Me was also printed along with the album. David Newfeld, who has produced Broken Social Scene's albums, is listed as a band member for the first time.
The group appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on January 31, 2006 performing "7/4 (Shoreline)". At the 2006 Juno Awards, they performed "Ibi Dreams of Pavement" at the show and their eponymous album won the Alternative Album of the Year award. In July, 2006 the band announced a temporary hiatus following the conclusion of their November US tour while members work on their other projects.
Broken Social Scene were last minute replacement performers at North America's first Virgin Festival, at Toronto Islands Park, the weekend of September 9–10, 2006. Contacted on September 7, after headliners Massive Attack cancelled due to problems involving obtaining US visas, the entire band, just returned from a European tour in August, managed to assemble to close the festival Sunday night. Appearing on the main Virgin Mobile Stage, immediately following performances by international superstar bands The Strokes and The Raconteurs, BSS took the stage at 10:00 p.m., and played a set of over an hour. Through the performance the band was joined by part-time members, and stars in their own right: Leslie Feist, Amy Millan of Stars, k-os, and Emily Haines of Metric. This was the last show featuring the rare 15 member lineup of the band.
In late 2006, several members of the band appeared as special guests on The Stars and Suns Sessions, the second album from Mexican indie band Chikita Violenta. The album was produced by Dave Newfeld.
They have also composed and recorded an original score for director Marc Evans's film Snow Cake, as well as scored his 2007 film adaptation of Maureen Medved's novel, The Tracey Fragments. In 2009, Bruce McDonald directed a short documentary episode of IFC's "The Rawside Of..." that focused on the making of Brendan Canning's solo album, "Something For All of Us."
Broken Social Scene Presents...:
On June 8, 2007, music website Pitchforkmedia.com reported that BSS founder Kevin Drew was recording a solo album, which was to feature many other members of BSS and produced by Ohad Benchetrit and Charles Spearin. The album is entitled Broken Social Scene presents Kevin Drew, Spirit If..., and is intended to be the first in a series of "Broken Social Scene presents..." albums. The album was recorded throughout 2004 and 2006 in Ohad Benchetrit's house while the band was not on tour. Although billed as a solo project, nearly every BSS member, from drummer Justin Peroff to Leslie Feist, Emily Haines and Amy Millan, makes a cameo appearance. The sound itself is BSS’s familiar mix of rough and ragged, sad and celebratory. It is prone to psychedelic swells, acoustic jangles and features a cast of friends and associates (including Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis and CanCon icon, Tom Cochrane) playing and singing and hand-clapping along. The album was released on September 18, 2007 and a tour billed as Broken Social Scene Performs Kevin Drew's Spirit If... was engaged in late 2007.
The second "Broken Social Scene presents..." record, by Brendan Canning, is entitled Something for All of Us and was released on Arts & Crafts on July 22, 2008. In a recent interview, Canning said the group would be working on a full Broken Social Scene album before another in this series would be produced.
Broken Social Scene also took part in the 2008 Siren Music Festival in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
In March 2009 it was announced that Arts & Crafts, with association from Anansi Press, would release This Book is Broken written by Eye Weekly editor Stuart Berman, who confesses his close personal involvement with the band in the opening chapters. The book includes artwork, concert posters and photographs (professional and amateur) of the band. Most of the narration is provided by interview material of the band and related persons, arranged by subject and chronology. The book was released in May of 2009, and has been described as a "visual/oral history" of not only the band, but of Toronto itself.
On April 29 2009, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning hosted 102.1 The Edge's program "Indie Hour." On this show they said that they had booked time in the coming summer to record the next album. This album will be recorded in Chicago, with John McEntire producing.