13 Engines

13 Engines was a Canadian alternative rock band active in the 1980s and 1990s.


Formed in 1985 as The Ikons, the band consisted of four York University students: vocalist John Critchley, guitarist Mike Robbins, bassist Jim Hughes and drummer Grant Ethier. They released a self-titled independent cassette in 1986 before changing their name to 13 Engines. This name was a reference to the automobile industry in Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan, which were the first two markets to embrace the band.

13 Engines released two independent albums: Before Our Time in 1987 and Byram Lake Blues in 1989, before signing to SBK Records in the United States and EMI in Canada.

Their major label debut, 1991's A Blur to Me Now, gave the band airplay for the singles King of Saturday Night and Big Surprise. However, SBK dropped them soon afterward.

1993's Perpetual Motion Machine, produced by Critchley, was the band's breakthrough in Canada, spawning the hit singles More, Bred in the Bone and Smoke & Ashes, and led to a spot on The Tragically Hip's Another Roadside Attraction tour.

They followed up with Conquistador in 1995, which gave them another hit, Beneath My Hand. While the album is generally hailed as 13 Engines' finest work, it did not do well commercially and two members left the band. Critchley contemplated carrying on under the 13 Engines name, but elected to retire the band.


Following the break-up of 13 Engines, Critchley continued as a solo artist and, in 2000, recorded an album with ex-13 Engines guitarist Scott Stevenson, Crooked Mile. Both Critchley and Ethier went on to careers as producers.


  • Before Our Time (1987)
  • Byram Lake Blues (1989)
  • A Blur to Me Now (1991)
  • Perpetual Motion Machine (1993)
  • Conquistador (1995)