The seeds of Moving Targetz took root in ’83, when Jaimie Vernon left Youth In Asia, a reincarnation of Swindled, after its one and only show at a Battle of the Bands contest at a Scarborough high school.
He inherited the role of manager for Apalling Taste, one of the other groups on the bill. But during the intial meetings with the band, some members objections’ to having a manager led to Vernon dropping that title and picking up the guitar, and Moving Targetz was born. By late ’84, the lineup was solidified with Simon Bedford-James on bass, Saverio Schembri (guitars, keys, sax), and drummer Dave Tedd.
Initial reaction to them on their first Ontario tour early the next year was positive enough they scraped their pennies together and took some demos they’d been working on into Rhythms In Dark Studios in Toronto. The result was their debut EP, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF…. MOVING TARGETZ. Response was luke-warm, and it wasn’t long before Tedd switched over to keyboards, making room for ex-Swindled and Youth In Asia drummer Jason Clarke to come back into the fold. But soon after in the fall of ’85, Beford-James and Schembri left to form Swedish Fish.
After a short period as a trio, the bass position in Moving Targetz was briefly filled by Vic Kennedy. But after some shows around Ontario, he left to pursue studies in England. Carrying on as a trio with Vernon on bass, they recorded some demos in September ’85 at Certain Circles Studio. Further recordings in the new year ground to a hault when Tedd just up and vanished. While Vernon was off playing with Swedish Fish, he and Clarke gave up on Tedd, and filled out their own line-up again, this time with guitarist Garry McDougall and Rondney Maltais on keys, and recording continued.
Vernon set up Bullseye Records, and after nearly two years of on-again off-again recordings, the band’s first full length album, BULLETPROOF, was in the stores in February of ’88. With the lead-off “Storm Warning,” the record was more refined than their debut, with the keyboards giving an edge to its raw feel. ” Reaction was immediate and well received but there was only a studio act and not a touring act so the record lived and died based on its ability to gain momentum in the media,” Vernon said.
A transitional period was marked with Vernon turning to long-time friend and ex-Swindled and Youth In Asia frontman Ivan Judd for some band stability. They were in the studios in the summer of ’88 with some material they’d written, along with Gord Giblin on bass and drummer Chris Walmsley. But practically over night ex-Holly Rose members Glenn Belcher on guitars and drummer John Barr, along with Judd’s wife Sharon on backing vocals made the band a quintet for the first time. This version of the group debuted as ’89 got underway, and more dates around Ontario followed as they worked on their next project.
It came in the form of the EP, NOT JUST FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN GOD, by which time Barr had left. Still, the band plugged on with drummer Marc Worne, spurred by generally positive reviews and some airplay for the single, “Do You Believe?”
“One of these contacts, Jerry Love of Famous Music Publishing, fell over himself gushing about “Do You Believe?” and the EP,” Vernon said. “He suggested that a showcase in Toronto could put the final stamp on a publishing deal, but the band, instead spent the remainder of 1989 looking for a new drummer. The opportunity was lost.”
Eventually ex-Blindside drummer Duane Welsh joined the fold, and the band launched into its first cross-Canada tour in 1990 to raise money for their next record. A full year passed, and Welsh became restless and quit before it could be finished. Stacey Washington filled the void behind the kit and by then three live EPs were in the stores. Some more studio time resulted in another pair of demos in ’89 – TAKES MANHATTAN and TAKES MANHATTAN TOO, in reference to the New Music Seminars in The Big Apple, where they were released. Their show in early 1990 at Lee’s Palace in Toronto then resulted in COCKED AND LOADED – LIVE later that year.
Their second full-length album came in 1991 with EMPTY’D. Their second tour across the country saw them opening for Trooper, Haywire, and Dr Hook. Broadening their sound, they added Kim Blackmore (Ritchie’s cousin) as a second guitarist. But by November 1991, frustration, burnout, and outside interests all played a part in the band calling it quits.
A year later, an HBO documentary called Trilogy featured “Do You Believe In The Fantastic?” and “Guns Are Cocked” in the soundtrack. That same year, “Drugstore Roulette” found its way to the Bullseye compilation, UNSIGNED SEALED & DELIVERED, VOL 3. Everyone stayed in the Toronto area, so it was common to see two or more members on the same stage now and again, and the name ‘Moving Targetz’ was resurrected for a brief reunion in ’92 featuring Vernon, the Judds, Welsh, and Belcher.
Before long though everyone again went their separate ways and on to other things. Over the years Vernon built the Bullseye catalogue to also include Goddo, Honeymoon Suite, Jeff Healey, Bob Segarini, and Brave Belt, among others. He also hooked up with Welsh again to join The Hounds – a gig that lasted ’til ’93, when the duo hooked up again to form Spare Parts with singer Maurren Leeson (ex The Life) and guitarist Geoff Wilson.
By this point Vernon was also in the print publishing business, via the magazine Great White Noise, the book The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia, and the autobiographies by Greg Godovitz and Skip Prokop.
Judd went on to form Cheaper Than Therapy, while Washington bounced around over the years drumming for Strawman, Spills Manor, Terry & The Twilight Zone, The Richmond Hillbillies, Soap Opera, and The First Time. Mike Thorne would go on to join Beach Boys tribute act Endless Summer and drummed for Saga for a spell. Bedford-James landed a deal with Universal with his band, MadE. When that ship had sailed, he rekindled Swedish Fish in 2006 for a while.
Members’ paths still crossed from time to time, reuniting for a Beatles tribute and Christmas albums in the mid 2000s. They reunited in November 2017 for one show at This Ain’t Hollywood in Hamilton, as part of the International Pop Overthrow Festival. The line-up was Vernon with Judd on vocals and Welsh on drums, along with Spare Parts guitarist Geoff Wilson. Vernon and Bedford-James then assembled Mr. Mouray, releasing BATS IN DISGUISE in 2018.