Formed under the supervision of the School Board and originally called Ethos, Jim Longmuir and Alan Frizell on guitars, Frank Miller on drums and Peter Steele on bass began as a school rock band in North York, Ontario in 1971.
Laura Lapedus, the school board consultant that helped them get their start eventually agreed to co-manage them, along with Wayne Baguley and Warren Keach. Upon graduation, they toiled on the local club circuit as your typical bar band covering whatever was hot on the charts at the time. But when an American band with the same name released an album the group changed its name to Scamp. They enjoyed limited success as a b-circuit bar band, but gained experience touring Canada with most notably Burton Cummings. Miller eventually left the group and was replaced by Tom Davidson behind the drum kit.
As Scamp, they were also featured on Toronto variety programs and won the CFTR Talent Search. In 1980, they spent time with producer Jack Richardson at his Nimbus 9 Studios, but unable to find anyone to distribute the proposed record, the project was scrapped.
Within a couple of years they'd changed their name to Cats Can Fly and solidified the cast with David Ashley on bass, Mitchell James on guitars, drummer Eddie Zeeman and Steele on keyboards, who was now going by the stage name of Peter Alexander. One of the intriguing things about the band that all four members could handle lead vocals when necessary, giving them more range and versatility than many of their other Ontario counterparts at the time.
Over this period they'd had plenty of opportunity to hone their writing craft, as well as their on-stage presence, and they released a pair of singles in '84 on Axe Records to little fanfare, "Touch Touch" and "Father Was A Foreigner." They entered Talent Quest 85, sponsored by the cigarette company Craven A in 1985. They were one of two acts to win the talent search, and from the victory came sponsorship on an upcoming promotional tour. From that series of shows they were able to gain some much needed exposure in an increasingly tight market, full of talented groups all trying to carve their niche and get their big break.
Over the next few months, as their profile grew so did interest from the record labels, and they soon had several executives knocking at their door. They were signed by CBS' David Bendeth who quickly shipped them off to Phase One Studios with Lou Pomanti and Lenny De Rose. Their eponymous debut was released on Epic in the spring of '86, and their blend of synthesized pop and new wave churned out a pair of Canadian Top 40 hits in "Flippin' To The A-Side," which peaked at #16, and "Lies Are Gonna Get Ya," which stalled at #33. The album itself was generally warmly received by the critics, particularly the sultry "Cold Hands Warm Heart" and the racey "Save It For The Next One."
Things were looking up, but the band found themselves caught up in a corporate takeover in 1988, when Sony took over CBS. Dumped from the roster, the band was dejected and although continuing to tour for another year or so while looking for a new label, they subsequently packed it in, and all the members went on to other groups or outside interests all together. The record saw the light of day again in 1994, when it was re-released on CD, complete with the bonus extended mix of "Flippin' To The A Side."