miðvikudagur, desember 26, 2007

The history of the Punk Band Q4U

In 1996 I saw the band Q4U life @ Rosenberg venue, along with the bands Unun and Fraebbblarnir @ a sort of retrospective concert downtown Reykjavik.Steinþór Stefánsson, bass player in the pioneering Icelandic punk group Fræbbblarnir, Gunnþór Sigurðsson roadie for Utangarðsmenn, another Icelandic punk group, Helgi the drummer and Ellý the singer started the punk group Q4U in April 1981. The group´s policy was not to rehearse, so that the group played 12 gigs before rehearsing for the first time.
Soon the singer Linda and the synthesizer player Már joined. Már soon quit. Kommi (Kormákur Geirharðsson, then playing with Taugadeildin, Oxsmá and later Langi Seli og Skuggarnir, K.K. and others) replaced Helgi as a drummer. In the winter of 1981-1982 Q4U often played with Fræbbblarnir, and the group became part of the Rokk í Reykjavík film project, with several of its songs filmed for the documentary. At that time the line-up was Linda, Ellý, Gunnþór, Steinþór and Kommi.
Photograph of Ellý

The group´s stylish and aggressive punk image led to its strong presence in the documentary Rokk í Reykjavík, and catapulted the group from being a despised punk act to becoming one of the hottest bands of the moment. Despite this there were some differences in the group. Steinþór was still a full time member of Fræbbblarnir, with a heavy working schedule in both bands. In the spring of 1982 the old line up recorded all its material in the rehearsal location in Hafnarfjörður. These recordings were called Skafið or Skaf í dag, referring to the low quality stuff or leftovers which was available at the time. After this the group split, every member going off in his own direction. Ellý started working with Árni Daníel in the synthesizer group Handan grafar (Beyond the Grave). Árni Daníel had previously worked with Steinþór in the punk group Snillingarnir (Geniuses) and with Kommi in Taugadeildin. Árni´s sister, Anna Guðrún was also a member of Handan grafar, and a girl named Birna.
Handan grafar was going nowhere fast, so Ellý asked Árni Daníel to join her and Gunnþór in a group that eventually kept the name Q4U. In the summer of 1982 Óðinn Guðbrandsson the guitar player, formerly of Taugadeildin, joined the group. This line-up, with a drum machine, appeared in the rock festival of Melarokk in the summer of 1982, and was well received. This line-up recorded all its material at its rehearsal studio by Rauðavatn in the outskirts of Reykjavík,, and four of those songs appear on the CD Q2.
In the fall of 1982 Danny Pollock, formerly of Utangarðsmenn and Bodies joined the group instead of Óðinn. This line-up recorded the debut Q1 over the New Year 1982-1983 in Grettisgat, the studio owned by Stuðmenn and Þursaflokkurinn in Grettisgata in Reykjavík. There was no drummer, the drums provided by the drum machine Elizabeth II (a TR-808 Roland machine). This six-song EP received surprisingly good reviews and sold rather well. The group seemed to be sailing a favourable winds with support from both critics and public.
In the spring of 1983 Kommi joined the group again, and this line-up finally achieved a live sound corresponding to the studio material, discarding the drum-machine. The group played a series of concerts, with a high point being a support slot for Classix Nouveaux in Laugardalshöllin in the summer of 1983. However, even if the group was now well established the rock´n roll lifestyle was beginning to take its toll, and in the autumn Árni Daníel quit to pursue a career in journalism. The last thing the group did before 1996 was to record five songs in a studio near Selfoss, in the countryside, and four of these appeared on the CD Q2 published in 1996.
The sound of the second version of Q4U was rather different than the hard-core punk of the first line-up. It had strong gothic leanings, with synthesizers playing a large role. Some have compared it to the music of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and it was indeed an inspiration at the time, but there was much good music being produced at the time in the wake of punk, and all this was an inspiration, from the Pop Group to New Order.
It could be argued that the group did not exploit the potential it had, but in the summer of 1985 Ellý and Árni Daníel, together with Árni´s brother Ingólfur were active again with the group Þetta er bara kraftaverk (This is just a miracle). This group continued some aspects of the Q4U sound and so is included in the CD Q2 with the song Snjóhvít, which is about the joys of cocaine. Þetta er bara kraftaverk had a short lifetime, and after that Ellý ceased to be active in music for a long while. As she had always been the face of the group, it also disappeared.
This, however, changed in 1996. In the wake of the ´success´of the Sex Pistols reunion, there was a renewed interest in punk, and in Iceland both Fræbbblarnir and Q4U reappeared with retrospective CD´s. Both CD´s sold surprisingly well, especially Fræbbblarnir, but also Q4U. Both groups reunited for a series of retrospective concerts - Q4U exclusively with old material - which were well attended, and Q4U even appeared on national television. The old Icelandic punk guard had reestablished its name and reconfirmed its status.
Source: http://notendur.centrum.is/~ingjul/histr.html

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