By Divine Right
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By Divine Right

Toronto, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1989

Toronto, Canada
Established on Jan, 1989
Band Rock Psychedelic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"By Divine Right celebrates 25 years"

By Divine Right turns 25 this year and to celebrate, guitarist and vocalist Jose Miguel Contreras, the group’s mastermind, is gathering multiple iterations of the band, whose ranks have included musicians who are now members of Broken Social Scene, Wintersleep, Meligrove Band and Dusted, for a big, Canada Day blowout.

“It’s been a really happy time,” he says as he runs between rehearsals with the 20-or-so musicians who will join him onstage, which include Leslie Feist (of Broken Social Scene and, well, Feist), Brendan Canning (BSS) and Brian Borcherdt (of Holy F--- and Dusted). - The Toronto Star

"Placing By Divine Right in the proper light"

Before Broken Social Scene, there was By Divine Right.

Formed in 1989 by José Contreras, By Divine Right became the foundation for Toronto's subsequent indie-rock explosion.

Over the years Contreras' band became the launching pad/stepping stone for some dozen musicians, including Leslie Feist, Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning and Brian Borcherdt of Holy F**k. By Divine Right would spawn innumerable groups, including The Meligrove Band, Wintersleep and the Golden Dogs.

While other bands gained national and international attention, By Divine Right never really made it into the limelight despite releasing seven albums on almost as many labels.

Hamilton musician Dylan Hudecki, who played in By Divine Right from 2001 to 2005, felt it was time the band got some attention.

A couple of years ago, as By Divine Right approached its 25th anniversary, Hudecki, 39, got the idea of reaching out to established musicians to gauge interest in putting together a compilation tribute album consisting of covers of BDR songs.

Hudecki got an impressive response — Sam Roberts said yes, as did Jeremy Fisher and Juno-winning Hamilton rock band Arkells. Born Ruffians, The Elwins, Jim Guthrie, San Sebastian, The Golden Dogs, Lily Frost and the Meligrove Band all wanted in.

Hudecki got the job done. On Friday, Feb. 12, "I Want Light: A Tribute to By Divine Right" is being released digitally on It contains 22 tracks, all written by Contreras. Contributing are all of the artists listed in the preceding paragraph, and more. Contreras' nine-year-old son, Meesha Moon Contreras, did the cover art.

Hudecki is credited as the album's "co-curator" and also closes the album with the song "Listen to my Angels" under his stage name "The Dill."

"José (Contreras) has always been under the radar," says Hudecki, who teaches at Dundas Valley Montessori School when not playing in bands or writing songs. "We were 'indie-rock darlings' but never really made the popular jump, even though José has been writing great pop songs for 25 years. So this is a present to him from me personally and all the other artists who feel the same."

Amazingly, the entire album is being made available for free. The purpose is to spread the word, simply to let people know how good a songwriter Contreras is.

"This is a free digital release and it is going to be so good for BDR," Hudecki says. "They're still making records all the time. They're making a record this year and they made one two years ago. Maybe when people see that all these cool bands love By Divine Right, they'll start going out and buying BDR records and going to see the band live."

Each track on "I Want Light" is accompanied by an explanation from each artist about the BDR song they chose.

"The first song I heard was 'Powersuit' from 'Good Morning Beautiful.' Musically it was on par with 'Revolver'-era Beatles stuff, and the voice was soulful, rich and completely unique," says Arkells' lead singer Max Kerman. "From there I discovered the rest of BDR's material and was blown away by how much quality lived in the songwriting and production." - The Spec


If By Divine Right’s 25th anniversary show at Harbourfront Centre – featuring nearly all of the two dozen musicians who have ever played in the project – was any indication, the best version of the band is the one with 11-plus members.

It took two hours to get there, but the all-star lineup – complete with three drummers, half a dozen guitarists/backup singers (including Leslie Feist, Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning and Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt) and tambourine-smashing children – delivered the mightiest version of BDR’s 1999 classic 5 Bucks ever heard.

The set’s bombastic second last song added an infusion of energy into the proceedings, which dragged here and there over the two hours and countless personnel changes, seamless and as exciting as they were. Band leader José Miguel Contreras, who never once left the stage, deserves massive credit for his stamina and engagement – not just at Harbourfront on Canada Day but for keeping his project alive and inspired for a quarter of a century.

Plus, the current lineup – featuring multi-instrumentalist Alysha Haugen and drummer Geordie Dynes – is killer. - NOW Toronto

"Divine @ 25: By Divine Right’s 25th Anniversary"

By Divine Right performed their first live show in June 1990 and quickly rose through the ranks of the Canadian indie-rock landscape, influencing generations of musicians and providing a fertile breeding ground for other artists to make their own mark. Now, in their 25th year, the band continues to create essential Canadian music. By Divine Right's tenth album comes out this year, along with a solo album from mainstay Jose Contreras, and a film starring and soundtracked by Contreras. To celebrate their landmark anniversary, we pay tribute to the work and legacy of this iconic band with a star-studded cast of current and former band members and fans from across the Canadian indie-rock scene, representing an unprecedented gathering of Canada’s rock and roll royalty of today and tomorrow.

As part of our celebration of what it means to be Canadian, we honour the legacy of this iconic group, tracking its influence over the course of 25 years and into the future with a live event that brings the band’s story full circle. - Harbourfront Centre


José Miguel Contreras is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor, film composer, and amazing songwriter currently based in Toronto. Contreras is best known as the only consistent member of By Divine Right, a tremendously significant band whose past contributors include Feist and musicians who went on to form Broken Social Scene, Holy Fuck, and Sheezer among many others. By Divine Right’s first show took place in June 1990 and, on July 1, they celebrate their 25th anniversary with a big, all-star concert at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, featuring past and current members and other special guests. By Divine Right are also returning to the Hillside Festival on the July 24-26 weekend and will release a new record this year as well. Here, José and I talk about being in bed, freshening and boning up, the history of BDR, when they sucked, when they ruled, wanting and not wanting people to be in BDR’s revolving door lineup, Lysh and Geordie, Mark Goldstein on drums forever, the three-night stint with Change of Heart I saw in Guelph in 1997, getting going with a tape and touring with the Inbreds, the first person to ever leave BDR, the only time BDR might ever stop for good is now, the chemistry, the differences between Toronto and the internet in 1990 and now, seeing high school mate Hayden succeed, the importance of James Ogilvie, finding cool sounds, playing with Mark and James could be a bit dirty, Guelph’s Trasheteria, Dallas Good and drugs, going to high school with Sean Dean, born in Chile on John Lennon and Sean Lennon’s birthday, Yoko Ono might be creepy for not suggesting John hang out with the Beatles every once in a while, Chilean folk music and the Monkees, Beatles comps, where does happiness come from, finding your purpose, bliss bubbles, growing up in Thornhill and attending high school with Jian Ghomeshi who could be weird, Jian’s little black book, playing Jian’s high school show Swé, José’s role in the new film Porch Stories, his co-star Laura Barrett, the film’s plot and themes, acting again, music for him versus music for BDR, upcoming solo and BDR releases, leaving the Beaches for the west end, Divine @ 25 at the Harbourfront Centre, “itineration,” juicy past band members taking part in this thing, two hours of BDR, figuring out my role in this event, playing Hillside again, the song “More Thorns,” and that was it. - Kreative Kontrol

"By Divine Right The Ship @ St. John's NL, April 24"

Who better to bring a mighty love explosion to the Rock than By Divine Right? There is no sunlight in St. John's, I think ever. Maybe once. But BDR and Jose Contreras radiate so much warmth and positivity, it made up for the dreariness of the world outside of the Ship. "I Will Hook You Up" never sounded like such a heartfelt promise, the band shining together onstage with indie-rock might. There's something about this club that brings out the best in powerful pop bands of By Divine Right's vintage.

The crowd is reverent and celebratory and the band responded in kind with curious, funny and cool songs. And closing with a sweetly arranged cover of Stompin' Tom's "Moon-Man Newfie," while getting away with evoking the Canadian N-word? Priceless. The show was a gentle reminder that few bands in Canada bring the party like By Divine Right. They felt good, we felt good. What else is there? - Exclaim!


Speak and Spell (forthcoming - May 2016)
Organized Accidents (2013)
Mutant Message (2009)
Sweet Confusion (2004)
Hybrid TV Genii (2004)
Good Morning Beautiful (2001)
Bless This Mess (1999)
All Hail Discordia (1997)


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Before Broken Social Scene, there was By Divine Right."

With nine albums under their belt, JUNO Award and Polaris Prize nominations in tow, and an evolving lineup that has included Feist, Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene), Brian Borcherdt (Holy Fuck), and members of The Meligrove Band, By Divine Right are one of Canada's crown jewels.

Influencing generations of musicians and providing a fertile breeding ground for other artists to make their own mark, the band's oeuvre is centered around the iconic songwriting of Jose Contreras. His fervent passion for artistic adventure and cultural intuition thrives on creative curiosity and a fusion of sensibilities - a combination that has charted a unique psychedelic-sludge-rock-infused path for the group for over two decades. 

Now in their 25th year, and with their tenth album on the way, By Divine Right continues to create essential Canadian music.

Band Members