The most recognized Go Four 3 line up is probably Stephen Quinn on guitar (first billing as I’m writing this), Gordon James Badanic on bass, Roxanne Dawn Heichert on vocals, and Ian Alexander Noble on drums. Though he’s not shown on either album cover, Robert “Drums-A-Go-Go” Tomkow has drummed with Gord and Steve the longest, including reunion gigs. For now, a semi brief history.
Gord, Rob and Steve met through a mutual friend/guitarist Ross Edwards in the Summer of 1979. Pity it wasn’t 10 years earlier or we could have written a hit song about it. Though without the sexual connotations. Steve was on vocals for this band, which was pretty much as close to a Who rip off band as you could get, taking their name from a Who bootleg called Who’s Zoo. The Zoo (we realised the name The Who was already taken) played their first gig July 28, 1980 at Gary Taylor’s rock club. It was a two floor club, with the band upstairs, and the exotic dancers and crowd downstairs. It could have been worse though, we could have called ourselves The Guess Zoo.
Musical differences led to the departure of Ross, Steve switching to guitar full time, and bringing in young mod about town Brian Maitland to be vocalist. Brian was Burnaby’s answer to Howard Devoto, and the band name changed to The 4 Imposters, influenced by a single by Irish band The Moondogs. However, there were a whole slew of bands with similar names (The 2 Imposters, The 5 Imposters, etc) so the band renamed itself Culture Shock after a single by ex-Rezillos, future Human League guitarist Jo Callis band called S.H.A.K.E. Though we probably should have called ourselves the Name Droppers. Culture Shock recorded six songs in 1982 and released a 45 RPM (or “single” as we in the music business and my dating history in the 80’s would call it). We were going to do a Side One and Side A, but chose Forever and Ever as Side One, and Thought You Were a Friend as Side Two. We pressed 300 copies, sold about 50 and the Smithrite took care of the rest. 30+ years later the songs would be released on 1977 Records in Japan, and will shortly be released on vinyl.
Musical differences led to Brian leaving, though not before we played half a dozen, farewell last gig ever shows, but this time we mean it. Brian was so tall we had to replace him with five female vocalists and we called ourselves The Debutantes. It was in one of the multiple line ups of The Debutantes that Roxanne finally came aboard. Playing a mix of 60’s girl group songs, plus some Rezillos , Ramones and Buzzcocks, we eventually made our way in to studio to record and released the song 7th Victim on a Vancouver compilation album called The Waterfront.
Recorded in late 1984 and released in February 1985, the self titled Go Four 3 EP comprised of 6 slabs of wonderous melancholy pop. Ian Noble was guest drummer for these songs, just prior to his leaving to go to the Percussion Institute of Technology. A video for Just Another Day, a song that the band were not going to put on the EP but were convinced by Grant to add it at the last minute, was released and got medium rotation on Much Music which led to the band’s first Canadian tour August and September of 1985 with Ike Eidsness on drums. The band finished the year off opening for The Replacements at the Commodore and recording a Zulu xmas flexi, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, giving it a Ramones meets Herman Hermits treatment. Everything was looking up.
CARAS West Coast Music Award nominations for most promising act, and guitarist of the year. We lost. We opened for The Cult at Thunderbird Arena. Rob had replaced Ike, who had gone on to success with The Waterwalk, and played the drums on the xmas flexi and our next release, the 12 song album Six Friends. After recording the album Rob left and Ian joined the band and appears on the album cover and in the Save me and Someone videos. Another Canadian tour ensued in winter and Six Friends was released in December.
CARAS West Coast Music Award nominations for video of the year (we lost), indie album of the year (we lost), but a win with engineer of the year for Ron Obvious, who worked on Six Friends and quite a few other local releases. So we’ll claim partial victory there. The Save Me video was on heavy rotation on Much Music, garnering the most airplay of any indie video to that point. A west coast tour included gigs at Club Lingerie, Whisky A Go-Go with Rank and File, and Madam Wong’s West and back to Vancouver to play the Stanley Park “Be In”, followed by another cross Canada tour with support gigs with Rock & Hyde. A Fall cross Canada tour and a half hour Christmas Eve Much Music spotlight on the band ended the year.
We continued our pattern of losing, this time for CARAS West Coast Music Award nominations for Independent Group of the Year, and Club Performers of the Year. Frankly at this point I think CARAS was just making up new categories for us to lose in. We parted ways with Zulu in another of our great career moves (sarcasm) and hooked up with Producer Chris Wardman, ex Blue Peter guitarist and producer of Leslie Spit Tree-o, 13 Engines, The Tragically Hip, National Velvet, Art Bergmann, Neo-A4 and Chalk Circle. Wow, he name drops more than me on his bio page. Demos were recorded with Chris and the band decided to move to Toronto to continue doing more demos and seek the elusive major label record deal, as we were drowning in debt at this point. The year ended with a full front page feature on the band in the Entertainment section of the Toronto Star. Success and glory could not be too far off (narrator’s voice: success and glory was indeed very far off).
Ian leaves the band to return to Vancouver. He would later move to New York and become a top talent agent/booker. The revolving drummer game continued with Chris hooking us up with former Neo-A4 and future Skydiggers drummer Joel Anderson. More demos were recorded throughout the year.
A full album (It's Party Time!) is recorded and finished in late December.
After no bites from the Canadian labels the band sent tapes to the UK where there was a noted interest. Steve and Roxanne fly to the UK and met with various labels and managers, and in another great career move chose T’Pau’s manager Chris Cooke over Big Audio Dynamite and Boy George manager Tony Gordon. Chris convinces the band to change names to Thrill Squad.
Just Another Day is released in the UK on Chris Cooke’s label Lowspeak. On our first royalty statement from Lowspeak we sold one copy, but two got returned (promos), so we had sales of minus one in the UK.
We return to the UK to record demos with Nigel Palmer who had worked with The Outfield, Bleach, and Iona, recording new songs for Lowspeak. However, Lowspeak became insolvent (sales of minus one is never a good thing) and Steve and Roxanne returned to Vancouver. Ian gives us the opening slot for The Buzzcocks in Vancouver, one of our best gigs ever.
Returning to Vancouver Steve, Gord and Roxanne add drummer Darren Uyeno and 2nd guitarist Colin Wilcox. The band releases “It’s Party Time” on its own Ape No Kill Ape label. The CD is a combination of Chris Wardman tracks and Nigel Palmer tracks. A video for Heart of Tears is released, and were featured on CTV’s Up & Coming TV show.
The 6 song CD “Here Comes Tomorrow” is released. Billboard Magazine tips the band as one of the Most Likely to Succeed for 1998. (Narrator’s voice: They did not succeed). Multiple gigs in the New Music West Festival and then an appearance on Catch a Rising Star. We did not catch the Rising Star, nor even a small meteorite to be honest.
Steve and Roxanne record with Grapes of Wrath and Sarah McLaughlin keyboardist and now producer Vincent Jones. Band name is changed to The Irises. Doug Elliott and Pat Steward of The Odds are brought in for bass and drums. Vince goes on to write the theme song for Parks and Recreation.
The Irises fly to Los Angeles to play the International Pop Overthrow. Rob Tomkow is back on drums, Mat Cadez on bass, and David Lea-Smith is on 2nd guitar.
Go Four 3 reforms to play a benefit gig for Scott Harding. Line up is the classic Steve, Gord, Roxanne and Rob.
1977 Records in Japan releases the Culture Shock 6 song recordings, as well as live tracks.