IQ at the Night of the Prog Festival, 9 July 2011. L-R: Mike Holmes, Paul Cook (hidden), Peter Nicholls, Neil Durant, and Tim Esau.
|Genres||Neo-progressive rock, progressive metal, pop rock, art rock|
|Labels||The Major Record Company, The Classic One Shoe Record Label, MSI, Sahara, Samurai, Squawk, Vertigo, Mercury, Giant Electric Pea, SPV, Inside Out|
|Arena, Frost*, Ian Parker Band, Jadis, The Lens, Priory of Brion, Sphere3|
IQ are a British neo-progressive rock band founded by Mike Holmes and Martin Orford in 1981 following the dissolution of their original band The Lens. Although the band have never enjoyed major commercial success and had several line up changes, IQ have built up a loyal following over the years and are still active as of 2019, currently with the original recording lineup (with the exception of Orford). In 2011, IQ performed a series of concerts in the UK and Europe celebrating their 30th anniversary.
IQ were one of a small number of British bands formed during the early 1980s, including Marillion, Pendragon, Twelfth Night, Pallas, Quasar, LaHost and Solstice that continued with the progressive rock style forsaken by 1970s bands such as Genesis and Yes. The music press coined the phrase neo-progressive to describe these bands, often accusing them of simply copying the styles of other bands. This accusation has been strenuously denied by Martin Orford, who is against the use of the term "neo progressive" and claims the band have wide-ranging and eclectic selection of musical influences.
From 1982, the line-up consisted of Peter Nicholls (vocals), Mike Holmes (guitar), Martin Orford (keyboards), Paul Cook (not to be confused with the Sex Pistols' drummer of the same name) (drums), and Tim Esau (bass). Nicholls left in July 1985 to form a new band, Niadem's Ghost, and was replaced by Paul (P. L.) Menel, but subsequently returned in 1990. Nicholls also created the cover art for most of the albums on which he appears. In early 2005, member Paul Cook left the band and was replaced on drums by Andy Edwards (ex Robert Plant drummer). On 20 July 2007 Martin Orford announced that he was leaving IQ and he was replaced by Mark Westworth from prog-rock band Darwin's Radio. As of late 2009, Paul Cook has returned to replace Andy Edwards. On 7 October 2010, Mark Westworth announced on the band's official web site that he would be leaving the band and his final appearance with IQ was on 11 December 2010. On 1 January 2011, the band announced that Mark's replacement on keyboards would be Neil Durant, from instrumental prog-fusion band Sphere³. On 7 January 2011, bassist of 19 years John Jowitt announced on the band's website that he had left the band and that his last appearance with the band had also been the concert on 11 December 2010. He was replaced by original bassist Tim Esau in January 2011.
The band's musical style, especially earlier in their career, was reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett era Genesis because of singer Peter Nicholls' vocal and stage-presence similarities to Gabriel and keyboardist Martin Orford's grandiose keyboarding. However, guitarist Mike Holmes' role was far more assertive in the band, giving them a harder edge musically. After Nicholls' departure, the band's style became increasingly commercial and radio-friendly -- albeit without much success -- on Nomzamo (1987) and Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1989), although each album still featured some progressive rock-style tracks. Beginning with Nicholls's return on 1993's Ever, the band returned to its prog rock roots, with longer tracks featuring intricate arrangements and complex musicianship.