Michael Holmes - Guitars
Michael Holmes is a founding member of IQ, the only person to have played at every IQ gig for the last 33 years. He began playing guitar at the age of thirteen when his parents refused to buy him a drum kit. “My parents refused to buy me a drum kit” he says, “so I began to play guitar. I was thirteen at the time”.
Skip forward a couple of years to when Mike met Niall Hayden and Kev Sharpe at a sixth form college in Southampton in 1975. Together they formed the nucleus of The Lens, a fairly fluid band in both musical direction and personnel, although the final line-up of Mike, Martin Orford (keyboards), Brian Marshall (drums) and ‘Ledge’ Marshall (Bass) were together long enough to play gigs on the south coast and release a cassette album ‘No TV Tonite’.
In 1981 Mike and Martin disbanded The Lens to start a new musical venture – ‘IQ’. Originally set up to play a wide variety of musical styles, it quickly became clear that IQ really excelled in progressive rock, something that eventually became the mainstay of the live set.
The history and discography of IQ is available elsewhere on the site, suffice to say that now, 31 years later, Mike remains a major writer in the band and has been responsible for the production of every IQ release, both CD and DVD, since ‘Ever’ in 1991.
Besides IQ Mike has been involved in other musical ventures. He was a hard house and trance DJ in the late 90’s, and in 2010 he resurrected the idea of The Lens when he wrote and recorded ‘Regeneration’, fusing prog rock together with trance, ambient and laid back grooves.
In between writing sessions for the new IQ album Mike is currently working with the ‘Pulse’ project, a band put together by studio technician Rob Aubrey which also features Nick D’Virgilio (Drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Tony Levin (chapman stick/bass). Pulse are working on their first album, to be released 'in the fullness of time'.
Mike is the CEO and Director of GEP, a record company originally set up to release IQ’s ‘Ever’ in 1991. GEP has since gone on to sign other bands including Spocks Beard, John Wetton, Renaissance, Jadis, Threshold and most recently Big Big Train and Steve Thorne.
Mike was born in Mumbai, India in 1959, and then again in Wales in 1962. He now lives in Canary Wharf where he is loving early retirement from his previous day job – a web manager for the NHS. He has a fish called ‘Steve’. [Edit: Unfortunately Steve became an ex fish last year…]
Have to admit I don't read as much as I used to - I blame the iPod on my journeys to work (when I had a day-job, that is). I'm hoping that will all change now I have my new iPad mini... Still, books that have stayed with me for a long time are:
'KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money' - JMR Higgs. The Prologue is titled: 'The F**kers burned the lot', referring to the million pound that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty burned on the morning of 23rd August 1994. Brilliant book, even if you don't like the KLF (and I'm sure many don't). Amazon says "They were the best-selling singles band in the world. They had awards, credibility, commercial success and creative freedom. They deleted their records, erased themselves from musical history and burnt their last million pounds in a boathouse on the Isle of Jura. And they couldn’t say why."
You know what its like: an album will be your must-have, desert island disc one day, and not even feature in the top five the next. It might be the fact that I'm writing this at 2 in the morning, but I'm feeling in a mellow mood right now, so: