A Couple of Questions with Stephen Quinn of the Irises
ALSO: The Irises were featured in our The Best Albums You've (Probably) Never Heard feature.
For those just learning about Not Good In Bed now, can you give a nutshell summary of your career prior to its release?
Roxanne Heichert (vocalist) and I have been in bands together
since 1983. In the mid ‘80s, we were in the power pop
band Go Four 3, which released an EP and album on Zulu
Records. It sold very well, and we did five Canadian tours
and a US West Coast tour. We relocated to the UK briefly
and, at our manager's insistence (Chris Cooke, manager
of T'Pau, amongst others), changed our name to Thrill Squad. We released
an EP over there that sold one copy and had two copies returned, so
our official sales in the UK were minus one. After that,
we moved back to Canada and released two CDs as Thrill Squad, then
decided to change our name to the Irises so no one would know who we
were. Other highlights: drove into a cow outside of Winnipeg; tried
to out drink the Replacements (Let It Be era) when we played
with them and failed miserably; played with the Buzzcocks, the Cult,
Cowboy Junkies, Rain Parade; playing the International
Pop Overthrow Festival in Los Angeles, of which there should be a documentary
released in the next couple of months, tentatively called "I'm
That Fool"; at this
year's International Pop Overthrow Roxanne was out of
town and couldn't do the show, so we hooked up with John
Hoskinson and played some of his songs, and he sang some of ours.
He's another great artist with a killer CD that should
be in your article!
Do you recall any anecdotes from the recording of the album?
Our producer, Vince Jones, brought in the rhythm section from the Odds: Pat Steward on drums and Doug Elliot on bass. We had one practice the day before laying the bed tracks, and then Pat went out drinking for his birthday that night. So the next morning, Pat's drums are all set up, but he hasn't shown up, and there's only 5 minutes to go before we're supposed to be recording. He wheels in, and then he and Doug were joking and laughing, and I'm worried about getting the bed tracks together and trying to show them stuff, and they're goofing around. Then, they just nailed the tracks. I know this is going to sound corny, but there was some magic that day, much like when we first recorded years ago. It was fun, and incredible to watch. If you've ever seen Eugene Levy on SCTV and how he can arch his eyebrow (or Leonard Nimoy as Spock as well), well, if you hit a bum note when Vince is recording you, he won't say anything…but you notice his eyebrow shooting up about 4 inches higher than normal, so you knew you were going to do another take. After awhile, his shoulders would start to hunch up as well when we were doing our 64th guitar overdub flub. I think it took him about 6 months to recover and be able to turn his neck sideways.
Did you expect it to have a better commercial reception than it did?
Before we released it ourselves and we were flogging it to a couple of labels, we heard from someone very high up in the industry in Vancouver that "Perfect Boyfriend" was definitely a hit single. So that was nice to hear…but nothing happened, aside from some decent airplay on some college stations in the US. We had no budget for marketing or promotion, so, on the other hand, we had to hope for some sort of miracle placement in an iTunes ad or being the loser song for when American Idol contestants lost. No such luck. Side note: Roxanne is from the same home town as Daniel Powter of the "Had a Bad Day" fame. I always bug her about it. We had a song that had a lot of video airplay in the ‘80s called "Just Another Day.” That could have been us. So close...always the wrong decade. Speaking of which, my Dad still phones me up every couple of weeks and will mention a song on the radio and go: "Have you heard that song ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’? Why didn't you write that?" At this point, we're just hoping someone covers one of the tunes and has a hit with it. But we've been hoping that for 22 years now.
Are you pleased to find that it still maintains enough of a following to make its way into this piece?
The first producer we ever worked with, Chris Wardman, once said to me, "the right people will hear it, the music will find it's way to them.” Unfortunately for us, it appears there's only about 35 "right people" out there!
What are you doing now?
Practicing for next year's International Pop Overthrow, putting together a Go Four 3 double CD, and working on the inevitable next album. Thanks to everyone, though, who bought the CD!
Check out The Irises' official site for more info.