After the Go Four 3 EP and our first Canadian tour and video for Just Another Day, I hit a bit of a dry spell in writing. We had 7th Victim that didn’t make the cut on the EP, plus a couple of other songs that didn’t make the EP but I wasn’t thrilled about recording them. The only other song I had was Another World. Glenn “Ike” Eidsness, who joined as drummer after the EP was released and is seen as the drummer playing Ian Noble’s part left prior to recording Six Friends. Ike used to show up to practice and ask me if we had any new songs, to which the answer was always no. I think the final straw was when I showed up with a new song called 25 O’Clock, which happened to sound exactly like the Dukes of Stratsophear’s 25 O’Clock. We brought back Rob Tomkow, original Zoo and Culture Shock drummer to record the album. After recording Rob returned full time to being a pilot and Ian Noble returned from the Pacific Institute of Technology to join the band and appear on the album cover and the subsequent Save Me and Someone videos.
Ric Arboit, President of Nettwerk Records was brought in to do demos, helping us turn Gord’s basement into an 8 track studio, and then record at Mushroom Studios. Ron Obvious engineered, mixed and produced at Little Mountain Sound. On this album I borrowed Gary Economy’s Mesa Boogie and Taylor acoustic guitar, but mainly used my Les Paul Standard. Gord would boil his bass strings to give them more life since and use a British Penny as a pick to give the bass a bit more oomph. I would pay Ric on the side to mix the bass down however.
Side One of Six Friends kicks off with the song that was the last one to be written for the album. And ironically, it starts with Gary Economy playing a Chapman Stick, which was some quasi sounding guitar sitar thing. I had wanted to start the song off with a sitar riff, very Beatle-ish, and at the time my buddy Sat Manhas who was my boss at Eaton’s said he knew a blind sitar player who was really good and would record for us. Unfortunately Sat told me that the guy also was really good at padding out his expenses and would probably take a couple of hours to get his part recorded. And we had zero budget for what was going to be a 10 second intro, and then a bit of playing on the outro of the song. So some how I was talking to Gary, probably because I was borrowing his Mesa Boogie amp for recording, and Gary said he could make his Chapman Stick sound like a sitar. And he’d do it for free, or the usual case of beer. Sold! This Time was a real Big Country knock off, with the bag pipe style guitars that Big Country did. The only thing missing was the Stuart Adamson “shout” right after the little guitar bits before each chorus. I still like this tune however and it is a bit of a blast to play live.
Save Me was just a plain old riff song in “D” lots of Echo and the Bunnymen influences on the guitar parts. However, it was an upbeat rocker so we chose it to be the first video. It was not unlike the Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, except less successful and not yet licensed for any beer commercials. Though don’t let that stop you any major or microbreweries, and there are two nn’s in Quinn when you write the cheque. The video was a blast to make, filmed at Britannia Mines. I remember helping the crew hump all their gear half way up the mountain like it was yesterday. Nominated for best independent video at the BC CARAS awards. We lost.
Kaleidoscopes was just a straight-ahead rock song, psychedelic lyrics. The intro drum beat is a faster version of The Three O’Clock’s Jet Fighter Man. I will see you on the inside. Inside of what? Middle eighth was a Keith Moon inspired drum fill-a-thon and a Pete Townshend guitar feedback swell. Used this one to start a lot of our shows as it was kind of a sound check song for when we never got a sound check. Drums first, then guitar and bass (usually I’d pay the sound guy to mix the bass a bit lower than the guitar), then Roxanne would descend from the sky, or more likely side of the stage with a glass of water and spitting ice cubes at me, and away we’d go.
Right From Wrong was a tip of the hat to the Lyres from Boston who were doing the Ross Edwards, the original guitarist in the Zoo with Rob, Gord and I, classic 60’s rock to great success. Gord added a ton of keyboard to it, sounds a bit Stranglers like. Gord was actually a pretty amazing rag time piano player – seriously. We were trying to grow as “artistes” at the time, adding some colour to the songs to make them more than just three chord Buzzcocks style tunes. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Buzzcocks!! One of our favourite bands of all time and a huge influence. But for the album we were definitely trying to do a lot more overdubs and add parts we couldn’t do live.
Round At Number One is still a favorite for several reasons. It ends side one, and at the end of the song the “chugging” guitar you hear is from Gary Sahachief, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and of Zowie Kapowie fame. Around the time of the Six Friends album Gord, Gary, Rob and I teamed up with Nev, the guitarist at the time for the Dayglo Abortions, and did an AC/DC cover band that we called Drumheller. We played at a place called Hanging Jacks on Granville, a club with a post in the middle of the stage, and a dressing room where some of the cockroaches were bigger than me. It was a blast, and for a little while we had visions of just playing AC/DC songs and making real money for a change. But we didn’t. Anyway, some obvious Beatles and Pleasant Valley Sunday Monkees influences.
