With a 28-year history, IQ are widely regarded as one of the world’s most highly respected progressive rock bands. The group was formed in 1981 by guitarist Mike Holmes and keyboard player Martin Orford. They recruited bassist Tim Esau that year, followed by vocalist Peter Nicholls and drummer Paul Cook in 1982, when they released their first cassette album Seven Stories Into Eight. Constant gigging throughout the UK led to them becoming a regular fixture at London’s legendary Marquee Club. Their first vinyl album Tales From The Lush Attic was released in 1983, with the classic The Wake in 1985 and the live set Living Proof in 1986.
Tensions within the band, plus a punishing live schedule, resulted in the departure of Peter Nicholls in 1985, at the end of a UK tour with Wishbone Ash. With new singer Paul Menel, the band headlined London's Piccadilly Theatre and secured a lucrative record deal with Phonogram. New studio albums Nomzamo (1987) and Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1989) were promoted by extensive European tours with Magnum and Mike And The Mechanics.
In 1990, dissatisfied with the lack of support from Phonogram, Paul Menel and Tim Esau left IQ. The remaining members recruited Les 'Ledge' Marshall on bass and a chance meeting with Peter Nicholls led to his rejoining the band, but tragedy struck when Les died suddenly and unexpectedly in the summer of that year.
The 1991 release of the live and rarities album J'ai Pollette d'Arnu was a significant event as it was the first release on Giant Electric Pea, a new label founded by members and associates of IQ. This year also saw the arrival of John Jowitt as the band’s new bassist. With a stable line-up once more, IQ resumed live work in the UK, Europe and North America whilst also writing new songs which would form the basis of Ever (1993). The sumptuous live box set Forever Live was released in 1996, followed in 1997 by the band’s magnum opus, the monumental double concept album Subterranea. This was supported by a completely new multi-media live presentation which earned the band universal acclaim.
In 1998, IQ re-recorded their first cassette album as Seven Stories into ’98 and released the rarities album The Lost Attic in 1999. New studio album The Seventh House followed in 2000, and 2002 saw the release of the Subterranea: The Concert DVD. But it was the release of 2004’s Dark Matter and the IQ20 20th Anniversary Concert DVD which saw IQ back at the very top of the progressive rock tree. Dark Matter was voted Album of the Year in countless music magazines around the world.
In 2005 Paul Cook left IQ after 23 years’ service. He was replaced by Andy Edwards (ex-Robert Plant Band) who features on the 2-DVD live set Stage, filmed in the USA and Germany that year. Another line-up change followed in 2007 when Martin Orford left after 26 years to pursue a solo career. Mark Westworth (of Darwin’s Radio) joined the line-up and, after a short tour in autumn 2007, IQ set about completing work on their next studio album.
2009 sees the release of Frequency, IQ’s ninth studio album, a musical tour de force which finds the band still at the top of their game. The return of original drummer Paul Cook for this year’s live work ensures another exciting and memorable year for this consistently popular and innovative band.