The band was formed in 1997 in Winnipeg, Manitoba by John K. Samson, after he left the punk band Propagandhi to start a publishing company. Samson joined forces with bassist John P. Sutton and drummer Jason Tait, and created The Weakerthans as a vehicle for a more melodic and introspective brand of songwriting than that of Propagandhi. One origin story for the bands name, as quoted in the liner notes of Fallow, is a line from the 1992 film The Lover: ""Go ahead, Im weaker than you can possibly imagine.""The bands name may also refer to a Ralph Chaplin quote from ""Solidarity Forever"": ""What force on Earth can be weaker than the feeble strength of one?"" The band alludes to this line in the song ""Pamphleteer"" from the album Left and Leaving. The Weakerthans, with support from Jim Bryson, at a 2007 concert in Toronto In 2003, the band moved to Epitaph Records and released Reconstruction Site. The album was met with rave reviews from Canadian and international critics for its ambitious combination of punk, rock, folk, country and sonnets. It also became the bands best-selling record to date, as well as its airplay breakthrough on Canadian radio. It was the second Weakerthans album to be produced by Ian Blurton. Sutton, who played on all three of the bands first albums, left in August 2004 and was replaced by Greg Smith. In 2005, Left and Leaving was named one of the ten best Canadian albums of all time in Chart magazines reader poll. In the same poll, Samson wrote the capsule review for another top ten finisher, The Lowest of the Lows Shakespeare My Butt, which he cited as a major influence on his own music. Reunion Tour was released on September 25, 2007 in North America by Epitaph and ANTI-. The band released a video for ""Civil Twilight"", which consisted of a single, unbroken camera shot of the band on a Winnipeg Transit city bus. Epitaph also re-released the Weakerthans first two albums, Fallow and Left and Leaving, in Canada on November 6, 2007.

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