One Step Behind had a helping hand from Ron Obvious who suggested I add more guitar at the end of the song to give it the illusion of building up to something. Ron always had great suggestions, trying to make us better. Both he and Ric were awesome to work with. I wrote it about my Grandmother who had Alzheimer's, though we didn't know at the time, we just thought her behaviour was bizarre (or normal for our family). The train doesn’t stop at the station, it just slows down to take a look. Tried to give it the same lyrical feel as Lucy in Sky With Diamonds. Still waiting for Elton John to cover our song.
Rope was influenced by the intro soundtrack to the Quinn-Martin TV show, The Invaders, where there are aliens from another planet taking over the earth and they are missing a finger and once you kill them their bodies disintegrate leaving no trace, and only one scientist on the run knows of their existence and they are hunting him down. Ah, they don’t make TV shows like that anymore.
Anyway, I played around with the intro and decided I could write a song that was more rhythmic than melodic. At the time we were in Mushroom recording the album in the 10pm to 6am discount rate, and during the day industrial German band Einsturzende Neubauten were also in studio, of course being able to afford the day rates. They liked to make music using everyday items one would find in your house like old oil barrels, jack hammers, and toxic waste containers etc. Personally, I blame them for all the street drummers using old pails, but that’s another story. In studio they had some oil barrels so we incorporated hitting them in to the song and buried it in the mix. Thank goodness we didn’t sample those oil barrels or we’d be getting sued for royalty (not royalties, that would infer two cheques). We also added the sound of a swinging rope to the intro – Ric’s idea, and spent a few hours swinging a bull whip around to get the intro sound. We also had Mike Armstrong, the percussionist for Toronto band Change of Heart play bongos on the track as he was in town.
At one point at three in the morning Ric and I were talking about bands like Einsturzende Neubauten and it got into a discussion of the Cramps. Gord was a huge fan, I wasn’t. I of course shot off my big mouth and said to Ric, “The Cramps, I could write a song like the Cramps in about two minutes”. To which I actually did. And Ric recorded it and I do believe it is his favorite song he ever recorded for us. He spent a considerable amount of his own time editing it and mixing it. Which is either a sad commentary on Ric, or a sad commentary on the songs that made the Six Friends album. I’ve got a copy of the song and it will be an exclusive release for those of you who purchase the deluxe book, CD, DVD, weekend getaway with me.*
I wrote Someone to show I could write a jangly song like The Grapes of Wrath. I considered the Grapes as our competition, or measuring stick at the time. Musically they were Rubber Soul i to our Beatles’ Revolver Beatles influenced song writing. So much for that! The intro guitar picking part was one of the first things I ever wrote on guitar, and then I added some open suspended chords (same trick on Kaleidoscopes). I used Roxanne’s Dad’s acoustic guitar for this song. The song was a metaphor for love. So completely fictional.
Africa Mine was written by a band called The Passions, out of the U.K. We didn’t do too much different from the original, though we hired Brad Doyle to do strings using an emulator. Great little tune.
7th Victim gets rerecorded since it didn’t make the cut on the EP. This was one of three songs we originally recorded when we were in The Debutantes, which features Gord, Rob and I, as well as Roxanne and four other awesome ladies – maybe should have stuck with that as a recipe for success. Did the back and forth vocals like the Agent Orange song A Cry For Help In A World Gone Mad, from their phenomenal EP Living In Darkness. If you don’t have this EP what is wrong with you?
Another World was another quasi psychedelic blast to end the album. As mentioned at the top of this I went through a real dry spell for writing songs after the first EP, and this was one of the first of the new songs that I wrote that led to the end of the creative drought. So ironically it becomes the last song on the album. I had been listening to a lot of psychedelic California bands like The Things, The Three O’Clock, and True West who seemed to play the Railway Club in Vancouver every 3 months. All fantastic bands.
If you enjoyed these notes look forward to The Day Nobody Came – my autobiography on Culture Shock, Go Four 3, Thrill Squad, and The Irises. Stay tuned for releases of Six Friends and Anchors Away – all unreleased tracks and demos from Go Four 3.
Go Four 3 is:
Steve Quinn – Guitar
Roxanne Heichert – Vocals
Gord Badanic – Bass, Piano
Special Thanks To:
Rob Tomkow – Drums
Ian Noble – Additional drums
Gary Sahachief -Additional guitar
Mike Armstrong – Percussion
Gary Economy – Chapman Stick
Mark Findler – Backing vocals
Brad Doyle – Strings and arrangement
Nob Ogasawara – Everything else
Produced by Ron Obvious and Go Four 3
Recorded at Mushroom Studios by Ric Arboit, assisted by Rob Porter and Greg Reely, and at Little Mountain Sound by Ron Obvious.
Mixed by Ron Obvious at Little Mountain Sound.
All songs written and arranged by Go Four 3 (Quinn/Heichert/Badanic) 1987, except Africa Mine, published by Eaton Music Ltd., U.K. (The Passions).
Photos by Bruce Lam, Ed Olson, sleeve designKris Klaasen & Fingers in the Pie.