Go Four 3
Label: Zulu Records
from Vancouver BC
Go Four 3 (1984-90)
Roxanne Heichert (vocals)
Steve Quinn (guitar)
Gord Badanic (bass, piano, organ)
plus a rotating door of drummers, including:
Rob Tomkow (left music to become a pilot)
Ian Noble (now a concert promoter in New York)
Ike (Hard Rock Miners, Be Good Tanyas, Waterwalk)
Matt Johnson (now in 54-40)
Daryll Neudorf (now a producer)
Joel Anderson (now a Toronto-based session drummer)
A Vancouver based powerpop group that emerged from the underground/punk scene, and very briefly enjoyed wide and near-instant success during the mid 80’s. Luckily, this did not prevent them from plowing-on in near-total obscurity for years to come afterwards. The group formed in 1984, from a desire to play fast, intense guitar pop/punk with a heavy influence of mod-ish sixties melodies and styles. Despite having a stable vocal/guitar/bass line-up, the band went through over 15 drummers during its short career, making the Spinal Tap drummer-seat look like a safe bet.
Almost before even performing live, the group recorded a six song EP that was released by Zulu Records in Vancouver, and shot a video for the main track “Just Another Day”. Within a few months, the video was in heavy rotation at Muchmusic, and the group went on tour across Canada, charming the press as they passed through each town, and appearing on several television shows, including an interview with Erica Ehm on MuchMusic.
As much as this kind of story sounds very typical now (in fact, almost mandatory), in the early eighties it was groundbreaking for a new group with no connections or contacts, no experience or money, and no management or booking agent to accomplish even a single one of these things, let alone all of them. Years later, the concept of indie as a choice gained popularity, but at that time, independent just meant that you had no help.
Encouraged by their initial success, the group recorded a full length album (Six Friends) for Zulu, and made two videos to support the release: “Save Me” and then “Someone”, both of which gained heavy airplay across Canada on MuchMusic and many regional video programmes. Still without any financial support or management, the group toured across the country three more times, again playing a combination of bemused punk venues and equally bemused Top 40 nightclubs, and then down the west coast of the United States (where they played the Mabuhay Gardens, Madame Wong’s and even a sold-out show at the Whiskey A-Go-Go).
In 1989, Go Four 3 moved to Toronto (under the impression it was the centre of the music biz universe) in hopes of finally making some business inroads. Despite the fact that they were greeted with a two-full-page article in the Toronto Star, and played almost continuously across southern Ontario, nothing concrete came from these efforts. Recording sessions were begun, but after 18 frustrating months, the group slowly drifted apart: first the drummer quit, then the bass player returned to Vancouver, then, after several more months, the singer and guitarist also returned to Vancouver. Game over. No more gas in the tank.
By the time the group had finally imploded, they had headlined major venues across North America (including the Commodore and Town Pump in Vancouver, MacEwan Hall in Calgary, and the RPM, Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace in Toronto), received significant radio and video play on campus and commercial stations across North America, received glowing articles in virtually every major Canadian daily paper and music magazine, and shared the stage with such notable acts as The Cult, DOA, The Replacements, Buzzcocks, Young Fresh Fellows, The Cowboy Junkies, Rank & File, The Rain Parade, 54-40 and dozens of others.
During the early 90’s Roxanne, Steve and Gord formed a new group (Thrill Squad), which recorded an EP and an album in Canada, plus an EP and a single in the UK. They pretty much wrote and played the same brand of music as Go Four 3, except for the bit about being briefly popular. Gord got kicked out of Thrill Squad for “holding them back”, and then they soon broke up too. Today Roxanne and Steve are together again in The Irises, and Gord is in The New Black. Both groups share a second guitarist, who can’t decide which of the two bands is more of a maddening pain in the ass.
Go Four 3 re-assembled in the summer of 2008, first to play a short 5-song set at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver for a benefit concert, and then an 11-song set a month later at the Railway Club for what was left of their friends.