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.
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, distracted by the success of Vanilla Ice.
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 lead to a spot on The Tragically Hip's Another Roadside Attraction tour.
They followed up with Conquistador in 1995, which gave them another hit with "Beneath My Hand". While the album is generally hailed as 13 Engines' finest work, it did not do well commercially and two members subsequently left the band. John Critchley attempted to carry on under the 13 Engines name, but retired the band before releasing another album.
Following the breakup of 13 Engines, Critchley continued as a solo artist and recorded an album with ex-13 Engines guitarist Scott Stevenson entitled "Crooked Mile" in 2000. He currently focuses his attention to producing and engineering at Toronto's Green Door Studios, which he owns. He also scores film and television projects.