Formed in Calgary in the late 1970s, Qwest was centred around the Gellner brothers – Shelly on guitars and Barry on bass, both who also shared lead vocal duties. With guitarist Greg Gunhold and drummer Jim Symchych, they honed their chops around the Alberta circuit as a cover band over the next couple of years while writing their own material.
After they signed a deal with manager Greg Thomas and some studio time was booked, Dan Lowe (49th Parallel, Painter, Hammersmith, 451 Degrees) was brought in to oversee the recording sessions. But unsatisfied, the tapes were scrapped and they instead went to former Stampeders manager Mel Shaw.
The result was the band’s debut album, TAMPICO GOLD, released in ’81 on Shaw’s Music World Creations label. No singles were released, but with tracks like “Stick ‘Em Up” and “Heartbreaker,” the band found an audience through FM’s Album Rock format. And with that push, they carried on playing the prairies and made a couple of trips to the West Coast over the next few years.
After signing a new deal with Quality Records, they invited Lowe back into the studios, and released their follow-up, DREAM ZONE in 1984. Although in the same vein as the first album, the new record was more focused, with more keyboards and studio tampering than before. The lead single was “I Don’t Wanna Break Your Heart,” and along with “You’re Not So Hot,” “Dreamer,” and “Nothing To Lose,” was indicative of the album, keyboard-oriented AOR pop/metal with tamed guitar solos. But when the album again failed to make a dent in the charts, within a year or so everyone drifted off to do other projects.
Both albums were remastered and reissued in Canada by Pacemaker in 1996, with TAMPICO GOLD containing a couple of bonus tracks. A year later both albums were re-released in Europe through Razor and Tie Records.
Remaining in Calgary, Gunhold formed a new group in the mid ’00s, the critically acclaimed R&B flavoured Gunn. They released their debut album, RESONANCE ROAD, in 2011.